Evans, Oliver,1755–1819, American inventor, b. near Newport, Del. He joined his brothers in a flour-milling business in Wilmington, and after studying similar earlier devices, he developed, installed, and patented a number of grain-handling machines. These inventions included an elevator, a conveyor, a descender, and a hopper boy; a generation later they were standard equipment in U.S. mills. The flour mill he built in the 1780s was completely automatic, constituting the first continuous–flow production line in history. His Young Mill-Wright & Miller's Guide (1795) went through many editions. After experimenting with a steam carriage to run on ordinary roads, Evans turned his attention to stationary steam engines. He was a pioneer in the building of high-pressure engines, and after establishing the Mars Iron Works in 1807 built about 50 engines, most of them used in pumping. He built the first steam river dredge to be used in the United States, bringing it to the river under its own power.
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Evans, Oliver(1755–1819) inventor, manufacturer; born near Newport, Del. Self-taught, a natural mechanic, he invented a high-speed machine for carding wool in 1777. By 1785, despite a chronic shortage of funds, he had designed and built automatic machinery that made it possible to mill grain in one continuous process. He became America's first steam engine builder, improving on James Watt's invention with several advanced models, including an amphibious steam-powered dredging machine (1804), America's first self-propelled land vehicle. In 1807 he established the Mars Iron Works; at the time of his death, the company had produced some 50 steam engines.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.