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EVERAL years ago I met and talked even more wonderful. And especially is with an intelligent man, who at that it wonderful when it is driven by electric
time was one hundred and ten years ity. old. For seventy years of his long life he Road traction first engaged the attenhad been an expert machinist, that is, a tion of engineers, and had it not been for constructor of machinery. He had pre the diversion of this attention to rail tracserved all his faculties in an unusual de tion by the invention of the locomotive, it gree, and his memory was particularly is likely that we should have had steam good as to his early life, which in his case road carriages long ago, and good roads stretched beyond what we generally call to drive them over as well. Cugnot, a middle age.
In our conversation I asked Frenchman, built a steam road carriage him what he considered was the most in 1763, Murdock built a steam tricycle in remarkable achievement of science in his England in 1781, and Oliver Evans in time. He asked me to walk with him. America applied in 1786 to the LegisAbout two hundred yards from his house latures of Pennsylvania and Maryland was a trolley line. Soon after we reached for a patent on a steam road carriage. the line a car came whizzing along at Towards the end of the last century Trevsomething like twenty miles an hour. ithick, sometimes called the Father of the ". That,” said he, pointing at the car, Locomotive, turned his attention to road " is the most wonderful thing I have motors, and in 1801 built a steam carever seen. I come to look at the cars go riage, which climbed steep hills faster than by every day." I should like to have a man could walk. Until the inventive heard that old man's opinion on the elec- attention was turned to railway developtric or gasoline automobile, but at that ment there were many attempts to perfect time there was none in his neighborhood, these road carriages, but they had to be and now he is no more. The trolley is a made in the face of the opposition of the very wonderful method of propulsion, but landowners and those with other vested I consider, and I believe that the vener- interests. In 1833 Squire and Macerone able machinist would have agreed with built several steam carriages in England, me, that the motor vehicle at present used and these attained an average speed of on the city streets and country roads is fourteen miles an hour. But the success
of the railroad put a stop to the improve-to-day it is a great industry, and the demand ments in these road carriages for nearly for the product of the manufacturers is half a century.
growing all the while. Those who could Indeed, it has only been within the past keep up with the times must be wide awake, ten years that capitalists could be induced for the best ingenuity of the world is to invest anything in experiments look- engaged in the improvement of the motor ing towards the perfection of these motor vehicles which were fads yesterday, but vehicles. And we, on this side of the are thoroughly practical and serviceable Atlantic, were not the first to go into this means of locomotion to-day. new-old venture. We let the French and the In New York a carriage propelled by English take the initiative, and Mr. Duryea, gasoline, steam, or electricity attracted an American automobile maker, says that much attention a year or so ago on the as lately as four years ago it was almost streets; now there are hundreds of such, impossible to get capitalists to look seri- and the passing of one of them is not ously upon a proposition which contem noticed any more than an ordinary hansom plated the building and the selling of these cab pulled by a horse. In another year carriages. They regarded the idea as there will be four times as many, and it is fanciful and chimerical. In the brief proposed that some of these shall carry space of four years an immense change passengers as an ordinary omnibus, and has taken place. Three of these years run in connection with the surface and may be said to have been given up to the elevated railways, transferring passengers education of conservative capitalists and from the one to the other at a single fare. the growth of the demand for the carriages New York is rarely foremost in the matter on the part of the public. The other year of urban transportation, and what will ultihas been a time of immense action, formately be done in the metropolis will probnow there are a great many plants in ably be accomplished long before in other America working night and day to build American cities, not handicapped by a the carriages that have been ordered, while there is upwards of $400,000,000 of capital invested in the business. One manufacturing company accepted an order in July for 4,200 carriages. To fill this order the company will need to spend something like eight millions of dollars for material and labor. It is likely that no new business ever grew to such proportions within short a time. Four years was no business at all; one year ago the building of automobiles had just passed the ex
A BROUGHAM-HACK perimental stage;
Electric System. Commonly seen in New York streets.
too great. We know that strong carriages can be made of any desired weight; so the present problem is to lessen the weight of the motor. Then, of course, the carriage can be made lighter, and the cost of construction lessened.
Mr. Edison is at work on this problem. He says, with out hesitation, that he will
show how to build cheaper, lighter, and faster vehicles ; but he is not now willing to be more definite than this. What he might say would be interesting to the public, but Mr. Edison does not care to have other inventors start in the same line of experiment he is pursuing
Independent, however, of what there is in the future of the automobile, the present is most interesting, for the carriages of the day are good, practical machines, capable of doing hard work day after day and making great journeys at a high rate
of speed. Already in this THE DE DION-BOUTON QUADRICYCLE
country a gasoline motor
vehicle has made the jourInvented by Count de Dion, President of the Paris Automobile Society.
ney from Cleveland to New slow conservatism. New York capitalists York, more than seven hundred miles at this time seem to be much alive to the over the rough country roads, at a changes that the perfection of the auto- high rate of speed, and at this time mobile is sure to make. Not only are we there are two such vehicles on the to have cabs in abundance and omnibuses, road making the long journey between but the trucking may perhaps be done the Atlantic and the Pacific. Electric almost entirely without horses. Then we vehicles cannot, under present conditions, can have smooth pavements which may make such journeys, as the storage bateasily be kept clean.
teries used will only run a vehicle a The manufacturers of the electric auto little
twenty miles. Recharging mobiles do not seem to be satisfied that takes several hours, and the motor must they are making machines which will not be at an electric station where there be obsolete in a few years. Therefore is a generating plant; but the motor can they prefer to rent the machines rather be removed and replaced in a few minthan sell them outright. Many inventors utes. This is the plan used by the comare at work trying to improve them-in- pany operating the numerous electric cabs ventors from Edison all the way through in New York. When the electric car. the list. These inventors are not con- riages come into general use, stations cerned so much with the carriages as with will be dotted all over the country, the motors to drive them. It is generally and fresh electricity will be as easy to recognized that the combined weight of obtain as food and drink now are for a the carriage and the motor is at present horse. That seems long in the future,
but if the progress continues as it has for to be expected. Electricity as a motive the last twelve months, we shall have such power appears to be only in its infancy, public stations in a very few years. notwithstanding the marvelous trolley and
At present the electric carriages are not, the improvements in storage batteries ; so as a general thing, sold to the persons it is only natural that those engaged in using them, but rented by the month or making electric motors for road vehicles year. One of the largest companies pre- should feel entirely sanguine that the perfers to do this at present, because the fection of the motor is merely a matter of managers recognize that improvements a short while. are likely to be made very often, and they Meantime, however, the makers of other do not wish to sell to their customers motor vehicles are going ahead as though what will be very quickly behind the electricity was not a particularly serious times. Owning and caring for the car competitor. The gasoline motors have riages themselves, the manufacturers can proved very successful both in Europe add the improvements as each is made
and in this country.
In France the manand keep them always up to date. The ufacturers are a year behind with the company just alluded to does this renting orders, and before the demand grew so through a subsidiary or transportation rapidly in this country American machines company. It was this transportation were sent there and sold at a good precompany which gave the large order of mium. The chief automobile-maker in 4,200 carriages mentioned in the begin- France, Count de Dion, was a prisoner in ning of this article. It is in these electric a police court the other day and was fined motors that the greatest improvements are for working his men overtime. Though
he has 100,000 men in his manufactories, will sooner or later be tested against one