Bone chilling cold experienced in Minnesota this weekend led me to put on some earmuffs and wonder who invented them.  Following research of sources including the Farmington, Maine and Franklin County, Maine websites here is the story.

A farm boy turned his blue collar roots into inventing earmuffs in the winter of 1873.  Chester Greenwood lived in Farmington, Maine.  According to accounts Greenwood dropped out of school to work on his family's farm.

He would walk 8 miles delivering eggs to people.  At age 15 Greenwood was going to a nearby pond to try out a new pair of ice skates.  His ears were so cold he turned back and ran home.  Determined to go skating he took some baling wire and formed a loop on each end.  Then he brought the wire and some beaver fur to his grandmother to have her sew onto those loops.  He slipped the device over his head and went skating.

Because that original was too loose for his liking he tinkered with it.  At the age of 18 in 1877 he obtained a patent for his "Greenwood Champion Ear Protector."  He opened a factory to produce them in his hometown of Farmington and it remains the largest producer of earmuffs in the world.

By age 28 the Chester Greenwood & Company was producing and shipping ear protectors all over the world.  Production peaked in 1936 when it shipped 400,000 pairs. That was the year before Greenwood passed away.  His company also outfitted US soldiers with earmuffs during World War One.

Greenwood would have over 100 patents.  He also invented a wide bottom tea kettle, a new type of spark plug, a shock absorber, spring steel rake, a doughnut hook and folding bed.

Maine has designated the first day of winter Chester Greenwood Day and Farmington has a Chester Greenwood Day the first Saturday in December.

Farmington is the county seat of  Franklin County Maine and according to US Census 2010 the population was 7,760.

Check out the parade of tractors below.




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