Haynes may have built one of the earliest cars (the 1894 Pioneer) and established the first commercially successful gasoline engine car company, but he was much more than his automobile achievements.
Haynes was born October 14, 1857 in the small town of Portland, Indiana. He spent 35 years of his life in Kokomo, until his death on April 13, 1925. Haynes was a tinker with an early interest in chemistry and metallurgy. The Elwood Haynes Museum in Kokomo highlights these non-automobile interests and contributions of his.
Haynes built the house where the museum is located in 1915 and lived in it the last ten years of his life. The house is not an architectural museum, but rather showcases collections and information about Haynes. In other words, go to see the collections, not the house.
A few rooms show what they would have looked like with furniture that Haynes owned or furniture from that time period, but most of the house includes cases and exhibits about his personal and professional life. The hallways and staircase are filled with photos of special times, events, and people.
His boyhood interest in chemistry and metallurgy stayed with him into adulthood. He developed metals and alloys that had a major impact on multiple industries and are still in use today, such as stainless steel.
In the early 1900s, Haynes was looking for a substance for cutlery that would resist tarnishing. In 1907 he succeeded, developing alloys that are naturally hard without requiring heat to make them hard. In 1912, he received two patents for the alloys he developed: a nickel-chromium alloy and a cobalt-chromium alloy. After receiving the patents, he established Haynes Stellite Works in Kokomo, a company that still exists in Kokomo as Haynes International.
The alloys he developed have certain characteristics that make them invaluable in a number of industries even today. These alloys do not rust, are resistant to corrosion, do not need lubrication, and maintain their hardness and strength even at high temperatures. Parts made of these alloys can operate in machinery at high temperatures under high power for longer periods of time before needing to be replaced. These alloys, as well as subsequent alloys based on them, are found everywhere and in every industry: food, chemical, space, aerospace, nuclear, medical, etc.
Fun fact: Alloys developed at Haynes International that are based on his original alloys were used in the Sky Crane that delivered the Mars rover Curiosity to Mars.
In addition to a room devoted to these alloys, the museum has rooms devoted to cars (labeled the Apperson room), Delco Electronics, and Kingston—all important car and car-related companies in Kokomo.
Of course, there are actual cars too. The sunroom houses the Haynes Model L, a curious car with a front folding seat and a back seat driver (yes, really!). In the garage are three more: an Apperson, a 1924 Haynes Model 60 (four door sedan), and a 1923 Haynes Model 77 “Blue Ribbon” Speedster.
The Elwood Haynes Museum nicely complements your visit to the Kokomo Automotive Museum, which houses numerous Haynes cars (as well as approximately 100 other cars dating from the early 1900s to the 1990s).