Return History of Railroads
In 1870, Eliza Murfey patented 16 devices for improving the packing of journals and bearings for railroad-car axles. These packings were used to lubricate the axles with oil which reduced derailments caused by seized axles and bearings. In 1879, Mary Walton developed a method of deflecting smoke stack emissions through water tanks and later adapted the system for use on locomotives. In the 1880s, many cities developed a mass transit system using noisy elevated trains. To reduce the noise, Walton invented a sound-dampening system that cradled the track in a wooden box lined with cotton and then filled with sand. She received a patent for the system on February 8, 1881, and later sold the rights to the Metropolitan Railroad of New York City. Other inventions by women included a railway crossing gate by Mary I. Riggin and several patents for the construction of railway tracks by Catherine L. Gibbon.
Although not a traditional railroad, the underground railroad was a critical system of transporting slaves to freedom in the mid-1800s. One of the most famous conductors was Harriet Tubman. Between 1850 and 1858, she helped more than 300 slaves reach freedom.
information and images provided by United States Department of Transportation