Elwood Haynes Biography

Elwood Haynes

Born: 10/14/1857
Birthplace: Portland, Ind.

Haynes was interested in metal alloys from an early age and began teaching himself from his sister's college chemistry textbook. In 1881 he graduated from the Worcester County Free Institute of Industrial Science (now Worcester Polytechnic Institute) in Worcester, Mass. After a brief teaching stint back in Indiana, he went on to do graduate work in chemistry and biology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md. Having returned to Indiana, he resumed his teaching career. In 1886 natural gas was discovered near Portland, and Haynes became a superintendent for the Portland Natural Gas and Oil Company.

In the early 1890s, Haynes began working on an idea for a new method of travel—a horseless carriage powered by an internal combustion engine. Haynes hired Elmer and Edgar Apperson, two brothers who were mechanics, to build the car from his diagrams. The vehicle had its first test run on July 4, 1894, in Kokomo, with Haynes at the controls and traveling about 6 mi at a speed of about 6 or 7 mph. Following this success, Haynes and the Apperson brothers formed their own company and continued to produce automobiles until 1902. Although there is some dispute as to whether Haynes was actually the first to invent the car, he is certainly among the earliest pioneers in the automobile industry.

Haynes's other major invention is a metal alloy known as “stellite,” which led to the development of other super strong, corrosion-resistant alloys important in the manufacture of spacecraft.

Died: 4/13/1925