Who invented earmuffs? In this December 2015 photo, Ronald Greenwood a great-grandson of earmuff inventor Chester Greenwood, models a pair of original ear protectors in his barn in Farmington, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Who invented earmuffs?
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Earmuffs have come a long way in 142 years.
 
Chester Greenwood was a 15-year-old bestowed with generous ears when he decided he had had enough of the biting cold while ice skating in 1873. The first earmuffs were then born, fashioned from farm wire with fur sewn on them by his grandmother.
 
Greenwood made improvements with a steel band and adjustable hinges. He sold hundreds of thousands of "Champion Ear Protectors."
 
These days, similar versions are still sold. Others wrap around the back of the neck, eliminating mussed hair. There are versions with fleece, fur and down. Some have built-in ear buds for music.
 
It's worth celebrating. So Greenwood's hometown of Farmington, Maine, is doing just that, as it has for nearly 40 years. They hold a parade in which residents proudly wear earmuffs.
 
"It's unique. How many other little towns can celebrate earmuffs? Seriously," said Nancy Porter, author of the self-published "Chester: More Than Earmuffs."
 
While Greenwood is forever linked to his signature invention, he also created other things. By some accounts, he came up with more than 100 contraptions. But, he received patents for only five. In addition to his ear protectors, he patented a rake, an advertising matchbox and a tea kettle. He also created a device designed to drill holes in the ends of wooden spools, Porter said.
 
"He was of the Yankee ingenuity breed," Porter said.
 
He also was a businessman. He ran a bicycle shop, built a plumbing and heating business and created a local telephone company. His earmuff factory closed a few years after his death in 1937.
 
The legacy of the dapper-dressed inventor faded over the years. It was renewed when the Maine Legislature declared Chester Greenwood Day on the first day of winter in 1977.
 
Fittingly, the first parade was held in a snowstorm. A snowplow led the parade to clear a path and students from the University of Maine at Farmington participated on skis.
 
"It was snowing and people were on the street just the same, both sides. The parade turned out pretty good," said 75-year-old Ronald Greenwood, Chester Greenwood's great-grandson.
 
These days, the event is held on the first Saturday in December.
 
All parade participants incorporate earmuffs in their floats. Afterward, an earmuff flag is raised at the courthouse. There's also a polar dip on Clearwater Lake and the town Christmas tree is lighted.
 
In years past, there was a fake lockup. Youngsters caught without earmuffs would be jailed, Ronald Greenwood said, but organizers aren't going that far during this year's festivities.
 
Afterward, many folks will put their earmuffs into storage.
 
Ronald Greenwood is a locksmith and building contractor. He said earmuffs don't work so well for him.
 
And Porter said she had a fleece hat with ear flaps that she prefers. "I have an original pair of Chesters," Porter said. "I wear them on Chester Greenwood Day."

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COMMENTS (88)
  • johnv-sch
    12/11/2015 - 12:54 p.m.

    This particular story could have come out any time of this year, because ear buds are still for sell at the public yet tho Chester Greenwood made the first ever ear buds Chester developed the ear buds with farm wife and fur sewn on them by his grandmother

  • myahr-orv
    12/11/2015 - 07:17 p.m.

    I think it's interesting interesting that ear muffs first made out of farm wire.i also find it strange some small towns celebrate era muffs

  • ryanr-ver
    12/11/2015 - 11:56 p.m.

    I never knew how old earmuffs were. They came from 1873 and were made of a boy's grandmother's fur material. This was very interesting to me.

  • GigiSylvester-Ste
    12/12/2015 - 10:35 a.m.

    I never knew this! I like the ear muffs that are like a big headband!

  • melissaj-Ste
    12/13/2015 - 04:10 p.m.

    Earmuffs were created by Chester Greenwood in 1873. They were used then to keep the cold from biting our ears, as they are used today. The basis of Greenwood's product is still used today, although in different styles, fabrics, and colors.

  • ravenc-hor
    12/13/2015 - 08:31 p.m.

    The author's point in writing this article is to inform people about who invented earmuffs. In this article I learned that Chester Greenwood invented earmuffs out of farm wire and fur in about 1873. I also learned he invented a rake, a tea kettle, and an advertising matchbox. I agree that earmuffs have come a long way in the past 142 years. I agree because before they were made of farm wire and furs, but now they are made of fleece and sometimes have built-in headphones.

  • braidens-mci
    12/14/2015 - 11:27 a.m.

    that is cool and there are old and they have been around for a young time.

  • brittanyk-1-mci
    12/14/2015 - 11:27 a.m.

    I think that it is so cool that how the ear muff was made. I also think that it is cool how they have a parade for ear muffs.

  • mattf-hor
    12/14/2015 - 11:59 a.m.

    I think its interesting that ear muffs were first made of farm wire. I also think its pretty cool how some places around the world celebrate ear muffs. I think its a good invention because if it was never made It would be hard to find warmth for my ears.

  • mattf-hor
    12/14/2015 - 12:10 p.m.

    I think its interesting how the first ear muffs were made out of farm wire. I also find it cool how some parts of the world they celebrate ear muffs

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