The Kalamazoo Automobilist
The year is 1891 and Kalamazoo inventor J. B. Rhodes is tinkering with his most impressive creation yet––an operable steam wagon that could be propelled down the streets of Kalamazoo, Michigan without the aid of horses. Steam-powered vehicles had traveled the roads in other towns as early as 1805, but Rhodes‚ wagon holds a special place in history as Kalamazoo's first "horseless carriage," marking the very beginning of a frenzy that some called "horseless-carriageitis." By the turn of the century, new vehicles began arriving in the city that could carry citizens about with the proclaimed "speed of Pegasus." Soon to follow would be the autos of the Blood brothers, the Fuller family, Frank Burtt, and the brothers-in-law, Frank Lay and Henry Lane. The initial success of these men was followed by despair of those that tried and failed in the business and the inevitable fraudulent schemes that spring up in any arena where the stakes are high and there is money to be made.
Car Histories Included: Barley, Blood, Cannon, Checker, Cornelian, Dort, Greyhound, Handley, Handley-Knight, Kalamazoo trucks, Kalamazoo-Rail, Lane trucks, Michigan, Pennant cab, Reed tractor, Roamer, States, and Wolverine.
The Kalamazoo Automobilist describes the town's role in this unfolding drama––from Michigan Buggy's rise and fall to the birth and subsequent death of the city‚s reputation as home of the beloved Checker taxi cab––demonstrating that at one time, Kalamazoo was a formidable contender as a hub of automotive power. This is the story of one hundred years in the history of a small Midwestern town, and the part it played in an invention that changed the world: the automobile.
New Issues Press, Western Michigan University
Citation for published book
Lyon, David O. The Kalamazoo Automobilist : 1891-1991 / David O. Lyon. 2002. Print.
Lyon, David O., "The Kalamazoo Automobilist" (2002). All Books and Monographs by WMU Authors. 477.