life stuff / random / writing

The Real McCoy

On this day in 1844, Elijah McCoy was born in Ontario, to former slaves who had escaped from the US.
Elijah studied engineering but back then African Americans were not employed as engineers, so he found work as a fireman for the Michigan Railroad. At the time, trains had to stop regularly so that they wouldn’t overheat, but Elijah invented a lubrication cup which overcame this problem. This was a big deal, and soon, it is believed, when buying a new locomotive, railroad engineers always requested that they be fitted with ‘The real McCoy system’ – which gave rise to the well-known phrase.
Elijah lived until 1929, and he invented lots more stuff including a new kind of folding ironing board and a lawn sprinkler.
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(I confess that, until I was desperate to find something to blog about this morning, I had never heard of Elijah McCoy, but I think his story is really great.)
Happy birthday Elijah!

5 thoughts on “The Real McCoy

  1. Cool! I come from Ontario and I never knew about him either! I will now use that expression a lot until somebody asks, “I wonder where that started?” And then I’ll tell them! Thanks!

  2. I love the fact that Elijah succeeded despite such a difficult start in life. (Scary to think that Ontarians don’t know about him, Joan.)

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