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KOKOMO, INDIANA


 "THE CITY OF FIRSTS"


Kokomo is the home of many inventions, and thus is known as "The City Of Firsts".In 1893, Elwood Haynes purchased a one-horsepower upright two-cycle engine, that used gasoline as fuel.He hired Elmer and Edgar Apperson to build a "horseless carriage" in their Kokomo Machine Shop. On July 4, 1894, Mr Haynes made the first trial run. He first used a horse and buggy to pull the car out into the country on Pumpkinvine Pike, three miles east of the city. He then drove his car about six miles, at about seven miles an hour, making a successful run. He never sold that car, but instead gave it to the Smithsonian Institute, in Washington. He also joined up with the Apperson Brothers, and formed the Haynes-Apperson Automobile Company, and started production of the automobile. This started others to form factories all over the state, and so Indiana has had 256 different makes of cars built in our state.

    He also invented the first stainless steel, and the first Stellite Cobalt-base Alloy, which is used today for blading the small turbines, which power the fuel pumps in liquid-propelled missiles, such as the Atlas rockets.

    In 1923 Mr. Haynes ' company was producing 40 cars per day. He passed away in 1925, at the age of 67, and as a tribute to him, all business was suspended for one hour , during his funeral. He was a very successful  man with all his achievements, and he was respected and loved by all who knew him. If you visit Kokomo, take time to visit the Elwood Haynes Museum, at 1915 South Webster Street, You will enjoy the many rooms dedicated to this great inventor.


Many other inventions were made first in Kokomo, and are as follows.

In 1894, The First Pneumatic Rubber Tire,invented by D. C. Spraker, at The Kokomo Rubber Tire Co. It was made of strips of three-ply rubber, canvas, and other wrappings of vulcanized rubber, wound around a slender pole.


In 1895, The First Aluminum Casting, made at the Ford and Donnelly Foundry, by William "Billy" Johnson.


In 1902,The First Carburetor,developed by George Kingston. It was made from a piece of brass pipe, six inches long, with a cap fitted to one side, in which a float and wire guage regulated the flow of fuel.


In 1906,The First Stellite Cobalt-base Alloy, discovered by Elwood Haynes, while searching for a metal to be used in producing tableware.


In 1912 ,The First Stainless Steel,invented by Elwood Haynes to develope a tarnish-free dinnerware.


In 1918, The First Howitzer Shell, made by the Superior Machine Tool Co. It was first used in World War I.


In 1918, The First Aerial Bomb with Fins,. produced by the Liberty Pressed Metal Co.


In 1920, The First Mechanical Corn Picker, developed by John Powell.


In 1926, Dirilyte Golden Hued Tableware, invented by Carl Molin.


In 1928, The First Canned Tomato Juice, developed by Walter Kemp of the Kemp Brothers Canning Co. at the request of a physician, who was seeking baby food for use in his clinic.


In 1938, The First Push-button Car Radio,developed at Delco Radio Division of General Motors Corp.


In 1941, All Metal Life Boats and Rafts,Manufactured by Globe American Stove Co. The lifeboat in 1941, and the life raft in 1943, nicknamed the "Kokomo Kid".



In 1947, The First Signal Seeking Car Radio,developed at Delco Radio Division of General Motors.


In 1957, The First All Transistor Car Radio, developed at Delco Radio Division of General Motors.


Kokomo also has several landmarks that are great to see and visit. When you drive to the south end of Kokomo, you will see the Kokomo Gas & Fuel Co. storage tower, that can be seen from several miles away, day or night.

On south Webster Street, you will find the Elwood Haynes Museum. It has many sights to see about the first horseless carriage.

On west Sycamore Street, you will find the Sieberling Mansion, which is now the Howard County Musuem and Historical Society.

On the corner of Walnut and Washington streets,you will find the former city building, which in my own opinion,is one of the best ones that are still standing.


The city of Kokomo got it's name, from it's founder, David Foster, who named it after an Indian Chief, named Ma-Ko-Ko-Mo. Mr. Foster built and lived in a log cabin, from which he traded with indians. In exchange for stocked goods, he got furs. That cabin also served as the first to hold court and the first school and church.

Mr. Foster also gave forty acres to be the site for the county seat. He was a great friend to the Indians, and often invited them in to stay over night. His portrait can be seen on the door of the courthouse. He and his wife had eleven children, one of which was the first white child born here.


There has been many dignataries visit here, listing a few as follows. Benjamin Harrison in 1888 and in 1894: William Mckinley in 1898; Teddy Roosevelt in 1902; William Jennings Bryan in 1908; William Howard Taft in 1908; Woodrow Wilson in 1912; Charles Evans Hughes in 1916; Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1920; Harry S. Truman in 1948; Richard M. Nixon in 1952; John Kennedy and Bob Kennedy in 1960.


I think that one of the greatest things that I love about Kokomo is the way that they take care of their own. Many years ago, two guys on the radio decided to help a fellow man on Christmas, who was hurting for money to take care of himself and his family. That started a great thing called" We Care". Over the years , there has been a wonderful showing of feeling for the ones that would not otherwise have any Christmas. The people in Kokomo and surrounding communities all get together, and they give of their time and money to show their love for their fellow man. They give and give and give. If there is a city full of santas, they call it Kokomo, Indiana.

Also I have to say that there is a man and his family who do a lot for Kokomo's community, in that they take thier time in the fall, to decorate the "WE CARE PARK" in the north end of Kokomo. This year they had over 750,000 lights strung up, so that those who came to see them, might feel the desire to donate to "WE CARE". This man is named Mike Wyant, who with his brothers and friends, make the Christmas season much more enjoyable.


Kokomo has always had a bad rep. as a city with many stoplights, but I think we don't have as many as other cities this size. So I thought I might as well place one here too.
Since I showed the traffic light, I might as well show you that we have a lot of pretty trees also.

Kokomo also has a Stuffed Steer called "Old Ben", and it is a big one, and is on exibit in Highland Park. Take a look at Ben in this picture supplied to me by Corey Hill
Old Ben is a part of the history of Kokomo. Old Ben was the offspring of a registered Hereford bull, and an ordinary shorthorn cow. He came in at 125 lbs at birth in 1902. He had to rest on his knees to nurse, when less than a week old. At the age of four, he weighed 2 tons, and was quite a sight to see. His owners, who were Mike and John Murphy, showed him in fairs all over Indiana, until Feb. of 1910, when Ben slipped on ice, breaking his leg. He had to be put out of his misery, and was shot. At death, he weighed in at about 4720 lbs, and from nose to tail, he measured a little over 16 feet. He was stuffed by a taxidermist in New York, and was displayed at the Murphy farm, until he was brought to Highland Park, to be there , to this day. That is the story of Old Ben, and if you are in Kokomo, Indiana for a visit, stop in at the Park to see Ben.
Also in that same park, we have a sycamore stump that is very large, and is also a sight to see.This picture was also supplied to me by Corey Hill.

This stump is the largest of it's kind in the world. It's original growing spot, was along the edge of Wildcat Creek, west of the New London road, west of Kokomo. It is estimated to be around the age of 1500 years, but that may be a little high. The stump was donated to the city in 1916, and it weighed several tons. It was first used as a telephone booth, but young lovers were always putting thier initials on it with knives, and so it was put inside a shelter. It sets in that enclosed shelter for all to see and admire. It is one of the attractions that the great city of Kokomo, Indiana has for sightseers, and for all the history buffs to see.


Kokomo has an Automobile Heritage Museum on US 31 Bypass North, and it will be a perfect spot for travelars to our great city to visit. It is called "The Johanning Visitor Center" and it is on the 31 bypass, on the northbound lane, between North Street and Morgan Street.


Kokomo also was the home of Kokomo Steel and Wire, later known as Continental Steel, which produced the first color-coded wire, and was famous for many different steel items such as nails, rebar rods,and chain-link fence.

Kokomo, Indiana can be seen as you come north from Indy on U.S.31, where you well observe the "Gas Tower" on the south part of the city. It can be seen on a clear day from a long distance, Here is what you will see. On Sunday Morning, September 7, 2003, the tower that most of us knew as a big part of the Kokomo Community, became only a memory, as it was imploded with precision explosive action, coming to the ground to be cleaned up and , never to be seen again. What took workers who built that tower, 13 months , to construct, only took a few hours to set off and take away a memory so dear to many who lived here and for many who used it as a travel direction. I really thought that there would be some way to save it as did about half of the people who lived here. But the so- called expense of it being there and maintained, dictated the tearing down of it. When it was standing there for whole city to see, it covered 36,855 square feet of land. It was 378.5 feet tall, and the inside of it could hold 12 million cubic feet of gas. At the top of that tower, was the home of a pair of Peregrine Falcons. From the bottom to the top, there were 550 steps. It was built in 1954, painted in 1955, again in 1972, and painted for the last time in 1985. There were 22 sides to the tower. It took 2,000 gallons of paint to cover it. The Gas Tower was at one time used as a navigational reference point for aircraft when Grissom Air Force base was fully operational. In 1980, vandals took the American Flag from The Kokomo Post Office, and tied it to one of the antennas on top of the tower. The Tower stood tall in the vision of most of Kokomo and Howard County. It is a shame that it had to come down instead of being made an historical site for the future generation to see. Kokomo's skyline has been alteredby the demise of the country's 5th tallest building. It was a part of my life and now only a memory with no marker to show where it stood.


 

Living in Kokomo all my life, I am proud of it and it's history.

 If you have comments or suggestions, email me at If you have comments or suggestions, email me at arermdrd@netusa1.net


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