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Thomas Edison in Nelson

Updated: Feb 6, 2023

Inventor Thomas Edison (seen below in a Wikipedia photo) passed through Nelson 110 years ago. While his visit was fleeting, he told a reporter that concrete houses were the way of the future. He was wrong, although he spent considerable efforts experimenting with molds to create such houses, going so far as to create a demonstration cottage at his New Jersey home.

The following appeared in the Nelson Daily News on Sept. 6, 1908. I’m indebted to Greg Scott for discovering it.

Greatest inventor of the day en route to Banff
Concrete is destined to be the building material
Thomas A. Edison, the greatest inventor of the present age, accompanied by his wife, son and daughter, passed through the city last evening en route from Spokane to Banff, where the party intend spending a quiet holiday.
Coming in by the Crow boat and leaving by the westbound passenger the electrical wizard did not have an opportunity of seeing anything of the Queen City of Kootenay with the exception of its outline. Nor did Nelson have the honor of entertaining such a notable visitor and it is hoped that Mr. Edison will again vista Nelson on his return from Banff.
Mr. Edison is suffering from overwork but that is all. He was too tired to talk much last evening but with regard to the west his opinions are well enough known.
Taking one subject which is of pressing importance to more than one of the western cities, Mr. Edison, in particular reference to Spokane and the concrete problem which that city has in common with Nelson said:
“Concrete is destined to become the building material of the world and will be universal. It will take the place of steel in the construction of bridges but concrete construction cannot even be attempted by anyone but a practical engineer who is familiar with the work.
“There will be nothing but concrete houses in the course of a few years. I am making experiments in my laboratory and expect shortly to make a test in which I will build a concrete house, complete, in one day. I do not propose, however, to go into the business. I will merely pioneer the idea and leave the work to construction companies.”
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