I have seen the light!

The light bulb, that is–all glorious four watts of it.

Which wouldn’t be particularly interesting except for one item: One hundred ten years.

That’s how long the bulb has been burning–in various Livermore fire stations, starting in June 1901 and continuing through today, when there was a four-hour celebration of the “Centennial Light Bulb,” as it’s now known.

One hundred ten years? One light bulb?

That’s the history, and it seems to be reasonably well documented. Here’s one story filed this afternoon; here’s the website (grammatical errors and all) and the webcam.

We got to the four-hour celebration (noon to four) around 3 p.m.; there were still at least a hundred people there, more arriving all the time. Several beautifully-restored old fire engines; some well done displays on the Shelby company (makers of the carbon-filament lightbulb in question), the lightbulb, early Livermore and the like; a similar Shelby bulb available for close-up views; the authors of two children’s books on the bulb signing copies; and, of course, the bulb itself–up high near one wall, serving as a nightlight as it has continuously since 1976 (when it came to the current location). They had birthday cakes (mostly gone), free ice cream sandwiches (still available), free water…and, too loud but fortunately out in back, the usual live music.

Yes, there’s even a documentary DVD about it, premiered last night at Livermore’s local non-multiplex movie theater, the one that sells wine & beer and delivers food from the next-door restaurant. (No, we didn’t see the documentary and aren’t buying the DVD.)

This may be the longest-burning light bulb at least in America, although it’s not the only one with at least a century life. (Apparently, thick carbon filaments didn’t give off much light…but lasted a LONG time.)

Interesting little local celebration.

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