In 1877, George Sheffield, a farmer from the Three Rivers area, designed and patented a three-wheeled handcar for railroads, and called it a Velocipede. By 1879, George Sheffield partnered with businessman Warren Willits and they formed George S. Sheffield & Company, and later formally became the Sheffield Velocipede Car Company. After a series of innovations and developments (such as gas powered engines), and the departure of George Sheffield from the company in 1891, the company was officially acquired by Fairbanks-Morse Co. in 1918.
At its height of activity, Sheffield occupied 40 acres of property in the Second Ward of Three Rivers, and has been reported as having employed some 3,900 of Three Rivers’ population of 7,000 at the time. The company is reported to have functioned as a separate village, with its own banks, markets, and hospital, but the actual details of this have been hard to pin down for local historians.