In 1854, an experiment far stranger than anything in Mary Shelley’s novel took place when a New England clergyman married science and spiritualism in an attempt to build nothing less than a god. Discovered in a dusty attic in Colorado, could this be John Murray Spear’s fabled ‘God Machine’ or ‘New Motive Power’?
Those familiar with the Lore podcast may have heard of this bizarre machine in Episode 61 ‘- Labor Pains’. In 1853 work began on a mysterious machine, an experiment that has since become synonymous with the early spiritualist movement. If successful, it was believed that the machine in question had the power to “revolutionize the world and raise mankind to an exalted level of spiritual development.” It was thought that once finished, the machine itself would act as a physical body for God, a metal and copper suit to contain the divine spark. They called it the New Motive Power; Heaven’s last, best gift to man.
What eventually happened to this machine has become the source of legend and speculation. According to Spear, the Machine was dismantled and transported hundreds of miles to the small town of Randolph. There it was housed in a temporary structure until a mob - in a scene reminiscent of the peasants storming Frankenstein’s castle - destroyed it. However, over the years, those who believe in the creation of the God Machine have surmised that Spear and his group fabricated the destruction of the machine with the hopes of drawing negative attention away, sacrificing their credibility for the safety of the infant creation. They believe that it still exists somewhere, slowly gaining strength after one-hundred and fifty-six years in seclusion, and that one day, it will unveil itself to humanity in it’s true form : the second coming of Christ; the Metal Messiah.
Even more of a mystery if how the machine made the journey from Randolph to Colorado where it laid undiscovered for over a century. The age and likeness to the early etchings point to the possibility that this could well be the genuine ‘God Machine’. It was found during the routine house clearance of an elderly lady who sadly died with no next of kin or immediate family. Miss Akerman of Greeley, Colorado, known locally as ‘Old Lady Crackerman’ due to her eccentricity was a habitual hoarder and lived a rambling mansion on the edge of town which became home to her vast antique collection. In her will she instructed that in the event of her death, the house be cleared and all of the contents auctioned with the proceeds being donated to local pet rescue charities.
The God Machine was discovered during the final stages of clearance which had taken over 3 week to catalogue. In a locked attic in the furthest corner of the mansion, a drab stained dust sheet covered a mysterious object that would later baffle the local antique experts charged with valuing Miss Ackerman’s extensive collection.
The only clue to the origin of steampunk contraption was a brass plate engraved with ‘New Motive Power - John Murray Spear’. A quick Google search revealed that they had uncovered something that was rumored to have been destroyed over a hundred years ago.
The mass of brass cogs, dials, glass cylinders and strange clockwork systems looks like a steampunk wet dream, yet this was built long before the questionable fashion of top hats, goggles and clockwork powered laser guns was born.
So the big question is, does it work? Is this the real ‘New Motive Power’, the ‘God Machine, the ‘Mechanical Messiah’?
As far we know, the machine has been loaned from the Ackerman estate to a local Spiritualism expert where it is being tested for its authenticity. Watch this space for more news.