One Marion man with a passion for invention helped shape our community and the world. Edward Huber was just 26 when he earned his first of more than 100 patents. This blacksmith and inventor created the revolving wood hay rake in 1863. Huber moved to Marion with his wife and started building and marketing the hay rake in 1865. More than 200,000 hay rakes flew off the shelves as farmers snapped up this invention which allowed one worker to accomplish what used to take seven or more people. A collection of Huber’s inventions, photographs, and history can be found at the Huber Machinery Museum at the Marion County Fairgrounds across from Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Huber talked to farmers about their challenges and found ways to solve problems. He turned that same analytical mind to construction equipment. The inventor pioneered the use of weighted rollers on steam engines to level and grade roads. His experimentation led him to become the first president of the Marion Steam Shovel. It was later renamed Marion Power Shovel and employed 2,500 people at its peak, according to the Ohio History Connection.
While Huber died in 1904, his innovative spirit lived on. The company he headed created machinery to dig the Panama Canal, build the Hoover Dam, and move Apollo rockets and NASA’s space shuttles into position for lift-off. Visitors to the museum can see some of the treads from the crawler-transporter outside the Huber Museum which NASA generously donated.
Visitors can also find a restored model of the hay rake as well as the Huber Maintainer, several road rollers, and of course, the Marion Steam Shovel. The museum features a 1920 Model 21 Marion Steam Shovel, along with several models of early gas farm tractors and machines.
The Huber Machinery Museum showcases Marion’s history. This gem is open for visitors and tours on Saturdays from 1 – 4 p.m. and by appointment. Admission is free though donations are welcome. Volunteers bring history to life. Visitors may bump into Ed Huber, the great-great-grandson of Edward Huber. He is among a group of local supporters and volunteers who keep this museum open.
“Anna May Schwaderer was the museum’s curator from 1989 to 2014 when she retired,” said Ed Huber. Linda DeNise is the current record keeper.
Huber was an inventor and businessman who also shaped Marion. His son, Frank Huber, built the first home with electricity on East Church Street in 1908. His business was on Greenwood Avenue until 1977. He owned the land where Tri-Rivers Career Center now sits. DeNise said Huber helped start more than a dozen local entities including a local bank, the library, and the electric company. Huber was also a philanthropist who supported local charities.
DeNise said at the time, Huber ran in elite circles, playing cards with Thomas Edison, the Fords, and the Firestones. His son, Frank Huber, was close friends with President Warren G. Harding. However, the Hubers were humble and modest.
“Most people don’t have a clue that he had that many inventions and did so many things for people,” DeNise said. “It’s the best-kept secret in Marion.”
The Ed Huber Memorial Association was started in 1989 by Willis Nye and community supporters. Local donations helped the museum open in 1996.
“We were determined to honor Ed’s memory,” Huber said.
School children from Marion City Schools and St. Mary’s School tour the museum each year, and they welcome more groups.
“This unique museum and the people who have kept it going all these years – this is a huge piece of Marion’s history and identity – we need to educate youth and celebrate this history,” Huber said.
Edward Huber and his inventions are truly MarionMade!