Henry Timken

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Henry Timken
Henry Timken.jpg
Born (1831-08-16)August 16, 1831
Bremen, Germany
Died March 16, 1909(1909-03-16) (aged 77)
San Diego, California
Resting place Greenwood Memorial Park (San Diego)
Occupation industrialist

Henry Timken (August 16, 1831 in Bremen, Germany – March 16, 1909 in San Diego, California)[1][2] was an inventor who founded the Timken Roller Bearing Company, later called the Timken Company.


Henry Timken was born in Bremen, Germany, and emigrated to the United States with his family when he was seven years old. The Timkens settled in Sedalia, Missouri; Henry left the family farm to apprentice under carriage-builder Caspar Schurmeier.[3] Timken opened his own carriage-building company in St. Louis in 1855, and introduced several improvements to the carriages his firm produced, including his patented "Timken spring", which made him a fortune.

He patented the tapered roller bearing in 1898.[2] A year later, he established the Timken Roller Bearing Axle Company which grew rapidly as the product was in great demand by cars, trucks, and tractors. By 1923, 90% of the country's production came from Timken. His slogan "Wherever wheels and shafts turn", describes the widespread use for bearings—trains, conveyors, elevators, aircraft engines, even space shuttle landing wheels.

He retired in 1897 and settled in San Diego, California. The Timken Museum of Art in Balboa Park bears his family's name, as it was established with his fortune.[4]

Honors[citation needed][edit]

Timken was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame on September 19, 1998. Henry Timken was one of six inducted into the hall of fame at ceremonies done at the E J Thomas Hall in Akron, OH.

William Robert Timken, Jr., Timken's great-grandson, the retired chairman and chief executive officer of The Timken Co, and who was the United States Ambassador to Germany, received the award on behalf of his great-grandfather. "Tim" Timken ushered his family's bearings and steel maker from old-school management into manufacturing's modern era.


  1. ^ "Deaths in the Trade". The Carriage Monthly. 45: 21. April 1909. 
  2. ^ a b Foye, Gerald F. (2002). Royal R. Rife Humanitarian: Betrayed And Persecuted. New Century Press. pp. 42–44. ISBN 0-9659613-3-8. 
  3. ^ Lubinski, Christina. "Fighting Friction: Henry Timken and the Tapered Roller Bearing." In Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies, 1720 to the Present, vol. 2, edited by William J. Hausman. German Historical Institute. Last modified June 19, 2012.
  4. ^ "History of the Timken Museum of Art". Timken Museum of Art.