I've been picking and poking through the remains of my old barn that went down two and half years ago. One thing that intrigued me was the one remaining lightning road with the glass ball still intact. Somehow the glass survived when the roof collapsed. This week I was finally able to reach it. It was a surprise as the writing on the rod said George Thompson Lightning Rod, Owatonna, Minn. You might be able to make it out on the photo I took from the top of the rod. A local piece of history. I expected to find that George Thompson was some small shop or something.

Actually, it came into existence in 1910. Thompson who ran a hardware business and implement business in Owatonna began marketing lightning rods. The wording of old ads tends to indicate he just sold them. However, he was issued two patents for lightning rod improvements so perhaps he gradually evolved into manufacturing them as well? I don't know the answer. The company moved to St. Paul and was sold in 1930. It's still in operation today.

One thing that arouses my curiosity is that the rod had to date prior to 1930 since it said Owatonna. However, patent dates on the hay mow door hardware indicated the barn being built in 1940 or so. Apparently, this was a used system put on the roof? It's possible as there was another barn that dated from around 1900 that had collapsed. So it's possible that when the old barn started to fall down, they built a new one and moved this lightning rod system to the new barn. I'm just speculating. It's still fun to find a piece of Owatonna history on top of my old collapsed barn. If you can share any information on George Thompson, let me know.


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