The following short article appeared on Page 1 of the June 5, 1908, edition of the Maine Woodsman newspaper. It heralds the dawning of a new age for Rangeley and her momumental leap into the modern age and was set to occur on July 1, in 1908. Everyone reading this has enjoyed the convenience of on-demand electrical power for their entire lives and therefore, unless there’s a big storm and power is lost, it is pretty much taken for granted.  

My family and I have known the hardship and, yes, joys of what it was like to “be in the dark” for an extended period of time thanks to being powerless for 8 days after the 1998 ice storm. We were on day 8 and had gotten used to life without power. My two oldest, now 42 years of age, and my wife and I were all well fed and had each enjoyed a hot bath with water heated on the woodstove. The kids were playing a boardgame as music softly played from a battery powered radio. Kerosene lamps and candles added to the warmth of our powerless, but happy, household. After 8 dark days the lights flickered and “bam” everything was once again electrified in our toasty little home. I will never forget the tone of disappointment as a collective “Awwww” was groaned aloud. We had all become delightfully accustomed to life off the grid and were a tad disappointed that our adventure in perseverance was over. 

Education was an important component for the transition to electric lighting.

Now, just imagine the collective excitement and anticipation of the longtime residents of the rural hamlet of Rangeley who had wired their homes and were about to receive Mr. Edison’s gift to humanity! I can only imagine how bright Rangeley must have glowed and how wonderful the celebrations of that first night. Enjoy what follows and be sure to make some great Rangeley history of your own! 

(Contemporary commentary shared in Italics). 




“Rangeley Light & Power Co. Has Begun Work on Plant…Village Corporation Makes Ten Year Contract—Many Stores and Residences In Line For Lighting. —Rangeley’s Growth.” 

Rangeley village is to come out of its darkness and enjoy electric lights by July 1, through the installation of an I electric plant by the Rangeley Light & Power Co., organized under the general law with $10,000 capital stock (That’s just $333,400 in today’s dollars- seems cheap for a powerplant capable of electrifying a whole town). Contracts have been placed for the equipment of the system and work began this week on setting the poles and placing the generator in position at the Rangeley Steam Mill which will for the present furnish power to the company.  

(A few years later a dam and hydropower station were built at Kennebago Falls).  

Rangeley Corporation, at a recent meeting, voted to take 35 streetlights of 32 candle power for a period of 10 years, and when the juice is turned on in July, 75 business places and residences will be lighted by the company, while many more will be put in later. Several of the recently built stores and residences were wired in anticipation of the coming of the electric light system. The president of the company is D. D. Elliot of Monmouth and H. A. Furbish of Rangeley is secretary and treasurer. Rangeley presents today one of Maine’s most progressive and prosperous villages, rapidly growing in population, wealth and as a business center. There are no very rich men in the village, as wealth is reckoned in New York, but there are no poor families and hundreds who are what are termed “well to do.” The people are active, energetic and loyal to the beautiful village which has grown rapidly at the ‘Head of Rangeley Lakes, and for some years there has been a demand for a modern system of lighting. 

A short footnote; many years ago I took a tour of Thomas Edison’s winter home and laboratory in Ft. Myers Florida. It was amazing. I did find it very impressive that the actual lightbulbs Edison had built himself with his own hands were still burning daily in his home! What does that say about ‘built in obsolescence’ in the bulbs of today?  Power to the People! Have a great week everyone. 

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