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Lectures At The Lighthouse – The Magnificent Machines of Milwaukee

May 9 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Thomas Fehring – The Magnificent Machines of Milwaukee

The Magnificent Machines of Milwaukee by Thomas Fehring tells the story of innovation and enterprise creation in Milwaukee during the Century of Progress—the hundred years following the US Civil War. It was a remarkable era—Milwaukee was one of the principal centers of industrial innovation in the United States and became known as “the Machine Shop of the World.” In telling the story of Milwaukee’s industrial history, the book summarizes individual stories of over seventy early Milwaukee-area companies and discusses the significant machines designed by their engineers.

Tom will focus his presentation on the early industries that were located adjacent to, or near the Milwaukee River. Among other companies, he will feature innovations by:

  • Christopher Latham Sholes and his typewriter
  • James Paris Lee and his breech-loading firearm
  • MMSD’s Milwaukee River ‘flushing station’
  • Mathias Schwalbach’s STAR Clock Company
  • The East Wells Power Plant of We Energies
  • Christensen Engineering and the innovations of Niles Christensen
  • Globe Union, Centralab and Jack Kilby’s development of the microchip
  • Delta Manufacturing, the American Girl typewriter, and woodworking tools


About Thomas Fehring

Fehring was born and grew up in Milwaukee in the shadows of the A.O. Smith factory near 35th and Capitol Drive. He attended Marquette University and attained bachelor and master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering.

An engineer by training and practice, Fehring worked for thirty-five years at “keeping the lights on” at Wisconsin Energy Corporation and its various subsidiaries. Earlier in his career, he also worked for a time at Falk Corporation, Briggs & Stratton and Ford Motor Company.

Fehring’s foray into history continued after his retirement when was appointed to ASME’s history and heritage committee, which he currently chairs. He has also been involved with community history, serving on the Whitefish Bay Historic Preservation Commission and has published two books on the Village’s history.

At the Door Admission: $10 | Seniors/Students with IDs: $5 | Members: FREE



2018 Series Sponsor:

Landmark Credit Union is Wisconsin’s largest credit union and serves over 300,000 members at over 30 branch locations. As a not-for-profit financial cooperative, Landmark returns profits to its members in the form of better rates and lower fees on a full range of straightforward financial options. By choosing Landmark, members save money, so they have more for the things that really matter.


May 9
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Event Category:


North Point Lighthouse
2650 N. Wahl Avenue
Milwaukee, 53211 United States
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