Few New York State farms had electric power in the 1920s. Even as late as 1930 ninety percent of farm families nationwide had no line-run electricity. On long winter evenings city dwellers could read and sew long past sunset, but farm families sat in near darkness and did chores, such as milking the cows, in the dim light of kerosene lanterns.
Some farmers used Delco-Light Plants made up of ranks of glass-jarred lead-storage batteries located in dirt-floored basements for electric power. As Delco’s slogan was, “Delco systems sell best by night,” Delco salesman cleverly arrived at dusk with small Delco systems to demonstrate to farmers how these DC-units, when sufficiently massed, could bring to the farm what folks in the cities enjoyed. But Delco systems were expensive, and the batteries had to be recharged with a generator powered by a gasoline engine. [Read more…] about The Night the Lights Came On: Electricity on New York State Farms