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Sylvanus Bowser
09/05/1885 First Gasoline Pump by
Thu Sep 4, 2008 8:08pm



Bowser pump

On September 5, 1885, the first gasoline pump was manufactured by Sylvanus Bowser of Fort Wayne, Indiana and delivered to Jake Gumper, also of Fort Wayne. The gasoline pump tank had marble valves and wooden plungers and had a capacity of one barrel.
Prior to the invention of the automobile, gasoline was primarily seen as a useless by product of the kerosene refining process. Gasoline had been used on a limited basis for burning in some stoves and lamps, but kerosene, also known as coal oil, was the primary ingredient needed to fuel the lighting fixtures of the day. Kerosene and gasoline could be purchased at the local general store from barrels that dispensed the product into one-gallon cans or a container furnished by the customer. This method of kerosene and gasoline storage and delivery soon proved to be messy and dangerous.

Around 1883, a young man by the name of Sylvanius F. Bowser came up with an idea to draw water from a well using a wooden plunger. In 1885, he applied this idea to a kerosene pump attached to a wooden barrel and founded S.F. Bowser Pump Company. The unit was self contained and included the storage barrel, the plunger, a hand lever, and an upright faucet lever. This pumping unit was a huge success and soon became known as a "Filling Station". By 1890, he had adapted this unit to pump gasoline in addition to kerosene for the lighting industry and the first true gas pump was born. S.F. Bowser continued to refine, improve, and sell his new indoor "Filling Stations" to general stores and the first automobile repair garages beginning in 1893.

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