7 Things You did not Know were Invented in Concord, NH
We all know that Concord is a historic capital city – but did you know that Concord has been home to some inventors that changed our world. Can you imagine a life without coffee? Here are 7 life-changing Concord inventions:
The modern kitchen stove. Yes! Imagine waking up every morning and stoking the fireplace in the middle of your kitchen while you brush your teeth … Wait, what’s wrong with this picture? Well, if it wasn’t for Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford, that could’ve been our morning scenario for making a breakfast. Thompson (1753-1814), a New England-born inventor and scientist, whose wife Sarah Rolfe was from Concord, designed a kitchen stove made of brick, with a cylindrical oven and holes at the top for pots. When not in use, the opening could be covered over leaving the fire to smolder gently. His stove was widely considered the forefather of the kitchen stove.
Drip coffeepot. Although the history of drip coffee making dates back to 18th century France, Sir Benjamin Thompson (a talented man) developed a “French Drip Pot” with an insulating water jacket to keep the coffee hot. Now coffee could stay hot longer, and yes, a cup of coffee HAS TO be fresh when served, but sometimes we prefer convenience over authenticity – now you could have hot coffee, brewed fresh.
Double Boiler. Drip coffee pot was just the first step – Sir Benjamin came up with an idea of double boiler, a unique cooking pot that was designed for convenience AND time saving. Double boilers are ideal for heating more delicate sauces, puddings, and pie fillings—anything prone to scorching. They also eliminate the need for constant stirring, a real time saver in the kitchen. The biggest benefit of a double boiler was that the food was cooked by steam instead of heat, and steam is less likely to burn a meal (in case you get distracted by those Pinterest recipes while cooking, like I do.)
Rumford Fireplace. The last but not least invention of Sir Benjamin was the Rumford Fireplace. A little throwback to history – from February 9, 1734 till 1765, Concord was known as “Rumford,” from which Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford took his title. In fact, he named one of his inventions after former-Concord – Rumford Fireplace. When Rumford fireplace was invented by Thompson in the 1790s, it created a worldwide sensation, the new fireplace had unknown before features – he came up with the idea of restricting the chimney opening to increase the up draught. He and his workers changed fireplaces by inserting bricks into the hearth to make the side walls angled, and they added a choke to the chimney to create a circulation of air inside the chimney. Now, the fireplaces became shallower and smaller, while reflecting much more heat into the room.
First American Alarm Clock. Although some of us would call an alarm clock a not-so-good invention (we are in the same boat, don’t worry), but it has a long and interesting history. The first alarm clock may have originated with Leonardo Da Vinci. But it was Levi Hutchins, who invented the first American alarm clock. Levi Hutchins was an American watchmaker from Concord, NH. His alarm clock, created in 1787, was a 29 x 14" timepiece with a cabinet made of pine, and had the internal mechanism of a brass clock. An interesting fact – his alarm could only ring one time per day at 4 AM, and that was when he would begin his day. Hutches lived to the age of 94, who knows, maybe 4 AM wake-up calls were his secret to longevity. Want to try?
The Concord Coach that won the Old West. It is not about the bus line that serves Concord today, but the 19th century “coach.” This was the wonder that won the west. The first Concord Coach was built in 1827, but it has an interesting pre-event anecdote - Lewis Downing, a wheelwright from Lexington, Mass., arrived in Concord on a mild May morning in 1818 with his tools and a mere $60 in his pocket. Downing was “endowed with courage and optimism,” and made his first carriage for Benjamin Kimball.
Downing prospered as a wheelwright, and set up a small factory that had more than a dozen employees. He joined with carriage builder Stephen Abbot in 1826, and the first Concord Coach was built in 1827. Each coach was wide, tall and massive, weighting more than 2,500 pounds each. Considering a medium pay range of a dollar-a-day, the Concord Coach was quite expensive – $1,000 – $1,500 a piece. Imagine riding through Concord’s Main Street on one of those? Definitely more fun than driving a car (in summer, at least.) The Concord Coach would become the definitive Stage Coach, transporting people and goods across the west and starring in many classic Western movies.
Mount Washington Cog Railway. A Concord resident since 1879, Sylvester Marsh was a prominent engineer who designed and built the Mount Washington Cog Railway. While climbing Mt. Washington in 1852, Marsh came up with the idea of building a railway to the summit. Luckily, he was a very creative thinker, and he came up with a cog railroad design and presented it to the New Hampshire Legislature. They laughed at Marsh, saying that he “might as well build a railway to the Moon.” Undaunted, Marsh invested $5,000 of his own money in the project, while few believed he could find success. Nonetheless, in 1869 the first cog-driven train climbed 6,288-foot Mount Washington. Now, almost 150 years later, the Cog Railway continues to chug visitors up the mountain to the summit.