The Van Trump Report

Have You Ever Heard of Samuel Leeds Allen?

Samuel Leeds Allen was the founder of S.L. Allen & Company in Philadelphia. He was the inventor of, and his company manufactured, both the Flexible Flyer sled and Planet Jr farm and garden equipment. For over one hundred years these products were the best-selling and most famous American sleds and market gardening tools available. During his lifetime and for the first half of the 20th century S.L. Allen was far more renowned for his company’s seed drills and cultivating equipment than the “Flexible Flyer” sleds.

Allen was born in the spring of 1841 in Philadelphia to Quaker parents. In 1861, Allen moved to Ivystone, his father’s farm near the community of Westfield in Cinnaminson Township, New Jersey. Farming quickly became Allen’s thing and he was extremely innovative. 

In order to provide year-round employment for his farm hands and those helping him develop new farming equipment, Mr. Allen sought to create a product that could be sold during the winter. His passion for sledding led him to develop a series of sleds and sled improvements. Allen was issued U.S. Patent number 408,681 this week back in August of 1889 for the “Flexible Flyer”. Allen later built his family home called “Breidenhart Castle” right next to Stokes Hill, which was a popular sledding area where Allen first tested the sled. 

Before passing away he was awarded almost 300 patents for a wide range of farming machinery, including the fertilizer drill, seed drill, potato digger, cultivator, furrower, pulverizer, grass edger and numerous other farm implements. 

I think it’s awesome that a farm boy who started innovating soon became one of the richest men in America, but I also find it fascinating that it was his side hustle, pivoting into manufacturing sleds in the winter that made him even more wealthy. You never know where you might find that next big opportunity… Think outside the box!

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