My metal detecting buddy Bill Burns found this scrap of iron near the cave spring at Byrnside’s Fort. After finding it, he set it on top of a fence post, believing it to be farm junk. After noticing it on top of the fence about a year later, I immediately suspected this to be an early “Betty Lamp,” a type of grease-based lighting device. Basically an iron lamp with a bowl for some type of grease for fuel, a lid of some sort, and a spot for a wick. The shape is right. You can see that there was a hollow reservoir at some point, with a hinged lid. You can see the remnants of the curved upright handle, which would hang on an iron hanger of some sort. This would have been forged out of wrought iron by a blacksmith, and would be consistent with the lighting options available at Byrnside’s Fort during the fort occupation of the site, circa 1770-1782. It also could have been early 19th century. But it’s primitive construction suggests earlier, to me.
Here’s a long-overdue update on the Byrnside’s Fort preservation project. Almost all the plaster is off the log walls and ceilings. The logs, as well as the downstairs ceilings, were cleaned by pressure washer. It’s been a few days of drying since these photos were taken, and it has turned out nicely.
“Spontoon” style pipe tomahawks are perhaps the earliest style of pipe tomahawk, which itself is a truly North American invention arising from the clash of cultures and power converging in 18th century colonial America. Early europeans arriving in the new world commonly carried pole-arms with them, which were relics-themselves from European battlefields and the old manners of waging war.
A newer addition to the Scavengeology Museum History Bunker, a Model 1878 Sharps-Borchardt Rifle. It was cutting-edge technology for the time, being a hammerless single-shot rifle with an internal firing pin. The sleek, modern rifle was designed by Hugo Borchardt, who would later become famous for the design of the early semi-automatic “Borchardt Pistol,” the predecessor to the German Lugar – much later popularized in the Red Dead Redemption video game series.
This original 18th century cased set of flintlock pistols are both signed by French gunmaker, Adriaene Reynier, a Dutch-born gunmaker in Paris, France. The box, and one of the accessories inside, are engraved with the initials, “LMS.” They represent more than just the beautiful work of the finest French gun-makers, but also the little-known activities of the Spanish in late 18th century America, including plots against the U.S. government with both hostile Indian tribes, and American spies and frontier leaders.
This is Part 2 on the Virginia New River Lead Mines. Check out Part 1, if you missed it…. These blog posts are excerpts of the materials provided to me by my good friend, Jim Webb, a lifelong resident of the New River area of Virginia, mixed in with some of my editing, commentary, and scavenging experience. One little spot in Virginia, now completely abandoned and mostly lost to history, played an amazing part in American history. During the 18th century on the Virginia frontier, this little known spot was the center of activity, and possibly made the difference between life and death….