50 Nebraska icons

50 Nebraska icons #551

Nebraska was the 37th state admitted to the union, so the Journal Star staff compiled a list of 37 icons that represent our state’s people, history and heritage.

  • These locking pliers, developed by Danish immigrant William Petersen and patented in 1924, took a strong hold on the small town of DeWitt. Petersen began production at his blacksmith shop, but by 1928 the company he founded had more than 600 employees. The metal tools were popular additions to toolboxes because they enabled a craftsman to grab a nut or a bolt and hold onto it, leaving his hands free. In 2002 the company was sold by remaining family members, and it closed its doors in 2008. Vise-Grips, although not made in DeWitt anymore, are still sold in almost every hardware store.

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