Recently, Mr. Blaine Lund, who grew up in the small town of Modena, Utah, donated a family heirloom to the museum, a Colt Carbide Plant. This machine provide light to the Lund’s home throughout his childhood. Carbide lighting was often found in rural areas of Utah well in to the 1950’s.
Calcium Carbide pellets were placed in a container on the machine, which was located outside the home. Water was piped into the container and allowed to drip on the pellets, which then released acetylene. This gas was piped underground and into lighting fixtures and other appliances inside the home, where it burned creating a bright flame. This process proved inexpensive, but gas leaks and possible explosions were constant hazards. The carbide process was also used in early headlights on Model T’s and in small lamps used by miners.
Mr. Lund’s grandfather. Brigham James Lund, was one of the primary founders of Modena, which became a major stop for the Union Pacific railroad, and operated a general store there.
Mr. Lund writes: “Having grown up in Modena, Utah, one of the things we enjoyed as a family, was having gas lights for our home. The carbide plant across the street produced acetylene gas which was piped under the street to our home to provide lights for our 5 rooms as well as heat for a small 3 burner hot plate for cooking. The only time it was not used was in the coldest part of the winter when the carbide plant might freeze. In this case, we would revert to coal oil laps like everyone else in town used. We all grew up with gas lights until the Rural Electrification Association, which my dad was a member of, finally in 1946 extended electrical power from New Castle through Escalante Valley, which we called the dessert, and finally to Modena.”