Alexander E. Brown
Alexander Ephraim Brown (May 14, 1852 - April 26, 1911) invented the Brown hoist, which revolutionized the lake shipping industry. He was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and was the son of Fayette and Cornelia Curtis Brown. He graduated from Central High School and completed a course in civil engineering at Brooklyn Polytechnical Institute in 1872. While employed as chief engineer at the Massillon Bridge Company of Massillon, Ohio, from 1873 to 1874, Brown devised a method of building bridge columns from scrap iron and steel.
Returning to Cleveland, he continued to work as a mechanical engineer,but also experimented with ways to facilitate the unloading of bulk cargo on the Great Lakes by partially automating the process. Brown designed a cantilevered crane, rigged with wire rope to convey an automatic clamshell bucket to and from the ship's hold, removing the cargo. His hoist, first set up on the Lake Erie docks, reduced lake transportation costs and greatly shortened the turn-around time of the vessels.
He and his father, Fayette Brown, organized the Brown Hoisting & Conveying Machinery Company in Cleveland in 1880 with a capital of $100,000. The company was incorporated in 1893. Brown secured several hundred patents on his invention, which was distributed all over the world. The firm also produced other material-handling equipment for docks, railroads, and coal and steel plants.
By 1900, the firm had been renamed The Brown Hoisting Machinery Company. Its plant was largely destroyed by a fire in December 1900. In 1931, it merged with Industrial Works of Bay City, Michigan, to form The Industrial Brownhoist Company.
There is no known relationship between this company and its products and the Giant Line Hoist produced by The Brown Clutch Company of Sandusky, Ohio.