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Catherine L. Gibbon: Improvements in Street Railway Construction, 1892

Women and Transportation

Catherine L. Gibbon was born about 1851 in New York. (The name is sometimes seen as "Catharine," but appears in the case file and will be referenced throughout as "Catherine.") Though very few details about the woman and her life were uncovered in the researching of this case file, American women have been responsible for making improvements in travel for close to two centuries.

By the mid 1800s, Americans primarily traveled by walking, horse and carriage, steam ships, and canal boats. The era of the iron horse soon followed. Many women inventors contributed to improving safety and reducing noise pollution from trains. Mary I. Riggins developed a railway crossing gate, Eliza Murfey patented more than a dozen devices used to lubricate railroad-car axles and reduce the number of derailments, and Mary Walton created a system—which cradled the track in a wooden box lined with cotton and filled with sand—to reduce noise for elevated railroads in New York City. Walton later sold the rights to that system to the Metropolitan Railroad of New York City.