NEW APPALACHIAN MOMENTS BLOG POST!!!
From Scott Ballard
Is there anything we take more for granted today than electricity? Especially as our phones, cars and homes get smarter, meaning more connected to computers, the internet and even more reliant on steady power.
Even though Thomas Edison invented the first power station in 1882…., if you lived out in the country even 50 years after that you still didn’t have power…Even after the Rural Electrification Administration was formed in 1935…only a third of the farms had electricity by 1940.
But…when electricity DID get to the mountains it created a quantum leap into the 20th century…electricity COMPLETELY changed our lives…the advent of stringing those lines down country roads meant you didn’t have to worry about things like…using those kerosene lamps that were…so dim you had to light a match to see if they were actually “on”… NOW, you could stay up past sun down and read or work or whatever! In fact, folks were SO excited about electricity that they wired their houses months or even a year before the lines reached them so they wouldn’t have to wait one more day!
Old farmers also quickly added on a room for indoor plumbing or turned an existing closet into a bathroom, but as important as that is, it was NOT the first thing people purchased…can you guess what it might have been?
An electric radio…Amos and Andy were more important than answering nature’s call!
Electric vacuum cleaners were sold, replacing the old push and pump models, and they were advertised to “keep the ladies of the house in good humor.” Electricity also quickly replaced a recent invention, the gasoline powered washing machine…which, by all accounts, was louder than it was effective.
One of the biggest changes might have been refrigeration. A spring house was not where you lived when April rolled around, it was a small shed, usually built into the side of a hill, and often where a cool spring of water bubbled up out of the ground …the water flowing from the spring was typically around 55 degrees…even in the summer…and folks kept their milk, butter and other items in there…necessity was the mother of invention! There are still Spring Houses dotting the landscape in the mountains…some of them still run!
Please share your memories about the transition to electricity in the comments below on Facebook.
If you’d like to hear the audio version, click below.