Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Centennial Bulb: Burning Bright for 114 Years

By Gretchen Sawatzki

It's not everyday something as interesting as a light bulb celebrates its one millionth-hour burning.

The Centennial Bulb burning bright. Image source.
In June 2015, the firemen at Fire Station 6, located 4550 East Avenue in Livermore, California, celebrated the one millionth-hour burned by a historic light bulb located in the firehouse garage that has been burning for 114 years. 

Fondly nicknamed "The Centennial Bulb," this incandescent bulb was manufactured circa 1900 by the Shelby Electric Company in Shelby, Ohio. Manufacturers of incandescent, tungsten filament bulbs, the Shelby Electric Company's bulbs rivaled some of the best in the industry including those manufactured by General Electric. Shelby bulbs were handblown, durable, and came in several different wattages. The Centennial Bulb, was originally manufactured as a 60-watt bulb, but over one hundred plus years hard at work, the bulb has dimmed to a 4-watt glow. Hardwired to illuminate continuously, The Centennial Bulb has rarely been interrupted. Over its history it has survived a couple moves, a renovation and most-recently a 10-hour outage. Today, you can still watch the longest burning light bulb still illuminate at the fire station via "Bulb Cam." 

As the light bulb continues to glow, it's an amazing reminder of the engineering of its era. Not only were historic light fixtures made to last, but also were their bulbs. 

For more on a brief history of the bulb click here.

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