An Electric Light Enterprise North Manchester to be lighted with incandescent light
(from The Journal, November 10, 1887; reprinted in NMHS Newsletter, November 1988)

But few towns can boast of as much thrift and few of as many enterprising citizens for the size of it as does North Manchester.  We are led to this observation by the fact that George Burdge is making an effort to put in an electric light system here and is meeting with such success as will make it an established fact.  George has been working at this scheme for several days and the other evening called at this office and gave us a brief outline of it.  He proposes to put in the Jenny system of incandescent lights for store and residences and has secured upwards of 125 lamps and a representative of the Jenny system will be here today to contract with him.

He proposes to put in the lamps and fixtures, keep them in repair and furnish the electricity at the low price of one dollar and one dollar and a quarter per month, owing to whether the 9 o’clock circuit or 11 o’clock circuit is used.  The lamps ordinarily used will be sixteen candle power but stronger ones may be had if desired, up to 300 candle power.

The system of lighting is one of the most convenient and satisfactory of any now in use and is absolutely free from danger in every way.  While it may be a little more expensive than coal oil lamps, the satisfaction attending its use more than balances the difference in expense, and once tried by our people we think that nearly all the business houses, and many of the residences in the city will be lighted with electricity.

There is no little amount of expense connected with putting in a system of this kind.  The dynamos, of which he expects to put in two of a hundred lamp power each, cost $1,000 a piece and the wire costs from twenty to forty cents per pound.  When it is known that over two and a half miles of main line besides the large amount of inside wire will have to be put up, saying nothing of the cost of the lamps and the expense of putting in the system, it will be seen that it is an enterprise of more than ordinary importance and involves an outlay of a considerable sum of money.  At the same time it is a benefit and improvement to the town and should receive a cordial support from all our citizens.

There is absolutely no danger of accidents of any kind with this system.  The wire is all insulated so that nothing can break the current, and the fixtures are constructed so that there is no more danger from them than an unlighted lamp.  This is one of the features that makes the system a success.

After putting in the house lamps and getting them in good running order, George will then make an effort to put in street lights and motors for running sewing machines and other light machinery.  The question of street lighting will come up later but should receive careful and prompt attention. 

The study of electricity is too deep for us to enter into a treatise on it even if we could, and so is the manner in which it is applied in this system.  The lighting apparatus of the lamp consists of an air tight and hermetically sealed glass bulb, from which all the air has been pumped out, with a bent wire resembling in shape an elongated horse shoe on the inside.  The electricity, which is generated by the dynamo, is forced through the wires and heats the wire in the bulb till it throws off a bright, steady light much better than the best coal oil lamps.  It is from this that it gets its name incandescent.

If Mr. Burdge is successful in every way, he tells us he will have the system in by the first of December.  He will get his power to run the dynamos from some of the factories in the west end.

It Is No Myth
All arrangements have been made and the contracts signed between George Burge and the Jenny Electric Light Company of Indianapolis and now only time is all that stands between the town and an electric light plant.  Mr. J. I. Ayer, of that company, was in town this week and made the agreement with Mr. Burge and the time specified for the plant to be ready for use is before Christmas.  Mr. Burdge contracted for two dynamos of sufficient power to run 100 lamps each and will put in lamps of twenty candle power instead of sixteen as he had intended.  A lamp of this capacity gives one fourth more light than the sixteen candle power lamp and they are said to be strong enough for ordinary street lighting.  The price, he tells us, will be the same as the other size, one dollar and one dollar and a quarter,  according to the Journal, many more lamps have been taken and the machines will be run to their full capacity.  We think a trial will only be necessary to prove the excellence of this system of lighting and that in short time it will become so popular that more machines will have to be added.  There is with this system absolutely no danger of any kind.  All wire is insulated, and every precaution is taken to prevent accidents.  When the time for using the light arrives, all that is required is the turning of a thumb-screw to throw the electric current through wire in the globe.  To put out the light simply reverse the operation.  The enterprise and public spirit of Mr. Burdge should receive ample rewards at the hands of the public.

Let There Be Light
Not having a complete understanding of the proposition made by George Burdge to the Town Board to put in an electric light plant to light the town, the Journal made a slight mistake in its mention of the matter last week.  Instead of lighting “Main Street” the proposition and petition was to light the main streets, and thoroughfares, such as the Board might think necessary, and to put in a system of as many lamps and as strong a power as might be wished, the price to be agreed upon in the future.  Other parties having a similar understanding of the matter objected to the lighting of one street, and a remonstrance was made against it, but we understand that those who worked against the proposition have since changed their views.  The question will be discussed and probably be acted upon, either favorably or otherwise  at the next regular meeting of the Board.  The question is one that interests everybody, and we have no doubt will receive careful and conscientious attention by the Board.  A system of electric lights on the principal streets of the town will be of immense value and convenience to all and would be a great card for the enterprise of our citizens.  As the terms of the contract are yet to be made after the Board decides on the question the number of lamps, the price per lamp, hours of lighting and all other features of this kind will be arranged in a manner that will be satisfactory in every way to the public.  For our part we hope an arrangement for a system of lighting will be entered into by the Board.

The question of lighting the town will come up before the Town Board for consideration next Monday evening, though it is not at all likely that it will be settled at that time.  Of Mr. Burdge’s proposition to put in a system of electric lights similar to those now in use in the stores we made mention last week.  In the meantime nothing new has developed, and the question does not seem to excite as much interest as questions of this kind usually do.  There seems to be a sentiment in favor of some kind of street lighting but so far as we have learned it has not taken definite shape.  The Town Board will, no doubt, act wisely and deliberately on this matter, and what they do will be for the best interests of the town as they see them.  The Journal believes that an efficient system of street lighting would be a good thing for the town and in making the selection we would say that Mr. Burdge has some claims that should be taken into consideration.  He is a resident of the town and has already invested quite heavily in a plant for inside lighting, and will, no doubt, be able to furnish as good service as any other.  We also understand that he offers to put in lights cheaper than the same service is furnished elsewhere.