Grandville Woods, the man who changed train and communication

Inventor of the system of communication between trains, of the telegraphone, the electric self-reliance of trains, of a switch and more than 50 other inventions, the role of this African-American was decisive during the western industrial revolution.

Granville Woods

As a self-taught man, Granville Taylor Woods only attended school until the age of 10. He was hired in a railway company as a fireman in Nebraska and ended up becoming engineer, part-time student in electronics. He was afterwards hired on a steamboat and 2 years after became the chief engineer, but racism stopped his ascension. He then quitted and settled in Columbus, Ohio, in order to devote his life to the modernization of the train. He created along with his brother Lyates the Woods Railway Telegraph Company in 1884.

Granville Woods
Granville Woods

The same year he invented the telephone transmitter that improves the quality of the sound and enables to communicate on longer distances. In 1885 he invented the telegraphone, a system that combines the telephone and the telegraph and that transmits the voice and the telegram simultaneously.

The system met such a success that Granville Woods sold it to the American Bell Telephone Company. He then revolutionized the train, inventing the ‘Synchronous Multiplex Railway Telegraph’ that enables the trains in movement to communicate with the stations, improving this way their safety exponentially. Thomas Edison claimed to be at the origin of this invention but the justice ruled in favor of Woods two times.

Granville Woods developed then a system that transmits electricity to the train that, with the help of two iron blocks, placed every 40 meters on the rail, make the electric cables above the railway unnecessary. All along his life, Woods patented tens of improvements for the trains as wells as for the communication systems. His last major inventions were an automatic switch of electric circuits and an artificial incubator.

By: Lisapo ya Kama ©

Notes :

  • Les savants et inventeurs noirs, Yves Antoine, pages 49 to 52
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