Both Myra and I were both in the gatehouse when we heard this strange sound. It was a sound that I wasn’t familiar with at all, one I’m sure I had never heard before.
I was counting my money, clearing my shift and Myra came in the office and said, “Grab your camera!” Now you all know it was, of course, within an arms reach.
I did as I was told and headed for the door, not sure what I was going to photograph but that it sounded strange whatever it was.
Much to my surprise it was a Stanley Steamer automobile!
It needed water and found its way to the campground. Wouldn’t it be nice to run a car on water today????
When I think of early cars, not that I do that often, I think of Ford’s Model T and when I hear Stanley Steamer I think of carpet cleaning.
Naturally I had to do a little research on this most unusual and very old vehicle.
We have twins Francis E Stanley (1849-1918) and Freelan O Stanley(1849-1940) to thank for the steam car. They produced their first car in 1897 after selling their photographic dry plate business to Eastman Kodak.
In 1898 and 1899 they sold more automobiles and than any other US manufacturer.
In 1899m Freelan and his wife drove one of steam cars to the highest peak in New Hampshire. Not only was this the highest peak in that state, it was the highest peak in the whole northeastern United States. The seven and a half mile drive up Mount Washington Carriage Road took more than two hours. I’m sure the trip down was much faster and probably wore out a set of brakes.
Steam engines capable of propelling themselves along either roadways or rails, developed around one hundred years earlier than internal combustion engine automobiles.
The light steam car was developed at the same time as cars powered by internal combustion engines. As the steam car could use the ast experience of steam engines already developed with steam locomotives, it initially had the advantage. In 1900 the steam car was broadly superior and even held land speed records.
By 1920 in the internal combustion engine had progressed to a degree of refinement that the steam car obsolete.
Thankfully, there are still of these early cars still on the road today.