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Table of Contents
Granville Woods was a Black American and inventor who became so successful that people sometimes referred to him as “The Black Edison.” Woods dedicated his life to working on developing several inventions that related to the railroad industry. He invented 15 appliances for railways and received almost 60 patents.
See the fact file below for more information on the Granville Woods or alternatively, you can download our 24-page Granville Woods worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Granville T. Woods was born in Columbus, Ohio, on April 23, 1856. He was a son of Tailer and Martha Woods. Woods and his parents were free by virtue of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 that prohibited them from enslavement from the territory that included what would become Ohio’s state.
- Woods did not receive proper education when he was young. He left school at the age of ten, worked as an apprentice, and studied to be a machinist and a blacksmith. He learned his skills on the job.
- In his early teens, Woods started to take several jobs that include a railroad engineer in the railroad machine shop, an engineer on a British Ship, and a railroad worker.
- Woods took some courses in the field of engineering and electronics while working. He then realized that education was necessary for developing the skills that he needed to express his innovative mind and creativity with machinery.
- He had two years of college education in electrical and mechanical engineering at some east coast colleges from 1876 to 1878.
- In 1872, Woods became a fireman on the Danville and Southern railroad in Missouri and later on became an engineer and studied electronics during his free time.
- Two years later, Woods moved to Springfield, Illinois, and worked in a rolling mill. In 1878, Woods took a job overseas aboard the British steamer Ironsides. Within two years he became the chief engineer.
THE RAILROAD EQUIPMENT
- Woods’ experiences led him finally to settle in Cincinnati, Ohio. He dedicated his time and himself to developing and modernizing the railroad and its equipment. Woods was able to invent more than a dozen devices for improving the electric railway cars and other devices to control the flow of electricity.
- One of his most noted inventions is a system for letting the train engineer know the trains’ distances from one another to help reduce the collisions.
- Woods also developed a system of overhead electric conducting lines for the railroad that helped develop overhead railroad systems in Chicago, St. Louis, and New York.
- Later on, Woods set up his own business in Cincinnati called the Woods Electrical Co. for developing, manufacturing, and selling electrical apparatus.
- During his early 30s, Woods became interested in steam-driven engines and thermal power, which led him to develop his first patent for an improved steam boiler furnace in 1889.
- However, most of his patents were mainly about electrical devices.
- Woods also invented an automatic air brake to slow or stop trains and the electric cars powered by overhead wires. This used a third rail system for keeping the cars running on the right tracks.
THE INDUCTION TELEGRAPH
- In 1887, Woods’ most significant invention is the Synchronous Multiplex Railway Telegraph, or the induction telegraph. This device allows communications between train stations and moving trains by voice over telegraph wires.
- This device also made it possible for trains to communicate with other stations, so everyone would know where exactly the train was located at all times.
- The device helped to prevent crucial errors that could lead to train accidents.
- This invention of Woods grabbed the attention of telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell. Graham Bell’s company purchased Woods’ patent on the device that combined a telephone and a telegraph.
- Woods called this device ‘telegraphony’ that allows a telegraph station to send a voice and telegraph message over a single wire.
- Woods’ success led to lawsuits. Thomas Edison filed a lawsuit against Woods, claiming that he was the one who invented the multiplex telegraph. Later on, Woods won the court battle, but Edison did not give up easily.
- Edison offered Woods a position in the engineering department of Edison Electric Light Co., in New York. However, Woods declined and stated that he wanted to maintain his independence.
LATER IN HIS CAREER
- In the summer of 1881, Woods caught smallpox. Smallpox during its last years became a major health threat in the United States. The fatal illness was with Woods for nearly a year and left him with a chronic kidney and liver disease.
- The diseases were the main causes of his early death. On January 28, 1910, Woods suffered from a stroke and died at Harlem Hospital two days later in New York.
- Woods made many inventions and patents that helped make life easier and safer for several Americans, especially related to railroads. After his death, he was admired, and several people looked up to him and respected him as a great inventor.
- Decades later, his inventions have been assigned to several electrical equipment manufacturers that play a substantial role in our daily life.
Granville Woods Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Granville Woods across 24 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Granville Woods worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Granville Woods who was a Black American and inventor who became so successful that people sometimes referred to him as “The Black Edison.” Woods dedicated his life to working on developing several inventions that related to the railroad industry. He invented 15 appliances for railways and received almost 60 patents.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Granville Woods Facts
- Woods Profile Writing
- Questions of Woods
- Woods’ Timeline
- The Black Edison vs Edison
- Filling the Rails
- The Railroad Inventions
- The Jumbled Works
- Railroad Parts
- Fact of Bluff
- Inventor: The Role Model
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Link will appear as Granville Woods Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, February 10, 2021
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