Science Spotlights

Elijah McCoy

ElijahElijah McCoy was an Canadian-American Inventor. He was born on May 2, 1844 in Colchester, Ontario Canada. Both of his parents were former slaves that had escaped from Kentucky to Canada through the Underground Railroad. At the age of 15, his parents saved enough money to send him to Edinburg, Scotland for an apprenticeship in mechanical engineering. After receiving his certification as a mechanical engineer, McCoy returned Michigan. He could not find work as an engineer so he began working for Michigan Central Railroad as a fireman and oilman. In 1872, McCoy invented a lubricating cup that distributed oil evenly throughout the engine of the train. This invention allowed trains to travel more efficiently. McCoy began receiving requests for his invention from Railroad Stations all over the United States. McCoy produced such quality products that his inventions were in high demand. Hence the slogan "The Real McCoy". Some of his other inventions were a portable ironing board and a water sprinkler. McCoy formed the Elijah McCoy Manufacturing Company in 1920. In 1922, McCoy sustained critical injuries from an automobile accident. He died on October 10, 1929 at the age of 85. McCoy was issued over 57 patients over his lifetime.