Most early Humboldt homes were lit by oil lamps, the oil often being locally secured whale oil. Around the turn of the 19th/20th century, gas was piped in to many of the grander homes and commercial buildings. Soon, however, gas was replaced by electricity.
Matches lit fires, candles, lanterns, gas stoves and cigarettes. Wooden matches were often kept in hanging dispensers or in portable "match safes". Before cigarette smoking became less popular, cardboard matchbooks were a common inexpensive way for local businesses to advertise. The cigarette lighter appearing in the mid 20th century was a more elegant alternative to matches.
Lanterns lit by kerosene and other fuels were used in homes and barns, on carriages and trains and were worn into mines and other work sites. Battery powered flashlights appeared in the 1920s and were a more convenient portable light source. Electric lights required filament bulbs and early ones came in a variety of shapes.
Candles, whether made at home or bought, were a major source of light for Humboldt's early settlers. Found in simple cabins and grand mansions, they continued to be used for holidays and elegant dining tables, even after other sources of light became standard. The light fixtures in this exhibit come from the Museum's growing collection and spans 150 years of Humboldt lighting. The large gas fixture in the center is mounted upside down. It originally hung in a local building. Does anyone know which one? Please let us know!