March 13, 1877: Teenager and Farmington native Chester Greenwood (1858-1937) patents a type of earmuffs that he designed with his grandmother’s help to cover his large ears while he went ice skating.

While Greenwood did not invent earmuffs – contrary to popular myth – he did improve them by adding a V-shaped hinge that holds the earmuffs tightly to the ears. His earmuffs inspire mockery at first but eventually prove popular, prompting him to open an earmuff factory that employs many Farmington-area residents. In its best year, the factory makes more than 400,000 pairs of earmuffs.

Greenwood later patents a number of other devices, including a tea kettle and a steel-toothed rake. He also operates a bicycle business and a heating system business, and he introduces one of the first telephone systems in Farmington.

The town celebrates Chester Greenwood Day every year with a parade on the first Saturday in December.

Joseph Owen is a retired copy desk chief of the Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society. He can be contacted at: [email protected]

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