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Step back in time to life in rural Georgia before electricity

Historic photo of linemen on pole (Jefferson, Ga. April 4, 2014) Most people today cannot remember a time when they couldn’t flip a switch on the wall to get light. On Saturday, April 26, Jackson Electric Membership Corporation (EMC) in cooperation with the Shields-Ethridge Heritage Farm will take the public back in time to experience that, giving them a better understanding of life in those days and an appreciation for what we take for granted today.

“Before There Was Light,” a re-enactment of life on rural Georgia farms before cooperatives were formed to provide electricity, will be held at Shields-Ethridge Heritage Farm, located just off Bypass 129 on Ethridge Road outside Jefferson, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Admission is free.

The event will include a tour of the heritage farm, where re-enactors will recreate life on a 1939 farm, artisans will provide demonstrations of handicrafts. Jackson EMC linemen in period clothes will give attendees an up-close look at the effort it took to construct the first lines by hand. Food vendors will sell barbecue and ice cream.

Shields-Ethridge Heritage Farm is an historically-preserved farm that serves as an educational and interpretative outdoor museum. Covering 152 acres, the farm features historic buildings, including multiple barns, seed house, cotton gin, gristmill, blacksmith and carpenter’s shop, water tower, milk barn, tractor shed and tenant house—all original to the farm.

Limited handicapped parking is available across the street from the farm; all other visitors should park at Galilee Christian Church, 2191 Galilee Church Road, where they’ll take a shuttle bus to the site.
For directions and more information on Shields-Ethridge Heritage Farm, visit www.shieldsethridgefarminc.com. To secure a walking tour of the farm in advance of the event, visit the farm website and download an app for your iPhone or Android.

Electricity provided farmers with an “unpaid hired hand” – electric-powered feed grinders, farm elevators, silage cutters, pumps, motors and more that could make work easier and faster. Electric irons, refrigerators and stoves eased the burden of drawing water, cooking on a wood stove, and pressing clothes with a heavy wedge of iron for farmers’ wives.

“Before There Was Light” concludes Jackson EMC’s 75th anniversary celebration, which began in 2013, 75 years after the cooperative received its charter in June 1938. Formed by local residents who couldn’t get electricity for their rural homes, farms and small businesses any other way, Jackson EMC powered the first 100 miles of lines in its now more than 13,500 mile electric distribution system on April 10, 1939.