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Granville Woods

Granville T. Woods (April 23, 1856 – January 30, 1910), was an African American inventor. He was born in Columbus, Ohio and died in New York.

Woods dedicated his life to developing a variety of improvements relating to the railroad industry.

Granville T. Woods literally learned his skills on the job. Woods attended school in Columbus until age 10, when he went to work with his father in a machine shop that made speed equipment for carriages and repaired railroad equipment and machinery. Woods studied other machine workers in different pieces of equipment and was said to have paid workers to teach him electrical concepts. During his youth he was inspired by Lewis Latimer, and 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 was essential to developing critical skills that would allow him to express his creativity with machinery.In 1872, Woods got a job as a fireman on the Danville and Southern Railroad in Missouri, eventually becoming an engineer. Surprisingly,we don't know exactly where he attended school but it is believed it was an eastern college. He spent his spare time studying electronics. In 1874 Woods 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. Two years later he obtained employment with D&S Railroads, driving a steam locomotive. Unfortunately, despite his high aptitude and valuable education and expertise, Woods was denied opportunities and promotions because of the color of his skin. Out of frustration and a desire to promote his abilities, Woods, along with his brother Lyates, formed the Woods Railway Telegraph company in 1884. The company manufactured and sold telephone, telegraph and electrical equipment. Finally, his travels and experiences led him to settle in Cincinnati, Ohio.


  • #299,894, 6/3/1884, Steam boiler furnace
  • #308,817, 12/2/1884, Telephone transmitter
  • #315,368, 4/7/1885, Apparatus for transmissions of messages by electricity
  • #364,619, 6/7/1887, Relay instrument
  • #366,192, 7/5/1887, Polarized relay
  • #368,265, 8/16/1887, Electromechanical brake
  • #371,241, 10/11/1887, Telephone system and apparatus
  • #371,655, 10/18/1887, Electromagnetic brake apparatus
  • #373,383, 11/5/1887, Railway telegraphy
  • #373,915, 11/29/1887, Induction telegraph system
  • #383,844, 5/29/1888, Overhead conducting system for electric railways
  • #385,034, 6/26/1888, Electromotive railway
  • #386,282, 7/17/1888, Tunnel construction for electric railways
  • #387,839, 8/14/1888, Galvanic battery
  • #388,803, 8/28/1888, Railway telegraphy
  • #395,533, 1/1/1889, Automatic safety cut-out for electric circuits
  • #463,020, 11/10/1891, Electric railway system
  • #507,606, 10/31/1893, Electric railwaysupply system
  • #639,692, 12/19/1899, Amusement apparatus
  • #656,760, 8/28/1900, Incubator
  • #662,049, 11/20/1900, Automatic circuit-breaking apparatus
  • #681,768, 9/3/1901, Regulating and controlling electrical translating devices
  • #690,809, 1/7/1902, Apparatus for controlling electric motors or other electrical translating devices
  • #695,988, 3/25/1902, Electric railway
  • #701,981, 6/10/1902, Automatic air brake
  • #718,183, 1/13/1903, Electric railway system
  • #762,792, 6/14/1904, Electric-railway apparatus


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