From candlelight to candlepower. This transition has perhaps done more to change thelifestyle of rural people than any other one thing. While there is no evidence that the early Lundsettlers made their own candles from necessity as their parents had, they did use them onoccasion although their main source of light was the kerosene lamp. Many of these remain inhomes today as treasured heirlooms or in some cases for times of emergency. These lamps hadto be filled regularly with kerosene (they usually called it coal oil) and the wicks changed when they became too short to reach the oil. The wicks also had to be trimmed frequently to prevent the glass chimney from becoming blackened with soot. This usually wasn't entirely successful and a regular chore of one or another of the younger members of the family was to clean and polish these glass chimneys.
Another necessity was matches to light the lamps as well as wood fires. These small matcheshad to be pulled from a square pack probably made by splitting a small block of soft wood almostthrough and dipping the split end in a sulfur compound. Sometimes they lit when they werestruck. Often they didn't but one usually got a light eventually. A man became quite adept atstriking them with a quick swipe up the side of the rough denim of his pant leg.
Some people later also used lights fueled by gasoline. These gave a bright white light butwere probably very dangerous. Air had to be pumped into the gasoline at intervals to create thegas that fed the flame. Small bags called mantles tied to the ends of the gas tubes were made of a chemical salt that resembled fabric until it was burned when it turned to a fragile white ash. These emitted an incandescent light but had to be handled carefully and replaced often.
Sometime in the early twenties the church and some homes had carbide gas systems installed. This was somewhat like the butane gas in current use for water heaters, kitchen ranges, etc. The gas was created by the action of a combination of chemicals in a tank outside the house and passed through small pipes to the different rooms.
The search went on and in the thirties a few people tried generating their own electricity withsmall diesel motors. These provided electricity for lights and power to run a washing machine and an iron when they could be kept in working condition.
About this time a number of attempts were made to get the Rural Electrification Administration to consider an electrification project for this area. In April, 1937, Arthur Carterand Belle Gardner attended a Farm Bureau meeting at Caliente where resolutions were passed to apply to the Federal Government through the Public Works Administration for help with three projects. These were rural electrification, piping water from the Lund spring into the homes, and a Farm to Market road between Lund and Pioche. In December 1938, Arthur Carter had a letter from Senator Pat McCarran saying the P.W.A. project had been rejected.
Udell (Booley) Gardner always had an inventive mind (when he was a boy, people used to use the term "tinkering") so when he made up his mind to bring electricity to Lund his ambition met with a degree of skepticism. He persisted, however, and got enough backing to get a largediesel generator, put up poles, strung wires, wired homes and in 1939 the people had adependable lighting system and for the first time refrigeration and power to run their washing machines, irons, vacuums and the numerous other appliances modern living finds necessary. Not the least of these was the food freezer which, while it did not entirely replace other forms of food preservation, has proved its worth to farm families who try to maintain a degree of independence in providing their own food. In addition tu a convenient lighting system, the church was able toinstall a coal furnace with a stoker.
Later the town took over, erected a building on the ditch bank near the old flour mill, movedthe plant from its location near the Gardner store and it became known as the Lund CommunityLight and Power Company run by a board of directors and a maintenance man.Van Gardnerand Vance McKenzie did much to keep the plant running for a number of years. In 1965 ElyLight and Power took over the responsibility for providing light and power to the Valley.
Then in 1970 under the R.E.A. (Rural Electrification Administration) the whole district wasconsolidated under one head and Mt. Wheeler Light and Power furnishes electric power to thewhole area.
The importance of the development of electricity to the Valley is immeasureable not only in the convenience it has brought to the lives of the people but the impact it has had on other industries. Two examples are the modern milking barns it has made possible and the pumping wells that have given the farmers an increased water supply for irrigation.
Udell Gardner moved to Ely and soon rose to the position of head electrician at Kennecott. For his efforts in pioneering this particular field in Lund he deserves mention in this history andappreciation from the people who have benefited. When the inevitable power outages occur,which are the result of longer power lines and wider service as well as acts of nature, oftensomeone will say, "We had better service when we had our own power."
A related matter is that of fuel for heating homes. Due largely to the energy crisis this, in asense, has gone full cycle, from wood burning stoves back to wood burning stoves. This soundssimple but of course isn't entirely true. Actually there are a number of systems and a variety offuels being used.
For many years wood was the only source and every yard boasted a wood pile. In the fall after summer work had slackened somewhat, the men would spend a few weeks hauling their winter supply out of the hills. They would scout for a good spot which meant an area with muchdeadwood and many fallen trees, and after trimming the logs with an ax so they could be handledmore easily and fitted more compactly, they would load the wagons. This required some skill aswell as much physical exertion and a well stacked load was the mark of an expert. One tripmight bring a load of cedar (actually a juniper) to be used in the cookstoves and incidentally toheat the water. This primitive water heater mentioned before was a reservoir or tank attached tothe side of the kitchen range which had to be filled with buckets and absorbed heat from routinecooking and baking. Another trip might bring a load of pine for the heating stoves. A "pitchpine" (a tree full of resinous sap) was a lucky find because it ignited so easily and burned so long with intense heat.
Some few lucky or provident people had fireplaces, Ivins', Gublers, Whiteheads, Smiths. Inour home (Robert Reid) we had an almost fireplace, a pleasant open front stove. Little attemptwas made to heat the extra rooms in the houses but the stovepipe of this one extended through tothe bedroom directly overhead and on through a heating unit we called a "drum" before it enteredthe outside chimney. It made this bedroom less than icy cold as the other bedrooms and thebedrooms in most homes were.
Wood hauling was also done at times for profit. This was mainly to supply the needs of thechurch and school. The assembly room and each classroom of the church had its own woodburning stove and each classroom in the school, three rooms in the old church building and threein the new cement building until the high school was added in 1979 when there were four. (Incidentally, one responsibility of the teacher, in addition to teaching two, three or four grades,was to keep the fire stoked after the janitor had lighted it in the morning.)
It is probable that at first the need for wood was supplied by donation labor but later contractswere let out and George Oxborrow was given one of the first. Lloyd (Mick) Oxborrow says thathis father turned this responsibility over to him and his brothers and he related the story I havetold elsewhere of how he and Kenneth Gardner hauled wood fromtheGirouxWashto the road tobe picked up by his father returning from freighting potatoes to Ely. Later all the available woodin that area was gathered by the county, sawed and stacked in the corral by the old county shops in the rear of the Courthouse, presumably for the use of the needy during the depression of the1930's.
Mick also tells of hauling wood from McQueen Flat west of Douglas and of snaking logsdown the mountain east of Lund with one horse or a team because it was too rough to take awagon. He said that once George Fawcett took a team and wagon up on a ridge over Sheep Pass. The wagon tipped over and George was hurt quite badly.
At first the wood was chopped into stove length pieces with an ax. Some years later theschool contract was given to Ray Gubler and he fixed up a saw with his Fordson tractor. Using aflat rack truck he and his son, Roy, supplied wood to the school and a number of families for several years.
Finally other energy began to be used, coal furnaces and later oil, bottled gas and electricity. These are all used for cooking, water heaters and furnaces and may all be used in the samehousehold for different purposes. Distance is no longer the obstacle it used to be and most ofthese systems are sold and serviced by firms in Ely.
Most of the new homes have fireplaces and some of the old homes have had them installedfor esthetic as well as practical reasons. Following the natiohal trend in energy conservation,many homes have installed wood burning stoves which they often use in conjunction with otherheating systems. LaRue Carter never relinquished her antique wood burning kitchen range whichshe has standing in her large kitchen along with her modern electric range and she uses it from time to time. So once more the woodpile in the yard has become a familiar sight.