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Whatever became of lightning rods? February 18, 2008

Posted by ourfriendben in Ben Franklin, homesteading, Uncategorized.
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Our friend Ben has returned to cyberspace after a brief hiatus caused by a horrendous ice storm, during which I was booted from the internet and spent a lot of time skittering around the instant ice rink that was once my yard performing my most incessant outdoor chore, pick-up sticks. (And, in a few cases, tree-sized branches as well.) All this toil and turmoil seemed to justify some well-earned indulgence, so yesterday I headed off to one of my favorite, almost unbearably eccentric antiques shops in the nearby townlet of Krumsville, via one of the most breathtaking ridge routes imaginable.

Maybe it was something about being vulnerable and exposed on the ridge top, or perhaps it had more to do with seeing an antique glass globe from a lightning rod in the antiques shop. Or it could simply have been a flashback to the ice storm, spending a long, sleepless night hearing what sounded like cannon fire but was in fact branches splitting off their trees from the weight of the ice and force of the wind, not to mention the brilliant blue, ball-shaped light explosions, presumably caused by transformers blowing up somewhere nearby. But whatever the cause, I found my thoughts turning to lightning rods.

You may recall that the original lightning rod was an invention of the incomparable Dr. Franklin himself, and at the time, it was considered his greatest invention, saving houses and whole cities from destruction. I often encounter antique lightning rods with their glass globes in antiques stores around the area. But it occurred to me last night that I can’t recall seeing them on houses now–only the occasional fine old stone barn with the original 1800s lightning rods still in place. Urk! I thought. Surely lightning hasn’t stopped striking (looking nervously up at my own rodless roof). So why don’t we all have lightning rods today?

I wondered if modern technology had created a sort of invisible lightning rod that was standard equipment on everyone’s home. But a quick chat with my friend Google revealed that this is not the case. In fact, it appears that one now must have an 11-part “lightning protection system” installed professionally all over one’s home in order to keep lightning at bay, and it sounded like a very costly operation. Our friend Ben does not think that any previous owner of Hawk’s Haven, nor any owners of any homes I know of, installed such a system.

So…  where does that leave us? Does homeowner’s insurance make us feel invulnerable? Whatever happened to the cheap, simple lightning rod of old? Poor Ben Franklin must be rolling in his grave. If anyone knows anything useful on this topic, please enlighten our friend Ben!  



1. Puma Shoes - March 6, 2008

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