Automobiles

The farmers often had trouble in breaking their horses to go past a threshing engine, which was stationary, but noisy.  That was nothing when compared with their driving troubles when the first automobiles appeared on the roads.  These first cars usually were fire engine red, and very noisy.  If they had mufflers they did very little muffling, and they were moving at race-horse speed, often as much as 15 to 20 miles per hour.  They could be seen and heard for long distances.  Country teachers dismissed classes when the first automobile went by their schoolhouse so that their pupils could watch it pass.

The wise driver took to the fields as soon as the team showed sign of fright.  The ditches then were shallow, and the road deeply rutted if in the prairie trail stage and many a broken wagon or buggy marked the place where a driver stayed too long on the road.  The most dreaded place of meeting a car was on the narrow hillside roads leading to the Sheyenne River.

No records have been found which definitely date the first automobile in Griggs County.  The most accurate seems to be from the early papers.

Courier, May 19, 1902: "Why! Zip! Rub your eyes and look again! Can't you see what it is? Why, it is Langdon and his little red steam wagon going, ‘steen miles an hour.  Mr. Langdon now has a Locomobile steam carriage using gasoline as fuel."

May 7, 1903: "We understand that our genial and popular photographer, George Von Blon has ordered an automobile of the Olds make."

June 4, 1908: "Elmer Matheson made a phenomenal trip to Sanborn last Friday, with a Reo automobile belonging to King-Bruns Company.  He made the round trip of 80 miles in just four hours and fifteen minutes, and taking into the deal the poor condition of the roads on account of rains, we are inclined to think that he went some."

August 6, 1908: "P.P. Idsvoog had a severe stroke of automobilitis last week and got relief when he purchased a new Rambler touring car.  He went up to Binford with his new purchase last Saturday, as proud as a boy with his first pair of red topped boots."

Source: Cooperstown, North Dakota 1882-1982 Centennial Page 245

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