Top portion of a lightning rod, ca. 1756
Photo by Peter Harholdt, 2004
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Photo by Peter Harholdt, 2004

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The rod is a slender wand of rolled sheet iron, bent into an L by the force of a lightning bolt. Philip Krider from the University of Arizona, examining the rod on September 11, 1976, stated that it was probably an early "air terminal," due to the extreme tip showing signs of melting and the bend at the tip. The rod is believed to have been one of the earliest lightning rods erected by Franklin. It has been stated to have come from (variously) the Philadelphia home of Mr. Daniel Wister, 141 High Street (now Market Street), Philadelphia, and that of Mr. John Wister (no address provided). Files at The Franklin Institute indicate that a copy of the two-volume memoir, "The Labor of a Long Life," by Charles J. Wister, was given with the rod. It may be in the Institute's library. Terms of Use Credits