Blackburn Mfg. Company was started by E.A. “Bud” Blackburn, my grandfather, in the basement of a small family homestead near Royal Nebraska. Bud’s uncle, Ray Blackburn (a surveyor), asked him if he could come up with a machine to attach a piece of cloth or paper to a piece of wire instead of using the wooden lathes stakes that was the current way to mark during surveys.
Bud, a farmer by trade but a “tinkerer” at heart, would over the next couple of years, invent a Marking Flag machine to mass produce marking flags using a small piece of vinyl attached to a wire staff.
The first flag order was for one million flags so Bud and his two sons, Bob (eleven at the time) and Jim (seven), ran the first machine around the clock for 30 days to fill that order. They then hauled it into Orchard Nebraska to put it on the train for shipment. Easy, right? Well maybe not but it sure started something all those years ago!