All Things Maine
All Things Maine

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Father of the Patent Office

The first U.S. patent was awarded in 1790, but after the early patents were destroyed by fire and a new numbering system was introduced in 1836, patent number one went to John Ruggles of Thomaston, for his "Locomotive Steam-Engine for Rail and Other Roads." Ruggles had devised a cog system "by which inclined planes and hills may be ascended and heavy loads drawn up the same with more facility and economy than heretofore, and by which the evil effects of frost, ice, snows, and mud on the rail causing the wheels to slide are obviated."

Ruggles was a lawyer who studied at Brown University, and came to Skowhegan in 1815, to Thomaston a few years later. He was elected to Congress in 1835, and a year later helped reorganize the Patent Office—which explains how he came by the first patent issued. His efforts earned him the title "Father of the Patent Office."
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