How A Solar Eclipse In Wyoming Helped Edison Invent The Light Bulb
141 years ago today, on July 29, 1878, Thomas Edison attempted to photograph a total solar eclipse in Rawlins. According to legend, Edison's trip to Wyoming later played an important role in the invention of the light bulb.
After failing to successfully capture images from the eclipse, Edison and his party headed west before returning to Wyoming later that summer. Edison arrived at Battle Lake, about 14 miles west of Encampment, in August. When his fishing pole fell into a campfire, the glowing embers allegedly inspired Edison to use bamboo filaments to emit light, which he later used in his experiments with electricity.
Years later, a man who accompanied the team of scientists in Wyoming claimed to have heard Edison and a colleague discussing the idea.
"I lay and looked up at the beautiful stars and clear skylight and I invented an incandescent electric light,” Edison reportedly told fellow scientist George Barker.
While some historians dispute the notion that his legendary invention was spawned in Wyoming, Edison's fondness for the area was well documented. A Laramie newspaper reported details of his trip, noting that the party "had a very pleasant hunt and fish, killing many elk, deer, antelope, and bagging some 3,000 trout,” according to WyoHistory.org.