Part 1 out of 5
Produced by Holly Ingraham
TWO THOUSAND MILES ON AN AUTOMOBILE
BEING A DESULTORY NARRATIVE OF
A TRIP THROUGH NEW ENGLAND,
NEW YORK, CANADA, AND
WITH EIGHTEEN ILLUSTRATIONS by FRANK VERBECK
To L. O. E.
Who for more than sixteen hundred miles
of the journey faced dangers and discomforts
with an equanimity worthy a better
cause, and whose company lightened the
burdens and enhanced the pleasure of the
I.-----Some Preliminary Observations
II.----The Machine Used
V.-----On to Buffalo
VII.---Buffalo to Canandaigua
VIII.--The Morgan Mystery
IX.----Through Western New York
X.-----The Mohawk Valley
XI.----The Valley of Lebanon
XII.---An Incident of Travel
XIV.---Lexington and Concord
XV.----Rhode Island and Connecticut
XVII.--New York to Buffalo
XVIII.-Through Canada Home
To disarm criticism at the outset, the writer acknowledges a
thousand imperfections in this discursive story. In all truth, it
is a most garrulous and incoherent narrative. Like the automobile,
part of the time the narrative moves, part of the time it does
not; now it is in the road pursuing a straight course; then again
it is in the ditch, or far afield, quite beyond control and out of
reason. It is impossible to write coolly, calmly, logically, and
coherently about the automobile; it is not a cool, calm, logical,
or coherent beast, the exact reverse being true.
The critic who has never driven a machine is not qualified to
speak concerning the things contained herein, while the critic who
has will speak with the charity and chastened humility which
spring from adversity.
The charm of automobiling lies less in the sport itself than in
the unusual contact with people and things, hence any description
of a tour would be incomplete without reflections by the way; the
imagination once in will not out; it even seeks to usurp the
humbler function of observation. However, the arrangement of
chapters and headings--like finger-posts or danger signs--is such
that the wary reader may avoid the bad places and go through from
cover to cover, choosing his own route. To facilitate the finding
of what few morsels of practical value the book may contain, an
index has been prepared which will enable the casual reader to
select his pages with discrimination.
These confessions and warnings are printed in this conspicuous
manner so that the uncertain seeker after "something to read" may
see at a glance the poor sort of entertainment offered herein, and
replace the book upon the shelf without buying.
CHAPTER ONE SOME PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS
THE MADDING CROWD
Any woman can drive an electric automobile, any man can drive a
steam, but neither man nor woman can drive a gasoline; it follows
its own odorous will, and goes or goes not as it feels disposed.
For this very wilfulness the gasoline motor is the most
fascinating machine of all. It possesses the subtle attraction of
caprice; it constantly offers something to overcome; as in golf,
you start out each time to beat your own record. The machine is
your tricky and resourceful opponent. When you think it conquered
and well-broken to harness, submissive and resigned to your will,
behold it is as obstinate as a mule,--balks, kicks, snorts, puffs,
blows, or, what is worse, refuses to kick, snort, puff, and blow,
but stands in stubborn silence, an obdurate beast which no amount
of coaxing, cajoling, cranking will start.
One of the beauties of the beast is its strict impartiality. It
shows no more deference to maker than to owner; it moves no more
quickly for expert mechanic than for amateur driver. When it
balks, it balks,--inventor, manufacturer, mechanic, stand puzzled;
suddenly it starts,--they are equally puzzled.
Who has not seen inventors of these capricious motors standing by
the roadside scratching their heads in despair, utterly at a loss
to know why the stubborn thing does not go? Who has not seen
skilled mechanics in blue jeans and unskilled amateurs in jeans of
leather, so to speak, flat on their backs under the vehicle,
peering upward into the intricacies of the mechanism, trying to
find the cause,--the obscure, the hidden source of all their
trouble? And then the probing with wires, the tugs with wrenches,
the wrestling with screw-drivers, the many trials,--for the most
part futile,--the subdued language of the bunkers, and at length,
when least expected, a start, and the machine goes off as if
nothing at all had been the matter. It is then the skilled driver
looks wise and does not betray his surprise to the gaping crowd,
just looks as if the start were the anticipated result of his
well-directed efforts instead of a chance hit amidst blind
One cannot but sympathize with the vanity of the French chauffeur
who stops his machine in the midst of a crowd when it is working
perfectly, makes a few idle passes with wrenches and oil-cans,
pulls a lever and is off, all for the pleasure of hearing the
populace remark, "He understands his machine. He is a good one."
While the poor fellow, who really is in trouble, sweats and groans
and all but swears as he works in vain to find what is the matter,
to the delight of the onlookers who laugh at what seems to them
ignorance and lack of skill.
And why should not these things be? Is not the crowd multitude
always with us--or against us? There is no spot so dreary, no
country so waste, no highway so far removed from the habitations
and haunts of man that a crowd of gaping people will not spring up
when an automobile stops for repairs. Choose a plain, the broad
expanse of which is unbroken by a sign of man; a wood, the depths
of which baffle the eye and tangle the foot; let your automobile
stop for so long as sixty seconds, and the populace begin to
gather, with the small boy in the van; like birds of prey they
perch upon all parts of the machine, choosing by quick intuition
those parts most susceptible to injury from weight and contact,
until you scarcely can move and do the things you have to do.
The curiosity of the small boy is the forerunner of knowledge, and
must be satisfied. It is quite idle to tell him to "Keep away!" it
is worse than useless to lose your temper and order him to "Clear
out!" it is a physical impossibility for him to do either; the law
of his being requires him to remain where he is and to
indefatigably get in the way. If he did not pry into everything
and ask a thousand questions, the thoughtful observer would be
fearful lest he were an idiot. The American small boy is not
idiotic; tested by his curiosity concerning automobiles, he is the
fruition of the centuries, the genius the world is awaiting, the
coming ruler of men and empires, or--who knows?--the coming master
of the automobile.
Happily, curiosity is not confined to the small boy; it is but
partially suppressed in his elders,--and that is lucky, for his
elders, and their horses, can often help.
The young chauffeur is panicky if he comes to a stop on a lonely
road, where no human habitation is visible; he fears he may never
get away, that no help will come; that he must abandon his machine
and walk miles for assistance. The old chauffeur knows better. It
matters not to him how lonely the road, how remote the spot, one
or two plaintive blasts of the horn and, like mushrooms, human
beings begin to spring up; whence they come is a mystery to you;
why they come equally a mystery to them, but come they will, and
to help they are willing, to the harnessing of horses and the
dragging of the heavy machine to such place as you desire.
This willingness, not to say eagerness, on the part of the farmer,
the truckman, the liveryman, in short, the owner of horses, to
help out a machine he despises, which frightens his horses and
causes him no end of trouble, is an interesting trait of human
nature; a veritable heaping of coals of fire. So long as the
machine is careering along in the full tide of glory, clearing and
monopolizing the highway, the horse owner wishes it in Hades; but
let the machine get into trouble, and the same horse owner will
pull up out of the ditch into which he has been driven, hitch his
horses to the cause of his scare, haul it to his stable, and make
room by turning his Sunday carryall into the lane, and four
farmers, three truckmen, and two liverymen out of five will refuse
all offers of payment for their trouble.
But how galling to the pride of the automobilist to see a pair of
horses patiently pulling his machine along the highway, and how he
fights against such an unnatural ending of a day's run.
The real chauffeur, the man who knows his machine, who can run it,
who is something more than a puller of levers and a twister of
wheels, will not seek or permit the aid of horse or any other
power, except where the trouble is such that no human ingenuity
can repair on the road.
It is seldom the difficulty is such that repairs cannot be made on
the spot. The novice looks on in despair, the experienced driver
considers a moment, makes use of the tools and few things he has
with him, and goes on.
It is astonishing how much can be done with few tools and
practically no supplies. A packing blows out; if you have no
asbestos, brown paper, or even newspaper saturated with oil, will
do for the time being; if a wheel has to be taken off, a
fence-rail makes an excellent jack; if a chain is to be riveted,
an axe or even a stone makes a good dolly-bar and your wrench an
excellent riveting hammer; if screws, or nuts, or bolts drop off,
--and they do,--and you have no extra, a glance at the machine is
sure to disclose duplicates that can be removed temporarily to the
more essential places.
Then, too, no one has ever exhausted the limitless resources of a
farmer's wagon-shed. In it you find the accumulations of
generations, bits of every conceivable thing,--all rusty, of
course, and seemingly worthless, but sure to serve your purpose on
a pinch, and so accessible, never locked; just go in and help
yourself. Nowadays farmers use and abuse so much complicated
machinery, that it is more than likely one could construct entire
an automobile from the odds and ends of a half-dozen farm-yards.
All boys and most girls--under twelve--say, "Gimme a ride;" some
boys and a few girls--over twelve--say, "You look lonesome,
mister." What the hoodlums of the cities say will hardly bear
repetition. In spite of its swiftness the automobile offers
opportunities for studying human nature appreciated only by the
The city hoodlum is a most aggressive individual; he is not
invariably in tattered clothes, and is by no means confined to the
alleys and side streets. The hoodlum element is a constituent part
of human nature, present in every one; the classification of the
individual depending simply upon the depth at which the turbulent
element is buried, upon the number and thickness of the overlying
strata of civilization and refinement. In the recognized hoodlum
the obnoxious element is quite at the surface; in the best of us
it is only too apt to break forth,--no man can be considered an
absolutely extinct volcano.
One can readily understand why owners and drivers of horses should
feel and even exhibit a marked aversion towards the automobile,
since, from their stand-point, it is an unmitigated nuisance; but
why the hoodlums who stand about the street corners should be
animated by a seemingly irresistible desire to hurl stones and
brickbats--as well as epithets--at passing automobiles is a
mystery worth solving; it presents an interesting problem in
psychology. What is the mental process occasioned by the sudden
appearance of an automobile, and which results in the hurling of
the first missile which comes to hand? It must be a reversion to
savage instincts, the instinct of the chase; something strange
comes quickly into view; it makes a strange noise, emits, perhaps,
a strange odor, is passing quickly and about to escape; it must be
killed, hence the brickbat. Uncontrollable impulse! poor hoodlum,
he cannot help it; if he could restrain the hand and stay the
brickbat he would not be a hoodlum, but a man. Time and custom
have tamed him so that he lets horses, bicycles, and carriages
pass; he can't quite help slinging a stone at an advertising van
or any strange vehicle, while the automobile is altogether too
That it is the machine which rouses his savage instincts is clear
from the fact that rarely is anything thrown at the occupants.
Complete satisfaction is found in hitting the thing itself; no
doubt regret would be felt if any one were injured, but if the
stone resounds upon the iron frame of the moving devil, the
satisfaction is felt that the best of us might experience from
hitting the scaly sides of a slumbering sea-monster, for hit him
we would, though at immediate risk of perdition.
The American hoodlum has, withal, his good points. If you are not
in trouble, he will revile and stone you; if in trouble, he will
commiserate and assist. He is quick to put his shoulder to the
wheel and push, pull or lift; often with mechanical insight
superior to the unfortunate driver he will discern the difficulty
and suggest the remedy; dirt has no terrors for him, oil is his
delight, grease the goal of his desires; mind you, all this
concerns the American hoodlum or the hoodlum of indefinite or of
Irish extraction; it applies not to the Teutonic or other hoodlum.
He will pass you by with phlegmatic indifference, he will not
throw things at you, neither will he help you unless strongly
appealed to, and then not over-zealously or over-intelligently;
his application is short-lived and he hurries on; but the other
hoodlum will stay with you all night if necessary, finding, no
doubt, the automobile a pleasant diversion from a bed on the
But the dissension a quarter will cause! A battle royal was once
produced by a dollar. They had all assisted, but, like the workers
in the vineyard, some had come early and some late. The
automobile, in trying to turn on a narrow road, had dropped off
the side into low wet ground; the early comers could not quite get
it back, but with the aid of the later it was done; the division
of a dollar left behind raised the old, old problem. Unhappily, it
fell into the hands of a late comer for distribution, and it was
his contention that the final lift did the work, that all previous
effort was so much wasted energy; the early comers contended that
the reward should be in proportion to expenditure of time and
muscle and not measured by actual achievement,--a discussion not
without force on both sides, but cut short by a scrimmage
involving far more force than the discussion. All of which goes to
show the disturbing influence of money, for in all truth those who
had assisted did not expect any reward; they first laughed to see
the machine in the ditch, and then turned to like tigers to get it
This whole question of paying for services in connection with
automobiling is as interesting as it is new. The people are not
adjusted to the strange vehicle. A man with a white elephant could
probably travel from New York to San Francisco without disbursing
a penny for the keeping of his animal. Farmers and even liverymen
would keep and feed it on the way without charge. It is a good
deal so with an automobile; it is still sufficiently a curiosity
to command respect and attention. The farmer is glad to have it
stop in front of his door or put up in his shed; he will supply it
with oil and water. The blacksmith would rather have it stop at
his shop for repair than at his rival's,--it gives him a little
notoriety, something to talk about. So it is with the liveryman at
night; he is, as a rule, only too glad to have the novelty under
his roof, and takes pride in showing it to the visiting townsfolk.
They do not know what to charge, and therefore charge nothing. It
is often with difficulty anything can be forced upon them; they
are quite averse to accepting gratuities; meanwhile, the farmer,
whose horse and cart have taken up far less room and caused far
less trouble, pays the fixed charge.
These conditions prevail only in localities where automobiles are
seen infrequently. Along the highways where they travel frequently
all is quite changed; many a stable will not house them at any
price, and those that will, charge goodly sums for the service.
It is one thing to own an automobile, another thing to operate it.
It is one thing to sit imposingly at the steering-wheel until
something goes wrong, and quite another thing to repair and go on.
There are chauffeurs and chauffeurs,--the latter wear the
paraphernalia and are photographed, while the former are working
under the machines. You can tell the difference by the goggles.
The sham chauffeur sits in front and turns the wheel, the real
sits behind and takes things as they come; the former wears the
goggles, the latter finds sufficient protection in the smut on the
end of his nose.
There is every excuse for relying helplessly on an expert mechanic
if you have no mechanical ingenuity, or are averse to getting
dirty and grimy; but that is not automobiling; it is being run
about in a huge perambulator.
The real chauffeur knows every moment by the sound and "feel" of
his machine exactly what it is doing, the amount of gasoline it is
taking, whether the lubrication is perfect, the character and heat
of the spark, the condition of almost every screw, nut, and bolt,
and he runs his machine accordingly; at the first indication of
anything wrong he stops and takes the stitch in time that saves
ninety and nine later. The sham chauffeur sits at the wheel, and
in the security of ignorance runs gayly along until his machine is
a wreck; he may have hours, days, or even weeks of blind
enjoyment, but the end is inevitable, and the repairs costly; then
he blames every one but himself,--blames the maker for not making
a machine that may be operated by inexperience forever, blames the
men in his stable for what reason he knows not, blames the roads,
the country, everything and everybody--but himself.
It is amusing to hear the sham chauffeur talk. When things go
well, he does it; when they go wrong, it is the fault of some one
else; if he makes a successful run, the mechanic with him is a
nonentity; if he breaks down, the mechanic is his only resource.
It is more interesting to hear the mechanic--the real chauffeur
--talk when he is flat on his back making good the mistakes of his
master, but his conversation could not be printed _verbatim et
literatim_,--it is explosive and without a muffler.
The man who cannot run his machine a thousand miles without expert
assistance should make no pretense to being a chauffeur, for he is
not one. The chauffeur may use mechanics whenever he can find
them; but if he can't find them, he gets along just as well; and
when he does use them it is not for information and advice, but to
do just the things he wants done and no more. The skilled
enthusiast would not think of letting even an expert from the
factory do anything to his machine, unless he stood over him and
watched every movement; as soon would a lover of horses permit his
hostlers to dope his favorite mount.
CHAPTER TWO THE MACHINE USED
MAKING READY TO START
The machine was just an ordinary twelve hundred dollar
single-cylinder American machine, with neither improvements nor
attachments to especially strengthen it for a long tour; and it
had seen constant service since January without any return to the
shop for repairs.
It was rated eight and one-half horse-power; but, as every one
knows, American machines are overrated as a rule, while foreign
machines are greatly underrated. A twelve horse-power American
machine may mean not more than eight or ten; a twelve horse-power
French machine, with its four cylinders, means not less than
The foreign manufacturer appreciates the advantage of having it
said that his eight horse-power machine will run faster and climb
better than the eight horsepower machine of a rival maker; hence
the tendency to increase the power without changing the nominal
rating. The American manufacturer caters to the demand of his
customers for machines of high power by advancing the nominal
rating quite beyond the power actually developed.
But already things are changing here, and makers show a
disposition to rate their machines low, for the sake of
astonishing in performance. A man dislikes to admit his machine is
rated at forty horse-power and to acknowledge defeat by a machine
rated at twenty, when the truth is that each machine is probably
The tendency at the present moment is decidedly towards the French
type,--two or four cylinders placed in front.
In the construction of racing-cars and high-speed machines for
such roads as they have on the other side, we have much to learn
from the French,--and we have been slow in learning it. The
conceit of the American mechanic amounts often to blind
stubbornness, but the ease with which the foreign machines have
passed the American in all races on smooth roads has opened the
eyes of our builders; the danger just now is that they will go to
the other extreme and copy too blindly.
In the hands of experts, the foreign racing-cars are the most
perfect road locomotives yet devised; for touring over American
roads in the hands of the amateur they are worse than useless; and
even experts have great difficulty in running week in and week out
without serious breaks and delays. To use a slang phrase, "They
will not stand the racket." However "stunning" they look on
asphalt and macadam with their low, rakish bodies, resplendent in
red and polished brass, on country roads they are very frequently
failures. A thirty horse-power foreign machine costing ten or
twelve thousand dollars, accompanied by one or more expert
mechanics, may make a brilliant showing for a week or so; but when
the time is up, the ordinary, cheap, country-looking, American
automobile will be found a close second at the finish; not that it
is a finer piece of machinery, for it is not; but it has been
developed under the adverse conditions prevailing in this country
and is built to surmount them. The maker in this country who runs
his machine one hundred miles from his factory, would find fewer
difficulties between Paris and Berlin.
The temptation is great to purchase a foreign machine on sight;
resist the temptation until you have ridden in it over a hundred
miles of sandy, clayey, and hilly American roads; you may then
defer the purchase indefinitely, unless you expect to carry along
Machine for machine, regardless of price, the comparison is
debatable; but price for price, there is no comparison whatsoever;
in fact, there is no inexpensive imported machine which compares
for a moment with the American product.
A single-cylinder motor possesses a few great advantages to
compensate for many disadvantages; it has fewer parts to get out
of order, and troubles can be much more quickly located and
overcome. Two, three, and four cylinders run with less vibration
and are better in every way, except that with every cylinder added
the chances of troubles are multiplied, and the difficulty of
locating them increased. Each cylinder must have its own
lubrication, its ignition, intake, and exhaust mechanisms,--the
quartette that is responsible for nine-tenths of the stops.
Beyond eight or ten horse-power the single cylinder is hardly
practicable. The kick from the explosion is too violent, the
vibration and strain too great, and power is lost in transmission.
But up to eight or ten horse-power the single-cylinder motor with
a heavy fly-wheel is practicable, runs very smoothly at high
speeds, mounts hills and ploughs mud quite successfully. The
American ten horse-power single-cylinder motor will go faster and
farther on our roads than most foreign double-cylinder machines of
the same horse-power. It will last longer and require less
The amateur who is not a pretty good mechanic and who wishes to
tour without the assistance of an expert will do well to use the
single-cylinder motor; he will have trouble enough with that
without seeking further complications by the adoption of multiple
It is quite practicable to attain speeds of from twenty to thirty
miles per hour with a single-cylinder motor, but for bad roads and
hilly countries a low gear with a maximum of twenty to twenty-five
miles per hour is better. The average for the day will be higher
because better speed is maintained through heavy roads and on up
So far as resiliency is concerned, there is no comparison between
the French double-tube tire and the heavy American single tube,
--the former is far ahead, and is, of course, easily repaired on the
road, but it does not seem to stand the severe wear of American
roads, and it is very easily punctured. Our highways both in and
out of cities are filled with things that cut, and bristle with
wire-nails. The heavy American single-tube tire holds out quite
well; it gets many deep cuts and takes nails like a pin-cushion,
but comparatively few go through. The weight of the tire makes it
rather hard riding, very hard, indeed, as compared with a fine
There are many devices for carrying luggage, but for getting a
good deal into a small compass there is nothing equal to a big
Scotch hold-all. It is waterproof to begin with, and holds more
than a small steamer-trunk. It can be strapped in or under the
machine anywhere. Trunks and hat-boxes may remain with the express
companies, always within a few hours' call.
What to wear is something of a problem. In late autumn and winter
fur is absolutely essential to comfort. Even at fifteen or twenty
miles an hour the wind is penetrating and goes through everything
but the closest of fur. For women, fur or leather-lined coats are
comfortable even when the weather seems still quite warm.
Leather coats are a great protection against both cold and dust.
Unhappily, most people who have no machines of their own, when
invited to ride, have nothing fit to wear; they dress too thinly,
wear hats that blow off, and they altogether are, and look, quite
unhappy--to the great discomfort of those with them. It is not a
bad plan to have available one or two good warm coats for the
benefit of guests, and always carry water-proof coats and
lap-covers. In emergency, thin black oil-cloth, purchasable at
any country store, makes a good water-proof covering.
Whoever is running a machine must be prepared for emergencies,
for at any moment it may be necessary to get underneath.
The man who is going to master his own machine must expect to get
dirty; dust, oil, and grime plentifully distributed,--but dirt is
picturesque, even if objectionable. Character is expressed in
dirt; the bright and shining school-boy face is devoid of
interest, an artificial product, quite unnatural; the smutty
street urchin is an actor on life's stage, every daub, spot, and
line an essential part of his make-up.
The spic and span may go well with a coach and four, but not with
the automobile. Imagine an engineer driving his locomotive in blue
coat, yellow waistcoat, and ruffles,--quite as appropriate as a
fastidious dress on the automobile.
People are not yet quite accustomed to the grime of automobiling;
they tolerate the dust of the golf links, the dirt of base-ball
and cricket, the mud of foot-ball, and would ridicule the man who
failed to dress appropriately for those games, but the mechanic's
blouse or leather coat of automobiling, the gloves saturated with
oil--these are comparatively unfamiliar sights; hence men are seen
starting off for a hard run in ducks and serges, sacks, cutaways,
even frocks, and hats of all styles; give a farmer a silk hat and
patent leather boots to wear while threshing, and he would match
Every sport has its own appropriate costume, and the costume is
not the result of arbitrary choice, but of natural selection; if
we hunt, fish, or play any outdoor game, sooner or later we find
ourselves dressing like our associates. The tenderfoot may put on
his cowboy's suit a little too soon and look and be very
uncomfortable, but the costume is essential to success in the long
The Russian cap so commonly seen is an affectation,--it catches
the wind and is far from comfortable. The best head covering is a
closely fitting Scotch cap.
CHAPTER THREE THE START
"IS THIS ROAD TO--"
The trip was not premeditated--it was not of malice aforethought;
it was the outcome of an idle suggestion made one hot summer
afternoon, and decided upon in the moment. Within the same
half-hour a telegram was sent the Professor inviting him for a ride
to Buffalo. Beyond that point there was no thought,--merely a
nebulous notion that might take form if everything went well.
Hampered by no announcements, with no record to make or break, the
trip was for pleasure,--a mid-summer jaunt. We did intend to make
the run to Buffalo as fast as roads would permit,--but for
exhilaration only, and not with any thought of making a record
that would stand against record-making machines, driven by
It is much better to start for nowhere and get there than to start
for somewhere and fall by the wayside. Just keep going, and the
machine will carry you beyond your expectations.
The Professor knew nothing about machinery and less about an
automobile, but where ignorance is bliss it is double-distilled
folly to know anything about the eccentricities of an automobile.
To enjoy automobiling, one must know either all or nothing about
the machine,--a little knowledge is a dangerous thing; on the part
of the guest it leads to all sorts of apprehensions, on the part
of the chauffeur to all sorts of experiments. About five hundred
miles is the limit of a man's ignorance; he then knows enough to
make trouble; at the end of another five hundred he is of
assistance, at the end of the third he will run the machine
himself--your greatest pleasure is in the first five hundred. With
some precocious individuals these figures may be reduced somewhat.
The Professor adjusted his spectacles and looked at the machine:
"A very wonderful contrivance, and one that requires some skill to
operate. From lack of experience, I cannot hope to be of much
practical assistance at first, but possibly a theoretical
knowledge of the laws and principles governing things mechanical
may be of service in an emergency. Since receiving your telegram,
I have brushed up a little my knowledge of both kinematics and
dynamics, though it is quite apparent that the operation of these
machines, accompanied, as it is said, by many restraints and
perturbations, falls under the latter branch. In view of the
possibility--remote, I trust--of the machine refusing to go, I
have devoted a little time to statics, and therefore feel that I
shall be something more than a supercargo."
"Well, you _are_ equipped, Professor; no doubt your knowledge will
"Knowledge is always useful if people in this busy age would only
pause to make use of it. Mechanics has been defined as the
application of pure mathematics to produce or modify motion in
inferior bodies; what could be more apt? Is it not our intention
to produce or modify motion in this inferior body before us?"
Days after the Professor found the crank a more useful implement
for the inducing of motion.
It was Thursday morning, August 1, at exactly seven o'clock, that
we passed south on Michigan Avenue towards South Chicago and
Hammond. A glorious morning, neither hot nor cold, but just
deliciously cool, with some promise--afterwards more than
fulfilled--of a warm day.
The hour was early, policemen few, streets clear, hence fast speed
could be made.
As we passed Zion Temple, near Twelfth Street, the home of the
Dowieites, the Professor said:
"A very remarkable man, that Dowie."
"A fraud and an impostor," I retorted, reflecting current opinion.
"Possibly; but we all impose more or less upon one another; he has
simply made a business of his imposition. Did you ever meet him?"
"No; it's hardly worth while."
"It is worth while to meet any man who influences or controls a
considerable body of his fellow-men. The difference between
Mohammed and Joseph Smith is of degree rather than kind. Dowie is
down towards the small end of the scale, but he is none the less
there, and differs in kind from your average citizen in his power
to influence and control others. I crossed the lake with him one
night and spent the evening in conversation."
"What are your impressions of the man?"
"A shrewd, hard-headed, dogmatic Scotchman,--who neither smokes
"Who calls himself Elijah come to earth again."
"I had the temerity to ask him concerning his pretensions in that
direction, and he said, substantially, 'I make no claims or
assertions, but the Bible says Elijah will return to earth; it
does not say in what form or how he will manifest himself; he
might choose your personality; he might choose mine; he has not
chosen yours, there are some evidences that he has chosen mine."
"Proof most conclusive."
"It satisfies his followers. After all, perhaps it does not matter
so much what we believe as how we believe."
A few moments later we were passing the new Christian Science
Temple on Drexel Boulevard,--a building quite simple and
delightful, barring some garish lamps in front.
"There is another latter-day sect," said the Professor; "one of
the phenomena of the nineteenth century."
"You would not class them with the Dowieites?"
"By no means, but an interesting part of a large whole which
embraces at one extreme the Dowieites. The connecting link is
faith. But the very architecture of the temple we have just passed
illustrates the vast interval that separates the two."
"Then you judge a sect by its buildings?"
"Every faith has its own architecture. The temple at Karnak and
the tabernacle at Salt Lake City are petrifactions of faith. In
time the places of worship are the only tangible remains--witness
Chicago boasts the things she has not and slights the things she
has; she talks of everything but the lake and her broad and almost
endless boulevards, yet these are her chief glories.
For miles and miles and miles one can travel boulevards upon which
no traffic teams are allowed. From Fort Sheridan, twenty-five
miles north, to far below Jackson Park to the south there is an
unbroken stretch. Some day Sheridan Road will extend to Milwaukee,
ninety miles from Chicago.
One may reach Jackson Park, the old World's Fair site, by three
fine boulevards,--Michigan, broad and straight; Drexel, with its
double driveways and banks of flowers, trees, and shrubbery
between; Grand, with its three driveways, and so wide one cannot
recognize an acquaintance on the far side, cannot even see the
policeman frantically motioning to slow down.
It does not matter which route is taken to the Park, the good
roads end there. We missed our way, and went eighteen miles to
Hammond, over miles of poor pavement and unfinished roads. That
was a pull which tried nerves and temper,--to find at the end
there was another route which involved but a short distance of
poor going. It is all being improved, and soon there will be a
good road to Hammond.
Through Indiana from Hammond to Hobart the road is macadamized and
in perfect condition; we reached Hobart at half-past nine; no stop
was made. At Crocker two pails of water were added to the cooling
At Porter the road was lost for a second time,--exasperating. At
Chesterton four gallons of gasoline were taken and a quick run
made to Burdick.
The roads are now not so good,--not bad, but just good country
roads, some stretches of gravel, but generally clay, with some
sand here and there. The country is rolling, but no steep hills.
Up to this time the machine had required no attention, but just
beyond Otis, while stopping to inquire the way, we discovered a
rusty round nail embedded to the head in the right rear tire. The
tire showed no signs of deflation, but on drawing the nail the air
followed, showing a puncture. As the nail was scarcely
three-quarters of an inch long,--not long enough to go clear through
and injure the inner coating on the opposite side,--it was entirely
practical to reinsert and run until it worked out. A very fair
temporary repair might have been made by first dipping the nail in a
tire cement, but the nail was rusty and stuck very well.
An hour later, at La Porte, the nail was still doing good service
and no leak could be detected. We wired back to Chicago to have an
extra tire sent on ahead.
From Chicago to La Porte, by way of Hobart, the roads are
excellent, excepting always the few miles near South Chicago. Keep
to the south--even as far south as Valparaiso--rather than to the
north, near the lake. The roads are hilly and sandy near the lake.
Beware the so-called road map; it is a snare and a delusion. A
road which seems most seductive on the bicycler's road map may be
a sea of sand or a veritable quagmire, but with a fine bicycle
path at the side. As you get farther east these cinder paths are
protected by law, with heavy fines for driving thereon; it
requires no little restraint to plough miles and miles through
bottomless mud on a narrow road in the Mohawk valley with a superb
three-foot cinder path against your very wheels. The machine of
its own accord will climb up now and then; it requires all the
vigilance of a law-abiding driver to keep it in the mud, where it
is so unwilling to travel.
So far as finding and keeping the road is concerned,--and it is a
matter of great concern in this vast country, where roads,
cross-roads, forks, and all sorts of snares and delusions abound
without sign-boards to point the way,--the following directions may
be given once for all:
If the proposed route is covered by any automobile hand-book or
any automobile publication, get it, carry it with you and be
guided by it; all advice of ancient inhabitants to the contrary
If there is no publication covering the route, take pains to get
from local automobile sources information about the several
possible routes to the principal towns which you wish to make.
If you can get no information at all from automobile sources, you
can make use--with great caution--of bicycle road maps, of the
maps rather than the redlined routes.
About the safest course is to spread out the map and run a
straight line between the principal points on the proposed route,
note the larger villages, towns, and cities near the line so
drawn, make a list of them in the order they come from the
starting-point, and simply inquire at each of these points for the
best road to the next.
If the list includes places of fair size,--say, from one to ten or
twenty thousand inhabitants, it is reasonably certain that the
roads connecting such places will be about as good as there are in
the vicinity; now and then a better road may be missed, but, in
the long run, that does not matter much, and the advantage of
keeping quite close to the straight line tells in the way of
It is usually worse than useless to inquire in any place about the
roads beyond a radius of fifteen or twenty miles; plenty of
answers to all questions will be forthcoming, but they simply
mislead. In these days of railroads, farmers no longer make long
It is much easier to get information in small villages than in
cities. In a city about all one can learn is how to get out by the
shortest cut. Once out, the first farmer will give information
about the roads beyond.
In wet weather the last question will be, "Is the road clayey or
bottomless anywhere?" In dry weather, "Is there any deep, soft
sand, and are there any sand hills?"
The judgment of a man who is looking at the machine while he is
giving information is biased by the impressions as to what the
machine can do; make allowances for this and get, if possible, an
accurate description of the condition of any road which is
pronounced impassable, for you alone know what the machine can do,
and many a road others think you cannot cover is made with ease.
To the farmer the automobile is a traction engine, and he advises
the route accordingly; he will even speculate whether a given
bridge will support the extraordinary load.
Once we were directed to go miles out of our way over a series of
hills to avoid a stretch of road freshly covered with broken
stone, because our solicitous friends were sure the stones would
cut the rubber tires.
On the other hand, in Michigan, a well meaning old lady sent us
straight against the very worst of sand hills, not a weed, stone,
or hard spot on it, so like quicksand that the wheels sank as they
revolved; it was the only hill from which we retreated, to find
that farmers avoided that particular road on account of that
notorious hill, to find also a good, well-travelled road one mile
farther around. These instances are mentioned here to show how
hazardous it is to accept blindly directions given.
"Is this the road to--?" is the chauffeur's ever recurring shout
to people as he whizzes by. Four times out of five he gets a blank
stare or an idiotic smile. Now and then he receives a quick "Yes"
If time permits to stop and discuss the matter at length, do so
with a man; if passing quickly, ask a woman.
A woman will reply before a man comprehends what is asked; the
feminine mind is so much more alert than the masculine; then, too,
a woman would rather know what a man is saying than watch a
machine, while a man would rather see the machine than listen;--in
many ways the automobile differentiates the sexes.
Of a group of school children, the girls will answer more quickly
and accurately than the boys. What they know, they seem to know
positively. A boy's wits go wool gathering; he is watching the
wheels go round.
At Carlyle, on the way to South Bend, the tire was leaking
slightly, the nail had worked out. The road is a fine wide
macadam, somewhat rolling as South Bend is approached.
By the road taken South Bend is about one hundred miles from
Chicago,--the distance actually covered was some six or eight
miles farther, on account of wanderings from the straight and
narrow path. The hour was exactly two fifty-three, nearly eight
hours out, an average of about twelve and one-half miles an hour,
including all stops, and stops count in automobiling; they pull
the average down by jumps.
The extra tire was to be at Elkhart, farther on, and the problem
was to make the old one hold until that point would be reached.
Just as we were about to insert a plug to take the place of the
nail, a bicycle repairer suggested rubber bands. A dozen small
bands were passed through the little fork made by the broken eye
of a large darning-needle, stretched tight over a wooden handle
into which the needle had been inserted; some tire cement was
injected into the puncture, and the needle carrying the stretched
bands deftly thrust clear through; on withdrawing the needle the
bands remained, plugging the hole so effectually that it showed no
leak until some weeks later, when near Boston, the air began to
work slowly through the fabric.
Heavy and clumsy as are the large single-tube tires, it is quite
practicable to carry an extra one, though we did not. One is
pretty sure to have punctures,--though two in twenty-six hundred
miles are not many.
Nearly an hour was spent at South Bend; the river road, following
the trolley line, was taken to Elkhart.
Near Osceola a bridge was down for repairs; the stream was quite
wide and swift but not very deep. From the broken bridge the
bottom seemed to be sand and gravel, and the approaches on each
side were not too steep. There was nothing to do but go through or
lose many miles in going round. Putting on all power we went
through with no difficulty whatsoever, the water at the deepest
being about eighteen to twenty inches, somewhat over the hubs. If
the bottom of the little stream had been soft and sticky, or
filled with boulders, fording would have been out of the question.
Before attempting a stream, one must make sure of the bottom; the
depth is of less importance.
We did not run into Elkhart, but passed about two miles south in
sight of the town, arriving at Goshen at four fifteen. The roads
all through here seem to be excellent. From Goshen our route was
through Benton and Ligonier, arriving at Kendallville at exactly
The Professor with painstaking accuracy kept a log of the run,
noting every stop and the time lost.
In this first day's run of thirteen hours, the distance covered by
route taken was one hundred and seventy miles; deducting all
stops, the actual running time was nine hours and twenty minutes,
an average of eighteen miles per hour while the machine was in
For an ordinary road machine this is a high average over so long a
stretch, but the weather was perfect and the machine working like
a clock. The roads were very good on the whole, and, while the
country was rolling, the grades were not so steep as to compel the
use of the slow gear to any great extent.
The machine was geared rather high for any but favorable
conditions, and could make thirty-five miles an hour on level
macadam, and race down grade at an even higher rate. Before
reaching Buffalo we found the gearing too high for some grades and
for deep sand.
On the whole, the roads of Northern Indiana are good, better than
the roads of any adjoining State, and we were told the roads of
the entire State are very good. The system of improvement under
State laws seems to be quite advanced. It is a little galling to
the people of Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio to find the humble
Hoosier is far ahead in the matter of road building. If all the
roads between Chicago and New York averaged as good as those of
Indiana, the trip would present fewer difficulties and many more
The Professor notes that up to this point nine and three-quarters
gallons of gasoline have been consumed,--seventeen miles to the
gallon. When a motor is working perfectly, the consumption of
gasoline is always a pretty fair indication of the character of
the roads. Our machine was supposed to make twenty miles to the
gallon, and so it would on level roads, with the spark well
advanced and the intake valve operating to a nicety; but under
adverse conditions more gasoline is used, and with the
hill-climbing gear four times the gasoline is used per mile.
The long run of this first day was most encouraging; but the test
is not the first day, nor the second, nor even the first week, nor
the second, but the steady pull of week in and week out.
With every mile there is a theoretical decrease in the life and
total efficiency of the machine; after a run of five hundred or a
thousand miles this decrease is very perceptible. The trouble is
that while the distance covered increases in arithmetical
progression, the deterioration of the machine is in geometrical.
During the first few days a good machine requires comparatively
little attention each day; during the last weeks of a long tour it
requires double the attention and ten times the work.
No one who has not tried it can appreciate the great strain and
the wear and tear incidental to long rides on American roads.
Going at twenty or twenty-five miles an hour in a machine with
thirty-two-inch wheels and short wheel-base gives about the same
exercise one gets on a horse; one is lifted from the seat and
thrown from side to side, until you learn to ride the machine as
you would a trotter and take the bumps, accordingly. It is trying
to the nerves and the temper, it exercises every muscle in the
body, and at night one is ready for a good rest.
Lovers of the horse frequently say that automobiling is to
coaching as steam yachting is to sailing,--all of which argues the
densest ignorance concerning automobiling, since there is no sport
which affords anything like the same measure of exhilaration and
danger, and requires anything like the same amount of nerve, dash,
and daring. Since the days of Roman chariot racing the records of
man describe nothing that parallels automobile racing, and, so far
as we have any knowledge, chariot racing, save for the plaudits of
vast throngs of spectators, was tame and uneventful compared with
the frightful pace of sixty and eighty miles an hour in a
throbbing, bounding, careering road locomotive, over roads
practically unknown, passing persons, teams, vehicles, cattle,
obstacles, and obstructions of all kinds, with a thousand
hair-breadth escapes from wreck and destruction.
The sport may not be pretty and graceful; it lacks the sanction of
convention, the halo of tradition. It does not admit of smart
gowns and gay trappings; it is the last product of a mechanical
age, the triumph of mechanical ingenuity, the harnessing of
mechanical forces for pleasure instead of profit,--the automobile
is the mechanical horse, and, while not as graceful, is infinitely
more powerful, capricious, and dangerous than the ancient beast.
CHAPTER THREE THE START
THE RAILROAD SPIKE
A five o'clock call, though quite in accordance with orders, was
received with some resentment and responded to reluctantly, the
Professor remarking that it seemed but fair to give the slow-going
sun a reasonable start as against the automobile.
About fifty minutes were given to a thorough examination of the
machine. Beyond the tightening of perhaps six or eight nuts there
was nothing to do, everything was in good shape. But there is
hardly a screw or nut on a new automobile that will not require
tightening after a little hard usage; this is quite in the nature
of things, and not a fault. It is only under work that every part
of the machine settles into place. It is of vital importance
during the first few days of a long tour to go over every screw,
nut, and bolt, however firm and tight they may appear.
In time many of the screws and nuts will rust and corrode in place
so as to require no more attention, but all that are subjected to
great vibration will work loose, soon or late. The addition of one
or two extra nuts, if there is room, helps somewhat; but where it
is practical, rivet or upset the bolt with a few blows of the
hammer; or with a punch, cold chisel, or even screw-driver jam the
threads near the nut,--these destructive measures to be adopted
only at points where it is rarely necessary to remove the bolts,
and where possibilities of trouble from loosening are greater than
any trouble that may be caused by destroying the threads.
We left Kendallville at ten minutes past seven; a light rain was
falling which laid the dust for the first two miles. With top,
side curtains, and boot we were perfectly dry, but the air was
At Butler, an hour and a half later, the rain was coming down
hard, and the roads were beginning to be slippery, with about two
inches of mud and water.
We caught up with an old top buggy, curtains all on and down, a
crate of ducks behind, the horse slowly jogging along at about
three miles per hour. We wished to pass, but at each squawk of the
horn the old lady inside simply put her hand through under the
rear curtain and felt to see what was the matter with her ducks.
We were obliged to shout to attract her attention.
In the country the horn is not so good for attracting attention as
a loud gong. The horn is mistaken for dinner-horns and distant
sounds of farmyard life. One may travel for some distance behind a
wagon-load of people, trying to attract their attention with
blasts on the horn, and see them casually look from side to side
to see whence the sound proceeds, apparently without suspecting it
could come from the highway.
The gong, however, is a well-known means of warning, used by
police and fire departments and by trolley lines, and it works
well in the country.
For some miles the Professor had been drawing things about him,
and as he buttoned a newspaper under his coat remarked, "The
modern newspaper is admirably designed to keep people warm--both
inside and out. Under circumstances such as these one can
understand why it is sometimes referred to as a 'blanket sheet.'
The morning is almost cold enough for a 'yellow journal,'" and the
Professor wandered on into an abstract dissertation upon
journalism generally, winding up with the remark that, "It was the
support of the yellow press which defeated Bryan;" but then the
Professor is neither a politician nor the son of a politician
--being a Scotchman, and therefore a philosopher and dogmatist. The
pessimistic vein in his remarks was checked by the purchase of a
reversible waterproof shooting-jacket at Butler, several sizes too
large, but warm; and the Professor remarked, as he gathered its
folds about him, "I was never much of a shot, but with this I
think I'll make a hit."
"Strange how the thickness of a garment alters our views of things
in general," I remarked.
"My dear fellow, philosophy is primarily a matter of food;
secondarily, a matter of clothes: it does not concern the head at
At Butler we tightened the clutches, as the roads were becoming
At Edgerton the skies were clearing, the roads were so much better
that the last three miles into Ridgeville were made in ten
At Napoleon some one advised the road through Bowling Green
instead of what is known as the River road; in a moment of
aberration we took the advice. For some miles the road was being
repaired and almost impassable; farther on it seemed to be a
succession of low, yellow sand-hills, which could only be
surmounted by getting out, giving the machine all its power, and
adding our own in the worst places.
Sand--deep, bottomless sand--is the one obstacle an automobile
cannot overcome. It is possible to traverse roads so rough that
the machine is well-nigh wrenched apart; to ride over timbers,
stones, and boulders; plough through mud; but sand--deep, yielding
sand--brings one to a stand-still. A reserve force of twenty or
thirty horse-power will get through most places, but in dry
weather every chauffeur dreads hearing the word sand, and
anxiously inquires concerning the character of the sandy places.
Happily, when the people say the road is "sandy," they usually
mean two or three inches of light soil, or gravelly sand over a
firm foundation of some kind--that is all right; if there is a
firm bottom, it does not matter much how deep the dust on top; the
machine will go at nearly full speed over two or three inches of
soft stuff; but if on cross-examination it is found that by sand
they mean sand, and that ahead is a succession of sand ridges that
are sand from base to summit, with no path, grass, or weeds upon
which a wheel can find footing, then inquire for some way around
and take it; it might be possible to plough through, but that is
demoralizing on a hot day.
Happily, along most sandy roads and up most hills of sand there
are firm spots along one side or the other, patches of weeds or
grass which afford wheel-hold. Usually the surface of the sand is
slightly firmer and the large automobile tires ride on it fairly
well. As a rule, the softest, deepest, and most treacherous places
in sand are the tracks where wagons travel--these are like
The sun was hot, the sand was deep, and we had pushed and tugged
until the silence was ominous; at length the lowering clouds of
wrath broke, and the Professor said things that cannot be
By way of apology, he said, afterwards, while shaking the sand out
of his shoes, "It is difficult to preserve the serenity of the
class-room under conditions so very dissimilar. I understand now
why the golf-playing parson swears in a bunker. It is not right,
but it is very human. It is the recrudescence of the old Adam, the
response of humanity to emergency. Education and religion prepare
us for the common-place; nature takes care of the extraordinary.
The Quaker hits back before he thinks. It is so much easier to
repent than prevent. On the score of scarcity alone, an ounce of
prevention is worth several tons of repentance; and--"
It was so apparent that the Professor was losing himself in
abstractions, that I quietly let the clutches slip until the
machine came to a stop, when the Professor looked anxiously down
"Is the blamed thing stuck again?"
We turned off the Bowling Green road to the River road, which is
not only better, but more direct from Napoleon to Perrysburg. It
was the road we originally intended to take; it was down on our
itinerary, and in automobiling it is better to stick to first
The road follows the bank of the river up hill and down, through
ravines and over creeks; it is hard, hilly, and picturesque; high
speed was quite out of the question.
Not far from Three Rivers we came to a horse tethered among the
trees by the road-side; of course, on hearing and seeing the
automobile and while we were yet some distance away, it broke its
tether and was off on a run up the road, which meant that unless
some one intervened it would fly on ahead for miles. Happily, in
this instance some men caught the animal after it had gone a mile
or two, we, meanwhile, creeping on slowly so as not to frighten it
more. Loose horses in the road make trouble. There is no one to
look after them, and nine times out of ten they will go running
ahead of the machine, like frightened deer, for miles. If the
machine stops, they stop; if it starts, they start; it is
impossible to get by. All one can do is to go on until they turn
into a farmyard or down a cross-road.
The road led into Toledo, but we were told that by turning east at
Perrysburg, some miles southwest of Toledo, we would have fifty
miles or more of the finest road in the world,--the famous Perry's
All day long we lived in anticipation of the treat to come; at
each steep hill and when struggling in the sand we mentioned
Perry's Pike as the promised land. When we viewed it, we felt with
Moses that the sight was sufficient.
In its day it must have been one of the wonders of the West, it is
so wide and straight. In the centre is a broad, perfectly flat,
raised strip of half-broken limestone. The reckless sumptuousness
of such a highway in early days must have been overpowering, but
with time and weather this strip of stone has worn into an
infinite number of little ruts and hollows, with stones the size
of cocoanuts sticking up everywhere. A trolley-line along one side
of this central stretch has not improved matters.
Perry's Pike is so bad people will not use it; a road alongside
the fence has been made by travel, and in dry weather this road is
good, barring the pipes which cross it from oil-wells, and the
many stone culverts, at each of which it is necessary to swing up
on to the pike. The turns from the side road on to the pike at
these culverts are pretty sharp, and in swinging up one, while
going at about twenty-five miles an hour, we narrowly escaped
going over the low stone wall into the ditch below. On that and
one other occasion the Professor took a firmer hold of the side of
the machine, but, be it said to the credit of learning, at no time
did he utter an exclamation, or show the slightest sign of losing
his head and jumping--as he afterwards remarked, "What's the use?"
To any one by the roadside the danger of a smash-up seems to come
and pass in an instant,--not so to the person driving the machine;
to him the danger is perceptible a very appreciable length of time
before the critical point is reached.
The secret of good driving lies in this early and complete
appreciation of difficulties and dangers encountered. "Blind
recklessness" is a most expressive phrase; it means all the words
indicate, and is contra-distinguished from open-eyed or wise
The timid man is never reckless, the wise man frequently is, the
fool always; the recklessness of the last is blind; if he gets
through all right he is lucky.
It is reckless to race sixty miles an hour over a highway; but the
man who does it with his eyes wide open, with a perfect
appreciation of all the dangers, is, in reality, less reckless
than the man who blindly runs his machine, hit or miss, along the
road at thirty miles an hour,--the latter leaves havoc in his
One must have a cool, quick, and accurate appreciation of the
margin of safety under all circumstances; it is the utilization of
this entire margin--to the very verge--that yields the largest
results in the way of rapid progress.
Every situation presents its own problem,--a problem largely
mechanical,--a matter of power, speed, and obstructions; the
chauffeur will win out whose perception of the conditions
affecting these several factors is quickest and clearest.
One man will go down a hill, or make a safe turn at a high rate of
speed, where another will land in the ditch, simply because the
former overlooks nothing, while the latter does. It is not so much
a matter of experience as of natural bent and adaptability. Some
men can drive machines with very little experience and no
instructions; others cannot, however long they try and however
much they are told.
Accidents on the road are due to
Defects in the road,
Defects in the machine, or
Defects in the driver.
American roads are bad, but not so bad that they can, with
justice, be held responsible for many of the troubles attributed
The roads are as they are, a practically constant,--and, for some
time to come,--an unchangeable quantity. The roads are like the
hills and the mountains, obstacles which must be overcome, and
machines must be constructed to overcome them.
Complaints against American roads by American manufacturers of
automobiles are as irrelevant to the issue as would be complaints
on the part of traction-engine builders or wagon makers. Any man
who makes vehicles for a given country must make them to go under
the conditions--good, bad, or indifferent--which prevail in that
country. In building automobiles for America or Australia, the
only pertinent question is, "What are the roads of America or
Australia?" not what ought they to be.
The manufacturer who finds fault with the roads should go out of
Roads will be improved, but in a country so vast and sparsely
settled as North America, it is not conceivable that within the
next century a net-work of fine roads will cover the land; for
generations to come there will be soft roads, sandy roads, rocky
roads, hilly roads, muddy roads,--and the American automobile must
be so constructed as to cover them as they are.
The manufacturer who waits for good roads everywhere should move
his factory to the village of Falling Waters, and sleep in the
Machines which give out on bad roads, simply because the roads are
bad, are faultily constructed.
Defects in roads, to which mishaps may be fairly attributed, are
only those unlooked for conditions which make trouble for all
other vehicles, such as wash-outs, pit-holes, weak culverts,
broken bridges,--in short, conditions which require repairs to
restore the road to normal condition. The normal condition may be
very bad; but whatever it is, the automobile must be constructed
so as to travel thereon, else it is not adapted to that section of
It may be discouraging to the driver for pleasure to find in rainy
weather almost bottomless muck and mud on portions of the main
travelled highway between New York and Buffalo, but that, for the
present, is normal. The manufacturer may regret the condition and
wish for better, but he cannot be heard to complain, and if the
machine, with reasonably careful driving, gives out, it is the
fault of the maker and not the roads.
It follows, therefore, that few troubles can be rightfully
attributed to defects in the road, since what are commonly called
defects are conditions quite normal to the country.
It was nearly six o'clock when we arrived at Fremont. The streets
were filled with people in gala attire, the militia were out,
--bands playing, fire-crackers going,--a belated Fourth of July.
When we stopped for water, we casually asked a small patriot,--
"What are you celebrating?"
"The second of August," was the prompt reply. I left it to the
Professor to find out what had happened on the second of August,
for the art of teaching is the concealment of ignorance.
With a fine assumption of his very best lecture-room manner, the
Professor leaned carelessly upon the delicate indicator on the
gasoline tank and began:
"That was a great day, my boy."
"Yes, sir, it was."
"And it comes once a year."
"Ahem--" in some confusion, "I mean you celebrate once a year."
"Sure, we celebrate every second of August, and it comes every
"Quite right, quite right; always recall with appropriate
exercises the great events in your country's history." The
Professor peered benignly over his glasses at the boy and
continued kindly but firmly:
"Now, my boy, do you go to school?"
"Very good. Now can you tell me why the people of Fremont
celebrate the second of August?"
"Sure, it is on account of--" then a curious on-looker nudged the
Professor in the ribs and began, as so many had done before,--
"Say, mister, it's none of my business--"
"Exactly," groaned the Professor; "it weighs a ton--two tons
sometimes--more in the sand; it cost twelve hundred dollars, and
will cost more before we are done with it. Yes, I know what you
are about to say, you could buy a 'purty slick' team for that
price,--in fact, a dozen nags such as that one leaning against
you,--but we don't care for horses. My friend here who is spilling
the water all over the machine and the small boy, once owned a
horse, it kicked over the dash-board, missed his mother-in-law and
hit him; horse's intention good, but aim bad,--since then he has
been prejudiced against horses; it goes by gasoline--sometimes;
that is not a boiler, it is the cooler--on hot days we take turns
sitting on it;--explosions,--electric spark,--yes, it is queer;
--man at last stop made same bright remark; no danger from
explosions if you are not too near,--about a block away is safer;
start by turning a crank; yes, that is queer, queerer than the
other queer things; cylinder does get hot, but so do we all at
times; we ought to have water jackets--that is a joke that goes
with the machine; yes, it is very fast, from fifty to seventy
miles per--; 'per what?' you say; well, that depends upon the
roads,--not at all, I assure you, no trouble to anticipate your
inquiries by these answers--it is so seldom one meets any one who
is really interested--you can order a machine by telegraph; any
more information you would like?--No!--then my friend, in return,
will you tell me why you celebrate the second of August?"
"Danged if I know." And we never found out.
At Bellevue we lighted our lamps and ran to Norwalk over a very
fair road, arriving a few minutes after eight. Norwalk liveries
did not like automobiles, so we put the machine under a shed.
This second day's run was about one hundred and fifty miles in
twelve hours and fifty-four minutes gross time; deducting stops,
left nine hours and fifty-four minutes running time--an average of
about fourteen and one-half miles per hour.
Ohio roads are by no means so good as Indiana. Not until we left
Painesville did we find any gravel to speak of. There was not much
deep sand, but roads were dry, dusty, and rough; in many
localities hard clay with deep ruts and holes.
A six o'clock call and a seven o'clock breakfast gave time enough
to inspect the machine.
The water-tank was leaking through a crack in the side, but not so
badly that we could not go on to Cleveland, where repairs could be
made more quickly. A slight pounding which had developed was
finally located in the pinion of a small gear-wheel that operated
It is sometimes by no means easy to locate a pounding in a
gasoline motor, and yet it must be found and stopped. An expert
from the factory once worked four days trying to locate a very
loud and annoying pounding. He, of course, looked immediately at
the crank- and wrist-pins, taking up what little wear was
perceptible, but the pounding remained; then eccentric strap,
pump, and every bearing about the motor were gone over one by one,
without success; the main shaft was lifted out, fly-wheel drawn
off, a new key made; the wheel drawn on again tight, all with no
effect upon the hard knock which came at each explosion. At last
the guess was made that possibly the piston was a trifle small for
the cylinder; a new and slightly larger piston was put in and the
noise ceased. It so happened that the expert had heard of one
other such case, therefore he made the experiment of trying a
fractionally larger piston as a last resort; imagine the
predicament of the amateur, or the mechanic who had never heard of
such a trouble.
There is, of course, a dull thud at each explosion; this is the
natural "kick" of the engine, and is very perceptible on large
single-cylinder motors; but this dull thud is very different from
the hammer-like knock resulting from lost motion between the
parts, and the practised ear will detect the difference at once.
The best way to find the pounding is to throw a stream of heavy
lubricating oil on the bearings, one by one, until the noise is
silenced for the moment. Even the piston can be reached with a
flood of oil and tested.
It is not easy to tell by feeling whether a bearing on a gasoline
motor is too free. The heat developed is so great that bearings
are left with considerable play.
A leak in the water-tank or coils is annoying; but if facilities
for permanent repair are lacking, a pint of bran or middlings from
any farmer's barn, put in the water, will close the leak nine
times out of ten.
From Norwalk through Wakeman and Kipton to Oberlin the road is
rather poor, with but two or three redeeming stretches near
Kipton. It is mostly clay, and in dry weather is hard and dusty
and rough from much traffic.
Leading into Oberlin the road is covered with great broad
flag-stones, which once upon a time must have presented a smooth
hard surface, but now make a succession of disagreeable bumps.
Out of Elyria we made the mistake of leaving the trolley line, and
for miles had to go through sand, which greatly lessened our
speed, but towards Stony River the road was perfect, and we made
the best time of the day.
It required some time in Cleveland to remove and repair the
water-tank, cut a link out of the chain, take up the lost motion in
the steering-wheel, and tighten up things generally. It was four
o'clock before we were off for Painesville.
Euclid Avenue is well paved in the city, but just outside there is
a bit of old plank road that is disgracefully bad. Through
Wickliff, Willoughby, and Mentor the road is a smooth, hard
Arriving at Painesville a few minutes after seven, we took in
gasoline, had supper, and prepared to start for Ashtabula.
It was dark, so we could not see the tires; but just before
starting I gave each a sharp blow with a wrench to see if it was
hard,--a sharp blow, or even a kick, tells the story much better
than feeling of the tires.
One rear tire was entirely deflated. A railroad spike four and
three-quarters inches long, and otherwise well proportioned, had
penetrated full length. It had been picked up along the trolley
line, was probably struck by the front wheel, lifted up on end so
that the rear tire struck the sharp end exactly the right angle to
drive the spike in lengthwise of the tread.
It was a big ragged puncture which could not be repaired on the
road; there was nothing to do but stop over night and have a tire
sent out from Cleveland next day.
While waiting the next morning, we jacked up the wheel and removed
the damaged tire.
It is not easy to remove quickly and put on heavy single-tube
tires, and a few suggestions may not be amiss.
The best tools are half-leaves of carriage springs. At any
carriage shop one can get halves of broken springs. They should be
sixteen or eighteen inches long, and are ready for use without
forging filing or other preparation. With three such halves one
man can take off a tire in fifteen or twenty minutes; two men will
work a little faster; help on the road is never wanting.
Let the wheel rest on the tire with valve down; loosen all the
lugs; insert thin edge of spring-leaf between rim and tire,
breaking the cement and partially freeing tire; insert spring-leaf
farther at a point just about opposite valve and pry tire free
from rim, holding and working it free by pushing in other irons or
screw-drivers, or whatever you have handy; when lugs and tire are
out of the hollow of the rim for a distance of eighteen or twenty
inches, it will be easy to pass the iron underneath the tire,
prying up the tire until it slips over the rim, when with the
hands it can be pulled off entirely; the wheel is then raised and
the valve-stem carefully drawn out.
All this can be done with the wheel jacked up, but if resting on
the tire as suggested, the valve-stem is protected during the
efforts to loosen tire.
To put on a single-tube tire properly, the rim should be
thoroughly cleaned with gasoline, and the new tire put on with
shellac or cement, or with simply the lugs to hold.
Shellac can be obtained at any drug store, is quickly brushed over
both the tire and the rim, and the tire put in place--that holds
very well. Cement well applied is stronger. If the rim is well
covered with old cement, gasoline applied to the surface of the
old cement will soften it; or with a plumber's torch the rim may
be heated without injuring enamel and the cement melted, or take a
cake of cement, soften it in gasoline or melt it, or even light it
like a stick of sealing-wax and apply it to the rim. If hot cement
is used it will be necessary to heat the rim after the tire is on
to make a good job.
After the rim is prepared, insert valve-stem and the lugs near it;
let the wheel down so as to rest on that part of the tire, then
with the iron work the tire into the rim, beginning at each side
of valve. The tire goes into place easily until the top is reached
where the two irons are used to lift tire and lugs over the rim;
once in rim it is often necessary to pound the tire with the flat
of the iron to work the lugs into their places; by striking the
tire in the direction it should go the lugs one by one will slip
into their holes; put on the nuts and the work is done.
In selecting a half-leaf of a spring, choose one the width of the
springs to the machine, and carry along three or four small spring
clips, for it is quite likely a spring may be broken in the course
of a long run, and, if so, the half-leaf can be clipped over the
break, making the broken spring as serviceable and strong for the
time being as if sound.
CHAPTER FIVE ON TO BUFFALO
From Painesville three roads led east,--the North Ridge, Middle
Ridge, and South Ridge. We followed the middle road, which is said
to be by far the best; it certainly is as good a gravel road as
one could ask. Some miles out a turn is made to the South Ridge
There is said to be a good road out of Ashtabula; possibly there
is, but we missed it at one of the numerous cross roads, and soon
found ourselves wallowing through corn-fields, climbing hills, and
threading valleys in the vain effort to find Girard,--a point
quite out of our way, as we afterwards learned.
The Professor's bump of locality is a depression. As a passenger
without serious occupation, it fell to his lot to inquire the way.
This he would do very minutely, with great suavity and becoming
gravity, and then with no sign of hesitation indicate invariably
the wrong road. Once, after crossing a field where there were no
fences to mark the highway, descending a hill we could not have
mounted, and finding a stream that seemed impassable, the
Professor quietly remarked,--
"That old man must have been mistaken regarding the road; yet he
had lived on that corner forty years. Strange how little some
people know about their surroundings!"
"But are you sure he said the first turn to the left?"
"He said the first turn, but whether to the left or right I cannot
now say. It must have been to the right."
"But, my dear Professor, you said to the left."
"Well, we were going pretty fast when we came to the four corners,
and something had to be said, and said quickly. I notice that on
an automobile decision is more important than accuracy. After
being hauled over the country for three days, I have made up my
mind that automobiles are driven upon the hypothesis that it is
better to lose the road, lose life, lose anything than lose time,
therefore, when you ask me which way to turn, you will get an
immediate, if not an accurate, response; besides, there is a
bridge ahead, a little village across the stream, so the road
Now and then the Professor would jump out to assist some female in
distress with her horse; at first it was a matter of gallantry,
then a duty, then a burden. Towards the last it used to delight
him to see people frantically turning into lanes, fields, anywhere
to get out of the way.
The horse is a factor to be considered--and placated. He is in
possession and cannot be forcibly ejected,--a sort of
terre-tenant; such title as he has must be respected.
After wrestling with an unusually notional beast, to the great
disorder of clothing and temper, the Professor said,--
"The brain of the horse is small; it is an animal of little sense
and great timidity, but it knows more than most people who attempt
In reality horses are seldom driven; they generally go as they
please, with now and then a hint as to which corner to turn. Nine
times out of ten it is the driven horse that makes trouble for
owners of automobiles. The drunken driver never has any trouble;
his horses do not stop, turn about, or shy into the ditch; the man
asleep on the box is perfectly safe; his horse ambles on, minding
its own business, giving a full half of the road to the
approaching machine. It is the man, who, on catching sight of the
automobile, nervously gathers up his reins, grabs his whip, and
pulls and jerks, who makes his own troubles; he is searching for
trouble, expects it, and is disappointed if he gets by without it.
Nine times out of ten it is the driver who really frightens the
horse. A country plug, jogging quietly along, quite unterrified,
may be roused to unwonted capers by the person behind.
Some take the antics of their horses quite philosophically. One
old farmer, whose wheezy nag tried to climb the fence, called
"Gee whiz! I wish you fellers would come this way every day; the
old hoss hasn't showed so much ginger for ten year."
Another, carrying just a little more of the wine of the country
than his legs could bear, stood up unsteadily in his wagon and
"If you (hic) come around these pa-arts again with that thres-in'
ma-a-chine, I'll have the law on you,--d'ye hear?"
The personal equation is everything on the road, as elsewhere.
It is quite idle to expect skill, courage, or common sense from
the great majority of drivers. They get along very well so long as
nothing happens, but in emergencies they are helpless, because
they have never had experience in emergencies. The man who has
driven horses all his life is frequently as helpless under unusual
conditions as the novice. Few drivers know when and how to use the
whip to prevent a runaway or a smash-up.
With the exception of professional and a few amateur whips, no one
is ever taught how to drive. Most persons who ride--even country
boys--are given many useful hints, lessons, and demonstrations;
but it seems to be assumed that driving is a natural acquirement.
As a matter of fact, it is much more important to be taught how to
drive than how to ride. A horse in front of a vehicle can do all
the mean things a horse under a saddle can do, and more; and it is
far more difficult to handle an animal in shafts by means of long
reins and a whip.
If people knew half as much about horses as they think they do,
there would be no mishaps; if horses were half as nervous as they
are supposed to be, the accidents would be innumerable.
The truth is, the horse does very well if managed with a little
common sense, skill, and coolness.
As a matter of law, the automobile is a vehicle, and has precisely
the same rights on the highway that a bicycle or a carriage has.
The horse has no monopoly of the highway, it enjoys no especial
privileges, but must share the road with all other vehicles.
Furthermore, the law makes it the business of the horse to get
accustomed to strange sights and behave itself This duty has been
onerous the last few years; the bicycle, the traction engine, and
the trolley have come along in quick succession; the automobile is
about the last straw.
Until the horse is accustomed to the machine, it is the duty--by
law and common sense--of the automobile driver to take great care
in passing; the care being measured by the possibility and
probability of at accident.
The sympathy of every chauffeur must be entirely with the driver
of the horse. Automobiles are not so numerous in this country that
they may be looked for at every turn, and one cannot but feel for
the man or woman who, while driving, sees one coming down the
road. The best of drivers feel panicky, while women and children
It is no uncommon sight to see people jump out of their carriages
or drive into fields or lanes, anywhere, to get out of the way. In
localities where machines have been driven recklessly, men and
women, though dressed in their best, frequently jump out in the
mud as soon as an automobile comes in sight, and long before the
chauffeur has an opportunity to show that he will exercise caution
in approaching. All this is wrong and creates an amount of
ill-feeling hard to overcome.
If one is driving along a fine road at twenty or thirty miles an
hour, it is, of course, a relief to see coming vehicles turn in
somewhere; but it ought not to be necessary for them to do so.
Often people like to turn to one side for the sake of seeing the
machine go by at full speed; but if they do not wish to, the
automobile should be so driven as to pass with safety.
On country roads there is but one way to pass horses without risk,
and that is let the horses pass the machine.
In cities horses give very little trouble; in the country they
give no end of trouble; they are a very great drawback to the
pleasure of automobiling. Horses that behave well in the city are
often the very worst in the country, so susceptible is the animal
On narrow country roads three out of five will behave badly, and
unless the outward signs are unmistakable, it is never safe to
assume one is meeting an old plug,--even the plug sometimes jumps
The safe, the prudent, the courteous thing to do is to stop and
let the driver drive or lead his horse by; if a child or woman is
driving, get out and lead the horse.
By stopping the machine most horses can be gotten by without much
trouble. Even though the driver motions to come on, it is seldom
safe to do so; for of all horses the one that is brought to a
stand-still in front of a machine is surest to shy, turn, or bolt
when the machine starts up to pass. If one is going to pass a
horse without stopping, it is safer to do so quickly,--the more
quickly the better; but that is taking great chances.
Whenever a horse, whether driven or hitched, shows fright, a loud,
sharp "Whoa!" from the chauffeur will steady the animal. The voice
from the machine, if sharp and peremptory, is much more effective
than any amount of talking from the carriage.
Much of the prejudice against automobiles is due to the fact that
machines are driven with entire disregard for the feelings and
rights of horse owners; in short, the highway is monopolized to
the exclusion of the public. The prejudice thus created is
manifested in many ways that are disagreeable to the chauffeur and
The trouble is not in excessive speed, and speed ordinances will
not remedy the trouble. A machine may be driven as recklessly at
ten or twelve miles an hour as at thirty. In a given distance more
horses can be frightened by a slow machine than a fast. It is all
in the manner of driving.
Speed is a matter of temperament. In England, the people and local
boards cannot adopt measures stringent enough to prevent speeding;
in Ireland, the people and local authorities line the highways,
urging the chauffeur to let his machine out; in America, we are
suspended between English prudence and repression on the one side
and Irish impulsiveness and recklessness on the other.
The Englishman will not budge; the Irishman cries, "Let her go."
Speaking of the future of the automobile, the Professor said,--
"Cupid will never use the automobile, the little god is too
conservative; fancy the dainty sprite with oil-can and waste
instead of bow and arrow. I can see him with smut on the end of
his mischievous nose and grease on the seat of the place where his
trousers ought to be. What a picture he would make in overalls and
jumper, leather jacket and cap; he could not use dart or arrow, at
best he could only run the machine hither and thither bunting
people into love--knocking them senseless, which is perhaps the
same thing. No, no, Cupid will never use the automobile. Imagine
Aphrodite in goggles, clothed in dust, her fair skin red from
sunburn and glistening with cold cream; horrible nightmare of a
mechanical age, avaunt!
"The chariots of High Olympus were never greased, they used no
gasoline, the clouds we see about them are condensed zephyrs and
not dust. Omniscient Jove never used a monkey-wrench, never sought
the elusive spark, never blew up a four-inch tire with a half-inch
pump. Even if the automobile could surmount the grades, it would
never be popular on Olympian heights. Mercury might use it to
visit Vulcan, but he would never go far from the shop.
"As for conditions here on earth, why should a young woman go
riding with a man whose hands, arms, and attention are entirely
taken up with wheels, levers, and oil-cups? He can't even press
her foot without running the risk of stopping the machine by
releasing some clutch; if he moves his knees a hair's-breadth in
her direction it does something to the mechanism; if he looks her
way they are into the ditch; if she attempts to kiss him his
goggles prevent; his sighs are lost in the muffler and hers in the
exhaust; nothing but dire disaster will bring an automobile
courtship to a happy termination; as long as the machine goes
love-making is quite out of the question.
"Dobbin, dear old secretive Dobbin, what difference does it make
to you whether you feel the guiding hand or not? You know when the
courtship begins, the brisk drives about town to all points of
interest, to the pond, the poorhouse, and the cemetery; you know
how the courtship progresses, the long drives in the country, the
idling along untravelled roads and woodland ways, the moonlight
nights and misty meadows; you know when your stops to nibble by
the wayside will not be noticed, and you alone know when it is
time to get the young couple home; you know, alas! when the
courtship--blissful period of loitering for you--is ended and when
the marriage is made, by the tighter rein, the sharper word, and
the occasional swish of the whip. Ah, Dobbin, you and I--" The
Professor was becoming indiscreet.
"What do you know about love-making, Professor?"
"My dear fellow, it is the province of learning to know everything
and practise nothing."
"We all have had our Dobbins."
For some miles the road out of Erie was soft, dusty, narrow, and
poor--by no means fit for the proposed Erie-Buffalo race. About
fifteen miles out there is a sharp turn to the left and down a
steep incline with a ravine and stream below on the right,--a
dangerous turn at twenty miles an hour, to say nothing of forty or
There is nothing to indicate that the road drops so suddenly after
making the turn, and we were bowling along at top speed; a wagon
coming around the corner threw us well to the outside, so that the
margin of safety was reduced to a minimum, even if the turn were
an easy one.
As we swung around the corner well over to the edge of the ravine,
we saw the grade we had to make. Nothing but a succession of small
rain gullies in the road saved us from going down the bank. By so
steering as to drop the skidding wheels on the outside into each
gully, the sliding of the machine received a series of violent
checks and we missed the brink of the ravine by a few inches.
A layman in the Professor's place would have jumped; but he, good
man, looked upon his escape as one of the incidents of automobile
"When I accepted your invitation, my dear fellow, I expected
something beyond the ordinary. I have not been disappointed."
It was a wonder the driving-wheels were not dished by the violent
side strains, but they were not even sprung. These wheels were of
wire tangential spokes; they do not look so well as the smart,
heavy, substantial wooden wheels one sees on nearly all imported
machines and on some American.
The sense of proportion between parts is sadly outraged by
spindle-wire wheels supporting the massive frame-work and body of
an automobile; however strong they may be in reality,
architecturally they are quite unfit, and no doubt the wooden
wheel will come more and more into general use.
A wooden wheel with the best of hickory spokes possesses an
elasticity entirely foreign to the rigid wire wheel, but good
hickory wheels are rare; paint hides a multitude of sins when
spread over wood; and inferior wooden wheels are not at all to be
Soon we begin to catch glimpses of Lake Erie through the trees and
between the hills, just a blue expanse of water shining in the
morning sun, a sapphire set in the dull brown gold of woods and
fields. Farther on we come out upon the bluffs overlooking the
lake and see the smoke and grime of Buffalo far across. What a
blot on a view so beautiful!
"Civilization," said the Professor, "is the subjection of nature.
In the civilization of Athens nature was subdued to the ends of
beauty; in the civilization of America nature is subdued to the
ends of usefulness; in every civilization nature is of secondary
importance, it is but a means to an end. Nature and the savage,
like little children, go hand in hand, the one the complement of
the other; but the savage grows and grows, while nature remains
ever a child, to sink subservient at last to its early playmate.
Just now we in this country are treating nature with great
harshness, making of her a drudge and a slave; her pretty hands
are soiled, her clean face covered with soot, her clothing
tattered and torn. Some day, we as a nation will tire of playing
the taskmaster and will treat the playmate of man's infancy and
youth with more consideration; we will adorn and not disfigure
her, love and not ignore her, place her on a throne beside us,
make her queen to our kingship."
"Professor, the automobile hardly falls in with your notions."
"On the contrary, the automobile is the one absolutely fit
conveyance for America. It is a noisy, dirty, mechanical
contrivance, capable of great speed; it is the only vehicle in
which one could approach that distant smudge on the landscape with
any sense of the eternal fitness of things. A coach and four would
be as far behind the times on this highway as a birch-bark canoe
on yonder lake. In America an automobile is beautiful because it
is in perfect harmony with the spirit of the age and country; it
is twin brother to the trolley; train, trolley, and automobile may
travel side by side as members of one family, late offsprings of
"But you would not call them things of beauty?"
"Yes and no; beauty is so largely relative that one cannot
pronounce hideous anything that is a logical and legitimate
development. Considered in the light of things the world
pronounces beautiful, there are no more hideous monstrosities on
the face of the earth than train, trolley, and automobile; but
each generation has its own standard of beauty, though it seldom
confesses it. We say and actually persuade ourselves that we
admire the Parthenon; in reality we admire the mammoth factory and
the thirty-story office building. Strive as we may to deceive
ourselves by loud protestations, our standards are not the
standards of old. We like best the things we have; we may call
things ugly, but we think them beautiful, for they are part of
us,--and the automobile fits into our surroundings like a pocket
in a coat. We may turn up our noses at it or away from it, as the
case may be, but none the less it is the perambulator of the
It was exactly one o'clock when we pulled up near the City Hall.
Total time from Erie five hours and fifty minutes, actual running
time five hours, distance by road about ninety-four miles.
CHAPTER SIX BUFFALO
Housing the machine in a convenient and well-appointed stable for
automobiles, we were reminded of the fact that we had arrived in
Buffalo at no ordinary time, by a charge of three dollars per
night for storage, with everything else extra. But was it not the
Exposition we had come to see? and are not Expositions
proverbially expensive--to promoters and stockholders as well as
Then, too, the hotels of Buffalo had expected so much and were so
woefully disappointed. Vast arrays of figures had been compiled
showing that within a radius of four hundred miles of Buffalo
lived all the people in the United States who were worth knowing.
The statistics were not without their foundation in fact, but
therein lay the weakness of the entire scheme so far as hotels
were concerned; people lived so near they could leave home in the
morning with a boiled egg and a sandwich, see the Exposition and
get back at night. Travellers passing through would stop over
during the day and evening, then go their way on a midnight
train,--it was cheaper to ride in a Pullman than stay in Buffalo.
We might have taken rooms at Rochester, running back and forth
each day in the machine,--though Rochester was by no means beyond
the zone of exorbitant charges. Notions of value become very much
congested within a radius of two or three hundred miles of any
The Exposition was well worth seeing in parts by day and as a
whole by night. The electrical display at night was a triumph of
engineering skill and architectural arrangement. It was the falls
of Niagara turned into stars, the mist of the mighty cascade
crystallized into jewels, a brilliant crown to man's triumph over
the forces of nature.
It was a wonderful and never-to-be-forgotten sight to sit by the
waters at night, as the shadows were folding the buildings in
their soft embrace, and see the first faint twinklings of the
thousands upon thousands of lights as the great current of
electricity was turned slowly on; and then to see the lights grow
in strength until the entire grounds were bathed in suffused
radiance,--that was as wonderful a sight as the world of
electricity has yet witnessed, and it was well worth crossing an
ocean to see; it was the one conspicuous success, the one
memorable feature of the Exposition, and compared with it all
exhibits and scenes by day were tame and insipid.
From time immemorial it has been the special province of the
preacher to take the children to the circus and the side show; for