Home » Granville T. Woods

granville 1

Granville T. Woods

April 23, 1856- January 30, 1910


(The Black Edison)


To make another African American bio without much information Granville life was very difficult in researching therefore I will not use assumptions by others. To date what has been recorded is that he was born April 23 1856 to parents Cyrus Woods and
Martha J. Brown. He was a prolific inventor and a perfectionist that brought thought to life with his passion and drive to create. He was educated and obtained two trade degrees in engineering. 1880–1892 he resided in Columbus Ohio.

Granville Woods developed several improvements to the railroad system, and was referred to by some as the “Black Edison.”

In 1885, Woods patented an apparatus which was a combination of a telephone and a telegraph. The device, which he called “telegraphony”, allows messages to send voce by a single wire. He sold the rights to this device to the American Bell Telephone Company. In 1887, he patented the Synchronous Multiplex Railway Telegraph which allowed communications between train stations from moving trains.

In 1888, Woods manufactured a system of overhead electric conducting lines for railroads in 1889; he filed a patent for an improvement to the steam-boiler furnace.

1892–1910 Granville Woods resided and invented his patent designs in New York.

Granville Woods often had difficulties in enjoying his success as other inventors made claims to his devices. Thomas Edison made one of these claims, stating that he had first created a similar telegraph and that he was entitled to the patent for the device. Woods was twice successful in defending himself, proving that there were no other devices upon which he could have depended or relied upon to make his device. After the second defeat, Thomas Edison decided that it would be better to work with Granville Woods than against him and thus offered him a position with the Edison Company.

Over the course of his lifetime Granville Woods would obtain more than 50 patents for inventions including an automatic brake and an egg incubator which outshined some of his other inventions for the machine would hatch 50,000 eggs at a time. And for improvements to other inventions such as safety circuits, telegraph, telephone, and phonograph. He died on January 30, 1910 in New York City, having sold a number of his devices to such companies as Westinghouse, General Electric and American Engineering.

On January 30, 1910 Granville T. Woods died from cerebral hemorrhage he was buried, but his burial site was a mystery it was not until 1975, that his burial site was found as an unmarked grave a historian M.A. Harris helped to raise funds, and persuaded several of the corporations that used Woods’s inventions to donate towards a headstone. It was erected at St. Michael’s Cemetery in Elmhurst, Queens NY.


granville 2 granville 4 granville 5 graville 3

Granville T. Woods. Biography”, bio.true story.

“Black Edison.” Kansas City (KS) American Citizen

Daniel Murray, “Color Problem in the United States” The Seattle Republican (Seattle, Washington), Friday, 30 December 1904, p. 2.( Granville Woods referred to as the Black Edison)




SPECIFICATION forming part of Letters Patent No. 639,692, dated December 19, 1899.
Application filed September 27, 1898. Serial No. 691,978. (No model.)

To all whom it may concern:

   Be it known that I, GRANVILLE T. WOODS, a citizen of the United States, and a resident of New York, in the county of New York and State of New York, have invented a certain new and useful Amusement Apparatus, of which the following is a specification.

My invention relates to an amusement apparatus in which race-tracks are used.

The object of the invention is to provide a novel and interesting form of amusement apparatus capable of use at summer and other resorts, at fairs, &c., and in or out of doors. The invention comprises, substantially, two or more tracks in suitable proximity to permit the movement of the cars or objects on all to be readily observed at once or from one another, a motor-driven vehicle, car, or other device for each track moving, preferably, on suitable guides or ways, and a suitable adjustable blind or non-indicative speed-controller for the motor of each device, controlled and operated as hereinafter described and claimed.

The apparatus may be constructed on a large or a small scale, as desired, and the moving cars or device may be capable of carrying persons or objects or not, as desired and according to the space to be occupied.

The motor may be of any kind, but preferably an electric motor, and the control may be effected either upon the car alone or at the side of the track alone, or at both points, as hereinafter set forth. The tracks should be of substantially the same length, and means are provided for returning each car to the starting-point. Preferably this is done by making each track of a shape which returns upon itself. In the case of an electrically-driven motor it is obvious that the source of electric power may be either upon the car or beside the track.

The controlling devices may be of any desired form adapted to the character of the motive power, and each is controlled by hand, being either set originally in any desired fashion and left in adjusted position while the race is being run or being adjusted as the judgment of the operator may seem to dictate is best while the race is in progress. Preferably the apparatus is so constructed that the actual condition of the controlling device cannot be seen or judged by the position of any of the parts, the effects alone being observable or judged of by the observed speed or changes of speed of the car or motor-driven device.

In every form of speed-controlling device brought out heretofore some provision for indication has been made whereby the operator was enabled to see or judge the position of the parts of the controller, so that he could foretell the effect of a given movement of the controller-handle. In apparatus constructed or used for the purpose herein described such a speed-controller as just described would be of little utility. A speed-controller devoid of means whereby the condition or position of its main operative parts could be determined while in use would be technically called a “blind” or “non-indicative” speed-controller.

My present invention relates (in part) to a blind speed controller, and I claim, broadly, any form of speed-controller having a blind or concealed deceptive action. To further add to the interest, the action of each controller may be made irregular or changeable in running through its range of adjustment, as will be shown in the case of an electric resistance.

My invention relates, further, to the form and relative disposition of the tracks, the object being to have the tracks return each on itself, to be substantially parallel to one another, and yet to be all of substantially the same length. This part of my invention consists, substantially, of two or more tracks each of curved form, so as to return upon itself, and each lying partly outside and partly inside the other or others, so as to have substantially the same length, such tracks lying opposite or substantially parallel to one another throughout their whole extent. For the sake of compactness I prefer to make each track of substantially the form of the figure 8 and to make one part of each track lie within and the other part lie without the corresponding parallel portion of the other, as illustrated in the accompanying drawings. The tracks may cross at different levels or on the same level. In the latter case when equipped with railways suitable frogs are provided at the crossing-points.

My invention consists, farther, in the novel apparatus and combinations of apparatus hereinafter described, and then specified in the claims.

graville 6


In the accompanying drawings, Figure 1 is a general diagrammatic view illustrating my invention as carried out by means of an electrically-propelled apparatus moving on tracks of preferred form. Fig. 2 shows a system of frogs that may be used at crossing-points. Fig. 3 shows the arrangement of apparatus that may be employed on the car. Fig. 4 illustrates, diagrammatically, one of the electric controllers.

graville 7


In Fig. 1 two race-tracks are shown in outline, each equipped with rails or tracks A B, on which move cars, vehicles, or objects C D. Each race-track, as will be seen, is of the general form of the figure 8 and returns upon itself, so that the car on traveling over the same will come back to its starting-point, and each, track is arranged to lie partly within and partly without the other, so that the cars C D, moving over the same, will in moving a circuit move approximately the same distance, While I show tracks of the shape of the figure 8 and also show the tracks as being approximately parallel to one another through their whole circuit, it is not necessary that they should be so arranged or of the particular shape shown, though the relative form and arrangement shown are preferred. Where each track crosses itself, it may cross at different levels or cross at the same level and be provided at the crossing-point, with frogs for the vehicle rails or tracks. Where each track crosses the other, it may, as shown, cross at a different level, as indicated by the shading, although at this point also the crossing may be at the same level and frogs be provided for the railroad-track at the crossing. It is preferable that one track should cross the other at a different level, though this is not necessary, since, owing to the difference in curvature, the cars or vehicles, unless moving at very widely different speeds, will not reach the crossing-points at the same time, so as to cause collision.

When the system is to be operated electrically, devices and connections should be provided as follows: E is any generator of electricity connected at one pole to one rail of track A, which latter is connected to one rail of track B by connection 1. The opposite pole of the generator connects to the opposite rails of the tracks through suitable controllers F G. As will be seen, one rail of each track or pair of rails is used for delivering current to the motor carried by the car, while the other rail is for use in returning the current to the generator. Any other system of delivering current from a stationary generator to motors on the cars C D might be employed.

granville 8


Referring to Fig. 3, H typifies any car-driving electric motor operated by the current taken from the generator E, or, if desired, by electrical power obtained from a storage or other battery I, which may be substituted for the generator E by shifting the switch 3 from point 5 to point 4. When the current is taken from the rails, the two sides of the motor truck and frame and the wheels at opposite ends of the car-axles are electrically insulated from one another, as is well understood in the art, so that current cannot pass from one rail to the other without passing through the motor. The points of insulation are indicated by the figures G to 13, inclusive. When the motor is driven by current direct from the generator E, then its terminals are connected, respectively, through the rails and car-wheels to the sides of the car-frame. An automatic brake 18 is so arranged that when the motor receives operative current the brake comes off and when the current is off the brake goes on. This may be effected by means of  an electromagnet 19, placed in the controller-circuit and connected to the brake-lever and acting in opposition to a spring which operates to apply the brake. A controller L may be also placed in the circuit of the motor on each car, as indicated by the diagram. Any or all of the controllers maybe provided with a spring 14 or other devices for giving the same a bias which has a tendency to hold the controller in a certain position, which position may be one extreme of its range of movement or any other position. The manual power exerted in moving the controller is with or against the bias, thus rendering it more difficult to hold the controller in any particular position. By so constructing the controller or providing it with proper devices whereby it will have a bias such that it will automatically assume a position where the power will be cut off, and by combining with the apparatus a brake the application of which is also automatically controlled by the position of said handle, I secure this important result—to wit, that in case the hand ceases to govern the car when the controller-handle is away from its starting-point the power will be cut off automatically and the brake will be automatically applied, so as to stop the car. The type of controller here shown is one which operates by varying the resistance in the circuit of the motor. As will be seen, the sections of resistance are so arranged and connected that the action of the controller-arm is irregular or changeable in the movement thereof or in its progressive movement so cooperates with said resistances that the delivery of power to said device is first permitted or increased and then cut off or reduced, or vice versa—that is to say, starting from one extreme of movement it will throw out resistance at first and then as it continues its movement will begin to throw it in. This irregular or changeable action might be produced by other diversifications in the usual arrangement of resistances and repeated and varied any number of times through the whole range of movement, and the parts being concealed by a blind or shield, as indicated by the outline in Fig. 4, the operator when manipulating the controller during the progress of the race must depend entirely upon his judgment and observation of the movement of the car or device C or D to determine how to move the controlling device. To still further render it difficult to judge of the actual position of the operating portion of the controlling device by the position of a controlling-handle, the controller-arm may be operated by a non-indicative knob and worm and screw arrangement, as illustrated in Fig. 4, the knob alone being exposed to view and being operated blindly by a turning or twisting movement to actuate the controller.

granville 9


One manner of using the apparatus is as follows: Suppose cars C and D are at the starting-point. Current is applied by closing switch M. Thus the cars may be controlled by hand either by persons on the car moving controller L or by persons operating controllers F and G, or all of the controllers may be used simultaneously by a prearrangement between the parties. It will be seen that if the controller-lever is adjusted along the resistance on the accelerating or bias side until near the leading wire then the motor will be at its greatest speed; but if the operator (in his zeal to increase the speed of the car) moves the lever beyond the aforesaid point onto the retarding side then resistance will be cut into the motor-circuit, and therefore the motor will slow up instead of increasing its speed, and the operator is compelled to determine the best position of the controller by his observation of the resultor effect upon the speed of the car. As before stated, to render it still more difficult to attain the desired position of highest speed, the arrangement of the sections of resistance may be still further diversified. The introduction of this element of irregularity and the blind changes in the action of the speed-controller are preferably employed whatever type of speed-controlling device is used.

I do not limit myself to any special construction of the tracks or guiding devices or to any special arrangement of the same with relation to one another when equipped with cars and controlling devices, as hereinbefore set forth. It is obvious that the two tracks, instead of being substantially parallel to one another, as shown, may diverge from one another more or less, as desired. Nor do I limit myself to any particular kind of motive power nor to any particular device for controlling the speed of the cars, vehicles, or other devices C D moving on the railway-tracks.

When the apparatus is made very small, the generator or other source of power may be operated by hand, if so desired.

It is obvious that the tracks may be arranged above one another.

The invention claimed is—

1. An amusement apparatus comprising two or more companion race-tracks of substantially the same length and each having a motor-driven device provided with an independently-operated speed-controller, an adjustable actuating or controlling handle therefor adapted to be moved progressively from one position to another for the purpose of changing the speed, and accelerating and retarding devices irregularly disposed and arranged to be thrown into and out of circuit by said handle to prevent the operator from foreseeing or foretelling the effect of a given movement of the controller-handle.

2. An amusement apparatus comprising two or more associate or companion race-tracks, each having a motor-driven device combined with an independent speed-controller having an accelerating and then retarding action or vice versa when progressively adjusted along its normal path as set forth.

3. An amusement apparatus comprising two or more associate or companion race-tracks, each having a motor-driven device combined with a manually-operated motor-controller having an accelerating and then retarding action or vice versa when progressively adjusted by the operator with the intention of increasing the speed as set forth.

4. An amusement apparatus comprising two or mare race-tracks each having a motor-driven device, and two speed-controllers for each motor, independently and simultaneously operable to change the speed of said motor, each of said controllers having an actuating or controlling handle adapted to be moved progressively from one position to another for the purpose of changing the speed, and accelerating and retarding devices irregularly disposed and arranged to be thrown into and out of circuit by one or both of said handles to prevent the operator from foreseeing or foretelling the effect of a given movement of the handle.

5. In an amusement racetrack apparatus, the combination with the electrically-propelled devices, of speed-controlling resistance devices arranged to produce irregular changes of resistance when progressively adjusted with the intention of increasing the speed.

6. In an amusement race-track apparatus, two or more electric railways of substantially the same length, and parallel throughout, each having its car motor subject to speed control by two independently-operable devices one carried with the car and the other stationary beside the track, one, of said devices having irregularly-disposed accelerating and retarding means whereby it has a concealed or deceptive action.

7. A plurality of race-tracks of substantially figure 8 form, one portion of each track lying without and the other portion within a corresponding or parallel portion of the other.

8. A plurality of race-tracks of substantially figure 8 form lying partly within and partly without one another, and substantially parallel to one another throughout, and each crossing itself and the other track on different levels.

9. An amusement apparatus comprising a plurality of race-tracks, each returning upon and crossing itself, and each crossing the other but all of substantially the same length and lying beside or substantially parallel to one another through their whole length, and a railway and car or vehicle equipment for each having speed-controllers having an uncertain or deceptive action as described when progressively adjusted or operated with the intention of increasing the speed.

10. An amusement apparatus comprising a plurality of race-tracks, each returning upon and crossing itself and each crossing the other, but all of substantially the same length, a railway for each, and a motor-driven vehicle on each railway provided with a “blind or non-indicative” biased speed-controller.

11. An amusement apparatus having two or more motor-driven devices upon suitable supports or ways, a brake for each device, and a manually-operated speed-controller for the motor of each device, and means for automatically cutting off the power supplied to the motor and applying the brake should manual control cease while the power is on, substantially as set forth.

12. An amusement apparatus having a moving object and a speed-controller device therefor acting by a progressive or direct movement to accelerate and then retard the said moving object, the construction of the apparatus being such that the condition .of the controller is concealed from the operator during the time the said controller is in use.

13. The combination with a car or vehicle, of an electrically-operated brake mounted thereon and governed in its action by a hand device controlling the operation or speed of the motor, and means whereby said brake will be applied if the hand ceases to govern the controlling device while the power is on.

14. The combination with a brake, of an electromagnet on the hand-controlled vehicle acting in opposition to a spring or other device which operates to apply the brake, and means whereby said brake will be applied if the hand ceases to control the power driving said vehicle.

15. The combination with a vehicle, of spring or other power applied to the brake in a manner to set the same, a magnet tending to take off the brake, a circuit for said magnet governed by the hand-governed controller for the motive power of the vehicle, and means adapted to cause the brake to be applied by the spring if the hand ceases to govern the controller while the power is on.

Signed at New York, in the county of New York and State of New York, this 26th day of September, A. D. 1898.








Comments & Responses

Leave a Reply

Translate »
Social Media Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com