Elijah McCoy was the son of slaves that
freed themselves via the Underground Railroad. When Elijah turned
15, he went to Scotland to be trained in mechanical engineering.
When he came back to the Unite States to get a job in engineering
he was denied because he was an African-American. Since that
did not work out for him, he worked as a railroad fireman. A
railroad fireman was a person that put wood into the furnaces.
At one point in time the locomotives needed to be shut down
so that it would not overheat. Elijah stepped in and developed
the “lubricating cup” for the steam engines. His
invention kept the locomotives lubricated at all times, it helped
prevent the locomotives from stopping frequently and overheating.
The railroad’s profits increased and machinists and engineers
began to use “the real McCoy” to request Elijah’s