A MARION LEGACY WORTH REFLECTING ON.
The Huber Machinery Museum, tucked beside Veterans Memorial Coliseum on the Marion County Fairgrounds, recognizes the vision and industry of one of the community’s foremost inventors and philanthropists, Edward Huber. The exhibits of this museum cover nearly four decades of Huber’s work and detail the profound difference he made on the American farm scene in the late 1800’s.
The museum was created in 1996 by the Edward Huber Memorial Association and unveiled during the 18th annual Marion County Steam & Gas Engine Society Show. Humbly displayed within the walls of the Huber Machinery Museum are numerous examples of Huber’s original inventions and memorabilia. Visitors can also learn about the continued achievements of his sons and the Marion Steam Shovel Company which Huber, along with Marionites Henry Barnhart and George King, helped to found – which later became the Marion Power Shovel Company and earned Marion the title “Shovel City.”
Huber was a blacksmith by trade and a natural and prolific inventor. His first patented invention, the Revolving Wood Hay Rake, was developed in 1863 when he was 26 years old. This invention revolutionized hay farming, allowed one man to do in three hours what three men could do in a day. More than 200,000 of these machines were produced and sold by what would, in 1874, become the Huber Manufacturing Company. A restored model is a centerpiece of the Huber Machinery Museum.
Members of the Edward Huber Memorial Association are the backbone of the Huber Machinery Museum, which charges no admission fee and operates on donations. Volunteers help enlighten visitors on Huber history and serve as museum guides, providing an interactive tour.
In addition to the famous revolving hay rake, Huber’s history is preserved in writing and photographs, such as bookkeeping, and Huber machines hard at work over the years. Walking into the main display room, guests come face-to-face with upwards of 30 restored machines — among them the 1914 Huber Steam Engine, the 1938 Huber 8-ton 3-wheeled Road Roller, a 1938 Model L Huber, and a variety of steam farm engines, tractors, grain separators, threshers, road graders, and more.
When Huber’s attention turned to the heavy construction equipment market, he pioneered the use of weighted rollers on steam engines for road leveling and grading. This led to his involvement with Marion Steam Shovel, which he served as the company’s first president. Later renamed Marion Power Shovel, the company would become the leading producer of shovels and draglines in the United States. While it closed in the 1980s, Marion Steam Shovel’s contributions cannot be overlooked and include their use almost exclusively in digging the Panama Canal, the construction of Hoover Dam, and NASA’s crawler-transporters that helped move numerous Apollo rockets and space shuttles into launch position.
In all of his works, Huber left behind a legacy of ever-present worth — the example of modesty, kindness, honesty and the proof of the possibilities for one who never gives up. These virtues are reflected in the works and memorabilia found within the Huber Machinery Museum.
An opportunity to see and learn more of this momentous era in Marion’s history is available at the Huber Machinery Museum every Saturday from 1-4 p.m. or by appointment.