Balopticon, Circa 1930

From the storage closet…

Front view of balopticonThe rangers at Caddo Lake State Park found a strange projector in the back of a storage room. It looked very old, and they guessed the Civilian Con­ser­va­tion Corps may have used it during construction of the park.

What is the CCC?

The CCC employed out-of-work people in public projects during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The CCC built Caddo Lake State Park from 1933 to 1937.

The CCC trained young men for skilled jobs through a com­bi­na­tion of hands-on work and classroom education. Teachers would use a projector like this to teach any subject from science to motor repair.

How does this projector work?

Text from book about the projector
From the Bausch+Lomb Corporate Archive

The Balopticon is a combination slide projector (bottom lens) and opaque projector (top lens). Slide projectors shine light through an image on a glass or plastic backing. Opaque projectors shine light on a solid surface like a book and a mirror projects the image on a screen.

Did the CCC use this?

Side view showing maker's markWe found the maker’s marks and a number on the side of the projector. With that information in hand, we contacted the Bausch & Lomb Corporate Archive in Rochester, New York.

The archivist found the projector listed in Catalog Number 1. Although the catalog isn’t dated, Catalog Number 2 dates from 1936 so we know that the company sold this machine before then.

We don’t know for sure that CCC teachers used the projector, but it dates from the time when CCC workers built Caddo Lake State Park.