Eighty-four years can seem like a long time… time enough to accomplish one’s life goals. However, what if those decades were filled with invention and a ceaseless drive to create machines and tools destined to make the lives of human beings easier? What if one’s many inventions helped to create the fields of electric utilities, sound recordings, motion pictures, as well as a voting machine, the stock ticker, the car battery, a telephone microphone design that would be used for almost one hundred years… and all of this without mentioning the greatest invention, the incandescent light bulb. On a warm day in late May, I set off to explore a National Park focused on one man’s life work.
Thomas Edison was born in Ohio in 1847, but his success came when he moved to New Jersey. His first research facility was in Menlo Park, approximately 30 miles southwest of New York City. Menlo Park would be the location of many of Edison’s most famous inventions, including the light bulb, leading to his nickname “The Wizard of Menlo Park.” After his first wife died in 1884, Edison moved to West Orange, New Jersey, and established a new laboratory there. The new lab operated for four decades before becoming a museum, which would ultimately be given to the National Park Service (via Wikipedia). In operation for over 60 years, Thomas Edison National Historic Park provides visitors with a window into the life of an accomplished inventor and New Jersey resident.
Before beginning this week’s photo essay, however, a culinary recommendation is in order:
This video shows a 1912 record player from Edison Labs. If you notice, it plays cylindrical wax records, not the more recognizable disc-style. Disc records are easier to store and cheaper to make. Cylinder records, however, have higher quality recordings:
Thomas Edison National Historical Park is a great place for visitors who want to learn more about one of the great inventors of American history, or are fascinated by the industrial revolution and technological advances. The museum focuses on the work that was done at this location. As such, you will find little of the inventions from Menlo Park (such as the light bulb), nor will you find much of his disputes with other scientists such as Nikolai Tesla. Still, it’s an excellent museum that provides a terrific overview of the work done at this famous lab. The park is open Wednesday through Sunday, from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm, and is $10 per adult (children under 16 can enter for free). Thanks for coming along on another journey down the open road ahead!