Vintage Street Lighting Display Wheeler Reflector Company

By Joe Maurath, Jr.; posted October 20, 2007

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I was invited in June 2007 to contribute to the legacy and a seminar honoring the heritage of Mr. William Wheeler. He was an inventor and well-known man who held innovative patents regarding lighting, municipal water works, irrigation, etc. He rivaled Thomas Edison throughout the same period (1880s-1920s) with unique concepts that are still utilized in basic principle today. Among these is his "light pipe" concept conceived in 1880. This idea permitted lighting throughout buildings utilizing a single light source (i.e., an arc light). From this light source a series of mirrors enclosed within a conduit transmitted light to their destinations. This product was expensive and never became popular. However it was the beginning of "light-wave" technology.'s fiber optics.

I collect vintage street lights and have numerous examples made by the Wheeler Reflector Company. Here is an example of four generations of them...oldest from left to right. On Thursday, October 18, 2007 I had the wonderful opportunity to speak to a large audience at the Harvey Wheeler Center, Concord, MA providing an overview of Wheeler Reflector Company products. There were four weekly presentations about the Wheeler family heritage, moderated by Mr. Wilson Flight, a longtime resident of Concord.

Following will be a photo of a display board illustrating Wheeler street lighting advertising from the 1890s-1960s.

The company was in business from 1881 to 1974 and was highly respected for their high quality lighting fixtures. Their plant was in Hanson, MA...about 30 miles southeast of Boston.