has been the driving force behind many inventions.
The quest for an easier way has to be at least a
close second. Ross Moore was just a young man
growing up on a North Dakota farm back around 1905.
Unhappy with his chore of hanging clothes out to
dry, he sought a better way - and that led to Two
Rivers, and Hamilton Industries, being the home of
the first automatic clothes dryer.
According to Hamilton's employee
publication, the Hamiltonian, of 1980, Moore
had the job of hanging the wet wash in the backyard
- an unpleasant task on the best of days. In winter,
of course, the task was perfectly miserable. Hanging
the laundry in the house didn't help much - and
living in rooms with soggy clothes hanging all over
had to be an unpleasant experience.
Young Moore's first idea was to
attach a shed to the back of the house in which he
installed a pot bellied stove. The stove heated the
room enough to the keep the clothes from freezing,
and clothes hanging close to the stove actually
dried faster. But it wasn't the solution the young
man was seeking.
In the 1920s, Moore fiddled with
the idea of a centrifugal force device - but that
proved impractical. The next idea was a drum type
drier. Over the next decade, he perfected his
designs and made of few hand-made dryers (left). His
idea worked, he had the inventive genius, and there
would certainly be a demand. Now Moore needed a
manufacturer who would believe in his idea and could
produce and market his product.
After many companies turned him
away, thinking his contraption would never sell,
Moore found himself at the doors of
Hamilton Manufacturing Company in Two Rivers. There,
he found a company who would embrace his idea and
bring his dream to reality. After several years of
overhauling the designs, the first production model
was ready to hit the lines at Hamilton's. The June
Day clothes dryer (right) rolled off the production
line in 1938.
As Hamilton's history book says,
"An unsuspecting world was about to see its first
automatic clothes dryer, and for the first time
modern washing machines in conjunction with this
fabulous new appliance would free American
housewives from the last vestiges of the washday
Maybe they used the little extra
time in their day to enjoy an
ice cream sundae,
also born in Two Rivers! According to Marge Miley's
Milestone's column in the Herald Times
Reporter newspaper, Helen Norris Tangen of Manitowoc
was instrumental in the designs of various models
over the years. As Home Service Director at
Hamilton's, it was her job to find out what women
wanted, and help the designers and engineers build
that into their product.
While World War II ended
production of the machines, Hamilton's continued
research and development and, in 1953, introduced
the "twins," a line of automatic washers and dryers.
The rugged old Hamilton dryers are
still around! The Two Rivers Historical Society
received a letter from a woman in Maryland in 2005,
just after she had replaced her Hamilton dryer - 47
years after she bought it - and a short time after
her husband replaced the v-belt - the only
maintenance the machine ever needed! Her model had a
pilot light that had to be lit - and turned off -
every time the machine was used. Hamilton's also
made an electric model.
The Hamilton home appliance line
was sold to another company in 1968 as Hamilton's
continued to build its line of medical and
laboratory furniture that it still makes today. All
that from a company that started with J.E. Hamilton
wood type for a local printer!