The Centennial Bulb is the world’s longest burning bulb, at 118 years as of 2020, but it is not America’s only famous long-burning bulb. Located in the Stockyards Museum of Fort Worth, the Palace Lightbulb is younger than the Centennial Bulb by a mere seven years.
The origin of the second-place light fixture is as humble as the bulb itself. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, “On 21 Sept 1908, a stagehand named Barry Burke at the Byers Opera House, Fort Worth, Texas screwed in a new light bulb.” In 1919, the opera house was sold to a new owner and became the Palace Theater, while the bulb, unaware of the change, continued to burn. However the bulb almost went dark when the Palace Theater was slated for demolition in 1977. The light was saved by the heroic friend to the bulb, George Dato. Recognizing the significance of the long-lasting light, Dato made sure it was never turned off.
In 1991, the Stockyards Museum acquired the beloved piece of Fort Worth history from Dato and encased it in protective glass. Today, the bulb continues to burn 24 hours a day. The bulb even has its own Facebook page, where anyone afraid of the dark can check in and make sure that the bulb is still burning strong.
Know Before You Go
The $2 entry fee is worth it for the memorabilia and 30 minutes of Texas history. The light bulb is tucked in a cabinet just passed the sales desk. Opens at 10 a.m.