Women’s History Month is celebrated each March to recognize the achievements of women and their roles in U.S. history. In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting some of the women pioneers. The transportation and logistics industry would be significantly different if it weren’t for their inventions, research, and perseverance. From inventors to innovators, these women shaped the transportation industry into what it is today.
Mary Walton was an influential inventor with multiple inventions that made huge advancements in reducing air and noise pollution on railroads in the 1880s. To reduce air pollution, she patented a method for redirecting emissions through water tanks to trap pollutants and transport them through the sewage system. Walton is also recognized for succeeding where Thomas Edison failed. For six months, Edison spent time looking for a way to reduce the noise of the elevated rails but had no luck. Walton invented a system to reduce noise pollution using cotton and sand in a wooden box around an elevated track.
Luella Bates became the first woman truck driver in the early 1900s. As a result of World War 1, women filled jobs left vacant by male employees reporting for military duty. Bates was hired as a test driver for Four Wheel Drive (FWD) Auto Company in Clintonville, Wisconsin. Bates logged plenty of miles and hours driving the new trucks under various road and weather conditions, demonstrating that the FWD trucks are easy to operate. She proved that women could be great truck drivers.
Edwina Justus became the first black female locomotive engineer in the United States in the 1970s, working for Union Pacific. She started her career as a traction motor clerk and then transitioned into an engineering role. Throughout her career, Justus fought against both racial and gender biases and persevered in an oft-times hostile work environment.
Eliza Murfey was an inventor who focused on the mechanics of the railroad. She had sixteen patents for devices, Packings, that would lubricate a train’s axles with oil. In 1870, Murfey’s inventions reduced derailments caused by seized axles and bearings.
The great minds of people like Walton, Bates, Justus, and Murfey paved the way for generations to come. We proudly remember their achievements and celebrate their impact on American history and the field of transportation and logistics. We are thankful for the impact these innovations had on our industry! Happy Women’s History Month!