Wyoming Inventor Patented The Garage Door Opener 100 Years Ago Today
If you have a garage door opener, thank Elmer Lovejoy. March 26, 1918, the Laramie inventor received a patent for the first garage door tracking system.
It wasn't the only important invention of Lovejoy's legendary career. By age 12, Lovejoy was working for the family business; a bicycle shop in downtown Laramie. When the gasoline-powered automobile was invented, Lovejoy set out to build his own "horseless carriage". After spending a year designing and assembling the vehicle, Wyoming's first car was ready for a test drive on May 7, 1898.
The story appeared the next day in the Laramie Boomerang, who wrote, "there were two speeds in use on the machine yesterday, one of five and one of ten miles per hour. When the machine was on good hard places, it acquired a speed of ten or twelve miles per hour."
In 1904, Lovejoy created the "steering knuckle" to help navigate carriages and wagons. Unfortunately, he was a better inventor than a businessman. He didn't see a future for the steering knuckle and sold his idea to the Elliot Vehicle Company for $800. The technology was a precursor for modern-day power steering.
Along with his inventions, Lovejoy's legacy lives on in Laramie. The popular downtown hangout Elmer Lovejoy’s Bar and Grill is named in his honor.