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Garrett Morgan: Signal Achievements

From the U.S. Census Bureau

Thousands of Americans owe their lives to the inventions of Garrett Morgan.

The son of former slaves, Morgan invented the gas mask. Originally designed for firemen, he used one of his masks to help rescue men trapped by a gas explosion in a tunnel under Lake Erie. The masks were used extensively by U.S. soldiers in World War I.

Morgan also greatly helped traffic safety. After witnessing a collision between an automobile and a horse-drawn carriage, he invented an automatic traffic signal, the basis for today's modern systems. These are much needed in view of the fact that there are more than 178- million cars, trucks and buses on the nation's highways.

This profile is adapted from Profile America, a radio series produced by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2004.

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