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With our partner, The Connecticut Historical Society, WNPR News presents unique and eclectic view of life in Connecticut throughout its history. The Connecticut Historical Society is a partner in Connecticut History Online (CHO) — a digital collection of over 18,000 digital primary sources, together with associated interpretive and educational material. The CHO partner and contributing organizations represent three major communities — libraries, museums, and historical societies — who preserve and make accessible historical collections within the state of Connecticut.

“Everyone Can Count on Veeder-Root”: a Hartford-Area Company Changes With the Times

When visitors to the Connecticut Historical Society are told the building was once the home of Hartford industrialist Curtis Veeder, their first question often is: “Did he have anything to do with the Veeder-Root Company?” Curtis Veeder did, in fact, start the Veeder Manufacturing Company, one of the two companies which merged in 1928 to form Veeder-Root. Many area residents know someone who worked for this company which began making devices that “count everything on earth” and continues today as the “the number one supplier of automated tank gauges in the world.”

The Veeder Manufacturing Company was started in 1895 in Hartford to produce Curtis Veeder’s invention, the “cyclometer,” a counter for measuring the distance travelled on a bicycle. Joel H. Root started his business about 1866 in Bristol as a small hinge business. By 1927, the two companies had become leaders in their respective fields, and in May 1928, the two businesses merged, forming the “largest manufacturer of precision-counting equipment,” in the world. Veeder-Root counters were sold in almost every state and were even used by Rear Admiral Byrd to measure the miles traveled by his dog sled on the way to the South Pole. They were used in a myriad of manufacturing processes, and adapted to such products as voting machines, cash registers and even automatic bowling pin spotting equipment.

After World War II, the company continued to adapt its products to changing demands and new uses. An article written for the company’s employee journal Veeder’s Digest in 1956 states that “25 percent of our business today comes from products which did not exist 20 years ago…..High speed counters introduced in 1950 replaced dials and pointers in many applications such as navigational equipment, radar, radio, fire control equipment and industrial scales.”

Veeder-Root began producing counters for gasoline pumps, fuel tanks and fuel gauges in the 1930s, and from this beginning evolved to its present-day role as a petroleum technology leader. Although the company no longer has manufacturing facilities in Connecticut, its corporate headquarters remain in Simsbury. Veeder-Root is now owned by the Danaher Corporation and employs 300 people in their worldwide development, marketing, and research facilities.

To see the house where Curtis Veeder once lived, sign up for one of the monthly tours exploring “The Secrets of the Veeder House,” which showcases some of the building’s unique “behind-the-scenes” features. The next tours will be on Saturday October 25 at 11:00 am and 1:00 pm. For more information, visit chs.org.

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