COBWEB CORNERS: The Automobiliary
By Mel McFarland
Now what could that be? I found this story in a 1900 newspaper. Now, I have written about the arrival of the first cars in the county and in Colorado Springs, but this story gave me a good laugh, and a bit of amazement that someone thought of doing this.
Do you ever feel Automobilious? Some sort of disease? Sure is. Over a hundred years later it is still with us, but with easier-to-understand names. The cure was to rent a car for an hour or a day and give it a go. A livery stable owner near the Colorado Springs courthouse thought this all up in 1900. He called his establishment the Automobiliary. His business had been to rent out horses and buggies, so why not automobiles? His first challenge was to find a few he could rent. He cleaned out his building, except for an area in the back where he still kept a few horses.
It took a month to get three automobiles. He had to send all the way to Kansas City! The cars came in a boxcar on a train. He and two men went down and assembled the three; they had arrived only partially assembled. The parade through the streets came next. They attracted quite a bit of attention, since most had never seen cars. The cars were from the American Bicycle company, which had built the cars in Indianapolis, Indiana. A sales agent in Denver had found the available trio. The three each weighed about 1,500 pounds and cost as many dollars. The Denver salesman accompanied the autos, and he even helped assemble the little rigs.
The little cars were some of the first in town, and they were powered by electric motors. The electric cars were quieter, more reliable and easier to use than ones that used gasoline engines. There were at least two steam cars in town, one owned by General Palmer, which were even more difficult to operate. One of the electrics was larger and could hold four passengers. It was designed to look like the rigs Englishmen used on golf courses, so everyone faced forward. The other would only carry four, but they sat back to back. The third was interesting because it only had one seat, but could be used for deliveries. Their wheels were quite like bicycle wheels, with tires of solid rubber.
The Automobiliary could even teach people in about 20 minutes how to drive. The newspaper said it was the first livery stable to convert to automobiles. But someone finally got around to making the name simpler! I'll have to look into what happened to this company.