Railroad History

Its all about the rails


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Patent No. 124,405: Automatic Railroad Air Brake

Before the Westinghouse's patent for the air brake, railroad engineers would stop trains by cutting power, braking their locomotives and using the whistle to signal their brakemen. The brakemen would manually turn the brakes in one car at a time - jumping from one car to the next until all the brakes were set. The system was dangerous. Brakemen often died or were maimed by the imprecise system. The train might stop too soon or too late for the station.

George Westinghouse Jr.

George Westinghouse (1846-1914) was one of the great inventors of the 19th century. He also created life-saving electrical signals for railroads that kept two trains from occupying the same "block" of track, a rotary steam engine and devices for transporting natural gas. His biggest gift to the railroad was the 1872 patent No. 124,405 for the automatic railroad air brake.

Read more about Westinghouse's revolutionary air brake patent »

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