The many-sided house in Harbor Springs was built by Ephraim Shay, In 1891 he designed and built a hexagonal shaped house with six wings opening off the central core with a tower on top, still extant. The interior and exterior walls were stamped steel. He is the inventor of the Shay Locomotive Patented in 1881, and operated by a gear-drive mechanism. Its great traction and ability to operate on tight curves made it a favorite with logging and mining firms. Built in Lima, Ohio, thousands of Shays were operated by railroads throughout the world. Several were used on Shay’s Hemlock Central railroad which began here and ran about fifteen miles to the north. Shay, born in Ohio in 1839, was an inveterate mechanic. He built the Harbor Springs waterworks and later donated it to the city. His firm experimented with boats and automobiles, and one winter he built sleds for the children of the town. In 1888 Shay moved to Harbor Springs where he stayed until his death in 1916.
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