Elijah McCoy is one of the success sto¬ ries of the Underground Railroad. His parents were slaves in Kentucky who took their lives into their own hands and escaped through the tunnels and tributaries that flowed towards the North Star.
Arriving in Canada, they built a family of twelve chil¬ dren, one of whom was destined to make the name McCoy a household word.
Elijah was educated in Edinburgh, Scot¬ land, where he became fascinated with the study of mechanical engineering.
Moving from there back to the states, Elijah settled in Detroit, Michigan, in hopes of find¬ ing work. Though he was an inven¬ tive engineer, prejudice made it impossible for him to find a position except as a fire¬ man for the Michigan Central Railroad.
This turned out to be the position that inspired him. After watching the inefficient machinery of the contemporary trains, and the daily oiling of all working parts, Elijah founded the Elijah McCoy Manufacturing Company in Detroit and began working on the production of a device that would oil machinery even while the piece was still in motion.
In 1872, his new “lubricator cup received a US patent and began to stream¬ line the steam engine, saving operators valu¬ able time and money.Though he had perfected a device that became invaluable, Elijah McCoy was not satisfied.
He went to work on a variation, and perfected over 42 inventions that mod¬ ernized machinery all over the world.A lifetime inventor and perfectionist, Elijah McCoy remained the specialist that people trusted, and when copies were offered to prospective buyers, they would say, “I want the Real McCoy.”