2012-10-10 / Local & State

Friction Brake Inventor’s Gravesite To Be Recognized


George Diven, a farmer and wagoner who lived in what is now Fulton County, was the earliest inventor of the friction brake for Conestoga wagons.

In September 1926, after his death, representatives of the Westinghouse Air Brake Co., the American Brake, Shoe and Foundry Co. and Mack Truck Co. laid a wreath on his grave in the German Reformed Cemetery (today the St. Paul’s UCC cemetery) recognizing George Diven as the earliest inventor of the friction brake shoe system.

By inventing a rectangular friction brake shoe made of wood and iron, and a brake lever to apply the brake shoe to the large back wagon wheel, Diven was able to control the speeds of large, heavy Conestoga wagons and bring them to a safe stop.

The Fulton County Historical Society, in conjunction with St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, has placed a new tombstone and signage at the gravesite commemorating Diven’s invention.

A service of recognition and dedication will be held in the St. Paul’s UCC cemetery, E. Walnut St., McConnellsburg, on Sun., October 21, beginning at 2 p.m.

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