The many-sided house across the street, sheathed in steel plates, was built for Ephraim Shay, inventor of the Shay locomotive. Patented in 1881, the locomotive 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 died in 1916.