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Elwood Haynes in his first car 1894
Elwood Haynes in his first car in 1894. Photo courtesy Elwood Haynes Museum Archives

Elwood Haynes

Born in Portland, Indiana, in 1852, Elwood Haynes invented the first successful gasoline powered automobile, as well as stainless steel, the thermostat used in regulating temperatures in houses, the reflector mirror used for ship-to-shore signaling that can send a light beam 23 miles, used during wartimes, and many other items. As a young boy, Haynes was curious about how things worked. At age 12 he read his sister's college chemistry book, and by age 15 he was experimenting with alloys. He attended the Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts, and a few years later, after a brief teaching career, he continued post-graduate work at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. He then resumed his teaching career. In 1886, natural gas was found in Portland and Haynes organized a company for supplying it to the town.

In 1892, he moved to Kokomo, where he designed the horseless carriage in 1893, and bought a gasoline-powered engine, which was one-cylinder with two cycles and one horsepower, from the Sintz Company in Grand Rapids. He paid the brothers, Elmer and Edgar Apperson, forty cents an hour to build the car from his diagrams. After it was built and successfully tested, the Appersons and Haynes created a corporation to build cars until 1902. Haynes went on to invent the muffler and different metal alloys. His most important invention was probably stellite alloy, which opened the door to the development of a series of space age alloys of the highest melting temperatures, taking the greatest stress, and virtually eliminating corrosion.

On July 4, 1922, Haynes received the long overdue honor for inventing the first car from the Indiana Historical Commission. In 1967, the Elwood Haynes Museum was established in a small mansion in Kokomo, where Haynes had lived the last years of his life until 1925.

Documentation includes a report and photographs.

Originally submitted by: Stephen E. Buyer, Representative (5th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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