Automobiles

The farmers often had trouble in breaking their horses to go past a threshing engine which was stationary, but noisy. This 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 fifteen to twenty miles per hour. They could be seen and heard for long distances. County 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 signs of fright. The ditches then were shallow; and the road deeply rutted, if in the prairie trail stage. Most roadside fields showed where some team had been driven, or had run away 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. In the Courier of May 19, 1902 it is noted: "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 Co. He made the round trip of eighty 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."

When bicycles became numerous their repair, and sale made a new business in town. Mr. F. B. King had such a shop on the present location of the City Hall. Then with Chester C. Piatt, as King-Piatt Co. they added the Reo automobile to their line of Rambler bicycles. Then in 1908 Mr. Piatt sold his interest to Otto Bruns and the company became the King-Bruns Co. and took the agency for the Rambler automobile also.

As an idea of the cars of 1908 the King-Piatt Co. advertised: Reo Five passenger touring-$1260, Roadster-$1000.00, Four passenger runabout-$650.00 and King-Bruns-1908-Rambler, Model 34,-$2,250.00.

King-Bruns Co. added a repair department as auto repairs became needed and that end of the business grew.

Then in 1922 the Palace Hotel was taken down and the Palace Motors-later called Main Motors-was built where the hotel stood, from about this time garages and gas stations-the modern counter-parts of the old Livery Stables, made a rapid growth.

Shown at the right is Ronnie Lima standing be side a Hudson "20" Roadster which his grandfather, Peter Lima, purchased in 1909 from the Hammer-Condy Co. for $1040 which, at that time, did not include such extras as top, windshield, bumper or spare tire. This car is kept in good running condition and is the oldest continuously licensed car in the state.

Source:  Cooperstown Diamond Jubilee 1882-1957 Page 43

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