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Walter A. Gibbs - Ohio Trains, Triumph Traps & Maryland Muskrats 1869-1941 by Scot H. Dahms

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Item Number : 978-0-578-41818-6
Manufacturer Part No : 978-0-578-41818-6

Walter A. Gibbs - Ohio Trains, Triumph Traps & Maryland Muskrats 1869-1941 by Scot H. Dahms

Walter A. Gibbs was a trapper and trap manufacturer in the early 1900s. Unlike other trappers of the time, he did not focus on this type of work until after he had retired from a career in electric trains. Most trappers had to earn their way through the trapping field and earned a meager living while establishing themselves. Walter already had money and a Harvard education, so he could use his resources to establish himself as a world renown trap manufacturer.

Because of his financial resources, Walter was able to buy what he needed to research and support his obsessions. He was able to buy marshes in multiple states, a building for a trap factory and the Triumph Trap Company. He was also able to pay men to trap for him and help him research his inventions.

Walter was not only instrumental in trap improvement but also in the knowledge of muskrat biology. His marsh was used as a research location by federal agencies and information used there would impact muskrat management worldwide. He made in-depth research into muskrat breeding programs and farming.

He also revolutionized the capture of live muskrats for shipping to other areas to restock areas lacking muskrats because of over trapping. His trap inventions allowed a large number of unharmed muskrats to be shipped worldwide. Without these traps, this market would have floundered.

Because of his career in electric trains, Walter was very detailed oriented, and sure of himself and his inventions. He was not afraid to go to court to protect what he considered correct or his patents from infringement. Walter was part of numerous court cases throughout his life, but most were during his trap manufacturing and muskrat farming days.

Walter was a religious man and stood by his convictions. He also held others accountable for their actions. One of his many court cases included a very public accusation of inappropriate behavior by a reverend. He used local newspapers to make his accusation and the reverend filed a court case against Walter for these accusations.

To tell a complete story of the time and the culture in which Walter lived, I included observations and stories from other persons to show all aspects of the time and place. The other persons referenced include Edwin LeCompte, E.J. Dailey, Richard K. “Dick” Wood, Vernon Bailey and many others. I also included information about local impacts Walter had and activities that are inherent to Dorchester County, Maryland.

After his retirement, all of the energy and attention to detail that Walter directed to his career was focused on improvements in trap manufacture and the capture of muskrats. He developed many unique and important trap improvements. Many are still used today and were important to the modernization of traps and trapping techniques.

He was able to pay attorneys to defend his patented inventions from infringement. Walter was not afraid to go to court as either the petitioner or the defendant.

He lived in a black and white world. In his mind, things were either right or wrong and, if someone said he was wrong, he had no qualms about going to court to prove himself right.

His litigious nature may have been his downfall in the end. After winning two infringement cases against Triumph, Walter bought the company at a price higher than should have been paid. He had financially wounded Triumph and then tried to put them back together.

Because of the patent infringement in the Montgomery Ward case, Triumph discontinued some of their best traps in the coil spring powered Kangaroo traps. Walter forced them to find a coil spring powered trap that would not infringe on his patent. The result was the Easy Set and Master Grip traps. These traps were more expensive to make because they used more metal. Trappers found they were bulky and had less holding power than the Kangaroo traps resulting in lower sales.

The decline of sales led to Walter being able to buy Triumph. If he would not have won those cases, Walter probably would never have been able to buy Triumph. The patent infringement cases were ultimately the reason Walter had to sell, though, as he could not turn the decline around.

I wonder if Walter had the ability to do it over, if he would take the same actions. What am I thinking? Of course, he would do it exactly the same. Why? Because he thought he was right and he had to prove it. 300 pages, 190 photographs. Paperback.

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