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"Oliver Evans, the Watt of America" Original portrait caption
Oliver Evans (September 13, 1755 – April 15, 1819) was an American inventor, engineer and businessman born in rural Delaware and later rooted commercially in Philadelphia. He was one of the first Americans building steam engines and an advocate of high pressure steam (vs. low pressure steam). A pioneer in the fields of automation, materials handling and steam power, Evans was one of the most prolific and influential inventors in the early years of the United States. He left behind a long series of accomplishments, most notably designing and building the first fully automated industrial process, the first high-pressure steam engine, and the first (albeit crude) amphibious vehicle and American automobile.
Born in Newport, Delaware, Evans received little formal education and in his mid-teens was apprenticed to a wheelwright. Going into business with his brothers, he worked for over a decade designing, building and perfecting an automated mill with devices such as bucket chains and conveyor belts. In doing so Evans designed a continuous process of manufacturing that required no human labor. This novel concept would prove critical to the Industrial Revolution and the development of mass production. Later in life Evans turned his attention to steam power, and built the first high-pressure steam engine in the United States in 1801, developing his design independently of Richard Trevithick, who built the first in the world a year earlier. Evans was a driving force in the development and adoption of high-pressure steam engines in the United States. Evans dreamed of building a steam-powered wagon and would eventually construct and run one in 1805. Known as the Oruktor Amphibolos, it was the first automobile in the country and the world's first amphibious vehicle, although it was too primitive to be a success as either. (Full article...)
DE 896 was originally built as a state highway during the 1920s and 1930s. By 1938, the route was designated between DE 71 in Summit Bridge and the Maryland border northwest of Newark. In the 1950s, the route was extended to US 13 south of Townsend, following DE 71 to Middletown and replacing a part of that route south of there. Between the 1950s and 1990s, various alignments of US 301, US 301N, and US 301S followed DE 896. In the 1980s, DE 896 was realigned to head from Mount Pleasant to US 13 in Boyds Corner, with DE 71 later being extended down the former route past Middletown. Also around this time, DE 896 was rerouted to bypass the University of Delaware to the west. A bypass of Glasgow was completed in the 1990s. The concurrency with US 301 between Mount Pleasant and Glasgow was removed in 2019. (Full article...)
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