Wednesday, September 18, 2019


After writing the post about the pickle caster, I went to the Benton County Historical Museum’s data base to see if we had any pickle, asparagus or other unusual forks.  I came across the object below, which I had never seen before. It is knork—a combination knife and fork.
The idea of combining the two is credited to British naval hero, Horatio Nelson, who lost his arm in battle in 1798.  The “Nelson fork” was a regular dinner fork with a separate steel blade screwed into place along the side of the fork.  It made eating so much easier for amputees that others asked for one.  The disadvantage of the “Nelson Fork” is that the sharp knife blade entered the mouth.

In 1856, George Washington Bean designed a different version which better separated the knife part from the fork part that one would eat from. The museum’s knork follows his design which was timely.  During the Civil War, amputations were a common way of dealing with battlefield injuries, with an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 amputations performed on Union soldiers. Several companies produced knorks to meet this demand for a utensil to make it easier for an amputee to eat.

More recently, Kansan Mark Miller, frustrated with trying to cut a slice of pizza neatly, designed a new version of the knork which is shaped like a regular fork but varies in thickness along the edge for leverage and has a beveled edge to better cut with a rocking motion.
So the same idea and need generated three different designs. 

By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon 

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Rickard Garage's Fire at Corvallis

The skills that Corvallis firemen demonstrated at the Labor Day competitions described in the last post were needed when the alarm sounded at 4:35 in the afternoon of September 6, 1923.  Within three minutes fire fighters arrived at the corner of  Van Buren Avenue and Second Street where Rickard's Garage was on fire.

Mark Rickard was the first in the area to sell automobiles. In 1908, he purchased the lot and opened a combination showroom, repair shop and storage garage there.  He sold  REOs, Buicks, Studebakers, and Dodges, among other brands.
Rickard's Garage, Corvallis, Oregon

On that Thursday afternoon, according to local historian Ken Munford, “a Studebaker leaking gasoline drove into the garage.  Onus Brown, a mechanic, was bringing a can to catch the drip when a spark from the machine or some other source ignited the fuel on the floor.”  The fire caused a tank of compressed air or oxygen to exploded, which quickly spread the fire throughout the building. Thick black smoke rose to the sky.
The battle then turned to keeping the fire from spreading. The photo shows firemen on the roof of the adjoining Beaver Laundry.
Beaver Laundry Co.
 People in nearby houses moved their furniture out to the street in case the fire spread to their roof.
Although the firemen arrived three minutes after the alarm sounded, they were unable to save the garage or the cars within. 

The laundry's roof sustained extensive damage but the building itself was saved.  A house at First and Monroe and a shed on the lot behind the Rickard garage were not so lucky.  Overall, the estimated damage from the fire was nearly $103,000 (or roughly $1.5 million in today's dollars).  A total of 53 cars were destroyed.    

Ken Munford, “An Explosive Past for Corvallis Cars,” Gazette Times, December 1, 2007.

By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon