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Electricity at Belle Camp

Electricity comes to Belle Camp with the addition of a generator that was installed in a wooden structure beside the garage. An entry in the Belle Camp guest register notes, “9/16/26 Dinner by electric lights for first time.” The electricity was powered by a Delco system, run by kerosene or gasoline. Delco, or the Dayton Engineering Laboratory Company, had first succeeded in building an electric motor for cash registers followed by the first electric engine starter, which was introduced on the 1912 Cadillac. In 1916, the firm introduced the Delco Light Electric Plant, founded with rural America in mind. The Bellingraths’ Delco system was installed within a brick building located in what is now the Asian American Garden. The large amount of fuel needed for the operation made the remote location necessary. When the Bellingraths moved into their new Home in 1935, they had electric lights throughout and power for a radio or two. However, the system was not large enough to power a refrigerator or stove, so the kitchen was equipped with a large wood-burning range and ice was required to keep food cold in ice boxes.