2012-10-24 / Local & State

Historical Society Honors Friction Brake Inventor

Dedicates new tombstone


Pictured, left to right, at Sunday’s commemorative service for George Diven, friction brake inventor, are Richard Miller, John Nelson, Linda Garber, UCC minister Rev. Valeria Schmidt, Ken Keebaugh, Mary Haubrick and Glenn Cordell. Pictured, left to right, at Sunday’s commemorative service for George Diven, friction brake inventor, are Richard Miller, John Nelson, Linda Garber, UCC minister Rev. Valeria Schmidt, Ken Keebaugh, Mary Haubrick and Glenn Cordell. Fulton County Historical Society members gathered Sunday at the St. Paul’s United Church of Christ (UCC) grave of George Diven (1782-1858) in McConnellslburg “to remember, to honor and give due recognition” to the inventor of the friction brake.

A wagoner who lived in Fulton County, Diven operated on the mountain road between McConnellsburg and Chambersburg and was all too familar with the difficulties of descending a steep grade in a Conestoga wagon that weighed about 2,000 pounds, filled with cargo up to six tons and pulled by four or six horses.

Diven figured out that by using the friction of two objects rubbing together, he could slow down – even stop – moving wagons – and is credited with being the earliest inventor of the friction brake.

His design principles have influenced the various concepts of friction brakes ever since.

Because Diven did not have his fraction brake design patented, most of the world never knew of his accomplishment. However, in 1926, test engineers from various brake and bus manufacturers who were testing new brake products on the mountain roads here knew. They found Diven’s grave-site and laid a wreath on it to pay tribute to the inventor of the friction brake.

On Sunday the Fulton County Historical Society, which, in conjunction with the UCC, placed a new tombstone and signage at Diven’s grave, also laid a wreath to commemorate and recognize his contribution to society.

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