Fun Facts

Discover 10 Fun Facts About Garrett Morgan: Innovator and Inventor

Garrett Morgan was a pioneering American inventor and entrepreneur whose innovative spirit broke barriers and significantly advanced technology in various fields. Born in 1877, Morgan’s relentless curiosity and determination led to inventions that not only saved lives but also paved the way for future technological advancements. His groundbreaking contributions have left an indelible mark on the fields of safety equipment, traffic management, and personal care.

In this blog post, we aim to celebrate Garrett Morgan by delving into 10 fascinating fun facts about his life and achievements. We will explore his early influences, iconic inventions like the safety hood and the three-position traffic signal, and his successful ventures beyond inventing. We’ll also touch on the challenges he faced, the recognition he garnered, and his lasting legacy and impact on future generations of African American inventors.

By the end of this post, you’ll have a deeper appreciation for Garrett Morgan’s contributions to science and technology and understand why he remains an enduring figure in history.

Fun Fact 1: Early Life

Garrett Augustus Morgan was born on March 4, 1877, in Claysville, Kentucky, an African American community outside of Paris, Kentucky. He was the seventh of eleven children born to Sydney Morgan, a former enslaved person, and Elizabeth Reed Morgan, the daughter of a Confederate colonel. Growing up, Morgan had limited access to formal education, attending school only up to the sixth grade.

However, his innate curiosity and keen intellect set him apart from a young age. He left home at the age of 14 in search of better opportunities and eventually settled in Cleveland, Ohio. There, he worked various jobs, including as a handyman, which allowed him to develop his mechanical skills and gain the practical experience that would later fuel his inventiveness.

Fun Fact 2: The Invention of the Safety Hood

Garrett Morgan’s most celebrated invention is undoubtedly the safety hood, an early version of the gas mask. This life-saving device was patented in 1914 and was designed to protect firefighters and other emergency workers from smoke and harmful gases. The safety hood featured a long tube that dangled close to the ground, where the cleanest air could be found, and a series of wet sponges that filtered out smoke and toxins.

Morgan’s invention demonstrated its effectiveness in 1916 during the Lake Erie Crib Disaster, a tunnel explosion where workers were trapped underground. Morgan, donning his safety hood, personally rescued several men and earned national recognition for his bravery and ingenuity.

The safety hood not only garnered commercial success but also laid the groundwork for modern respiratory protective equipment. Despite the racial barriers of the time, Morgan’s invention was critically acclaimed and adopted by fire departments across the country, showcasing his remarkable impact on public safety.

Fun Fact 3: Contribution to Traffic Safety

One of Garrett Morgan’s most influential contributions to public safety is his invention of the three-position traffic signal. At a time when traffic accidents were frequent due to a lack of standardized signals, Morgan recognized the need for a better system to control the flow of vehicles. In 1923, he patented the three-position traffic signal, which included an “all-direction stop” position to give drivers the chance to clear the intersection before the traffic light changed.

This innovation significantly reduced accidents and is considered a precursor to the modern traffic lights we use today. Morgan eventually sold the rights to his invention to General Electric for $40,000—a significant sum at the time—solidifying his place in the annals of traffic management history. His traffic signal was implemented in cities across North America, demonstrating his far-reaching impact on everyday life.

Fun Fact 4: The Garrett Morgan Hair Refining Company

Beyond his work as an inventor, Garrett Morgan was also a successful entrepreneur in the personal care industry. He founded the “G.A. Morgan Hair Refining Company,” which produced a line of hair care products aimed primarily at African Americans. His foray into hair care began with his development of a hair-straightening cream, an accidental discovery while experimenting with a chemical solution meant for sewing machines.

Recognizing its potential, Morgan marketed the product, which quickly gained popularity. Through his company, he provided jobs for the community and garnered wealth that enabled him to support his various inventions and philanthropic efforts. The success of the Garrett Morgan Hair Refining Company demonstrated his versatility and business acumen, further cementing his legacy as an innovator and entrepreneur.

Fun Fact 5: Patent Issues and Challenges

In addition to his achievements as an inventor and entrepreneur, Garrett Morgan was deeply involved in community activism. He was a strong advocate for the African American community in Cleveland, Ohio, and worked tirelessly to improve racial relations and the welfare of his fellow citizens.

Morgan founded the Cleveland Association of Colored Men in 1914, an organization dedicated to economic and social justice. This association played a crucial role in fighting against discriminatory practices and promoting educational opportunities for African Americans.

Morgan also supported the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and contributed to various community causes. His activism demonstrated his commitment to not only advancing technology but also championing civil rights and equality.

Fun Fact 6: Recognition and Awards

Garrett Morgan made history as one of the first African Americans to own an automobile in the United States. His acquisition of a car at a time when they were a rare luxury item symbolized his success and prominence. Morgan’s ownership of a vehicle greatly influenced his interest in automotive safety, which led to his development of the three-position traffic signal.

His involvement with automobiles wasn’t just about personal convenience; it was also about understanding the evolving landscape of transportation and finding ways to make it safer for everyone. This forward-thinking approach to driving and traffic safety underscored his holistic vision for innovation.

Fun Fact 7: The Morgan Foundation

Garrett Morgan’s entrepreneurial spirit extended into the realm of media and communication. In 1920, he founded The Cleveland Call, a weekly newspaper aimed at the African American community of Cleveland. The publication provided a platform for news, opinions, and discussions that were particularly relevant to the African American population.

Through The Cleveland Call, Morgan promoted social and economic issues, advocated for civil rights, and sought to empower his readers with information and inspiration. This venture illustrated Morgan’s dedication to uplifting his community not just through inventions but also through the power of the press.

The newspaper later merged with another publication to become The Call and Post, which remains an important voice in Cleveland’s media landscape.

Fun Fact 8: Impact on Future Inventors

Despite the racial barriers of his era, Garrett Morgan received significant recognition and numerous awards for his inventive genius and contributions to society. His heroic actions during the Lake Erie Crib Disaster earned him several medals, including a gold medal from the International Association of Fire Engineers and a medal from the City of Cleveland.

Morgan’s traffic signal invention garnered him accolades from various sectors, underscoring his impact on public safety. In 1963, he was honored by the U.S. government with a day named after him—Garrett Morgan Day—in Cleveland. These recognitions highlighted not only his achievements but also the broader appreciation for his dedication to improving the world through innovation.

Fun Fact 9: Personal Life and Legacy

Garrett Morgan’s legacy is profoundly marked by his contributions to safety equipment that protected and saved lives. His inventions, particularly the safety hood and traffic signal, paved the way for modern advancements in these fields. Today, elements of his designs can be seen in various iterations of gas masks used by firefighters, military personnel, and first responders.

Traffic signals continue to function on principles Morgan first conceptualized, ensuring safer travel on roads worldwide. His relentless pursuit of innovation in safety technology serves as an enduring reminder of how one individual’s ingenuity can have a lasting and positive impact on society.

Fun Fact 10: Commemorations and Memorials

Garrett Morgan’s enduring legacy is commemorated in various ways across the United States. Schools, streets, and public buildings are named in his honor, ensuring that future generations remember his contributions. In Cleveland, the Garrett A. Morgan Water Works is a testament to his impact on public safety and innovation.

His life and achievements are also celebrated through educational programs and exhibits, such as those in the African American Museum in Washington, D.C., which highlight his role as a trailblazer for African American inventors. These tributes not only honor Morgan’s impressive accomplishments but also inspire future inventors to pursue their dreams, regardless of the obstacles they may face.


In summary, Garrett Morgan’s life and legacy encompass much more than just his remarkable inventions. From his early life in Kentucky to his impactful contributions to safety and community activism, Morgan’s story is a testament to perseverance, ingenuity, and the desire to create a better world.

The ten fun facts explored in this blog post offer a glimpse into the multifaceted life of a man who not only broke barriers but also laid the groundwork for future innovations. Garrett Morgan’s achievements continue to inspire and remind us of the power of determination and creativity in shaping our world for the better. So, let’s celebrate the life and legacy of this remarkable inventor and honor his contributions to society.

Now that you’ve learned more about Garrett Morgan, don’t forget to share these fun facts with your friends and family. Let’s continue to spread awareness of the incredible individuals who have made significant contributions to our world. And who knows, perhaps you too will be inspired to make a difference through innovation! Keep dreaming big and never stop chasing your passions.

The future is full of endless possibilities, just waiting for someone like you to bring them to life. So go out there and make your mark – just like Garrett Morgan did. Keep innovating!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button