By Mr. Bill (Mrbill) on Sunday, March 20, 2011 - 01:50 pm:
Since it appears to be a slow day, I thought this tomb might not be minded:
Lake Superior Safety Fuse Company
aka Joseph Blight & Sons,aka Blight Fuse Factory,
aka The Original Lake Superior Safety Fuse Company
aka the Bawden & Son Fuse Company
Fuse manufacturing began in England as a method of igniting black powder charges in the tin and copper mines of Cornwall. The early versions consisted of hollow goose quills filled with black powder. These proved un-reliable, as did powder filled hollow cat-tail reeds and processed bull-rush pith.
In 1831 the firm of Bickford, Smith & Co. Ltd. of Cornwall, England was issued the first British Patent for safety fuse manufactured by the introduction of black powder inside the twisted fibre plies in twine making machines. A final exterior application of asphalt completed the water-proofing step, and the modern day "safety fuse" was invented.
The manufacturing steps, isolated by various spaced buildings for reason of the eminent explosion hazards, also provided a perfect barrier preventing employees from seeing the entire “secret” manufacturing procedure that while patented, still concealed several unique “state of the art” manufacturing nuances.
In the 1840's, a young Cornish girl by the name of Mary Ann Terrill worked for Bickford-Smith Safety Fuse Company, which was then located in Camborne, England. Mary Ann married Joseph Blight and they moved to the Lake Superior mining district in 1852 , arriving in Copper Harbor. Joseph
Blight trained in Cornwall as an architect and carpenter, began working at the old Keweenaw mine. He later moved to the Copper Falls mine where he aided the construction the first stamp mill in the Keweenaw. After leaving the Copper Falls mine, he and Mary moved to Humbolt, Michigan.
As mining in the United States grew, Bickford established a manufacturing facility in Connecticut, thus making Bickford the only manufacturer of safety fuse in the United States.
While in Humbolt, Joseph Blight met Thomas Dunstan, who along with the advice and direction of Joseph’s experienced fuse-making wife Mary , spent the next three years developing a fuse-making machine. It is not known how they met Californian Richard Uren, but he provided the capital to file for United States Patent No. 37,079 for fuse design, December 2, 1862. Later that month, an obscure company called the Lake Superior Safety Fuse Company was started at the waterfalls of Eagle River, Michigan*, then the center of Michigan's copper mining industry . Initial customers included Calumet & Hecla, Phoenix, North American and Eagle Harbor mines .
[* Although one hand-written document indicates the name was Blight, Uren and Dunstan , as does the History of the Explosives Industry .]
One researcher cites Mrs. Blight as being known very aptly as the “Queen of Fuses”, but unfortunately the source is un-named . Five employees begin working ten hour shifts, producing 25,000 feet of fuse per day .
It should be noted that the Lake Superior Safety Fuse factory was not the first firm to be attracted to the thirty-five foot drop of the river at Eagle River location. Seven years earlier in 1855, the Eagle River Mining Company attempted to blockade and harnesses the river to power eight stamp mill heads. The following spring the blockade was washed away .
Sometime between 1863 and 1865, Uren and Dunstan, but oddly without Blight, form an off-shoot company in California, named the Lake Superior and Pacific Fuse Company. Uncertainty of supply due to the Civil War gave rise to the formation of several fuse manufacturers on the west coast .
... more upon request.
By Mr. Bill (Mrbill) on Sunday, March 20, 2011 - 03:14 pm:
.. or tome
By ILMHitCC (Ilmhitcc) on Sunday, March 20, 2011 - 07:13 pm:
Interesting to note that Mary Ann Terrill Blight did
not get her name on the patent, though she was
clearly the fuse-making expert.
By ILMHitCC (Ilmhitcc) on Sunday, March 20, 2011 - 07:15 pm:
Oh, and Thank You Charlie and Mr. Bill for these
great stories of Keweenaw
By Capt. Paul (Eclogite) on Sunday, March 20, 2011 - 09:22 pm:
Nice little summary, Bill!! J
Hoping maybe we can get together for lunch this summer and talk some Keweenaw history....
By Charlie at Pasty Central (Chopper) on Monday, March 21, 2011 - 03:45 am:
Here is the original patent number 37079 mentioned above. Notice the spelling of Dunstone's name (later histories often refer to him as Dunstan). Also, notice the witnesses who signed: