'Awarded to the widow of Wm. S. Otis for a steam excavator 1841'
The Institute was an association of inventors. It organized exhibitions, lecture series and radio broadcasts to inform the public about new technologies, and served as a locus for inventors’ professional activities.
At one time "Guldens Mustard" had a copy of The American Gold Medal Award on the jar label. Medals were issued in gold, silver and bronze for more than 150 years.
The invention came about when Otis, employed by the firm Carmichael & Fairbanks, was working on a contracting position involved in building the American railroad. Working with strict time constraints, the firm would receive bonuses if it could finish the work before assigned deadlines. The excavation process and poor digging tools were delaying the project’s completion. This gave Otis the incentive to seek out a solution, as the current practices used for digging were very arduous and time-consuming. The traditional wagon-mounted graders and horse-drawn dragpans were not efficient enough.
The invention of steam engines became vital to the production of the Otis shovel. Otis figured that it might be possible to produce a machine using steam technology that could be applied to digging earth. With the help of a friend, Charles H. French, he built the first steam shovel in 1835 in Canton, Massachusetts.
He applied for a patent on June 15, 1836. The first patent described his invention as a “crane excavator for excavating and removing earth,” but was destroyed by a fire at the U.S. Patent Office. The second application was filed on October 27, 1838, and it was granted on February 24, 1839 under Patent No. 1089.
It could slew, crowd, and hoist. The wheels were made of cast iron, which meant that mobility was limited, but mounted on rail tracks, it was perfect for the project. It was mounted on a rail for the purpose of rail-building.
First known as the Philadelphia shovel, Otis put it to work on the American Midwest railroad project in Massachusetts.
He patented the shovel in 1839 and it became the first mechanized steam excavator of its kind, using a mechanized boom and a single bucket to remove dry earth.
Otis did not live to see the how much his invention would contribute to society. He died of typhus fever on November 13, 1839, just nine months after his patent was granted.
Otis Steam Shovel History
In fact, Chapman made some changes and patented them under No. 63857 in 1867. The patent document described the changes as "certain improvements to the Otis shovel.” One of the improvements involved using a chain crowd mechanism to supply force for the bucket. Chapman altered the name and called it the Otis-Chapman steam shovel.