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On this day April 8, 1897, the Paducah Daily Sun reported that “Edison’s ‘Cinematoscope’” had arrived in town and would exhibit every night for the rest of the week at Morton’s Opera House, located on the southeast corner of 4th and Broadway where the Regions Bank building is now. Promising to show “the latest views, life size and in motion,” the Cinematoscope was also accompanied by Edison’s Double Megaphonograph, which rendered “up to date and popular airs.”

Moving pictures were in their infancy during the late 1800’s. Edison showcased his Kinetoscope at the 1894 Chicago World’s Fair, and while the device did show moving pictures, they could only be viewed by one individual at a time through a peep hole at the top of the device. The invention of moving picture projectors soon followed in late 1895 and throughout 1896: the Lumiere’s Cinematographe, the Latham’s projector and looping film, and Edison’s Vitoscope. The “Cinematoscope” which came to Paducah, we conjecture, was yet another improved version of this burgeoning technology.

So was this Paducah’s first movie? It’s hard to say for certain. We can’t find any records of any sort of moving picture devices coming to Paducah before then; newspapers from 1896 are sparse. But given the timeline, if this wasn’t the first movie, it was certainly among the first.

Of course, the next question one wants answered is “If this was the first movie, what was shown?”

Unfortunately, we have no idea. The newspaper didn’t describe the film/films. But we do know that admission to the pictures was 10, 20, and 30 cents. And there was a special ladies’ and children’s matinee on Saturday afternoon at 2:30 PM.

For more about this and that and other such things, visit us in the Local and Family History Department at the McCracken County Public Library. And if you like this post, please “like” our Facebook page as well.

–Matt Jaeger