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Spruce Trees as Lightning Rods?

David W. Kramer kramer.8 at osu.edu
Wed Nov 20 12:39:25 EST 2002

Somewhere years ago I was told that early in the 20th Century (1920's?
30's?) traveling salesmen went through the midwest (perhaps elsewhere, too)
selling young Norway Spruce trees to farmers to plant near their houses and
barns.  In those days many houses and barns were lost to fires sparked by
lightning strikes and the salesmen claimed that the spruce trees would take
the lightning strikes instead of the buildings.  Indeed as you travel
through this part of the country, even today, most of the old farms have
Norway Spruce trees near the house and barns.

Does anyone know more about this?  What were the exact dates?  Who were the
purveyors?  Where is it documented?  I've thought about looking for printed
ads in publications like The Ohio Farmer but I just haven't gotten around
to doing that.  Maybe after I retire.  I hesitate to ask the question
because in doing so I might just be spreading a legend.  But I never cease
to be amazed at the expertise of the PlantEd subscribers.

By the way, there also were salesmen selling metal lightning rods... and
making lots of money.

David W. Kramer, Ph.D.
Asst. Prof. of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology
Ohio State University at Mansfield
1680 University Drive
Mansfield, OH  44906-1547
Phone:  (419) 755-4344      FAX:  (419) 755-4367
e-mail:  kramer.8 at osu.edu

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