Stiger Vortex Gun Mortar

Production date
Circa 1901
Country
Australia
State/Province
Queensland
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Object Detail


Description
Hollow mortar painted black, bulbous base traders to smaller opening. Sits on stand with cradling arms and rectangular base. Commemorative brass plaque on top of base.
Classification
CH classification SCIENCES Meteorology stiger vortex gun
Measurements
L435 x W145 x H85 mm
Media/Materials description
Indeterminate (Woods), Brass (Metals - Non-Ferrous), Iron (Metals - Ferrous)
Signature/Marks
MORTAR \ FROM STIGER VORTEX GUN \ CIRCA 1900
History and use
This mortar was part of a Stiger Vortex Gun - a cannon fired into the air in an attempt to induce rain during the Great Federation Drought of 1896-1902.

Visiting Europe in 1901, Clement Lindley Wragge, Queensland Government Meteorologist, was impressed by the guns European grape-growers used to avert hailstorms.

The guns consisted of a mortar and a steel cone-shaped barrel, mounted on a tripod. The theory was that the discharge of gunpowder would produce a ring of gas. The vibration of the gas would make clouds release rain.

On his return, Wragge had 6 guns built in Brisbane. In October 1901 he gave a demonstration of the gun at Mount Morgan. At the eighth shot the gun broke, injuring onlookers with flying metal. Later experiments brought similar accidents but little rain.

Despite his failures with the Vortex gun, Wragge made important contributions to early Australian meteorology. He was responsible for developing weather forecasting into a ‘science’ and he pioneered research into tropical storms, instituting the system of identifying cyclones by individual names.

Uploaded to the Web 27 May 2011.
Registration number
H24412.2

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