FIRST LIGHT (1900 – 1929)

W.C. Coleman at his work bench 

Arc Lantern  

In 1905, W.C. Coleman wanted to demonstrate just what his new gas lamps were capable of. He strung his lamps from poles on both sides of the football field at Fairmount College in Wichita, Kansas. According to Coleman historians, the first night football game west of the Mississippi occurred that evening under Coleman gas lights and resulted in a 24-0 shutout of Cooper College by the Fairmount College Wheatshockers.

At the turn of the century in America, electric service was not an option in rural parts of the country. When the sun went down, the work day ended. In 1909, W.C. Coleman started selling a portable table lamp that would became a staple in rural homes, and five years later introduced a product that would help transform the company from a local concern into a national necessity. The new 300 candlepower lantern provided working light in every direction for 100 yards and could light the far corners of a barn. The Coleman® lantern lengthened the time farmers and ranchers could work. This significantly boosted productivity, and fundamentally changed the work dynamic in rural America. It wasn’t just for civilians either, as the U.S. Government declared this lantern an “essential item” for the troops serving in World War I, and nearly 70,000 lanterns were distributed to American forces fighting in Europe.

Back to History