The first Saturday in June is always celebrated as Edison Day at the Thomas Edison National Historical Park in West Orange, NJ. Here at the largest and most compete technological museum on the planet, many families and visitors come to partake in the many free activities that day. That is the way it was on June 2nd , as 667 visitors came to the site, including Edison’s historic home, Glenmont. Here are some of the activities that took place.
Visitors were treated to a variety of musical sounds and live recordings captured using original Edison phonographs. The music was recorded and played back on cylinders so folks could hear what music sounded like 125 years ago. Folks also toured Edison’s recording studio, the first of its kind in the world. They were able to see the big reproduction of Edison’s Black Maria, the world’s first motion picture studio.
Visitors were also treated to some interesting alternate energy technology demonstrations and tours. Since 2005, the lovely Edison mansion, Glenmont, has been space conditioned with a geothermal heating and cooling system in the basement of the home. Using heat pumps, Glenmont is cooled for half the year with that captured heat stored in the Watching Mountain range upon which Glenmont rests. For the remaining half of the year, that stored mountain heat is re-captured from its deep underground storage and used to heat the home. Like a giant energy bank, this unique system keeps the conditions [temperature and humidity] just right in the home at all times, thereby preserving the artifacts for many generations to enjoy. Those visitors who saw the geothermal system also joined hundreds of others who toured the home itself and its original Victorian period motif-lots of “OOhhs and Ahhs” you can bet!
The site showed-off a recent acquisition, which proved to be quite popular, a working solar energy system, conveniently mounted on a portable, rolling cart. In bright sunlight, this display wowed visitors as it powered a large light and a fan. Folks were treated to detailed descriptions about how solar energy systems are being used today and the potential for this technology. Edison was a big fan of solar and wind technologies, something many visitors did not know. Another very interesting display was an electric racing car built in the style of the famous Lotus7 vehicle, a car designed and made from scratch by local West New York High School students. This car, supported by the Edison Innovation Foundation, was previously shown at the April New York Auto Show. The attention grabber was the beautiful Edison image on the front of the vehicle. Edison was a big supporter of electric vehicles, and the
Lotus7 was on display in the Edison garage next to the great inventor’s electric vehicles from the 1895-1915 period.
Thomas Edison said … “I find out what the world needs. Then I go ahead and try to invent it.”
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