• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • You already know Dokkio is an AI-powered assistant to organize & manage your digital files & messages. Very soon, Dokkio will support Outlook as well as One Drive. Check it out today!


Mary Walton

Page history last edited by glu@... 10 years, 2 months ago

Mary Walton

         By: Guangxi Lu


   Mary Walton (b. after 1800 – d.?) was a nineteenth-century American inventor who contributes on environmental protection field. Walton developed two kinds of devices to reduce both air pollution and noise pollution.



   Mary Walton lives in a begotten family, her father worked very hard to educating her. Although she is a girl, her father believes that' she will become an inventor. Because of this believe, Mary Walton become a great woman inventor in STEM field. [5]  

   Walton has two inventions in her life. She patented her “improvement in locomotive and other chimneys” (US 221880) in October 6, 1879. By this invention, air pollution has greatly reduced. She uses a special chimney instead of the normal one, foul gases and vapors from the chimneys, especial from locomotive will be absorption by the water before they released into the air. Sewage will be store in a water tank and easily emission to city’s Sewage system. This method was used in November 8, 1879, and was generally available in a very short period of time, and significantly reduces the air pollution at that age.

   Then, in 1880s, Walton changes her attention to a noise pollution, which is totally different from smoke. She patented her “elevated railway” (US237422A) in February 8, 1881. She uses sand and cotton to absorb the noise in railway with a really rational design. She found that the sand can absorb the noise in a very coincidence chance, so she uses it to cover the bottom of the railroad. What’s more, she improves the rail structure to fit her design. This invention was so important, because it was absolutely solve the noise problem in New York City at that time.


Contributions to STEM

   Mary Walton was a woman inventor in STEM field. She was famous for her contribution in environmental protection field. At nineteenth-century, woman inventors are not   optimistic. However, Mary Walton surely changes those opinions by her contribution. She improves the elevated railway, and successfully solves the urban noise problem. We should know, at that age, even the greatest inventor were tired to solve this problem. Mary Walton use sand to bedding the rails, it absorbs the noise from the trains. She got 10,000 dollars and royalty forever from this invention.

   Mary Walton is not only good at physics, but also pays attention in every detail of life. Like she found the sand can absorb the noise, she found the water can absorb the smoke. By this idea, she invented a special chimney which can use in locomotive. By this chimney, foul gases and vapors can be absorbed by the water. She also designs a water tank to store those water, and easily emission by the city’s sewage system. [2]

   Woman's Journal was commented like that: "The most noted machinists and inventors of the century [Thomas Edison among them] had given their attention to the subject without being able to provide a solution, when, lo, a woman's brain did the work..." [1]

Interesting Facts

   Later in nineteenth-century, elevated railway made the urban transport more convenient. New York, as the most modern city in this world, built a lot number of elevated railway. It was really convenient to the citizen, but problem also appeared. Pollution problem like the sequel of the industrial revolution, attack those large city. Noise and smoke affect our health, but no one knows how to solve this problem. Even the greatest inventors, like Thomas Edison, are tired to face that pollution. [3]

   Mary Walton, a young girl live in Manhattan asked her father, “I know the elevated railway is convenient, everyone ride it to work, but why it’s so noisy?” [5] Mary’s father replied her, “that’s the challenge for you, my dear. Maybe you can found an idea to solve this problem.” [5] At that age, boys are considered cleverer than girls. Although boys can accept the highly education, girls are always left school at the age of sixteen. However, Mary’s father works really hard to educate his daughter, and accept the education as the boys did. So, when Walton grew up, she begins her way to found the solution of noise problem. She knows that even the Thomas Edison do not know how to solve this, she still try her best to found that solution. [5]

   One night, when Mary sleep in her bed and put her head in the middle of pillow, she suddenly found the noise is reduced. “Right, I can use something to absorb the sound!” [5] Mary starts her way to found a material to reduce the sound. Finally, she found the sand, which is small and easily bedding off the rail. This found made her exciting. She designs a new el railway which has really small noise. This invention are suddenly used by New York City, people were surprised to find that a woman can solve this problem. She got 10,000 dollars by her great design. [1] People curious about her knowledge of where they come from. She said “My father had no sons, and believed in educating his daughters. He spared no pains or expense to this end...” [4]


Impact on 21st Century Society and Culture

   Why Mary Walton is important to 21st century STEM culture and society? We can be summarized into the following points:

   1. Her contribution to environment are really important to our human, as we know, pollution is the biggest obstacle in human progress. How to live with this natural is also the most important question we should answer. Although people need the railway to send them to work, people still need a clean and quite city to live. If railway is one of the greatest inventions in this world, we should not ignore the important role that Walton plays in this field. She improves the el railway, made it more environmental, and made it more universal for us. People in 21st also should not forget to protect the environment.

   2. She reflects that woman can also do well in STEM field. Talking about STEM field, people always focus on some man like Thomas Edison or Albert Einstein. However, there also have a large number of woman inventors in our history, we should attach importance to them, and we should not forget them.

   3. She never give up, even she know Thomas Edison are failed in this area. People in our society should always learn from her. Never give up, even no one can surmount this problem, you can do it. Believe yourself, because if you believe yourself, you can go beyond yourself and get success.

   Although little is recorded about the life of Mary Walton -- and how she overcame all the difficulties at environmental engineering without specific training, people would not forget how important her inventions are to the world and how much she had done for Americans. Nowadays, when you look around most cities, you will probably see a lot of Mary Walton is inventions to the environment.  If Mary Walton were still alive today, she would most likely have invented sound proof walls for the houses so that people wouldn’t have to listen to all of the sound from cars, party music and so on. The walls might have switches so that they can be turned the sound on and off. No matter what, Mary Walton is one of the Mothers of Inventions in late 19th century, her contribution is indelible.


Words cited

   1. LEMELS N-MIT. “Mary Walton”. Inventor of the week. November 1996. Web. 2 February 2014.

   2. Walton, Mary. Improvement in locomotive and other chimneys”. U.S. Patent 221880. Filed October 6, 1879 and issued November 18, 1879. Web. 2 February 2014.

   3. Walton, Mary. “Elevated Railway”. U.S. Patent 237422. Filed January 7, 1879 and issued February 8, 1881. Web. 2 February 2014.

   4. Stanley, Autumn.” Mothers and Daughters of Invention: Notes for a Revised History of Technology”. P.G 276. Book. 2 February 2014.

   5. “2004 commonwealth of Virginia department of Education”. P.G 3. E-book. 2 February 2014.


Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.