Welcome back to National Parks and other public lands with T! Thomas Edison died on this day in 1931 at the age of 84. His inventions changed the world.
Edison State Park preserves the site of Thomas Edison’s first laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey. It was here that he invented the incandescent light and the phonograph. The park is on Christie Street, the first street ever to be lit by electric lights.
The park maintains a small museum which tells the story of Edison’s early life and the beginnings of his career as an inventor. In 1887, Edison moved his lab to the larger West Orange complex, which is now a National Historical Park. You can read about that site here and here and here.
I stopped by the museum and visitor center when I was in town for something else. A volunteer took me through the exhibits, told me a little about Edison’s childhood and the inventions that came from the Menlo Park laboratory.
Then she took me out to the tower to show me the memorial and the perpetually lit light. The original buildings were either moved to or reconstructed in Greenfield Village in Michigan by Henry Ford in 1929. The Edison Tower was built on the site and dedicated in 1938.
In 1992, the concrete tower was crumbling and closed to the public. It was listed as one of NJ’s most endangered historic sites in 1997. The Edison Township Memorial Corporation began a multi-million dollar renovation at that time and the tower was rededicated in 2015.
The State of New Jersey maintains a trail or two in the woods around the museum and tower, but I didn’t have the time or the proper footwear to explore those.
Location: 37 Christie St, Edison, NJ 08820
Designation: State Park
Date designated/established: 2/11/1938
Date of my visit: December 5, 2019