ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Black Inventors and Innovators - Elijah McCoy

Updated on March 14, 2011


Elijah McCoy was born May 2, 1844 in Colchester, Ontario, Canada and died October 10, 1929 in DetroitMichigan. McCoy’s parents were former slaves who escaped using the Underground Railroad and went to Canada where they raised their family on a huge homestead. 

At a very young age McCoy would take things apart and put them back together again just to see how they worked. McCoy’s parents saw his mechanical interest and saved money to send him to Scotland to study mechanical engineering. When McCoy returned to the United States after finishing his degree he was unable to find work as an engineer and instead became a fireman/oilman for the railroad. McCoy’s jobs had him shoveling coal onto fires to produce the steam that powered the train and oiling the train to make sure it was well lubricated.  Making sure that the train was lubricated took a great time and the train had to make many stops.

McCoy became tired of having to stop the train and walk alongside the train to lubricate the various parts of the train.  This led to McCoy finding a way to improve the efficiency of this tedious task.  McCoy created a lubricating cup that would automatically drip oil when and where it was needed.  After receiving the patent railroad companies across the country order the lubricating cup.  There were other inventors who tried to sell their similar devices but most of the railroad companies wanted the authentic product asking for the Real McCoy. 

There is a huge discrepancy as to how the saying the “Real McCoy” was derived and some believe that the saying was developed referring to Elijah McCoy while others have other speculations as to how the saying came about.

McCoy’s invention would go through many modifications and improvements. The lubricating cup would make it so that trains would not have to be shut down periodically and the lubricating cup was modified so that it could be used on different types of machinery.

McCoy would later create the Elijah McCoy Manufacturing Company and under this new company he would develop and patent the ironing board and the lawn sprinkler.

Each one of McCoy’s inventions came out of necessity. The lubricating cup was created so that trains did not have to stop to be lubricated. The ironing board was created because his wife desired an easier way to iron.  The lawn sprinkler was invented because McCoy was tired of watering his lawn and wanted to automate this task. 

Elijah McCoy was truly the Real McCoy and his inventions were revolutionary in that they made the specific tasks more effective and efficient; making life easier.  


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Triplet Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Triplet Mom 

      7 years ago from West Coast

      Thank you Hello Hello and Eiddwen - This has been an incredible journey for me and I am glad that I am doing this. I have learned so much!

    • Eiddwen profile image


      7 years ago from Wales

      Hi Triplet mom,

      I am really hooked on these black inventors now. a great little series and thanks for sharing.

      Awesome/useful here.

      Take care


    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      7 years ago from London, UK

      I thoroughly enjoyed reading and learning this hub.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)