The Lamoka Power Corporation

Local historian Vinnie Nykiel gave a talk on hydroelectric power in the Lamoka Valley on June 17. 

In the early twentieth century, there was an ambitious plan to dam the entire valley (which would have flooded a vast area, including the Lamoka Lake archaeological site). 

A preview of his talk to the Town of Wayne History Group is at the Corning Leader

The Rocket Car “Moon Girl” of 1929: A History

Hungerford Rocket Car

The New York State Library’s Instagram feed just reminded of this book from 2013 (freely available from the New York State Museum): Daniel and Floyd Hungerford: Rocket Power, Interstellar Travel, and Eternal Life, by Geoffrey N. Stein.

Hungerford Rocket Car
The Hungerford Rocket Car. Source: Hemmings Blog

Yes, it’s a rocket car. Yes, you could legally drive it on New York roads. Yes, the name of the rocket car is Shirley Lois “The Moon Girl.”  Yes, Buck Rogers himself told Daniel and Floyd that they “were doing humanity a real service.”

OK, so pictures of the Hungerford Rocket are all over the internet –like the one from the Hemmings blog above, and there’s more on io9-but Geoffrey Stein has produced what will likely be the definitive (and probably the only) history of it and its creators.

The Hungerfords were automobile mechanics and airplane builders and repairers in Elmira, New York,  in the early days of aviation.  Floyd had “the personality of a dumpling” and Dan claimed to have psychic powers.  They built the Moon Girl in 1929, using an eight year old Chevy chassis, wood, cardboard (for easy egress in case of emergency), and an iron rocket.

After building and driving their rocket car, they set their sights higher:  “we considered trying to build a rocket ship which might reach the Moon, but we never got any further on this than having a picture painted by a sign painter we knew.” (p. 21)

Download the pdf at the New York State Museum

Edited from and originally posted on Adequacy.

Blast Furnaces at Scranton, Pennsylvania

Scranton Iron Furnaces

The stone blast furnaces in a park just outside of downtown Scranton are an imposing reminder of this Pennsylvania city’s early industrial history.  George and Selden Scranton had owned an iron furnace in northern New Jersey before moving to Pennsylvania. In 1840, they and their partners built an iron furnace in Slocum Hollow on the Roaring Brook. Their enterprise, later renamed the Lackawanna Iron and Steel Company,  grew to become one of the largest producers of iron in the United States. At the turn of the twentieth century, however, the company moved its operations to New York. The mills and other buildings were demolished, leaving only the four blast furnaces behind.

Scranton Iron Furnaces

Scranton Iron Furnaces

Scranton Iron Furnaces

 

 

History Program at the New York State Museum

Upcoming Great Places and Spaces history event in Albany this Saturday. From the press release:

Representatives from state historic sites and cultural institutions will provide educational hands-on activities, unique artifacts to explore, and information about upcoming events during the annual “New York State’s Great Places and Spaces” program on Saturday, January 14 from noon to 4:00 p.m. at the New York State Museum. 

Visitors can learn about New York State history through activities and information provided by over 20 state historic sites, museums, and libraries. In addition, The Iron Jacks, a singing group that specializes in songs about U.S. sailors of the Civil War era, will perform at noon and 2:00 p.m. There will also be a guided tour of the Hudson Valley Ruins exhibition at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. and a “hands-on” cart of Native Peoples reproduction objects where visitors can get first-hand experience with materials used by the Iroquois in the past and present.

Participating institutions include the Adirondack Museum, Albany Institute of History & Art, Albany Pine Bush, Burden Iron Works, Civil War Round Table, Crailo State Historic Site, Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum, Historic Cherry Hill, Guilderland Historical Society, Johnson Hall State Historic Site, Knox’s Headquarters State Historic Sites, New Windsor Cantonment, NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation, Olana State Historic Site, Saratoga National Historical Park, Saratoga Racing & Hall of Fame, Schenectady Historical Society, Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site, U.S. Grant Cottage Historic Site, and U.S. Naval Landing Party.

Admission is free. Further information about programs and events can be obtained by calling (518) 474-5877 or visiting the Museum website at www.nysm.nysed.gov.

Amelia Earhart’s Bones Still Not Found

A group called TIGHAR has spent over 25 years not finding evidence of aviator Amelia Earhart on the tiny Pacific island of Nikumaroro. Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared in 1937. In 1940, several human bones were found on this island by members of a British colony established on the island about a year after Earhart’s disappearance. With the idea that they might be the remains of Earhart or Noonan, several people examined them, concluding they were from a male shorter than both of the aviators.

Several years ago, two physical anthropologists, an archaeologist, and the head of TIGHAR published a re-evaluation of human bones found on the island (Burns et al. 1998). The actual bones went missing many years ago, so they relied on the original documentation, including a report by Dr. David W. Hoodless. The TIGHAR group concluded that, rather than being from a 45-55 year old, European or mixed European male about 5 foot 51/2 inches tall with a stocky build, as Hoodless concluded, they wereinstead consistent with Amelia Earhart, a 39 year old, tall, slender female.

Now, Pamela J. Cross and Richard Wright have re-examined that re-examination in a paper published in Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. To put it succinctly, they found no reason to question Hoodless’s original interpretation, and no support for the idea that the remains might be from Earhart. Notably, they also point out the unfair and unwarranted attempt by Burns and colleagues to cast aspersions on Hoodless’s competence as a doctor. The article is worth reading in full.

It’s nice that TIGHAR has made their article and many other documents related to the Earhart and Noonan disappearance freely available on their website. The paper by Cross and Wright is also free to download (for a limited time?) at Elsevier.

References:

Burns, K.R., Jantz, R.L., King, T.F., Gillespie, R.E.

1998 Amelia Earhart’s bones and shoes? Current anthropological perspectives on an historical mystery. Paper presented at the American Anthropological Association Annual Convention, 5 December 1998 14(2). The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), 1998, Philadelphia, PA, USA, pp. 4–11.

Cross, Pamela J., and Richard Wright

2015 The Nikumaroro bones identification controversy: First-hand examination versus evaluation by proxy — Amelia Earhart found or still missing? Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 3:52-59.

World War I Archaeology and More: Open Access Articles

For the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War, Maney Publishing has made available for free download 100 scholarly articles dealing with World War I, including several on battlefield archaeology. The articles will be available to download, with no sign in necessary, through August 2014 at their website:

www.maneyonline.com/ww1
A sample of the articles available:
The Spanish Lady Comes to London: the Influenza Pandemic 1918-1919
Andrea Tanner, The London Journal
Academic Freedom Versus Loyalty at Columbia University During World War I: A Case Study
Charles F Howlett, War & Society
‘An Infinity of Personal Sacrifice’: The Scale and Nature of Charitable Work in Britain during the First World War
Peter Grant, War & Society
They don’t like it up ’em!: Bayonet fetishization in the British Army during the First World War
Paul Hodges, Journal of War & Culture Studies
Naming the unknown of Fromelles: DNA profiling, ethics and the identification of First World War bodies
J L Scully and R Woodward, Journal of War & Culture Studies
‘Those Who Survived the Battlefields’ Archaeological Investigations in a Prisoner of War Camp Near Quedlinburg (Harz / Germany) from the First World War
Volker Demuth, Journal of Conflict Archaeology
Not so Quiet on the Western Front: Progress and Prospect in the Archaeology of the First World War
Tony Pollard and Iain Banks, Journal of Conflict Archaeology
Archaeology of a Great War Dugout: Beecham Farm, Passchendaele, Belgium
P Doyle, P Barton and J Vandewalle, Journal of Conflict Archaeology
Excavating Under Gunfire: Archaeologists in the Aegean During the First World War
David W J Gill, Public Archaeology
Remembering War, Resisting Myth: Veteran Autobiographies and the Great War in the Twenty-first Century
Vincent Andrew Trott, Journal of War & Culture Studies