Steiger Vortex rain-making gun, c1900

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.

Acquired by the Queensland Museum in 1992 from the Queensland Bureau of Meteorology.


Steiger Vortex Gun - Cone-shaped barrel, fabricated from sheet steel, shaped steel sections rivetted together. Base of barrel fixed to triangular plate. Three long bolts used as spacers to separate rectangular steel plate from base of barrel. Rectangular plate providing mount for barrel containing charge. Three steel tubes fitted to underside of rectangular plate. Two brackets for wall mount fitted to barrel.

Publication Place: 
Queensland Museum
Copyright © Queensland Museum, 2010
Charleville, QLD
Date issued: 
1 January 1902
Date captured: 
29 October 2010
Date created: 
1 January 1902