Ladder History: Who Invented the Ladder

I’m guessing you know a ladder, a tool that allows you to reach a point – either up or down. The irony, though, is that you will never think of a ladder until it dawns on you that you need one for your operations. But the truth is that you need a ladder for your indoor or your outdoor tasks. 

Many industries and organizations now use ladders for their daily operations or at least once in a while. Contractors use ladders to fix electric cables, clean gutters and renovate buildings by painting. Today, you can access boats and ships.

But you’re probably wondering – who invented the ladder?

Well, in this post, I’ll walk you through ladder history – how it all started, and who invented the ladder. 

Ladder History_ Who Invented the Ladder

An Overview

There are controversies as to when the ladder was invented. However, the first instance was found in Valencia in Spain. 

A painting of the ladder of approximately ten thousand years old is present in a rock at the Spider Cave. From the art, two men seem to be climbing the ladder to reach a honeybee nest. Also, the ladder in this painting appears to be made up of some grass. 

A painting of the ladder of approximately ten thousand years old is present in a rock at the Spider Cave

And while this evidence proves the discovery of ladders, researchers still believe that ladders may have existed earlier than that period. 

Additionally, the modern design of ladders can be traced to the Egyptian and Hebrew cultures. These civilizations are said to have brought the idea to light, then perfected it. 

Today, there are a couple of ladder types for different uses, such as telescopic ladders, step ladders, multipurpose ladders, platform ladders, among others. 

History of Ladders

You now know a bit of ladder history, but who invented the ladder? 

And like I have mentioned above, nobody can tell when exactly ladders came to light, but at least we know that ladders existed more than ten thousand years ago. 

Through research conducted, researchers have been able to find some trace of ladder designs, which has improved the design of ladders today. 

Additionally, ladders were mentioned in the Bible, where Joseph dreams about a ladder that connects Heaven and earth. 

From the rock painting at the Spider Cave, ladders were critical tools that were necessary to get food. This is because the men in the art seem to be reaching a honeybee nest. Today, ladders are tools used for various indoor and outdoor tasks. 

Over the years, different types of ladders have emerged designed for various purposes. There are multipurpose ladders that can be used to perform a variety of tasks when modified. There are fiberglass ladders best suited for handling electronic projects. 

Additionally, ladders are today designed in different materials, including wood, aluminum, steel, among others. This proves that there has been significant improvement in the ladder industry since the first discovery. 

Also, a rope was used to design ladders, and you can still find these types of ladders in some countries. You can also find wooden ladders, though most ladder users would prefer either fiberglass ladders or aluminum ladders. 

Different Types of Ladders Today

Since the first discovery of ladders, there have been significant advancements in the design of ladders. Today, we have various ladder types used for multiple purposes. Let’s look briefly at some of the modern ladder types. 

  • Step ladders – these are ladders that do not require any support, which means that they can stand on their own. You can use step ladders to trim fences, to reach high places in your room, among others. 
  • Extension ladders – Extension ladders are one of the most common ladder types. You can adjust them to any height you want to suit your needs. They are mostly used to clean gutters, carry out painting tasks, etc. 
  • Folding ladders – these are ladders that you can easily fold once you complete your intended task with the ladder. They are usually lightweight, and you can carry them from one place to another. 
  • Multipurpose ladders – multipurpose ladders are designed to handle a variety of tasks. You can modify them into step ladders, staircase ladders, extension ladders to suit your work. Additionally, these ladders can be used both outdoor and indoors. 
  • Attic ladders – these are ladders specifically meant to reach your attic or narrow spaces.
  • Rope ladders – you remember when I mentioned that the old ladders were made of ropes? Sure, you can still find rope ladders to date. These ladders are primarily used during emergencies to escape out. 
  • Telescopic ladders – telescopic ladders have also gained popularity. These ladders can slide in and out using their sections. This feature makes it easy to adjust these ladders depending on your desired height. 

You may also like:

So Who First Discovered the Ladder? 

John H. Balsley is a renowned carpenter who garners all the credit for inventing the first foldable wooden ladder. He was a son to George H. Balsley and Sarah Balsley.  

John adopted his carpentry skills from his father, who was also a carpenter. Because he earned his livelihood through carpentry, he became even more passionate about it. 

Briefly About John H.Balsley

John H. Balsley

John H. Balsley was born in the year 1823, in Connellsville Pennsylvania community. His parents were George H. Balsley and Sarah Balsley. 

Before the invention of the first foldable step ladder, John H. Balsley used to work as a carpenter as a source of livelihood. This invention, however, became a significant stepping stone in the history of Ohio. 

Even though step ladders were famous before Balsley’s invention, he was still the first person to earn the U.S patent foldable ladder. Because the patented design was less of steps, it acquired the term ‘step ladder.’ 

Balsley’s invention, however, was a more straightforward option compared to the previous version of step ladders. These ladders were storage-friendly due to the foldable mechanism. Today, the step ladders have also adopted this design, making them stand out in the ladders’ industry. 

John H. Balsley died a legend in the year 1895, March 12th, and his body laid to rest in the Woodland Cemetery in Ohio. 

Final Thoughts

Let’s face it – there are tons of ladders that we use in our daily lives without even knowing their origin. Such include the step ladders, telescopic ladders, multipurpose ladders, extension ladders. You know, best. 

Now, having gone through this post, I believe you know the founder and history of ladders. Regardless of the type, you probably should be aware of its origin.

Leave a Comment