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"A Brilliant and Pleasant Light": Investigating the Springfield Gas Machine System at Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate, Lexington, Kentucky

Donald W. Linebaugh, Nancy O'Malley and Jeanie Duwan
Historical Archaeology
Vol. 34, No. 4 (2000), pp. 82-101
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25616854
Page Count: 20
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Abstract

Recent historical and archaeological investigations related to the gas works at Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate, have revealed a unique and important lighting system. A self-contained gas generating unit, known as the Springfield Gas Machine, was installed at Ashland sometime during the last quarter of the 19th century. This unit generated gas from liquid gasoline to power lighting fixtures throughout the house. Self-contained gas generating units, powered by both gasoline and acetylene, were introduced in the mid-19th century, and offered alternative gas sources for individuals and businesses outside the reach of municipal gas works systems. These machines represent an important technical innovation and one with considerable social consequences. Although the Springfield machines were found in greater numbers in the northeastern states, they also were used throughout the Midwest and South.

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