Birthplace of the Electric Age
in a wooded valley close to Lake Champlain on the border of New
York State and Vermont the small town of Ironville proclaims itself
as the birthplace of the electrical age. Why is this? Read below
to find out.
Town of Ironville, New York was the first location in the world to put
electricity to commercial use and inspired Thomas
Davenport to invent the electric motor.
Attract Great Minds:
The valley at Ironville of the Adirondack
Mountains was known to be a great source of pure iron ore in the 1820's.
Joseph Henry (pictured above), an early pioneer of electricity
was intrigued by the existence of some natural magnetic rocks found
in the area. He was working as a Professor of Mathematics and Natural
Philosophy in Albany, New York. The naturally occurring magnets existed
because the electron spin lined up properly to create the magnetic
effect but he did know know this at the time. He visited the Penfield
Iron Works at Ironville and obtained some of the high quality iron
in order to make a new magnet.
Henry may have known that William
Sturgeon in England had created a weak magnet by wrapping bare
wire around an iron core. Sturgeon's magnets were short lived as the
magnetic fields rapidly collapsed into the iron core. In 1827 Henry
came up with the idea to insulate the wire. This allowed him
to create a multiple layered winding. He attached the device to a
battery (the only known source of electricity at the time) and created
the world's first powerful electromagnet. Henry had discovered the
key device that makes all electric power possible today. The electromagnet
is used in generators to create electricity, it is used in motors
to drive motion, and it was used in the world changing invention of
the telegraph during Henry's lifetime.
The Blacksmith's Motor - by Dr. Frank Wicks, Mechanical
Engineering Magazine, ASME
Library of Congress, Thomas Davenport papers
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