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Granville T Woods - African American Inventor

Born in Columbus, Ohio on April 23, 1856, Granville T. Woods dedicated his life to developing a variety of inventions relating to the railroad industry.

To some, he was known as the "Black Edison," both great inventors of their time. Woods invented more than a dozen devices to improve electric railway cars and much more for controlling the flow of electricity. His most noted invention was a system for letting the engineer of a train know how close his train was to others.

This device helped cut down accidents and collisions between trains.

Woods literally learned his skills on the job. Attending school in Columbus until age 10, he served an apprenticeship in a machine shop and learned the trades of machinist and blacksmith. During his youth, he also went to night school and took private lessons. Although he had to leave formal school at age ten, Woods realized that learning and education were essential to developing critical skills that would allow him to express his creativity with machinery.

In 1872, Woods obtained a job as a fireman on the Danville and Southern railroad in Missouri, eventually becoming an engineer. He invested his spare time in studying electronics. In 1874, he moved to Springfield, Illinois, and worked in a rolling mill. In 1878, he took a job aboard the Ironsides, a British steamer, and, within two years, became Chief Engineer of the steamer.

Finally, his travels and experiences led him to settle in Cincinnati, Ohio where he became a person dedicated to modernizing the railroad.

In 1888, Woods developed a system for overhead electric conducting lines for railroads, which aided in the development of the overhead railroad system found in cities such as Chicago, St.

Louis, and New York City. In his early thirties, he became interested in thermal power and steam-driven engines. In 1889, he filed his first patent for an improved steam boiler furnace. In 1892, a complete Electric Railway System was operated at Coney Island, NY. In 1887, he patented the Synchronous Multiplex Railway Telegraph,

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