My grandmother Payne's house had small pipes leading to most of the overhead lighting fixtures. The first use of these fixtures were used to pump acetylene to lights. This was a precursor to the early Delco Power Plant that was installed somewhere around 1918 as my Uncle explains below. Water spilled into small copper/nickel cups that rotated on a wheel dumping water from the spring into a larger container containing calcium carbide pellets. This explaination of how the calcium carbide was mixed was told me by my father, as my mother used the small copper/nickel cups from the operation as flower planter pots. They were linked together, much like the gondolas on a Ferris wheel and rotated by dripping water that filled them. Below is Wikipedia's explanation of how this worked.
"Carbide lighting was used in rural and urban areas of the United States which were not served by electrification. Its use began shortly after 1900 and continued past 1950. Calcium carbide pellets were placed in a container outside the home, with water piped to the container and allowed to drip on the pellets releasing acetylene. This gas was piped to lighting fixtures inside the house, where it was burned, creating a very bright flame. Carbide lighting was inexpensive but was prone to gas leaks and explosions."
  • Also of note is the explanations of how calcium carbide was first used in urban lighting in the Google Books 1908 Motor Age, Volume 14 search for "calcium carbide".

    The old "Delco House" where the Delco Power Plant set and was probably the home of the Carbide lighting system. Back to the time of our GREAT Grandfathers, or maybe in my case just my Grandfather, since I am a generation behind most of you. My grandfather, L.G. Payne's,  old brick "Delco House" still stands in Lone Mountain, just before you reach the curve.   My cousins in Mississippi have the original Delco plant that sat in the house for many years. It powered my grandfather's house and the old Payne Brother's Store and probably several other buildings in the community.  More from the memories of my Uncle L.G. Payne, Jr.

    Delco House 1
    Delco House 2
    The little brick garage served as the Delco House for L.G. Payne and several other houses around the Lone Mountain community.
    An errie picture of this little house with my phone.  The little explaination below from my Uncle L.G. Payne gives you an idea of  how the house was set up.

    Explaination

    From My Boyhood Days, by Loyd Riedesel
    "Other farms, who had their own electricity, had a 32 volt Delco electric plant, which charged 16 glass encased, single cell wet batteries. They were very conservative with it's use, because the batteries had to be recharged when they were drawn down to half their capacity. In time the batteries had to be rebuilt also, which was quite expensive. The light bulbs were expensive 32 volt bulbs. And, if they had any motors, they also had to be 32 volt D. C."

    The advertisements read "Delco-Light Sells Best at Night" - Any of my generation who remember the plant, it looked exactly like the one below.


    My grandmother Payne's house had small pipes leading to most of the overhead lighting fixtures. The first use of these fixtures were used to pump acetylene to lights. This was a precursor to the early Delco Power Plant that was installed somewhere around 1916. Water spilled into small copper/nickel lined cups that rotated on a wheel dumping water from the spring into a larger container containing calcium carbide pellets. Below is Wikipedia's explanation of how this worked.
    "Carbide lighting was used in rural and urban areas of the United States which were not served by electrification. Its use began shortly after 1900 and continued past 1950. Calcium carbide pellets were placed in a container outside the home, with water piped to the container and allowed to drip on the pellets releasing acetylene. This gas was piped to lighting fixtures inside the house, where it was burned, creating a very bright flame. Carbide lighting was inexpensive but was prone to gas leaks and explosions."

    "Receipt for Wire and Poles from the Tazewell Power and Light Co. from Old Tazewell to New Tazewell", dated Feb. 1, 1915. I know where the company was located and it sat very near where the present day Frostee Freeze is. It powered a theater owned and operated by my grandfather, Joseph Phillips. And from all indication, primarily from someone who was there to see the first electric powered movie, Margaret Hardin Caywood, who said up until the power company movies were seen with a projector with light supplied only by candle power. I sort of doubt that but that is the way she remembered it. Granddad brought a production crew to the area and set up a small production studio beside the house he built. He filmed several events, one being the Big Barren Creek Flood in 1916 and another was a 1916 May Day or some other event at the Tazewell Methodist Church. That was the only film that survived, others have disappeared from my parents home years ago. See the links to follow for more about the "Tazewell Light and Power Co."


    We, Mrs. Cordie Campbell, W. G. Yoakum, R. G. Campbell and L. G. Payne are bound to the state of Tennessee in the penal sum of four thousand dollars, this 1st day of June 1916. The condition of this obligation is such that Mrs. Cordie Campbell has been appointed Administratrix of the Estate of J. C. Campbell, deceased.
    R. L. Sharp, Clerk

    We, Charles C. Gose, L. G. Payne, and J. W. Rose, are bound to the state of Tennessee in the penal sum of five thousand dollars, this 10th day of June 1916. The condition of this obligation is such that Charles G. Gose has been appointed Administrator of the Estate of John K. Gose, deceased.
    R. L. Sharp, Clerk


    ELECTRICAL WORLD, Volume 67, Part 2 - April 1, 1916, New Tazewell, Tenn – A Company is being organized, with a capital stock of $25,000 to remove the electric light and power plant from Tazewell to New Tazewell, to erect a flour mill with a daily capacity of 200 bbl. and to install a waterworks system in New Tazewell. J.W. Rose and Dr. M.B. Carr of Tazewell are interested in the project.
    * Mortimer "Monta" B. CARR was born 1870 in Claiborne Co., Tennessee, and died 10 FEB 1937 in Claiborne Co., Tennessee. He married Barbara REYNOLDS.

    ELECTRICAL REVIEW, Volume 68, - April 22, 1916, New Tazewell, Tenn – J.W. Rose and M.B. Carr of Tazewell, have under consideration the removal of the lighting and power company’s plant to New Tazewell.

    ELECTRICAL REVIEW, Volume 76, - May 29, 1920, New Tazewell Tenn. - The Claiborne County Light & Power Co., recently organized with $25,000 has acquired the plant of the Tazewell Light & Power Co. and is arranging plans for construction of a new transmission system to connect with the system of the Kentucky Utility Co., Louisville, Ky., at Cumberland Gap. J.P. Ritchie (John Paris Ritchie), New Tazewell, Tennessee is the President of the company.


    Joe Phillips was also Road Superintendent in Tazewell in 1920.


    Click on image for entire page from 1920 Claiborne County Census.


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