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Odd Wisconsin Archive

And There Was Light! (in Appleton)


Thomas Edison revolutionized daily life in the 1870s by harnessing the power of electricity. On January 27, 1880, he filed a patent for an incandescent light bulb, and soon went to work building a commercial power plant to supply electricity to homes and businesses. The first place to produce electricity for commercial use, however, was not Edison's Menlo Park, N.J., nor the teeming metropolis across the Hudson River from it. No, the first electricity offered for public sale flowed through wires in Appleton, Wisconsin, to light the paper mills and homes of that Fox River city. Henry J. Rogers, a local paper company executive and banker, supplied the world's first commercial electrical power in the summer of 1882, in downtown Appleton - - before it was available in Boston, New York, Washington, or Chicago. Read how he did it, and see pictures from his home "Hearthstone" (the first house illuminated by electric lights) at our page on the introduction of electrical power in Turning Points in Wisconsin History.
:: Posted in Curiosities on February 21, 2005
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