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John Muir's Stint in Indianapolis - Part 1

In 1866 at the age of 22, John Muir studied his map to find a new place of work. He chose Indianapolis, Indiana, as his destination. On paper, the city looked centrally locate, had adequate railroad connections, and appeared large enough to house many factories where a man of his mechanical talents might find work. More important, the town had enough wild forest land surrounding it to satisfy his passion for botany. His instincts proved correct, and soon after his arrival in the city in the spring of 1866, he found work running a circular saw in a carriage parts factory. By the end of his first week on the job he had proven his skill to his supervisors, and all the circular saws and their operators were placed under his charge. Within months, he was earning double wages as a reward for mechanical and time-saving improvements he suggested and implemented throughout the factory. He said in a letter to a sister, “Circumstances over which I have had no control almost compel me to abandon the profession of my choice, and take up the business of an inventor.”

He continued to devise other machines and efficiencies for improved production of carriage wheels and wagon parts. He even completed a thorough time-and-motion study that improved profits for the firm and safety for the workers. When asked by friends if he intended to patent his inventions, Muir said, “All improvements and inventions ought to be the property of the human race. No inventor has the right to profit by an invention for which he deserves no credit. The idea of it was really inspired by the Almighty.”

From the book, "John Muir - Magnificent Tramp" by Rod Miller

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