Last week at the James Madison lecture sponsored by Indiana Automotive, I was reminded of the 1899 Haynes-Apperson long distance run of about 1,000 miles from Kokomo, IN, to Brooklyn, NY. Elwood Haynes and Edgar Apperson drove a recently completed Haynes-Apperson two-passenger phaeton from the factory for delivery to a Brooklyn physician.
The machine was built to order for Dr. Ashley Webber of Brooklyn for use it in his practice. Before accepting it, Dr. Webber stipulated that the carriage be of a serviceable character and could be relied upon to stand heavy, continuous use. To put it to a severe practical test, Haynes and Apperson undertook to drive it from Kokomo to Brooklyn and deliver it in perfect order.
That’s an outstanding test over roads of the day which were only paved in urban areas, with travel into the country usually being attempted in fair weather. Rain quickly turned country roads into thigh-deep mud ruts. In fact, the first day’s run on July 17, from Kokomo to Portland, IN, was made in less than seven hours at the rate of 11.8 miles an hour over roads heavy with mud. The wheels of the auto carried some fifty pounds of mud at the end of the day. Because of the muddy roads, they rested in Portland for one day.
They proceeded to Cleveland and then along the shores of Lake Erie to Buffalo. Next, their route lay along the line of the New York Central railroad and through the Mohawk Valley to Albany, and down the left bank of the Hudson to New York and Brooklyn.
After arriving, Elwood Haynes commented to New York newspapers: “We have every reason to feel fully satisfied with the machine. The test was made solely to prove the durability of the carriage. Had we desired to make high speed we could have come through in half the time.
All of our running was done in the day-light. I estimate the distance at 1,050 miles. We should have had the exact figures if our cyclometer had not gotten out of order. We did not discover that it had stopped until we ran about 150 miles.
The fastest run was between Buffalo and Syracuse, where our average was 18.4 miles an hour. Our highest speed was 20 miles an hour, but this could have been greatly exceeded. Friday we ran 105 miles between Schenectady and Fishkill, where we laid over for the night.”
The Haynes-Apperson automobile arrived in Brooklyn at 4 pm, Saturday, August 8, completing the longest run yet made in America. There were no break-downs on the entire run of over 1000 miles. The carriage was in good working order, and the trip was greatly enjoyed by the passengers. The number of days actually required for the run was 10, though the time occupied by the journey was 21 days.
At the time, the Haynes-Apperson phaeton set the American long-distance record and was the most talked-about “horseless” machine on the continent.
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