John Muir (1838-1914) was not only an environmentalist but also an inventor.
As a teenager on his home farm near Portage, he made water wheels, a saw mill, various clocks and a machine for feeding livestock.
Nothing, however, topped the alarm clock Muir invented to help him study.
Grace Lindsley visited his University of Wisconsin dorm room in about 1862 and recalled that this "was connected with his bed in such a way that when the time came for which he had set it, the mechanism was released which tipped up the bed and threw the occupant on the floor.He entertained us by putting us on the bed, and setting the clock so that in a minute or two we were thrown off."
She also recalled that Muir made a "revolving book-rack which held the books he studied. It gave him a prescribed time to study a lesson and then revolved, bringing into place the nextbook.
"My mother who had a keen sense of humor, told him the invention did not go far enough; that he ought to have so arranged it that if he hadn't properly learned the lesson, a hand would come up and box his ears."
The tip-up alarm clock bed has disappeared, but his revolving book rack is on permanent display in the lobby of the Wisconsin Historical Society headquarters in Madison.