Oliver Evans

Evans, Oliver, 1755–1819, American inventor, b. near Newport, Del. He joined his brothers in a flour-milling business in Wilmington, and after studying similar earlier devices, he developed, installed, and patented a number of grain-handling machines. These inventions included an elevator, a conveyor, a descender, and a hopper boy; a generation later they were standard equipment in U.S. mills. The flour mill he built in the 1780s was completely automatic, constituting the first continuous–flow production line in history. His Young Mill-Wright & Miller's Guide (1795) went through many editions. After experimenting with a steam carriage to run on ordinary roads, Evans turned his attention to stationary steam engines. He was a pioneer in the building of high-pressure engines, and after establishing the Mars Iron Works in 1807 built about 50 engines, most of them used in pumping. He built the first steam river dredge to be used in the United States, bringing it to the river under its own power.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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