Early Automobiles

Date in History: Early 20th century

Art Hoard attempted to build the first horseless carriage in Fort Atkinson by using two discarded bicycles and a gasoline engine. His attempts at automaking were, according to all reports, unsuccessful and it did not take long for him to purchase a manufactured model. In 1903 only one automobile could be found in the city, but by 1918 there were 244 of various makes and models.

Many perils awaited the adventuresome owners of those first cars. Cranking the car for starting could prove dangerous to the person winding the crank. Kick backs were common and the car was sometimes known to lurch forward. Roads were unpaved and cars often got stuck in the mud or sand or slid into the deep culverts.

Auto mechanics were virtually unknown, but John Olson, an inventor with James Manufacturing in Fort, proved handy with the new invention and was often called on to fix the horseless carriages around town.

This historic document aired on the radio as an Historic Minute on 07/24/2006.

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