Raymond Alvah Hanson

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For other people named Raymond Hanson, see Raymond Hanson (disambiguation).

Raymond Alvah Hanson (December 10, 1923 – February 18, 2009), was an entrepreneur, inventor and engineer who lived in Spokane, Washington. Hanson held over 100 patents.[1] He created and produced equipment that was used on the Trans-Alaskan pipeline, on canals in over 50 countries (including the California Aqueduct System) and the self-leveling control for hillside Combine Harvesters.


Hanson was born in Potlatch, Idaho in 1923, the son of Ray & Orda (Hensley) Hanson. The family later moved to Palouse, Washington. Hanson grew up around the iconic rolling hills of the Palouse region, which would play into his first invention,the self leveling control for Combine Harvesters. Hanson attended the University of Idaho, majoring in electrical engineering. At the age of 19 while farming in Palouse, Washington he applied his engineering and farming knowledge to finding a better way to harvest the fertile but often steep slopes found in that area.

In 1941 Hanson conceived of the self-leveling control for hillside combines, and by 1945 the first self leveling mechanisms were built.[2]

Hanson founded the RAHCO Company to build self-leveling mechanisms and since then, RAHCO of Spokane, Washington has grown into a world leader in the design and production of custom commercial machinery systems. RAHCO estimates that automatic leveling has saved at least three percent of grain harvested on lands where combine leveling is needed, which is worth millions of dollars each year.

After the self-leveling control for hillside combines, Hanson began adapting the ideas and principles he had developed into a wide variety of construction machines used for canal, highway, dam, and airport construction. He went on to found a company that became a world leader in the design and production of custom commercial machinery, including the largest canal finishing machinery in the world for the California aqueduct, the world's largest 2,000 ton gantry crane used in the Grand Coulee Dam power plant project, and creating equipment that has been used on the Alaska pipeline project. To date, Hanson has designed and marketed major construction machinery in more than 50 countries and has brought more than $150,000,000 worth of business back to the northwest and the Inland Empire.

Hanson died on February 18, 2009 and is survived by his wife Lois and six children, 20 grandchildren and 24 great grandchildren.


"Hanson was ‘in this world to do things’ Innovator who helped build up Spokane Valley dies at age 85" The Spokesman-Review 02-23-09 [1] "Famous Palouser will receive recognition for numerous engineering achievements" The Palouse Boomerang! Newspaper 07-03-08 [2] "Creator of self-leveling combine honored" by Nicholas K. Geranios Associated Press Writer [3] Ray Hanson, Biography [4] "My Memories Of Raymond A Hanson," Peter A. Kerwien, Amazon Books

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