As the phasing out of traditional lightbulbs begins, there’s at least one building with a bulb they won’t be swapping out for halogens any time soon.. in fact, they haven’t changed the light in 112 years. The Centennial Light is the longest burning bulb in the world.. and it’s in a California firehouse.
in 1972, both the Guinness Book of World Records and Ripley’s Believe-It-or-Not declared the Centennial Light as the oldest known working lightbulb in the world, a bulb that was originally flicked on in 1901 and has only been switched off a handful of times since. No one exactly knows why this particular bulb has been able to burn so long… and everyone is too afraid to unscrew it in order to find out.
“It still gives that warm, comfy glow,” retired Livermore fire Division Chief Lynn Owens told the San Francisco Gate. “In this transient modern world, this lightbulb is really something you can trust. And nobody knows the mystery of it.”
Historians have been able to trace the bulb back to The Shelby Electric Company in Ohio, who produced a number of the same 4-watt bulbs, some of which can still be found in working condition to this day. As you can imagine, the bulb has provided plenty of ammunition for people would believe modern day lightbulbs have a planned obsolescence.
Today, the bulb is cared for by Centennial Light Bulb Committee, a partnership of the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department, Livermore Heritage Guild, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, and Sandia National Laboratories, and can still be seen burning bright at the Livermore-Pleasantville Fire Department.