Thomas Edison first visited Fort Myers in 1885. He liked the area so much that he purchased 13 acres along the Caloosahatchee River. This was a small cattle town with only about 349 residents.
Edison returned in 1886 with his new bride, Mina Miller Edison. The climate was said to be good for his respiratory issues, so he usually stayed from January through March.
The Edison family enjoyed their winter retreat until 1947, when Mina deeded the estate to the City of Fort Myers with nearly all the furnishings.
Included in Seminole Lodge are the main house, guest house, caretaker’s house, swimming pool complex and Edison’s study. All structures have been meticulously maintained by the City and offer a peek into the life of a famous inventor in a bygone era.
For more information about visiting Thomas Edison’s winter home, visit Edison and Fort Winter Estates.
Popular Thomas Edison Inventions
Thomas Edison is an American inventor with over 1,093 US patents in his name, as well as many patents in other countries. Six of his most popular inventions listed by The History Channel include:
- Automatic Telegraph – Edison’t device increased the previous standard of morse code speed from 25 to 40 words per minute, up to 1,000 words per minute. In addition, the 120 word maximum was removed, thus making it possible to send long messages quickly.
- Carbon Telephone Transmitter – While Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone in 1876, Edison improved upon the design by allowing a greater distance between phones.
- Vacuum Light Bulb – Contrary to popular belief, Edison did not invent the incandescent light bulb. Instead, he is credited for his design of the vacuum light bulb, which increased the lifetime of light bulbs to approximately 1,200 hours. Previous light bulbs created by his predecessors and rivals did not last long enough to be a viable solution.
- Phonograph – Edison was inspired to create a machine that could record and play back telephone messages while developing the carbon telephone transmitter. He didn’t stop with just voices though, he also imagined being able to record music and other sounds. In 1877 he recorded “Mary Had a Little Lamb” on his phonograph. It used sound to vibrate a diaphragm and push a stylus that made indentations on a cylinder covered with tin foil while being turned by a crank.
- Move Camera and Viewer – The Kinetograph, an early movie camera, and Kinetoscope , a single-person peephole viewer, is said to be an Edison invention that did for the eye what the phonograph did for the ear. The designs allowed Edison to create a thriving movie studio that released many silent films between the 1890s and 1918.
- Alkaline Storage Battery – Originally designed by Edison to improve upon the existing electric car batteries in the 1800s that were heavy and leaked acid, his invention came too late and was overshadowed by the inexpensive, gas-powered Model T. However, the storage battery was a welcomed addition to mining lamps, trains and submarines.