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 ScientificAmerican. 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…)
Who first took to the roads in a horseless vehicle will most likely always
be a bit of a mystery. Likewise with exactly who first pinned the term automobile to the horseless carriage. Even the year is an unknown but by the early 19th century a few daring, or crazy, visionaries and inventors were terrorizing their neighborhoods with steam powered carriages. However, it would be the mid 1880’s before the concept of a road vehicle driven by any means other than the horse was given serious consideration.
An argument could be made that the American automobile industry was born in 1877. That was the year George B. Selden obtained patents for a horseless carriage with internal combustion engine. Interestingly enough, he did not actually build an automobile, or even a functioning prototype, until 1905 when a lawsuit necessitated that he do so.
Front Street, latter Andy Devine Avenue in Kingman, Arizona. In 1915, Edsel Ford stayed at this hotel during his odyssey along the National Old Trails Highway. Photo courtesy Mohave Museum of History & Arts.
Reading A. Lincoln, a most fascinating biography about
Abraham Lincoln, watching the Trump presidency take shape, composing notes and research for a book about murder on Route 66, the quest to create brand recognition for Jim Hinckley’s America, writing an article about the tragic life of David Buick, and the loss of two friends this year led to a bit of reflection. Magnifying my thoughts about the brevity of life and how much time we spend chasing fame and fortune in a futile hope that we can gain a dubious form of immortality from our accomplishments was a small photography expedition this afternoon.
I suppose some of this darkly shaded reflection is rooted in these times of division, uncertainty, and transition. In this, there is a sense that I am not alone.