Lexington Inventors and Patents
Inventors and patents aren’t new in Lexington, but many of them have ties to the city. Thomas Harris Barlow, for example, was a mechanical genius who lived and worked in the city for many years. He created a heavy-car locomotive and also built a small circular railroad. His model of the railroad is still preserved in the city’s Lunatic Asylum.
Mary Walton’s invention diverted smokestack pollutants into water tanks
In the late 19th century, an independent inventor, Mary Walton, invented a device that diverted smokestack pollutants into water tank systems. This process helped reduce the amount of coal smoke that was released from locomotive engines. These pollutants were later recycled or disposed of in the sewage system.
Mary Walton’s invention was a practical solution to the noisy pollution that was affecting residents of New York City. It diverted smokestack emissions into water tanks, where they would be stored until the city’s sewage system could handle them. The invention was also a solution to the noise pollution created by elevated trains.
Mary Walton was an innovative and no-nonsense woman who saw a problem and created a solution. In the 1870s, she owned a boarding house near an elevated railway, and she became increasingly concerned with the air and noise pollution that was spreading from the elevated trains. In 1879, she began thinking about ways to solve the pollution problem in her neighborhood.
Today, Mary Walton is an inspiration to female STEM students. Her innovations have been recognized as a significant advance in air quality and pollution prevention. Her contributions to science and technology go far beyond the science of her time. She was not only a great inventor, but also an incredible role model for women in STEM. Despite her limited background, she created two innovative and useful inventions in the 1880s that continue to benefit our communities today.
Mary Walton also invented sound dampers for elevated railroads. Her device placed the tracks inside of a wooden box lined with cotton or sand to dampen the sound pollution caused by elevated trains. The Metropolitan Railroad soon adopted her system, which greatly reduced train noise.
Walton’s invention diverted smokesticke pollutants into water tanks and made air pollution much less noticeable. It was also an environmentally-friendly solution to the noise that the elevated trains made. She was an efficient boarding house owner and found a way to solve the problem. Ultimately, she succeeded where Thomas Edison failed.
Walton’s invention was eventually patented and became a staple of elevated rail systems. Her system soon became commonplace across the United States. She received a modest $10,000 in prize money for her work, as well as “royalty forever.”
Thomas Edison’s invention solved the rattling and clanging noises on elevated trains
One of America’s greatest inventors, Thomas Edison, spent six months trying to find a solution to the noise coming from elevated trains. He finally found it through experiments performed by a woman who lived near the elevated rails. She eventually created a simple mechanism that silences the noise. But the problem still existed and Edison’s invention didn’t work out.
As a teenager, Thomas Edison became interested in the telegraph, which he built himself. He began working as a telegraph operator in 1863 in Port Huron, Michigan. His first experience involved nearly blowing up the telegraph office he worked at. The next five years saw Edison traveling around the country as a telegraph operator. Although he was a moderately deaf teenager, Edison’s sharp clicks were distinctly distinct from the background noise.
Edison attended school briefly, but mostly studied at home. He took an interest in reading and developed an aptitude for chemistry. He also built a small laboratory in his basement and collected chemicals that he could use. This laboratory remains in the West Orange area today.
The noises on elevated trains were a major source of irritation to many passengers. In April 1881, the city granted Edison permission to build a power station. He understood the need to impress his financial supporters and built his company as a forerunner to the Consolidated Edison Company, which still powers the city.
A patent was eventually granted to this invention. He named it the quadruplex telegraph. This system allowed four different messages to be sent at once. This innovation changed the world, and it revolutionized transportation. In the meantime, it also revolutionized the world of communication. Now, you can send and receive messages without the annoying noises caused by elevated trains.
After the phonograph became successful, Edison went on to develop other ideas. He also invented the bamboo filament that became the foundation of the lightbulb. Others had attempted to develop a light bulb before, but none had ever worked for more than a few minutes. Thomas Edison’s light bulb burned for thirteen and a half hours on October 21, and forty hours on December 25, 1879.
Another invention by Thomas Edison solved the rattling and clanking sounds made by elevated trains. Elevated cars were popular during this era. They were equipped with handholds and seats. Edison also sold them as a luxury item. He also received a great deal of media attention. Although he did not become rich from this invention, he was a household name and his name is now on products all over the world.
Thomas Edison’s invention was inspired by a serendipitous accident. While working on a project, he was struck by the sound of the telegraph. The stationmaster was willing to help him understand its workings. In the meantime, the machine’s audio output transcribed the human voice and acoustic telegraph signals.
Thomas Harris Barlow’s mechanical genius
In 1825, Thomas Harris Barlow settled in Lexington and established a shop on Spring Street between Main and Water. This shop produced the first locomotive in Western America. Barlow made locomotives with a heavy car that ran over a circular railroad. The model of one of his locomotives still stands in the Lunatic Asylum.
In the late 1850s, he died in Cincinnati, Ohio. This mechanical genius left a legacy of intellectual strength to his family and to many men and institutions. Barlow married Keziah West and had three children, one of which, Milton, began working in his father’s shop at age 12. By the time he was fifteen, he had already invented a low-pressure steam engine that utilized a glass air pump. Barlow was awarded $150 for three sessions of schooling at the school.
After a successful career in the United States, Barlow returned to Kentucky. His first planetarium was purchased by Transylvania University. Today, these planetariums are used at Transylvania University and in most of the great educational institutions of this country. He also developed an extensive flouring-mill and a residence in Richmond.
In 1827, Barlow sold a miniature engine to Samuel Robb. The miniature engine went on to be shown in Louisville, Nashville, Memphis, New Orleans, and Vicksburg. This locomotive was so popular that Mr. Robb sold the model to Mr. Rockhill, who later used it in his business.
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