Who Invented The Ladder | Many Interesting Facts You Should Know

Wondering who invented the ladder and where the invention came from?

This post is all about the history of the ladder.

A ladder is arguably an ancient climbing accessory still use today. It’s an inclined or vertical set of steps or rungs with a pole on each side. But this simple construction serves its purpose.

The invention of the ladder is a blessing for mankind. Now it’s an everyday object used to access lofts, roofs, and other high places. For the construction and industrial project, it adds convenience and safety to work on height.

Read along all the interesting facts about this useful tool.

Who Invented the Ladder?

On January 7, 1862, John H. Balsley obtained the first patent in the USA for designing step ladder. He’s considered to be the inventor of the first folding wooden step ladder.

Step ladders had been known and in use for many years before 1862. It has remained mostly unchanged since ladders were first used several thousand years ago.

Previous to Balsley’s patent, they were not foldable for easy transportation and storage.

Balsley added hinges at the top of his design that has allowed the users to fold the back support parallel to the ladder side for easy storage and transport. Moreover, he replaced the round rungs by flat steps for added safety in ladder uses.

About John H. Balsley

Birth: In 1823, John H. Balsley was born in Connellsville, Pennsylvania. before 1850, he migrated to Dayton, Ohio.

Parents: His father’s name is George H. Balsley, and his mother’s name is Sarah (Shallenberger) Balsley.

Profession: He was a master carpenter and earned his living in Dayton, Ohio.

He built his home in the Oregon Historic District, which still stands at 419 East Sixth Street as a reminder of his contribution in the invention of the ladder.

John H. Balsley was a Trustee of the City of Dayton Water Works in 1870. It’s his only known public service.

Death: He died in 1895. He was laid to rest in the Woodland Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio.

Was John H. Basley really the first person to invent a ladder in 1862?

No one really knows the exact time and place the ladder was invented and first used. The self-supporting A-shaped step ladders also most likely predated Balsley’s invention.

From the earliest evidence, it’s believed that the idea of a ladder was used over 10,000 years ago. It’s suspected that a caveman named Ugg was the inventor of the first ladder used in Stone Age times.

Some earliest pictures were discovered in Spider cave in Valencia, Spain. In this cave, about 10,000 years old, a rock painting from the Mesolithic era was found.

So, what about this painting depict?

This picture depicts that two prehistoric men were using a long ladder to reach a wild honeybee nest, most likely to retrieve honey. The ladder that they were using was a flexible ladder that appears to be made of some kind of grass or plant fibers.

How the ladder was invented?

That long ago, there was no source of sweetness in the human diet except wild honey. Human used their own power to access high places or trees. They also used climbing aids such as branches and poles, to make climbing easier.

So, it’s not hard to imagine that they developed ladder to access the highest place for collecting honey, where there were no natural climbing positions. This is still practiced in remote tribes that they use ladders created by fixing steps directly into a tree trunk.

So, the first ladder was invented about 10,000 years ago. Right?

Not certain.

Most researchers are certain that the timeline of the ladder is much older than that.

However, the design of the functional ladder is traced right back to the Middle East and northern Africa by ancient Egyptian and Hebrew peoples. In Egyptian cultures, the ladder would have been an essential tool in building of various Ancient Egyptian structures and the Pyramids.

Another interesting fact is- the name of the ladder is also mentioned in the Bible. It’s described in the Bible that Jacob had dreamt a ladder reaching from Heaven to Earth.

Over the years, ladder construction has developed. Almost every new development in engineering and construction has been applied to ladders since.

Nowadays, different types of ladders are available to suit different purposes- household, commercial, and industrial.

The origin of the word “ladder”

It’s thought that the origin of the word “ladder” had come from the old Gothic word “hleithra” that means “‘lean’” or something that slopes. In Middle English, it’s called “‘laddre’,” which is very similar to the word “ladder.”


That’s it- the history of the ladder.

Undoubtedly, the ladder is one of the pieces of tools that most heavily influenced by mankind’s needs.

Once an essential way to collect food or raw materials for survival, a ladder is now a household and industrial essential.

Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed reading our post on “who invented the ladder.”

Leave a Comment