Among many of our monied business men, and too frequently among officers of Railroad Companies, there is a want of information in regard to many valuable improvements and inventions, which might be adopted by them to advantage, and perhaps equally as much to the advantage of others. It is a duty which Railroad Companies owe to our community to adopt such means as shall insure safety and convenience, as well as speed and profit. They should seek for those inventions which tend to avert danger and enable them to carry out their plans for the safe conducting ot trains of cars to the best advantage—a neglect to do so is a crime, and should be regarded as such by the community. By many officers of railroads, a disposition to treat inventors and inventions with perfect indifference, is notorious. Presidents and Directors on some of our railroads will hardly pauss to notice an improvement of any kind. We have been told of an incident which may be properly related in this connection: —A friend called upon the President of one of the Eastern Railroads, with the model of an invention ot his own, connected "with one of the most important departments of railroad management. The President was absent, but the chief clerk very politely volunteered the information that, if present, he would have no time to look at models of any kind. With Yankee perseverence, however, the model was again brought, and the clerk's information proving but too true, it was taken away again. The President and his friends learning, however, that the inventor was a man of some influence, changed the usual routine of proceeding, by sending an apology for neglect, and a request that he should again submit his, model for examination. This being done, all the parties who examined it were led to express their approbation of the improvement suggested. Btrt the act" speaks—it tells" tS that inventions or improvements, however valuable to the community, receive nonotice from these officials, unless they are presented by some of the lords of the soil—some of the monied few. The poor inventor, however meritorious, however ingenious his contrivance for insuring safety or convenience to those who are travelling with such rapid speedis repulsed without even a passing notice. When large dividends are the cherished aim of Railroad Companies, and officers are appointed whose sole object appears to be to carry out these ends, it can hardly be supposed that new suggestions or new improvements, which havesafety or convenience for their object, without a special regard to profit, could meet with a very courteous reception. These are generally the men who suppose that tew additional improvements in railroad engineering will ever be made; from such, inventors can expect little encouragement, and they should not look for it from that source. The idea is prevalent in many places that inventors are but speculators, and perhaps the President above referred to has imbibed the same sentiment, if so he should be apprised that this is not the case. 'Tis true, worthless inventions sometimes fall into the hands ot speculators who care little for them but to make the most from their purchase ; but inventors, as a class ol men, are benevolent, honest-hearted men,—men who feel grateful for a kind reception, and who appreciate a benevolent act from those who have the ability and the spirit to test their improvements, and encourage those that are worthy of encouragement. These apparent improvements may be encouraged in a variety of ways, and frequently at a very trifling expense. It is not unfrequently the case that an important improvement may be tested in a short time by the aid of an engine or car that has been laid aside for ordinary use. Railroad Companies often have the means at hand to render assistance in this manner, which might ultimately benefit themselves as well as the world at large. Experience proves that mechanical and scientific discoveries benefit all—they , are a blessing to the poor as well as to the rich.
This article was originally published with the title "Encouragement to New Inventions" in Scientific American 8, 37, 293 (May 1853)