Written in collaboration with Jonathan Walker, Sr., P.E.
When we think of famous inventors, names such as Thomas Edison and Leonardo Da Vinci easily come to mind. Excluding the Wright brothers, the transportation field is not particularly filled with memorable inventors. This is probably because technological advances in transportation are often incremental, without the glamorous breakthroughs that most people generally associate with inventions – take for instance our recent post on the history of the traffic signal. Additionally, the ubiquity of transportation facilities, vehicles, and devices also helps to downplay the significance of the works of these innovators.
One such inventor is Granville Taylor Woods. While he was not the first to develop third rail power, he was granted patents for advancing third rail power technology. Woods also contributed to many other advancements in railway transportation including locomotive braking controllers, railcar intercom systems, telegraph communication for moving trains, and underground track power for streetcars in New York City during the late 1800s and earlier 1900s. He was the first Black American to be awarded at least forty-nine patents, a feat which has been documented in a new book by author and electrical engineer, Jonathan Walker, Sr.
A trailer for the new book by Jonathan Walker, Sr., P.E.