Another fun Saturday at the Red Cliff Museum produced several objects shared by the inimitable Angela Beck. All of these items were used in Red Cliff at some point in the last 100 years but some of those usages are no longer current so some research became necessary. What am I looking at and what was its use? My first guess for the above items was upholstery tacks, used to secure fabric to wooden-framed furniture. Wrong. These are the famous hobnails for hobnail boots. [hob (archaic for peg) + nail] The hobnails were inserted into the thick soles of boots to make the soles last longer and to provide purchase on slippery ground. There are several forms of hobnails (nail or screw) but each has a broad head on a short nail or screw. These particular hobnails are stored in a tobacco tin and belonged to Buster Beck. This next item has been repurposed. While this may look like a stocking (and, yes, it is), it was used as a skull cap. Worn over the head and covering the ears, it protected the wearer’s ears in cold temperatures, especially if wearing a hat without ear protection. Hunters in particular may be familiar with this. Pulling the stocking down over one’s face and doing personal banking is not recommended. The container below is empty but the label says “Designed by Victor for use with Acetylene.” Bud Beck said it probably had to do with Victor welding torches (thanks, Bud!). Happily, the Victor Co. still produces products, among them a welding torch kit. This container probably contained welding torch tips. Oxy-fuel welding (commonly called oxyacetylene welding, oxy welding, or gas welding in the U.S.) is a process that uses fuel gases and oxygen to weld. The tip is where the flame forms. The object below appeared to be an upholstery needle. Here is where context plays a part. We know that this long, large-eyed needle was from the A. F. Graham Funeral Parlor in Red Cliff. This is actually a mortician’s needle used in preparing the deceased for funeral rites. The Graham Funeral Parlor looked like this in 1919: The next item is a heavy piece of iron that was found, again, in Red Cliff. I asked several people about the possible purpose of this heavy piece and they all mentioned the railroad as the most likely source. I contacted Jimmy Blouch (my great resource for all things railroad related) and he was most helpful: “It is called an anchor. These items were placed on the base of the rail next to the ties. The purpose was to keep the rail from moving. As trains pass over the track the rail tends to move and anchors were/are used to restrict that movement. Anchors come in various styles and were/are placed on the rail by special anchor bars or were driven in place by a spike maul. Back in my early railroad days, part of my experience was placing or removing anchors.” Jimmy also included a picture of a newer anchor for our enjoyment: The final item I’d like to share is a piece of beading. I have no idea to what the beading was attached (possibly a garter?) but it does remind me that when you take a detour, you’re bound to learn something. The next time you’re on Highway 24 over Tennessee Pass, take a detour to Red Cliff and its museum.