Buffalo Bill Cody at the tiller of a 1904 Michigan
It was a time of incredible transition. In the Arizona territory Geronimo was being pursued by the United States Army. Meanwhile in Michigan, Ransom E. Olds was tinkering with contraptions that would soon contribute to one greatest societal changes in world history. A few years later, in 1892, he detailed a few of his endeavors, and his vision for the future, in an an interview published in Scientific American. He was quoted as saying about the automobile that, “…it never kicks or bite, never tires on long runs, and never sweats in hot weather. It does not require care in the stable and only eats while on the road.”
Peerless, a company that would rise to prominence as one of the nations leading manufacturers of luxury automobiles during the teens had its origins in the production of clothes wringers. With the explosion of bicycle popularity in the last decade of the 19th century, the company diversified production to include the two-wheelers for which America had developed an insatiable appetite.
Pierce-Arrow, another leader in the manufacture of American luxury cars during the teens, had as a cornerstone Heintz, Pierce & Munschauer, a manufacturer of iceboxes, birdcages, and other assorted household goods. As with Peerless, the manufacture of bicycles served as the interim step toward automobile production, and by the teens Pierce-Arrow challenged Rolls Royce for international dominance of the luxury automobile market. (more…)
Have you had the opportunity to experience the breathtaking landscapes and scenery that embrace the pre-1952 alignment of Route 66 (National Old Trails Highway before 1927) in the Black Mountains of western Arizona? Did you know that this is where the last gold rush in Arizona began?
Photo courtesy Mohave Museum of History & Arts
Surprisingly this rugged bulwark of stone that stands as a silent sentinel above the Colorado River Valley is amply peppered with water holes and springs, oasis in a harsh land where summer temperatures often exceed 112 degrees Fahrenheit. That is why the Mohave and clans of the Haulapai treasured these mountains. That is why early explorers followed what is now Sitgreaves Pass over the summit, instead of staying to the south where the desert was flat in comparison.
On the National Old Trails Road, latter Route 66, Ed Edgerton created a gold mine for himself when he set up Ed’s Camp at Little Meadows, a camping location during the Father Garces expedition of 1776. The money that flowed from the pockets of travelers into his made him a very wealthy man. Edgerton wasn’t the only man that struck it rich on this road in these mountains.
Photo Mohave Museum of History & Arts
N.R. Dunton was, as the story goes, nearly penniless when he arrived in Goldroad during the early 1920’s. Dunton was a man of ambition and vision. He established Cool Springs on the eastern slope of the mountains in 1926, and later a garage in Goldroad, a hard scrabble mining camp. Jack Rittenhouse in his book A Guide Book To Highway 66 noted that Dunton offered a towing service to get vehicles over he steep pass. Dunton would establish Dunton Motors, a Ford agency, in Kingman, Arizona in 1946.
Today the dealership owned by the same family operates as Dunton Motors Dream Machines, a classic car facility. It is also home to the Route 66 Association of Kingman, and Scott Dunton is president. On display, in addition to a dazzling array of vintage cars, is a model of Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner created by internationally acclaimed artist Willem Bor, a co-founder of the Dutch Route 66 Association.
In the 1860’s soldiers stationed at Fort Mohave on the Colorado River whiled away free time by prospecting in the Black Mountains, and on occasion they would find a bit of color or a nugget or two. John Moss even made a very promising discovery that assay reports verified to be a rich strike. But the vein was fractured and so the Black Mountains were forgotten when major discoveries of gold, silver and other minerals were discovered in the Cerbat Mountains to the north.
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I have no idea when the photo at my grandmothers house first caught my eye, and I don’t know where the photo is today. I do know that that picture of my grandfather and his guest, Henry Ford, sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch of the house on Hinckley Boulevard was what inspired a grand adventure that continues to this day.
I never knew my grandfather, Frederick P. Hinckley as he was born July 1866. Years later I learned some rather interesting things about the tall, thin man in the photograph. Hinckley obtained a patent for the bicycle coaster brake in 1898. Two years later, he was in the employ of David Buick as a machinist. In the years that followed he was involved in a number of manufacturing companies including Hinckley-Meyers, a company that designed and produced specialty machine tools for Hudson, Fisher Bodies, and other automotive companies. He also launched a company that produced saw sets, and established a machine shop on Francis Street in Jackson, Michigan that, among other things, produced experimental components on direct order from Henry Ford.
It was my quest to know more about this man that sparked my fascination with the American auto industry between 1885 and 1940, and the City of Jackson’s rich automotive history. And this led me full circle, a meeting with Ted O’Dell, the man that is single handily bringing to light Jackson’s industrial past, in October 2017. The center piece of O’Dell’s crusade was acquisition of the circa 1909 Hackett Automobile Company factory, and his ongoing efforts to transform the old building into an event center and museum.
To read more about this Fred P. Hinckley, my quest to discover his story, and a fascinating place called Hague Park, check out our exclusive content site on the Patreon platform.