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Local News

December 27, 2013

Do you know what this is?

OSKALOOSA —

This past week's artifact from the Nelson Pioneer Farm is a a Model T tail light.

Some people sent in their guesses as to the artifact's identity.

Dorothy Vos wrote via email: “The artifact in today’s shopper is a railroad lantern.  It was used by the man in the switchyard to tell the train engineer when it was okay to stop & go.  They used when connecting cars together.”

Eric W. Boetger wrote on Facebook: “Railroad lantern?”

Nelson Pioneer Farm Curator Kelly Halbert did some research on the artifact. She wrote: “1914 Ford Speedster T – Tail light

In 1908 when Henry Ford first introduced his Model T automobile – the car for everyman – he changed the world of transportation. Over the many years that this little car was produced, there were several variations on the basic vehicle. The speedster T was intended for the younger, athletic, unmarried male. As with all the Ford cars, the driver had choice of color – as long as that choice was BLACK!

The tail light on all models was made of brass, burned kerosene and had a red glass lens on the door. There was a clear lens to the right of the door – allowing light to fall on the license plate. These lights were not automatic, nor were they a brake light as we know them; these were simply a light at the back of the vehicle. These were also individual lights, not connected in any way one to another. The driver would have to maintain the lamps by filling the well with kerosene and lighting the lamps individually. The side lamps were similar, burning kerosene, these were situated on either side of the dash board with lenses shining both front and to the side so that the vehicle would be seen in the dark. Headlamps burned gas, drawn from a tube from the gas tank through the engine. The 1914 models were the last to be produced with gas headlamps.

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