The Artifact Finder

 The Artifact Finder

Carl Beust, 40-year NCR patent chief, helped preserve the story of Dayton and beyondLeo Deluca On Dec. 17, 1903, on a distant stretch of windswept beach in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Orville Wright became the world’s first pilot. Earlier that year, back home in Dayton, 17-year-old Carl Beust joined the National Cash Register patent department as an office boy. Little did young Beust know he would someday helm the NCR patent department, nor did he realize he would one day work alongside Orville Wright in helping create Carillon Park.

Born in 1886, Beust witnessed monumental changes in transportation. From buggies to automobiles to airplanes, America was constantly reinventing the way it traveled. So when Beust’s NCR colleague Edward Deeds conceived Carillon Park—a Miami Valley historical museum with a transportation bent—and invited him to join the cause, the patent chief climbed right on board.

Beust went about curating Carillon Park with the same vigor he employed at NCR. His efforts in locating the park’s Conestoga wagon were particularly amusing. “I wrote every sheriff west of the Mississippi asking them if they had one or knew where we could get one,” Beust told Dayton Daily News Sunday editor Jack M. Osler on April 30, 1967. “Through the letters, a banker in the east heard we were looking for one, and sure enough we found one in Vermont.”

Beust helped bring numerous artifacts to Dayton, but the crown jewel was the 1905 Wright Flyer III, the world’s first practical airplane. By the time Deeds began designing Carillon Park in the 1940s the famous plane’s components were strewn across the map.

Alongside Orville Wright, Beust led the charge in recovering the pieces of the 1905 Wright Flyer III—scouring the country from Pittsfield, Massachusetts, to Kitty Hawk to Dayton. (Restoring the ‘05 Flyer for Carillon Park became Orville’s last major undertaking before he died on January 30, 1948—the first pilot’s last project.)

Carillon Park opened on June 3, 1950; the Rubicon locomotive arrived at the park in 1962; and on May 1, 1965, Dayton’s oldest standing building, Newcom Tavern, was dedicated. “This place is expanding,” Beust told Olser in the same 1967 Dayton Daily News article.

Two years after Olser’s Dayton Daily News feature, Beust died. “Named head of the patent department in 1917, Mr. Beust held that post for 40 years before retiring in 1957,” wrote the Dayton Daily News in honoring the late artifact finder. “During his tenure 6,500 patent applications were filed as NCR progressed from manufacture of the relatively simple early registers to production of complex electronic devices and other machines.” The article ran in its Thursday, Aug. 7, 1969, edition under the headline: “Carl W. Beust Dies at 83; Retired NCR Patent Chief.”

Half-a-century after Beust died the park he loved so dearly continues to expand. While Carillon Park adds countless new attractions the original artifacts help tell the story of the institution itself, a sort of museum within a museum—one that would not exist without the help of Carl Beust.