Centennial Light Bulb In Livermore, California

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Centennial Light Bulb

Fire Station #6, 4550 East Ave, Livermore, CA 94550


The Centennial Light was once a 30-watt lamp, but it now emits almost the same amount of light as a 4-watt nightlight. Adolphe Chaillet, a French inventor, invented the hand-blown, carbon-filament common light bulb and filed a patent for it. It was made by the Shelby Electric Company in Shelby, Ohio, in the late 1890s, and many others like it still exist and are in use today. According to Zylpha Bernal Beck, her father, Dennis Bernal, donated the bulb to the Fire Department in 1901. Bernal was the owner of the Livermore Power and Water Company, and when he sold it, he gave the bulb to the fire department. 


The Centennial Light, which has been flickering since 1901 and is almost never turned off, is the world’s longest-lasting light bulb. The Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department maintains it at 4550 East Avenue in Livermore, California. The bulb has been recognized by The Guinness Book of World Records, Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, and General Electric for its lifespan.


Reporter Mike Dunstan first found its remarkable longevity in 1972. He wrote “Light Bulb May Be World’s Oldest” in the Tri-Valley Herald after weeks of interviewing people who had lived in Livermore their whole lives. Dunstan contacted the Guinness Book of World Records, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and General Electric, both of which verified that it was the world’s longest-lasting bulb. Charles Kuralt of the CBS-TV show On the Road with Charles Kuralt was alerted to the post.


The lamp was relocated to Fire Station #6 for the fire department in 1976; the bulb socket’s cord was severed for fear of destroying the bulb if it was unscrewed. During the switch, which took place in a specially built box with a complete firetruck escort, it was only without power for 22 minutes. An electrician was on hand to connect the bulb to the emergency generator at the new fire station. The brief pause will not impact the bulb’s record of consistent fire, according to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. The bulb has been running on an uninterruptible power source since that point; before, it had just been off the grid for brief periods of time (e.g. a week in 1937 for a renovation)


The general public was able to see the bulb had apparently burnt out on the evening of May 20, 2013, thanks to a dedicated webcam. An electrician was called up the next morning to validate the condition. When the dedicated power source was bypassed using an extension cable, it was determined that the light had not burnt out. The power supply was discovered to be defective. The sun had been out for almost nine hours and 45 minutes before it was finally restored.


The Centennial Light Bulb Committee, which includes the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department, the Livermore Heritage Guild, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, and Sandia National Laboratories, looks after the bulb. Regardless of how long the bulb lasts, the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department intends to house and preserve it. They have no plans for it as it comes out, including the fact that Ripley’s Believe it or Not! has asked for it for their museum.


Livermore, California is blessed to be home to many amazing landmarks that delight both residents and visitors alike.  Check out these amazing landmarks:


  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Discovery Center
  • Livermore Shiva-Vishnu Temple
  • Ravenswood Historic Site
  • Livermore Performing Arts Center
  • Sycamore Grove Park Livermore
  • Livermore Art Association Gallery
  • National Ignition Facility
  • Lake Del Valle

All of these wonderful attractions are located just a short distance from our location at Wright Brothers Avenue in Livermore! Stop by for a visit anytime!

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