“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Riverdale Park in Prince George's County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)


The History of the Engineering and Research Corporation (ERCO) and the Ercoupe

— 1937 - 1947 —

ERCO Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), December 11, 2021
1. ERCO Marker
On this spot stood the sprawling campus of the Engineering and Research Corporation (ERCO), complete with numerous manufacturing buildings, lightweight prefabricated structures known as Quonset huts and an L-shaped runway.

The main manufacturing structure, according to the Maryland Historical Trust, was constructed in the Moderne style, an architectural form characterized by streamlined and curved surfaces, tubular chromed steel frames and minimal ornaments. Its look was reminiscent of 1930s-era transportation machinery such as ships, automobiles and airplanes. The building was outfitted with an early form of airconditioning, richly-grained wood lobbies and walls of glass brick.

The factory floor was a bevy of activity, churning out 34 Ercoupes daily at the height of its production capability. The diversity of machinery that surrounded where you now stand, included 2,000-ton hydraulic presses, boring mills, grinders and a 35,000 square foot final assembly shop. The factory was loud, with skilled workers moving around quickly and with purpose to maintain quotas.

First tested in 1937, the Ercoupe was recognized
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by the Civil Aeronautics Administration as an aircraft that was virtually stall-proof, slip-proof and spin-proof, as guided by its twin-tail design. The safety of the aircraft was so highly-regarded that LIFE Magazine published a photograph of the plane being landed with the pilot holding his hands in the air and above his head. It was deemed in advertisements and marketing materials as the "World's Safest Plane." The first prototype was completed and flowin in 1939, and is now displayed at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. The Ercoupe featured supreme pilot visibility and aircraft streamlining. Special designes that included gun turrets were manufactured and sold specifically to the United States Government to fly missions in World War II. In 1947 ERCO sold its Ercoupe inventory to Sanders Aviation who continued with its production until the final model year in 1970. In total, more than 5,500 Ercoupe aircraft were produced.

After ceasing production of the Ercoupe, the company was involved with the production of fligth simulators, school bus bodies and rocket launchers. This plant continued activity until closing in 1954.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Air & SpaceArchitectureIndustry & CommerceWar, World II. A significant historical year for this entry is 1937.
Location. 38° 
ERCO Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), December 11, 2021
2. ERCO Marker
58.057′ N, 76° 55.939′ W. Marker is in Riverdale Park, Maryland, in Prince George's County. Marker is at the intersection of Rivertech Court and Lafayette Avenue, on the right when traveling west on Rivertech Court. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 6501 Lafayette Ave, Riverdale MD 20737, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Native American History (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Trolley (approx. ¼ mile away); Calvert Hills: A National Register Historic District (approx. 0.3 miles away); Riversdale Plantation (approx. 0.3 miles away); MacAlpine Farm (approx. 0.3 miles away); MacAlpine Icehouse (approx. 0.3 miles away); ERCO and Calvert Homes (approx. 0.3 miles away); Eternal Tribute (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Riverdale Park.
Credits. This page was last revised on December 11, 2021. It was originally submitted on December 11, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 133 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on December 11, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.

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Feb. 25, 2024