Did you know the extension ladder, the airgun, B.B.'s, darts, stair rails, coat hangers, the nutcracker, and much more were invented in Herkimer, NY?

Henry Marcus Quackenbush is credited with many inventions that have survived the test of time and are a significant part of our life and Herkimer's history.

Quackenbush was commonly called "H.M.," founded the H.M. Quackenbush Company in Herkimer, and through his success, he expanded his business three times during his lifetime. Finally, in 1880 he built a three-story brick factory that's still standing today on 220 Prospect Street in Herkimer.

Google Maps. H.M. Quackenbush Company, 220 Prospect St., Herkimer N.Y,
Google Maps. H.M. Quackenbush Company, 220 Prospect St., Herkimer N.Y,

When he was 14 years old, he began an apprenticeship at Remington Arms, where he became a skillful metalworker and gunmaker. At that young age, he also developed his first notable invention, a solid wooden frame velocipede, it was the predecessor of the bicycle. To use the 'brakes' in his design, you had to push back on the seat, which pressed on the back wheel.

Although we still use many of his inventions today, back in the late 1800s, he was well known for inventing air rifles that were used at carnivals, amusement arcades, and shooting galleries throughout the United States.

According to the U.S. Patent Office records, H.M. Quackenbush and his company were responsible for inventing or significantly contributing to the development of, numerous early 20th century inventions, here are some we couldn't imagine living without: 

  • bicycles
  • a foot-powered wood lathe
  • the scroll saw
  • darts
  • stair rails
  • the extension ladder
  • a bathroom shelf
  • the nutcracker and picks
  • the .22 caliber rimfire rifle (3 models, including a bicycle rifle)
  • various air rifles and pistols
  • ammunition for airguns, including lead air rifle shot (commonly known as "B.B.s"
  • felted slugs
  • the Kaleidoscope
  • garment hangers ("coat hangers").

In addition to the items he invented and manufactured, Quackenbush also had to develop the machinery needed to produce the things, which included many innovative manufacturing techniques and methods.[Wikipedia]

Henry Marcus Quackenbush died in 1933 at the age of 86 and is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery.

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