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Light bulb burns for 81 years

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The Nation's third oldest light bulb withstands the test of time. The Nation's third oldest light bulb withstands the test of time.
Slaton is protective of the electrical antique. Slaton is protective of the electrical antique.
Mangum's outdated bulb is featured on several Web sites. Mangum's outdated bulb is featured on several Web sites.
It remains vigilant after all these years. It remains vigilant after all these years.

By Christian Price, News9.com INsite Team

MANGUM, Okla. -- For the past 81 years, Mangum's firefighters have had trouble sleeping. There has been a constant glow in their sleeping quarters from the nation's third longest burning light bulb.

"We have a light bulb that we know of, that has been burning since 1927," said Mangum Fire Chief Steven Slaton. "If you think about it, the state of Oklahoma was 30 years old when that light bulb was screwed in."

Running from being hard wired directly into the electricity, the light has no power switch. Numerous markings on the outside of the bulb represent it has stood the test of time, and the test of patience.

"Some time ago different firemen had painted black spots on it and stuff like that to dim the light so they could sleep at night," said Slaton.

Slaton has his own theory on what keeps the bulb burning.

"If you were to pull an old style ink pen apart, the spring in it that makes the ink cartridge go up and down, the filament [of the bulb] is the same size," Slaton said.

Reporters are not the only ones who trek across Oklahoma to view this electrical dynamo. Some have traveled across the globe.

"He was from over in eastern Japan somewhere. He came through," Slaton said. "About a year ago we had five college students from the Texas Longhorns. They came through wanting to look at it."

Slaton said the crew isn't distracted by their visitors.

"Honestly, we kinda don't think about it," Slaton said. "It's kind of a little treasure we have, and we'd love to share it with the world whatever who wants to come by and look."

The bulb itself shows no signs of quitting soon. It also has plenty of caretakers around that vow to keep the bulb burning for future generations.

"The only way you're going to turn it off is you unscrew it, and that's not allowed in my era," Slaton said.

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