Early Adventures in Automobile Travel – Redhead Black Belt
Nuggets of old news are served by David Heller, one of our local historians.
Thanks to Lynette Mullen’s story blog, we know that the North Coast the first automobile arrived in Eureka in 1899, having been shipped from San Francisco. In 1903 there were dozens of automobiles in the area and the period of adaptation of the first car trips to the circulation of horses and buggies did not go smoothly at first. The simple act of shifting an automobile into a horse-drawn vehicle can be a nerve-wracking and dangerous experience. It was not uncommon for entire families to be dumped from their cars when teams got scared. The horses leaked easily, an unusual engine noise or the smell of gasoline could trigger a leakage accident. In 1903, a county ordinance 83 of fourteen sections was passed dictating red colored lamps to be used on the front of cars at night, sufficient brakes, good horns, a top speed of 15 mph on county roads , an 8 mph limit in cities over 75 people, a lower driving age limit of 18 for boys and 16 for girls, slow down to 5 mph when in sight of horses, s ” stopping for horse-drawn transport if signaled to stop, leaving name and address after accidents, infractions with misdemeanor fines of up to $ 500 and / or six months in jail, and our favorite:
Section 11. On all mountainous, narrow or dangerous public roads in said county and any person driving, riding or driving an animal on them, when crossing or passing an automobile, shall have the right to choose the side of the road. that he wishes to take to pass or cross the said automobile and may, when he is at a reasonable distance, make his choice or choice known by a movement of the hand or another sign indicating the side of the road on which he wishes cross or pass said automobiles. (Humboldt Times, 07/26/1903).
In addition to road safety concerns, engine failures were often synonymous with unexpected adventures and offered many opportunities for teams of horses to come to the rescue of the “kon-honk wagon”. The following are just a few of the many accounts of the early days of Humboldt County auto travel.
ARCATANS HAD A HARD AUTOMATIC TRIP broke down three times on a trip to Crescent City, WALKED MANY MILES AFTER A WHOLE NIGHT in a paralyzed car, but still on the line and ready to take other trips
Defender of the Blue Lake
September 5, 1908
Going from Arcata to Crescent City and back by car is not quite as pleasant and enchanting a trip as you might imagine. At least we know four of our friends from Arcata who will vouch for our statement. It was Tuesday afternoon, August 25, when Dr JS Menefee, Dr CH Mills, Robert Derrick and J. Rheistore started at Dr Menefee’s Reo bound for Requa and Crescent City. Until Requa was reached, everything was fine. There the two doctors were to attend to a few patients, after which they decided to continue their journey towards Crescent City, a distance of about 25 miles. The gentlemen flew up DeMartin Hill, but when at the top, at a place known as Last Chance, a small boulder got lodged in the chain that drives the machine, breaking it in half. There, they spent the night with road boss Prank Fehely and his crew, who are camping there repairing the road. Early the next morning, the four Arcatans marched to Crescent City, a distance of 15 miles, and made arrangements with Breen Bros, to take them back to Last Chance, where they fixed their car. It only took a short time to get the machine back to working order. The repairs being made, they left Thursday at the end of the afternoon. The Klamath ferry got through well and everything looked good for a quick ride home. But oh, my! What bad luck they encountered again when at the spring of Prairie Creek, six miles north of Harris or Boyes’ house, the damned car “hesitated again” and there our Arcata friends had to stay all night, each occupying a seat. in the car and admire the beautiful sequoias all around them. It was a lonely place but they still had a lot of courage and stamina left, and as soon as the day came on Friday morning they managed to repair the machine and set off at high speed for the house. They didn’t care so much about the night in the woods if they could only get home with their car safely. It was their morning prayer at the top of Prairie Creek hill. Everything went well until Patrick’s Point was reached and for the third time the confused car “hesitated again, being fully deactivated. Disgusted, they walked to Trinidad, about seven miles away, and phoned Arcata for transportation. They returned home the same night, but their car stayed on one side of the road at Patrick’s Point. The next morning, last Saturday, Dr Menefee took one of the Reed brothers with him to Patrick’s Point, where he fixed the machine, and they returned home to Arcata that same afternoon. Dr. Menefee appears to be the most playful player of the quartet as he informs the Advocate that he is ready to make the same journey in his Reo again at any time.
Accidents weren’t uncommon, and not all of them ended as well as this one:
QUICKLY ESCAPE THE HAND OF DEATH Horses and Surrey dive over embankment SENSITIVE ESCAPE OF TWO CHILDREN Mr. and Mrs. Graeter’s grandchildren escape unharmed – Horses frightened by automobile [Special to the Blue Lake Advocate.]
Defender of the Blue Lake
July 20, 1907
McKinleyville, July 6. -A most terrifying accident that endangered the life and safety of their two young children, was the experience of Mr. and Mrs. LD Graeter of this place while they were on the road to Arcata with their surrey last sunday. . Mr. Graeter, the popular merchant and hotelier there, had started driving to Arcata in his surrey, his two small children sitting with him alone in a back seat provided for them. By prior arrangement, Mr. Graeter and the little ones were to meet Ms. Graeter at some point along the way, with the lady expected to arrive at the scene, along with Miss Connick, in a gasoline car from Arcata. It happened that the car group met near the Mill Creek crossing. On the Arcata side of the stream, at this point, the road borders a leaning precipice leading to the bed of the stream, and it is just at this point that Mr. Graeter, aware of the approach of the car, stopped his horses, the autoists also stopping a little further down the road. At this point, it was expected that Ms. Graetor would join her husband and children and return to this location, allowing Miss Connick to return to Arcata in the auto. With the horses in a quiet disposition, Mr. Graeter did not hesitate to get out of the vehicle to help the lady sit up, but just then, and without having control of the reins, the horses suddenly received a puff of gasoline, and came off in fear. With the two tender children still seated in the surrey, the horses raced down the embankment. The sight was maddening. In these dark and strange moments, the lives of the precious little ones seemed completely doomed. Arriving in deadly terror on the scene below, moments later, the parents found the children unharmed, although the vehicle was shattered into small fragments. To those who have seen the steep bank leading to Mill Creek where the accident happened, the escape with life in such an accident seems a most wonderful thing. The Lawyer correspondent is delighted that such an event ends in peace and security.
EFFECTS OF AUTOMATIC DRIVING
Defender of the Blue Lake
September 27, 1907
NEW YORK, headquarters. 24. – The automobile makes fun of the American, that’s the saying of a beautician. This man, who fights to fight the ravages of time on righteous femininity, declares that the “horn horn” is the worst enemy of beauty ever invented by man or the devil. “Riding against the wind,” he said, “makes squinting, and continuing to squint must bring wrinkles…. Just take a seat in the front of a upwind commuter streetcar on a blustery day to prove it. Take the front seat facing the others, and observe the various expressions of the passengers when the car is moving at high speed … The study of these faces shows where lines will form a little later in life, because the grimaces are more or less less natural to each face. No one dreams of being observed, so here is nature without artifice. These faces are cast in expressions to a customary degree, and lines are drawn of which there will be a full harvest when the time of harvest comes ”.
The lethal potential of the automobile was obvious to some:
A DAY OF PLEASURE (?)
Defender of the Blue Lake
October 3, 1903
Under the heading above, the accident of Dr McKinnon and James Rose, of Arcata, on a trip to Thos. Bair’s ranch at Redwood Creek on Sunday in an automobile, is generally told in Union Arcata as follows: make the trip and come back that same evening. Everything went well until they reached a point near Angels Ranch, when the machine got cranky and refused to go forward. Doc wasn’t quite sure which direction he was going, so began the descent back with a stiff step. Jim balked at this mode of travel, and made a flight change, connecting with the route without any problem, but the medic stayed with the ship until he saw the infernal machine heading towards. the shore, when it broke away without further ceremony, and went away in a cloud of dust. The machine, unloaded of its load, continued to roll, and ended up colliding with a fence, where it stopped definitively, quivering with excitement and sniffing of defiance and gasoline smelling the landscape. Doc says if the fence hadn’t interfered there would have been a high mortality among Jim Anderson’s sheep as they were heading towards a flock of sheep with the intention of killing. With the help of some of the inhabitants of this section, the machine was relaunched on the road and help was called from the town. Charley Stouder came out with the doctor’s horses he keeps in the stable for emergencies like this and the medical driver returned home around five a.m. Monday morning. Mr. Hendricks arrived the next morning with his large machine and towed the disabled runner to Eureka for repairs. The breakages consisted of bent axles, a broken gear, and disabled brakes. Jim stayed at Angel Ranch all night and came with the relief expedition in the morning. He says there was nothing tame about the trip and intends to write a novel about it, which will be titled “My Journey in a Homicide Wagon”, or “The Gasoline. against horse flesh ”.