QLINE worker finds mystery material connecting Detroit toThomas Edison

- What lies beneath these streets?

Days after what would be Thomas Edison's 170th birthday, DTE underground tech, cable splicer by trade and history buff Michael Butler celebrates the man described as America's greatest inventor with his own piece of history Tuesday.

During the first phases of Detroit's Q-Line construction last year, while digging near MLK and Woodward, something caught Butler's eye.

"We noticed there was this metallic conduit in the ground ... We noticed it looked kind of familiar," he said.

But why did it look so familiar? Butler says he immediately began researching.

"It took a while, combing through Thomas Edison patents," he said.

While Thomas Edison, who has more than a thousand patents, is best known for his long-lasting light bulb, Butler discovered Edison's underground conductor patent, which paved the way for the underground electrical system we use today.

"Sure enough, came with a patent for his underground cable, and it was an exact match for what he had built," he said.

Butler, receiving copies of sketches of men installing and working on this style of cable back in 1882, was geeked.

Butler says he even learned that the insulating compound used back then is now what Goodyear uses to make its tires.

Despite holding onto his unique slice of history...

"I want to donate it to a museum," he said.


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