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Steiger Vortex Rain-Making Gun

The Steiger Vortex gun is a cone-shaped barrel, fabricated from sheet steel, designed as a rainmaking device. The gun was originally designed by Albert Steiger with the aim of preventing destructive hailstorms in a wine growing region of Austria. The firing of the cannon-like device caused a discharge of gas which set up vibrations in the clouds, causing rain. While on an overseas visit, Clement Wragge, Government Meteorologist, hit upon the idea of using the gun to make rain in drought-stricken Queensland.

This example is one of six guns made at Harvey and Son, at Globe Ironworks in Brisbane, to the order of Clement Wragge. It was manufactured in the hope that the technology could induce rain during the Federation Drought.

Trialled in Charleville in September 1902, the six guns were set up in two rows, spaced over a kilometre apart and fired at two minute intervals. Unfortunately the experiment met with no success, with no sign of the desperately needed rain. Worse still, the failed experiment was seen by some as heralding the beginning of the end for Wragge’s career in meteorology. [1]

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"Steiger Vortex rain-making gun, c1900." Queensland Museum (2010)
Marble, Matt. "Cabinets Rainmaker." Flickr (2010)

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