Energy & Power
The Museum's collections on energy and power illuminate the role of fire, steam, wind, water, electricity, and the atom in the nation's history. The artifacts include wood-burning stoves, water turbines, and windmills, as well as steam, gas, and diesel engines. Oil-exploration and coal-mining equipment form part of these collections, along with a computer that controlled a power plant and even bubble chambers—a tool of physicists to study protons, electrons, and other charged particles.
A special strength of the collections lies in objects related to the history of electrical power, including generators, batteries, cables, transformers, and early photovoltaic cells. A group of Thomas Edison's earliest light bulbs are a precious treasure. Hundreds of other objects represent the innumerable uses of electricity, from streetlights and railway signals to microwave ovens and satellite equipment.
Propeller Indiana’s Cargo of Iron Ore
- On 6 June 1858, the propeller Indiana sank in Lake Superior transporting its owner, three passengers and 280 tons of iron ore from Marquette, MI to Sault Ste. Marie, MI. The ship was insured for $9,000; the ore was insured separately for an undisclosed amount. One contemporary newspaper stated that it was the “first cargo of Lake Superior iron ore ever lost on the lakes.”
- The ship landed upright and slightly bow down on the lakebed in 120 feet of water; the bow split open and ore spilled out onto the sandy bottom. The deck of the shipwreck remains covered with iron ore today, and the cargo hold is filled about three feet deep with ore as well.
- Samples of the ore were recovered in 1979; upon analysis, they revealed that a high percentage of pure iron.
- Currently not on view
- date propeller Indiana sank
- samples of the ore were collected
- ID Number
- catalog number
- accession number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History
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