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High school classmate of Philo's reminisces (1992).
High school classmate of Philo's reminisces (1992).

Birthplace of Television

Field review by the editors.

Rigby, Idaho

Rigby was the boyhood home of the inventor of television, Philo T. Farnsworth, and signs at the city limits proclaim it, "The Birthplace of Television."

The town museum tells his story. When we visited it was in an old bank building, using the vault to enshrine its most precious artifacts: a collection of old TV tubes, a bronze bust of Farnsworth, and some of his personal items and awards.

Elderly volunteer Alice Lufkin went to high school with Farnsworth. She sat in the vault and tried to provide tourists like us with a living link to the past. But her secondhand accounts led us to believe that as an adolescent Lufkin never gave the nerdy Farnsworth the time of day. We do learn that teenage Farnsworth had his ah-ha moment as he plowed a potato field, with the parallel rows of spudlings triggering his notion of television scan lines.

The Rigby Museum has since moved out of the bank vault and into an abandoned 1960s motel restored by convicts. It's a general museum, not just about TV; only a fraction of it is devoted to Farnsworth. Still, it remains a pilgrimage site for those who love television, and the rest of the museum does offer some quirky diversions, such as its collection of ladies' hats and hide scrapers, a flag that went to the moon, and, for some reason, a scale model of the Spanish galleon Antocha (sunk in 1622).

TV Museum.

Also see: Philo Farnsworth Statues

Birthplace of Television

Farnsworth TV and Pioneer Museum

118 W. 1st S., Rigby, ID
Farnsworth TV and Pioneer Museum. Downtown, on Hwy 48/1st St., one block west of US Hwy 20.
Most weekdays and Saturdays. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Big Wood Carved AnimalsBig Wood Carved Animals, Idaho Falls, ID - 12 mi.
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In the region:
Shaddow Domain Dime Museum, Idaho Falls, ID - 14 mi.

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