What's this? I've surely walked past it many times without knowing it was even there.
It appeared to be a marker or capsule regarding a total eclipse over St. Louis. What a find--I could hardly contain myself. But what's it doing here near the Michigan-Indiana border on the shoreline of Lake Michigan?
Most recently, the sun was obscured by the moon on August 21, 2017, and St. Louis was on the path. The next solar eclipse in the US is April 8, 2024, but totality misses St. Louis.
But this was an old relic. Then I discovered the lid could be opened up. And to my surprise...huh?
It looked like a valve stem and threaded hose adapter--essentially a water spigot. So why was it disguised in a housing labeled "Total Eclipse St Louis"?
Enter Google. A search of Total Eclipse St. Louis yields results dominated by the 2017 event, but if you add the word valve you get this result: http://hydrants.com/total-eclipse-1. Kupferle Foundry, established in 1857 in St. Louis, is the manufacturer of the Total Eclipse brand of products for the waterworks industry. The yard hydrant, shown in their 2017 catalog on p. 55 as " Total Eclipse #36 Street Washer", pretty much matches the cast iron device I thought I had uncovered.
Once again I had been tripped up by confirmation bias. Dang. At least it was a fun run for a short while. And I can likely make up some story about the "relic" to tell others who haven't read this blog post.