On a Saturday in the early autumn my son and I headed out for another day trip. Thomas Edison’s National Historic Park was our destination in West Orange, New Jersey. We started our seven dollar tour in the compound by visiting the large three-story main building that housed the research library, machine shops, areas for experiments, and Edison’s office. Our five dollar audio tour gave us interesting facts and park rangers did various demonstrations like teaching us about the phonograph. We learned the first recording was “Mary Had A Little Lamb.”
After checking out the main building, we toured the chemistry lab finding it like Edison just left the building. We saw one of his alkaline storage batteries. Before leaving the campus, we checked out the “Black Maria,” the world’s first movie studio. We couldn’t believe the first films came out of New Jersey and not New York or Hollywood.
Once we finished taking in everything at the West Orange Complex, we drove a short distance down Main Street to Glenmont, the home of the Edison’s. Edison had bought the home in 1886 as a wedding present for his wife, Mina. Our tour guide was knowledgeable and shared many stories like the guest that they entertained. Some of the famous visitors including Helen Keller, Orville Wright, and Henry Ford.
Typical of our many past family field trips, we left learning more than expected. Edison was truly an inspiration for innovation.