Profile America — Saturday, March 31st. At exactly 8 p.m. on this date in 1880, a switch was thrown and Wabash, Indiana became the first town in America to be illuminated by electric lights. Newspaper reports said people were overcome with awe and many sank to their knees in wonder. Most American homes used oil lamps and gaslight until well after the turn of the 20th century, and electric power didn't reach every farmhouse in the nation until the 1950s. The average U.S. home used just 264 kilowatt hours a year in 1912, chiefly for lighting. With the dramatic growth in electrical appliances and electronic devices, the average home now uses 11,500 kilowatt hours annually. You can find these and more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau, online at www.census.gov.
Sources: American Speakers Calendar of Events Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1970, p. 827 Statistical Abstract of the United States 2012, t. 952
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