The natural resources collections offer centuries of evidence about how Americans have used the bounty of the American continent and coastal waters. Artifacts related to flood control, dam construction, and irrigation illustrate the nation's attempts to manage the natural world. Oil-drilling, iron-mining, and steel-making artifacts show the connection between natural resources and industrial strength.
Forestry is represented by saws, axes, a smokejumper's suit, and many other objects. Hooks, nets, and other gear from New England fisheries of the late 1800s are among the fishing artifacts, as well as more recent acquisitions from the Pacific Northwest and Chesapeake Bay. Whaling artifacts include harpoons, lances, scrimshaw etchings in whalebone, and several paintings of a whaler's work at sea. The modern environmental movement has contributed buttons and other protest artifacts on issues from scenic rivers to biodiversity.
- Explosive lances were designed to kill a whale by exploding inside its body. Many different types were invented in the late 19th century. When they worked properly, they were extremely efficient.
- They could either be shot out of guns or set at the end of darting guns. These devices resembled harpoon handles, to which the explosive lances were fixed. Once a plunger touching the whale’s skin moved a specific length, it triggered an explosive charge that shot the lance into the whale’s body.
- date made
- late 1800s
- patent date
- explosive lances were invented
- late 19th century
- Pierce, Eben
- Brown, Frank E.
- ID Number
- catalog number
- accession number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History