Today in Michigan History

July 23, 1872

Elijah J. McCoy patented the first automatic lubricator cup.

The son of former slaves, Elijah McCoy, was born in Canada in 1843. After studying in Scotland, he returned to Canada as a mechanical engineer. In 1870, he took a job with the Michigan Central Railroad. There, he invented an automatic lubricator cup that eliminated the need for trains to make time-consuming stops to oil the locomotive bearings. McCoy’s device revolutionized the railroad business and brought the term “the real McCoy” into common usage.

Thank you Michigan History Magazine for this glimpse into our past.  See more at