COBWEB CORNERS: The arrival of the automobiles

By Mel McFarland

       No one seems to know just when the first automobile arrived in Colorado. The best guess is about 1900. I do know that in the early days Colorado Springs held a parade of all the city's automobiles. It was not held too many times before there were more cars than could reasonably be paraded.
       The first automobile up Pike's Peak was a little steam-driven rig that made it up in 1901. It was 1905 before the second one made it, and 1913 for the third!
       The modem designations for our highways was just coming into use. Maintenance was up to many property owners before the counties and the state began service. Before roads were paved, travel by car was impossible when weather turned wet. I have heard that a trip from Fountain to Pueblo could take all day. It would usually take several stops to repair flat tires.
       It was not until Ford started producing the Model T that the average person could afford a car. Before the Model T, even Fords were very expensive. Once the assembly line became common, the price of cars became competitive. People did not think about new cars as we do today. The "old" car was often used until it was no longer serviceable. Often it was parked out behind the barn, or converted to some other use. I suppose on some places out in the country you can still find several examples.
       The horse and buggy were common sights here into the 1940s. Several local businesses even had trucks they used for deliveries. Trucks, however, were not common sights in the '20s. What we call a pickup was often a car that had been converted by putting a box where the trunk had been. The Family Car was saved for special occasions. Plus, those who were around then remember rationing. Gasoline, oil, rubber, tires and many other things cars need were in short supply.
       Our ideas about the use of cars really changed after World War II. I imagine that the first car regularly driven to school by a student happened around that time. Now, the idea of designing a new high school without a parking lot for teachers or even students would probably bring screams of protest.