Light bulb.

World's Second Oldest Continuously Burning Light Bulb

Field review by the editors.

Fort Worth, Texas

Known locally as "The Eternal Light," it spent most of its life hanging over a stage door entrance at Byers Opera House on 7th Street in Fort Worth, Texas. Thanks to careful record keeping by the opera house, the citizens of Fort Worth can prove that a stage hand named Barry Burke screwed in the light bulb on September 21, 1908. The Opera House became a theater in the same year that the bulb was installed, then a movie theater in 1920. In 1970 someone accidentally turned off the bulb, which caused such a panic that the owner hung signs warning people away from the switch. The theater was torn down in 1977, but the bulb was saved and moved into a glass display case in the city's Stockyards Museum, plugged into an outlet, and continues to burn today.

Some may complain that The Eternal Light has been pampered for the last 40 years -- a museum exhibit rather than a bulb with a job to do, hooked to a rheostat that gives it less than the usual amount of electricity to help prolong its life. But consider: for nearly seven decades this bulb was no nightlight. "If it had to light that back stage door -- a dark area -- it had to burn bright," said Sarah Biles, the museum's administrator. In fact, it had to work twice as hard, as a companion bulb had burned out early and was never replaced. A hard-working light like that merits a little powering-down in its golden years.

Fort Worth's devotion to its bulb continues, in no way dimmed by its second-place standing (It trails only a slightly older bulb in Livermore, California). "We think that ours has a lot of personality, so it doesn't really bother us that there's one a little older," Biles explained. "We win the personality contest."

Also see: Light Bulb Methuselahs

World's Second Oldest Continuously Burning Light Bulb

Stockyards Museum

Address:
131 E. Exchange Ave. #113, Fort Worth, TX
Directions:
Northwest downtown Fort Worth. I-35W exit at NE 128th St./Hwy 183. Head west a mile, then turn south on N. Main St./US 287. Take second left onto E. Exchange Ave. The mighty Livestock Exchange Bldg will be one block on the left.
Phone:
817-625-5087
Save to My Sights

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In the region:
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