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Charlie Adams: Living Dayton’s History

Charles Otterbein Adams has lived Dayton history all his long life. Locally famous as one of the “Flood Twins” — survivors of the 1913 Dayton flood — Charlie encountered Dayton greats like Charles Kettering, and became an innovator in his own right. A member of the Engineers Club of Dayton since 1937, Charlie Adams is its oldest living member.





Valley of the Giants — Charles Otterbein Adams


Oral History Transcript

Charlie recalls Dayton life in the early decades of the 20th Century, his vision for electric cars, and his own work as an engineer.



Charlie Adams recalls how his life was directly influenced by Wilbur and Orville Wright, Patterson, Deeds, Kettering and Morgan. By Charles O. Adams.


Dayton Flood Twins and Miami Valley.

Autobiographical account spans much local history. By Charles O. Adams.


Dayton Flood Twins

Reprint from 1914 United Brethren publication. Courtesy of Charles O. Adams.


The Home Front

The role of Delco during WWII

By Charles O. Adams.


My Life’s Work

Delco Products, Jack & Heinz, and National Electric Welding Machines Company (Newcor).

By Charles O. Adams.


Highlights of my 70 Years

At the Engineers Club of Dayton. By Charles O. Adams


Engineers Club of Dayton — Recollections of Decades Past

Long-time club member, Charles O. Adams, recalls latter decades of Engineers Club history. Courtesy of the Engineers Club of Dayton.


The New Barn Gang

Charlie Adams helped start a new Barn Gang in 1992, named after the original Barn Gang of inventors. By Charles O. Adams


Fuel Cells

2001 presentation to the Engineers Club of Dayton.

By Charles O. Adams


Charles O. Adams

Curriculum Vitae


Patent for a Laminated Structure

A method for assembling laminated structures for electrical devices and particularly stators for electric motors. 1943, Charles O. Adams.


Patent for a Method and Apparatus for Fabricating a Hinged Mat

A method to prefabricate transportable folding metal mats for reinforcing concrete highway, floors, buildings, bridges, etc. 1966, Charles O. Adams

Charlie Adams recalls electric cars in 1920’s Dayton, memories of the Barn Gang and Delco, an airplane ride at Deeds Farm, and a lesson learned from Charles Kettering. Photos include a 1919  Detroit electric car charging, and the Dayton-Wright OW-1 Aerial Coupe . Charlie Adams’ memory of the early electric cars lead to his lifelong passion for electric vehicles. The OW-1 was the airplane in which Charlie rode around Deeds’ Farm and Delco Dell as a child of 12. The OW-1 Aerial Coupe was the first closed cabin aircraft in Dayton, and Orville Wright’s last design. Credits>>

Transcript of the complete interview>>

Kettering told me, “Don’t always believe everything you see firsthand. You have to look up the background.”

—Charles O. Adams

View “Flood Twins”- a slideshow by Charles O. Adams

“The boat capsized, throwing all of us into the cold, muddy water. Mother cried out she was drowning, and lost her hold on me. Dad attempted to help Mother. In doing this, he somehow lost his hold on Lois. She was washed, by herself, on down the rushing floodwaters. Mother lost me, and we followed Lois down the flooded street. Dad spent the whole night thinking that Mother, Lois, and I had been drowned in the turbulent, muddy floodwaters....”More>>

Reminiscences by Charles O. Adams>>

“Here is a picture of John H. Patterson, Orville and Wilbur Wright, Edward A. Deeds, Arthur Morgan, and Charles F Kettering, My early life was affected by all six.” Read the story>>


Charles Otterbein Adams has lived Dayton history all his long life. The many resources on this website, many of them written by Charlie himself, give lively insights into how he survived the 1913 Dayton flood, and encountered Dayton greats like Charles Kettering and Edward Deeds.  Charles Adams became an innovator himself, earning his own patents and designing industrial production lines.


Electric vehicles were a reality of Charlie’s youth, and in retirement he helped bring attention back to this promising technology. Well into his 80s, Charlie organized a multi-year series of symposiums on Electric Cars and Alternate Fuel Vehicles in the mid-90s. Included here is a 2001 presentation on Fuel Cells that Charlie gave to the Engineers Club of Dayton, as well as his recollections of the work at Delco during World War II.


At 98 years young in 2010, Charlie Adams continues to educate us about Dayton’s history as he remembers it.