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Mike

Rush - Limelight

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Limelight - Songfacst

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Limelight

The limelight in the picture above is from the early part of the 1900's. The oxygen and hydrogen are routed using tap-controlled pipes to a backward sloping nozzle from which the flame is directed against a cylinder of lime measuring appoximately 1 1/4" by 1". The lime, which is the brownish cylindrical object, is at the focus of the lens. As the lime is heated, it is continually chipped away and as in this picture, the operator is seen rotating it using the hand-operated knob. This allows a fresh surface on which the flame can be directed.

By 1860, the technique of limelight operation was well known, with the operator sitting upon bladders containing the oxygen and hydrogen and using his weight to control the pressure. Unfortunately, accidents were somewhat common and after London's Drury Lane Theater was burned to the ground as the result of a burst bag, iron cylinders were made mandatory. The limelight wasn't exclusive to the world of theater. The military used it for nighttime illumination of battlefields and during the siege of Charleston during the Civil War, the Union Navy focused limelights on Ft. Sumter while they hammered it into rubble. The limelight also played a key factor in the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, where they provided light under the East River for workmen digging the caissons.

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