When you visit the Indiana State Fair, hop on board the Indiana History Train to take in a new exhibit celebrating Hoosier inventions and innovations. Made in Indiana, explores products with roots in our state – from automobiles to medical innovations, musical instruments, agricultural equipment and more. Each story highlights one of the invention process steps: define a problem, do research, make a prototype, file a patent, and market the invention.
Hoosier inventors filed patents for all kinds of creations, including a trap for catching rats.
In 1868, an inventor named M.D. Fowler in Vincennes filed a patent for what was described as “a new and useful improvement in rattraps.” The design was intended to be placed over a water-filled receptacle so rats would fall into the water and drown. In the patent drawing, Fowler depicted corn as the bait but stated that any bait that attracted rats could be used. After entering the trap, rats stepped onto a piece of the floor that essentially acted as a trap door, plunging the rats into the water below. Fowler even designed a mechanism that forced the rats into the receptacle if they clung to the trap door.
Founded in 1884, the Dr. Miles Medical Company manufactured and marketed medication developed by its founder, Dr. Franklin Miles. Within its first decade, other druggists and businessmen from Elkhart partnered with the company and successfully advertised the products. Early materials included colorful almanacs, calendars and a Little Book series on health. By the 1950s, the popular Alka-Seltzer tablet – developed in 1931 as a remedy for colds and upset stomachs – was advertised on radio and television. During the 1960s and 1970s, Alka-Seltzer television advertisements were some of the most popular in the United States. From the late 1970s to the 1990s, Miles Laboratories underwent several consolidations and name changes as the company was bought by and incorporated with the Bayer Company.
Presented by Indiana Historical Society in partnership with the Indiana State Fair Commission and supported in part by Allison Transmission, Bass Farms, Delta Faucet Company, Indiana Rail Road Company, Jack’s Donuts and Weaver Popcorn.
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