On a recent visit to Pittsburgh I stopped by the Westinghouse Castle in Wilmerding, Pennsylvania. It's still there, looking as majestic as ever. I took the photograph of the George Westinghouse Castle that appears in this article. The "Castle" formerly housed the personal office of George Westinghouse and general office of the Westinghouse Airbrake Company.
The Castle is Closed until further notice. According to the Facebook page by the folks in Wilmerding that currently own the castle, they say tours are halted indefinitely. I will definitely be following up on what's happening with the Westinghouse Castle in the future.
I took a drive through Schenley Park to see what was happening with the Westinghouse Memorial, I knew there was a renovation project in the works. Currently the entire area around the Westinghouse Memorial is all torn up and under massive renovation. I am really looking forward to the completion of the Westinghouse Memorial. Dedicated in 1930, the Westinghouse Memorial and Pond in Schenley Park was originally funded by donations by employees of the Westinghouse companies.
The Legacy of George Westinghouse
George Westinghouse was born in Central Bridge, New York, on October 6, 1846. George Westinghouse died on March 12, 1914, in New York City, at age 67. George Westinghouse spent most of his adult life in Pittsburgh, working on safer rail transportation, steam turbines, gas lighting and heating, and electricity.
In his early years George worked in the shops at his father's agricultural machinery factory in Schenectady, New York. George Westinghouse ran off to enlist in the Union army at the age of 15.
George Westinghouse started out as an inventor and innovator in rail transportation and steam turbines. He was 19 when his first patent for a rotary steam engine was issued in 1865. Westinghouse moved to Pittsburgh around 1868. As a major railroad hub offering low-cost steel and an ample pool of trained mechanics, Pittsburgh suited the inventions of Westinghouse. One of his first businesses manufactured his invention which replaced derailed freight cars onto the train tracks. Westinghouse organized the Westinghouse Air Brake Company in July of 1869, to produce one of his most important inventions, the railroad air brake.
Westinghouse would become an inventor and innovator in the field of natural gas. His gas inventions included the proportional gas meter, the automatic cutoff regulator, pressure regulator valve and long-distance gas transmission through a series of increasing diameter lines in lieu of lines of uniform dimension.
The Westinghouse Electric Corporation founded in 1886, would be his greatest creation. Westinghouse Electric Corporation would bring electricity to our homes using the AC power generation systems created by Westinghouse in defeating Thomas Edison, and General Electric in the War of Currents. Although Westinghouse passed away in 1914, the company he created would live on to become one of the greatest companies in radio and television innovations for much of the twentieth century. The oldest surviving licensed commercial radio station in the United States, KDKA Pittsburgh, was an outgrowth of experimental station by Westinghouse assistant chief engineer Frank Conrad.
Westinghouse seldom gave interviews and generally refused to have his picture taken. The few people that have written biographies of Westinghouse have commented how difficult it is to find any information on him. Westinghouse was a quiet man, happy to live in Pittsburgh for most of his adult life.
Reflections on George Westinghouse
When I say the Pittsburgh area has a lot of cool technology history associated with it I get a mixed reaction. When people think of Pittsburgh the steel mills come to mind. I grew up in Western Pennsylvania, and the majority of people from my parents generation were connected to either the coal mines or steel mills. My father worked in the steel mills for more than thirty years. I had many friends and relatives that worked in either the coal mines or steel mills.
I grew up reading the books of the great science fiction authors Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke. My favorite magazines were Popular Science and Popular Mechanics. I began tinkering with old radios and televisions, reclaiming devices that people were throwing away. I had a shop in my fathers garage that contained various electronic components stored in coffee cans.
I knew that the radio and television industry has deep roots in Pittsburgh, and I often heard the Westinghouse name. Sadly, the man who I now appreciate as the most forgotten geek of the early twentieth century, was not someone I remember from my days in school. It would be many years later I would learn about the man behind the name Westinghouse, and appreciate the world of technology that George Westinghouse helped to create.
The fanboys of Nikola Tesla cry that Tesla was the most unappreciated geek of the industrial era, and was cheated by Edison. But they forget, or perhaps choose not to acknowledge, it was Westinghouse who defeated Edison in the War of Currents, the famous business and technology battle of the 1890s. Yes, Tesla defeated Edison, but he did it as a member of a team build by George Westinghouse.
If the wealthy folks like Elon Musk can throw a million dollars towards rebuilding a torn down tower on Long Island, New York for a Tesla Museum at Wardenclyffe, it seems that the same could be done to save the Castle of the man who was the real success behind Nikola Tesla.
George Westinghouse is the most unappreciated geek from the industrial era
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