COBWEB CORNERS: The county’s first cars
By Mel McFarland
A while back I did a story about the first automobiles in Colorado Springs, and El Paso County. The best thing about doing this sort of story is you! A reader directed me to the information that spelled out the answers!
C.G. Strang, a bicycle shop owner, is recognized as the owner of probably the first car in the county, in 1897. It was a Locomobile steam car, brought here by a man from New Jersey. The story goes that it broke, and he sold it to Strang, who had no idea if he could fix it, but the fellow went home on a train.
The second car was also a steamer, a Serpolet, made in France. It was fueled by oil and known for its smell. In 1901 two more steamers could be found in the area, both of them Whites.
A gasoline-powered car arrived in 1900. Nelson Partridge, who lived in the Broadmoor, would head for downtown. The car went downhill quite well, except the speed occasionally caused the single cylinder engine to fly apart. The bad part was, it did not have the power to get him home! He was often seen putt-putting around in the Broadmoor neighborhoods, avoiding hills. Another Broadmoor resident bought a four-cylinder Panhard, a French car, that could carry as many as five passengers. The year 1902 brought the first American-built gasoline car to the area, a Winton touring car. It was known to do quite well, and was driven as far as Glenwood Springs!
The first electric car, a Columbia, was a second car in 1901 for the owner of one of the early steam cars. It was for his wife! Curiously, by 1915 most of these early cars were gone, except for the Columbia, which occasionally was seen humming down the streets. Mr. Strang eventually turned his bicycle shop into an automobile garage, where he sold Buicks. His family had it into the 1960s.
Colorado Springs had taxi cabs using electric cars as early as 1905.
In all, by 1914 the county had 1,472 automobiles. There were a few trucks, but what we think of as trucks had just started appearing on the roads. Did you know there was even a truck built in Colorado Springs, using a variety of parts from various manufacturers? One of them still exists!