Wabash, Indiana: First Electrically Lighted City in the World

Not by light bulbs, but by four giant arc light towers. See one of the lights that were originally turned on in 1880.

Wabash County Courthouse

1 W. Hill St., Wabash, IN
Wabash County Courthouse. Downtown. West side of Hwy 13/Wabash St., between Hill and Main Sts.
M-F 8 am - 4 pm. (Call to verify)
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Wabash civic claim sign. First Electrically Lighted City in the World

Wabash IS indeed the "First Electrically Lighted City in the World." It was the biggest time Wabash ever had, even bigger than the celebration over the first canal boat, or the songs "On the Banks of the Wabash", or "Wabash Cannonball."

..."From the towering dome of the Courthouse at 8 p.m. on March 31, 1880, burst a flood of lights that made world history. Wabash had a population of 320. Over 10,000 people witnessed the event. For a mile around, houses and yards were distinctly visible, while far away the Wabash River glowed like a band of molten silver."....

Charles F. Brush, Cleveland, Ohio, had been experimenting with a new electric arc light, known as the "Brush Light", with the hope of a public test in some city in order to prove it worked to light a city at night. The Wabash City Council agreed with Mr. Brush to make a test of his light in Wabash.

Four "Brush Lights" were placed on top of the Wabash County Court House and turned on. On March 31, 1880 Wabash became the "First Electrically Lighted City in the World." One of the original Brush Lights is on display at the Wabash County Courthouse. The city just celebrated the 125th anniversary with a 3-day celebration.

Wabash is also the hometown of Francis Slocum, country singer Brenda Webb "Crystal Gayle," businessman Mark C. Honeywell, and artist Ellen Stouffer.

[Denise Siepker, 06/14/2005]

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March 29, 2015

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