Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Turn The Lights On

On January 5, 1883, Cheyenne, WY became the first town in the West to install electric lights. After the first electric lamp was constructed downtown in January of that year, the wealthy citizens and more affluent businesses began lighting their homes and places of commerce using battery power. Frances E. Warren, who would later become Wyoming’s first governor (and for whom Warren Air Force Base was named) when the territory entered into statehood was the first to install electricity in a private residence. Later in 1883, the city of Cheyenne contracted with the Brush-Swan Electric Light Company of Cheyenne to wire electric poles across the downtown streets. Brush-Swan was the only commercial electricity plant in the region. By February of the following year, every intersection in Cheyenne was lit after dark by “arc lights.” The Brush-Swan Electric Light Company was sold about fifteen years later to the newly formed Cheyenne Light, Fuel, and Power Company. CLFP continued to illuminate the capital city of Wyoming for over 100 years.

Wyoming’s fascination with electricity began about 1878 when Thomas Edison and a group of scientists conducted an experiment near Rawlings Springs (modern day Rawlins). According to the local legend, Edison advanced his idea for the electric light bulb while fishing at Battle Lake, near the town of Encampment.

One of those first homes with electricity is the Nagle-Warren Mansion, located in downtown Cheyenne. The home is still standing, has since been restored to her Victorian glory, and now serves as a highly-rated bed and breakfast.

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