Lighting used in the Wisconsin Lead and Zinc Mines



Candles were the earliest lights. The early lead miners used tallow candles made from animal fat, but they were soft and smoky. Later candles were made of stearin. These burned longer. A miner might use 3 to 6 candles in a day. Early miners used lumps of clay to hold the candles. Miners called the candle holders sticking tommies.

Grease or Oil Lamps


Grease or oil lamps like these were made in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Miners used them starting around 1880. You filled the lamp body with the fuel and the wick was in the spout.

Carbide Lamps 



Carbide lamps were popular from around 1920 to 1950. Carbide lights burn a gas. The miner put water in the top and calcium carbide in the bottom. When the water dripped on the carbide, a flammable gas is formed. The miner struck the flint (wheel in front) to make a spark that lit the gas.

Battery Lamps


Starting around the 1940s, miners used battery lamps. The battery is worn at the waist and connected to the light which is hooked on the hardhat. The batteries are recharged each night. Lead is used to make this type of battery.

The Mining Museum & Rollo Jamison Museum, 405 E. Main St., Platteville, WI 53818
Miners' Candlesticks, Wendell Wilson & Ted Bobrink, 1984.
American Miners Carbide Lamps, Gregg Clemmer, ill. by Wendell Wilson, 1987.

5 comments (Add your own)

1. inofacamiruhv wrote: -

Sun, August 5, 2018 @ 9:37 PM

2. adamduokiev wrote: -

Sun, August 5, 2018 @ 10:03 PM

3. eftaqabtudoy wrote:

Sun, August 5, 2018 @ 10:03 PM

4. Le Snelling wrote:
I would like to know the attribution of 'Candles' illustration you have on your website. Do you own the rights to the illustration?

Sun, September 30, 2018 @ 4:32 PM

5. drone wrote:
Really interesting report of old technogy are really different from drone sensor used now,Really interesting report of old technogy are really different from drone sensor used now

Wed, November 21, 2018 @ 12:26 PM

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