Turning back the pages: Electric lighting

Well, I started this off with the best of intentions, but anyone who has ever sat in front of an old newspaper looking for a single piece of news knows how easy it is to get sidetracked.

I often come across small bits of news that on their own won’t fill up the column, but sometimes if I add the two together, I achieve my word count.

This column is made up of two different news articles that appeared in the Golden Star in days gone past.

Electric Lighting – Golden is at last to have the long-looked-for and much desired electric light. J.W. Thickens, of Appleton, Wisconsin, who is here in connection with the opening of the Challenger property, finally decided this week to install an up-to-date plant. A significant effort will be made to have the plant working early this coming fall.

The town had been canvassed for the past three weeks to ascertain approximately the number of lights needed, and Thickens was greatly influenced in his decision by the resolution passed at Monday’s meeting of the Board of Trade, pledging the board to heartily support the project.

The government will be requested by the Board of Trade, to place arc lights on the Kicking Horse Bridge and in other parts of town. The work of getting out poles suitable for stringing wires upon was commenced yesterday, and the measurement of the town to estimate the amount of wiring required is nearly completed.

Until Thickens completes his title to the Cedar Creek waterpower, that of the Labourer’s Cooperative Company will be utilized. The plant will be thoroughly up-to-date, containing all the latest ideas and the best that can be obtained. The promoter will endeavor to have it operating in a manner calculated to be satisfactory to all concerned.

Nearly 700 16-candle power lights have already been applied for, and this number will undoubtedly be greatly increased. The price fixed at present is 75 cents per month for a 16-candle-power light.

Before anesthetics, the only way a surgeon had of alleviating a patient’s pain during the operation was to work rapidly. Golden’s first doctors operated in a tent with poor lighting and no ventilation. It’s amazing when you think of what the patients, doctors, and nurses had to endure to perform these life-saving procedures. I had often wondered what they did before the use of chloroform but recently came across a great article that appeared in the Golden Star during January 1904 that told the story.

“They had a control and a surety in their hands that are now seldom found. One day the celebrated surgeon Maisonneure had to amputate the leg of a poor devil who, began to howl in advance. “I’ll give you my watch,” said the surgeon, “if the operation lasts more than a minute.” The man accepted the offer, but was obliged to forgo the handsome watch, as the operation took less than one minute.

“To amputate an arm at the shoulder is a most difficult operation. Dr. Langenbeck of Germany, did it in two minutes. A young physician who came to see him perform the operation adjusted his spectacles to his nose so as not to lose a single movement. Still, by the time the spectacles were in place, the operation was over, and the severed arm lay on the floor.”

Times have changed much since then. It suffices to put a bit of chloroform or ether on a compress and let the patient breathe through it for a few minutes to put him into a slumber so deep that he remains inert while the surgeon makes his incision, cuts, file the bone and sews up the flesh.

On awakening, the operation is over, and the patient knows nothing of it. Thanks to chloroform, surgeons can practice procedures today, which arouse our admiration.”

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