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Mike Watson: Early Automobiles in Adair County, part 1

This is the first of a 3-part series on Mike Watson's notes on early Adair County and Columbia automobiles.
Click on headline for complete installment

By Mike Watson
Adair County Historian

The first and only Automobile, the horseless carriage, pulled into Columbia last Tuesday. Some time ago the News announced that Mr. Newbold would visit Columbia in his Automobile but it so happened that it was late. At any rate its coming was appreciated by many who crowded it so closely that it was difficult for the Auto to "git its breaf." Mr. W.H. Hudson was fortunate to get a ride which he declares filled him with emotions indescribable. He was so well pleased that arrangements will be made to have one in use at the Fair grounds, then everybody can get to see it and spin around the tract at rate 30 miles an hour. -Adair County News, 10 July 1901.


Arrangements have been made with the Automobile Company who will exhibit one of their horseless carriages on the grounds during the Fair. -Adair County News 14 August 1901.

Remember that the Columbia Fair begins next Tuesday, the 20th and will continue four days. Remember that an Automobile will be exhibited each day of the Fair and that it will be run at its highest rate of speed on the track, come meet your friends and enjoy life.

Next Tuesday the Columbia Fair begins. Remember that the Louisville Automobile Company will give an exhibition of speed on the track each day of the Fair. Turner Bros., & Lyon, of Campbellsville, dealers in Buggies, Harness, Farm Implements, will give a special premium of $7.50 for a cake-walk . . .

You will be permitted to take a ride on the horseless carriage. Adair County News, 21 August 1901

Automobile--Mr. Sam Lewis and Mr. J.O. Russell, who spent a few days in Chicago last week, are now at home in this city. While in the great Metropolis of the North, they spent a portion of their time informing themselves as to the merits of the automobile. The News man interviewed Mr. Lewis and he states that an automobile large enough to carry twenty passengers and baggage from Columbia to Campbellsville would cost about $3000, and that the life of such a machine is fully fifteen years, based on the estimate of four trips per day. There is only one weak point and that is the tire which would have to be replaced annually. This would be the largest item of expense in the wear of the machine and the actual cost of running such a machine would be only $1.50 per day. Mr. Lewis states that Mr. Russell and himself contemplate buying a machine themselves or organizing a stock company for the purpose, and thus afford a quick, safe and comfortable passage between the two above mentioned cities, or, as we should say, towns. Passage on an automobile would be free from the jars of a stage and in winter be heated by steam. The time to cover the distance between the two places would be 1 hours. We have no doubt of the ultimate success of such an enterprise and trust that this community will give such encouragement as the importance of this undertaking demands. Get out of the old ruts, go through the world in a hurry. We have no railroad, no reason to hope for one, so let the automobile have the right of way. -Adair County News, 20 August 1902.

Mr. Thomas Hibben and Dr. L.F. Page, of Indianapolis, who reached Columbia with their families in automobiles, started on their return trip on last Saturday morning. -Adair County News, 22 June 1904.

Ben Banks, wife and son, of Richmond, are visiting the parents of the former at this place. They came down in [an] automobile. -Adair County News, 14 September 1904, Cane Valley letter.

...There are not any automobiles in Adair County, and in our judgment not likely to be soon. From the reading of metropolitan papers it seems that the automobile was invented for the purpose of killing millionaires. -Adair County News 26 July 1905.

Mr. E.C. Page and wife, who have been in the West several weeks, arrived at Cane Valley last Saturday in an automobile, the property of Mr. Page purchased on his return trip. Adair County News, 23 August 1905.

Mr. Henry Coleman is the first gentleman in Columbia to purchase an automobile. It arrived two weeks ago and evenings after tea, Mr. and Mrs. Coleman can be seen in it traversing our public streets. Mr. W.R. Myers, we understand, will be the next purchaser, and before a great while there will probably be a half dozen in town.

Jo Hurt, an excellent machinist of Columbia, was here last Wednesday repairing E.C. Page's automobile. -Adair County News, 27 December 1905, Cane Valley letter.

- Compiled by Mike Watson


This story was posted on 2014-06-22 06:51:02
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