Adding Wings to the Iron Horse

Powered by a single eight-cylinder diesel-electric engine, in 1934 a “Streamliner” cut average steam locomotive time by half.

 

“Once I built a railroad, I made it run, made it race against time. Once I built a railroad; now it’s done. Brother, can you spare a dime?” – Bing Crosby

Art Deco illustration of Burlington train

Diesel-electric engines pioneered by General Motors and Winton Engine Company (established in 1896 as a bicycle company) saved America’s railroad passenger industry. Two-stroke diesel engines provided a four-fold power to weight gain. Photo courtesy Model Railroader magazine, January 1999.

 

Famous sreamliners M-1000 and Burlington Zephyr at station

The two “streamliner” trains that changed America’s railroad industry in the late 1930s: the Union Pacific M-10000 (left) and Burlington Zephyr. Today the Zephyr is on display at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. Photo courtesy Union Pacific Museum.

In the early 1930s America’s passenger railroad business was in trouble. In addition to the Great Depression, the once dominant industry faced growing competition from automobiles. New refineries produced gasoline thanks to the discovery of a giant East Texas oilfield.

Adding Wings to the Iron Horse

Diesel engines had been used since about 1925. The engines were heavy, producing only a single horsepower from 80 pounds of engine weight.

It had been just 60 years since coal-burning steam locomotives and the transcontinental railroad had linked America’s east and west coasts. Now, more than 30 million cars, trucks, and buses were on U.S. roads. What would power heavy transportation?

Adding Wings to the Iron Horse

The powerful diesel-electric Zephyr arrived in 1934 – a result of the Navy’s search for a new engine for its submarines.

Although railroad steam engine technology had advanced since the “golden spike” of 1869 in Promontory Point, Utah, locomotives still “belched steam, smoke, and cinders,” notes one railroad historian. “Passengers often felt like they had been on a tour of a coal mine.”

The railroads’ distillate-burning internal combustion engines of the day were heavy and troublesome. Primitive diesels had been used in switch engines from about 1925, but they were slow, explains Richard Cleghorn Overton in Burlington Route: A History of the Burlington Lines.

Burning fuels ranged from a low-grade gasoline to painter’s naphtha and diesel. Distillate railroad engines emitted an oily smoke and often produced only a single horsepower from 80 pounds of engine weight. These common four-stroke engines fouled easily and required multiple spark plugs per cylinder.

Bing Crosby lamented the fate of railroads in his popular song.

Improved Iron Horse Engine

Help was on the way for America’s failing passenger railroads. It would come from the U.S. Navy in the form of a diesel-electric engine…wrapped in a stainless steel Art Deco locomotive.

“Wings to the Iron Horse,” proclaimed a company advertisement in the 1930s. “Burlington pioneers again – the first diesel streamline train.”

Adding Wings to the Iron Horse

New diesel-electric engines generated power for the “Making of a Motor Car” exhibit at the 1933 Century of Progress fair in Chicago. The assembly line fascinated visitors who watched from overhead galleries.

With the threat of war on the horizon, the U.S. Navy needed a lighter weight, more powerful diesel engine for its submarine fleet. General Motors joined the nationwide competition to develop a new diesel engine.

Seeking engineering and production expertise, in 1930 GM acquired the Winton Engine Company of Cleveland, Ohio. Winton, established in 1896 as Winton Bicycle Company, was an early automobile manufacturer.

The Winton Engine Company evolved into a developer of engines for marine applications, power companies, pipeline operators – and railroads.

Adding Wings to the Iron Horse

America’s first diesel-electric train made railroad history.

With GM’s financial backing, Winton engineers designed a radical new two-stroke diesel that delivered one horsepower per 20 pounds of engine weight. It provided a four-fold power to weight gain.

The Model 201A  prototype — a 503-cubic-inch, 600 horsepower, 8-cylinder diesel-electric engine – used no spark plugs, relying instead on newly patented high pressure fuel injectors and a 16:1 compression ratio for ignition.

At Chicago’s Century of Progress World’s Fair in 1933, GM evaluated two 201 diesel-electric engines, using them to generate power for its “Making of a Motor Car” exhibit. The working demonstration of a Chevrolet assembly line fascinated thousands of visitors who watched from overhead galleries.

Adding Wings to the Iron Horse

Powered by a single eight-cylinder Winton 201A diesel engine, the revolutionary “streamliner” traveled the 1,015 miles from Denver to Chicago in just over 13 hours — a passenger train record.

One visitor happened to be Ralph Budd, president of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad (known as the Burlington Line). Budd immediately recognized the locomotive potential of these extraordinary new diesel-electric power plants. He saw them as a perfect match for the lightweight “shot-welded” stainless steel rail cars being pioneered by the Edward G. Budd (no relation) Manufacturing Company in Philadelphia.

Adding Wings to the Iron Horse

During its “dawn to dusk” record-breaking run, the Zephyr burned only $16.72 worth of diesel fuel.

Edward Budd was the first to supply the automobile industry with all steel bodies in 1912. His success in steel stamping technology made the production of car bodies cheaper and faster. By 1925, his system was used to produce half of all U.S. auto bodies.

The Depression, however, put the Budd Manufacturing Company almost $2,000,000 in the red — prompting its fortuitous diversification into the railroad car market to generate revenue. When approached by Burlington President Ralph Budd in 1933, this Budd was ready.

Within a year, the two technologies were successfully merged with the creation of the Winton 201A powered Burlington Zephyr – America’s first diesel-electric train. It would change railroad transportation history.

Adding Wings to the Iron Horse

Chicago World’s Fair visitors line up to admire the stainless steel beauty of the Burlington Zephyr, which will soon be featured in a Hollywood movie. Eight major U.S. railroads soon convert to efficient diesel-electric locomotives. Photo from a Burlington Route Railroad 1934 postcard.

Art Deco and the Silver Streak

Adding Wings to the Iron Horse

Although ”The Silver Streak” was a 1934 “B” movie — intended for the bottom half of double features — it remains a favorite of some railroad history fans.

The Zephyr rolled into Chicago’s Century of Progress exhibition on May 26, 1934, ending a nonstop 13 hour, 4 minute, and 58 second “dawn to dusk” promotional run from Denver.

Powered by a single eight-cylinder Winton 201A diesel, the “streamliner” cut average steam locomotive time by half. The Zephyr traveled 1,015 miles at an average speed of 76.61 miles per hour and reached speeds along the route in excess of 112 mph — to the amazement and delight of track-side spectators from Colorado to Illinois.

During its record-breaking run, the Zephyr burned just $16.72 worth of diesel fuel (about four cents per gallon). The same distance in a coal steamer would have cost $255. Construction innovations included the specialized shot-welding that joined sheets of stainless steel. The lightweight steel also resisted corrosion so it didn’t have to be painted.

Americans fell in love with the Zephyr. Four months after its high-speed appearance at Chicago’s Century of Progress, the streamliner made its 1934 Hollywood film debut, starring as “The Silver Streak” for an RKO picture.

The Zephyr was loaned for filming —  and the Burlington logo on its front was repainted to read Silver Streak. “The stream-lined train, platinum blonde descendant of the rugged old Iron Horse, has been glorified by Hollywood in the modern melodrama,” proclaimed the New York Times.

Adding Wings to the Iron Horse

Winton diesel-electric engines powered a new generation of U.S. submarines. The Porpoise (SS-172) was the first of its class to join the fleet in 1935 — and served throughout World War II.

Although the black-and-white “B” movie came and went without making much of a splash, it has won its place in movie history as a rail-fan favorite, according to a 2001 article in the Zephyr Online. “It did have a lot of action, and the location shots of the Zephyr are an interesting record of this pioneer.”

The RKO film should not to be confused with 20th Century Fox’s 1976 comedy “Silver Streak,” which was filmed in Canada using Canadian Pacific Railway equipment from the Canadian, a transcontinental passenger train.

Winning Technology for WWII Subs

By the end of 1934, eight major U.S. railroads had ordered diesel-electric locomotives. The engine technology’s cost advantages in manpower, maintenance, and support were quickly apparent.

Despite the greater initial cost of diesel-electric, a century of steam locomotive dominance soon came to an end. By the mid-1950s, steam locomotives were no longer being manufactured in the United States.

GM won the Navy’s competition for a lightweight powerful diesel – choosing the 16-cylinder Winton Engine Company diesel-electric to power a new class of submarine. In 1935, the USS Porpoise was first to join the fleet, where it served throughout World War II. Diesel-electrics power plants descended from the Burlington Zephyr would remain part of the fleet until replaced by nuclear propulsion.

A Zephyr competitor — the Union Pacific M-10000 built by the Pullman Car & Manufacturing Company — also appeared at the Century of Progress World’s Fair in Chicago.

In fact, the aluminum M-10000 streamliner was revealed six weeks earlier than the Zephyr. Recognized as America’s first streamliner, the M-10000 was cut up for scrap in 1942.

The Zephyr (later renamed the Pioneer Zephyr) is on display at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.

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The American Oil & Gas Historical Society preserves U.S. petroleum history. Become an AOGHS supporting member and help maintain this energy education website and expand historical research. For more information, contact bawells@aoghs.org. © 2020 Bruce A. Wells.

Citation Information – Article Title: “Adding Wings to the Iron Horse.” Author: Aoghs.org Editors. Website Name: American Oil & Gas Historical Society. URL: https://aoghs.org/transportation/adding-wings-to-the-iron-horse. Last Updated: May 25, 2020. Original Published Date: April 29, 2014.

 

Remarkable Nellie Bly’s Oil Drum

The famous reporter for the New York World newspaper in 1890 later owned and operated the Iron Clad Manufacturing Company.

 

She became one of the most famous journalists of her day as a reporter for the New York World. Widely known as the remarkable Nellie Bly, Elizabeth J. Cochran Seaman, investigated conditions at an infamous mental institution, made a trip around the world in less than 80 days – and manufactured the first practical 55-gallon oil drum.

The 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, N.Y., promoted her Iron Clad Manufacturing Company as “owned exclusively by Nellie Bly – the only woman in the world personally managing industries of such magnitude.”

Nellie bly oil drum patent drawing and portrait of Elizabeth Cochran Seaman

Recognizing the potential of an efficient metal barrel design, Nellie Bly acquired the 1905 patent rights from its inventor, Henry Wehrhahn, who worked at her Iron Clad Manufacturing Company.

(more…)

History of the 42-Gallon Oil Barrel

Skilled 19th century coopers made wooden barrels of all capacities, including hogsheads, puncheons, tierces, butts, and tuns.

 

Soon after America’s first commercial oil well of 1859, a small group met in northwestern Pennsylvania and decided a 42-gallon barrel was best for transporting their oil.

 

When filled with oil instead of fish or other commodities, a 42-gallon “tierce” weighed 300 pounds. The 42-gallon oil barrel was officially adopted in 1866. Today, a barrel’s refined products include about 20 gallons of gasoline, 12 gallons of diesel and four gallons of jet fuel (and rocket fuel) and other products like liquefied petroleum gases and asphalt.

42 gallon oil barrel stock certificate vignette of barrels

By the 1860s, barges floated barrels of oil down the Allegheny River to Pittsburgh to be refined into a highly demanded product – kerosene for lamps. Image from an early oil company stock certificate.

In August 1866 a handful of America’s earliest independent oil producers met in Titusville, Pennsylvania, and agreed that henceforth, 42 gallons would constitute a barrel of oil. Pennsylvania led the world in oil production as demand soared for kerosene lamp fuel. (more…)

Densmore Oil Tank Cars

Brothers James and Amos aided transportation infrastructure for booming Pennsylvania oilfields. Amos would later create the “QWERTY” typewriter keyboard.

 

As Pennsylvania oil production skyrocketed following the Civil War, Densmore railroad tank cars – designed and fabricated by two inventive brothers – transported oil by rail from booming oilfields to refineries. Their tank car design did not last, but was soon followed by Amos Desmore’s invention of the “QWERTY” keyboard typewriter.

Railroad oil tank cars became the latest of a growing number of oilfield innovations when two brothers received a U.S. patent on April 10, 1866. James and Amos Densmore of Meadville, Pennsylvania, were granted the patent for their “Improved Car for Transporting Petroleum,” which they developed one year earlier in the booming oil region of Northwestern Pennsylvania. The first American oil well had been drilled just seven years earlier at Titusville.

densmore wooden oil tank car exhibit in Pennsylvania

Amos and James Densmore designed their first twin tanked railroad cars in 1865. They improved bulk transportation of oil. Photo courtesy Drake Well Museum.

Using an Atlantic & Great Western Railroad flatcar, the brothers secured two tanks in order to ship oil in bulk. The patent (No. 53,794) described and illustrated the railroad car’s design.

densmore oil tank car old photo of loading oil in cars

Although prone to leaks and top heavy, Densmore tank cars provided a vital service – but only briefly. A better railroad car replaced them.

The nature of our invention consists in combining two large, light tanks of iron or wood or other material with the platform of a common railway flat freight-car, making them practically part of the car, so as they carry the desired substance in bulk instead of in barrels, casks, or other vessels or packages, as is now universally done on railway cars.

Two 45-Barrel Tanks

The brothers further described the use of special bolts at the top and bottom of the tanks to act as braces and “to prevent any shock or jar to the tank from the swaying of the car while in motion.”

An historical marker on U.S. 8 south of Titusville memorializes the Densmore brothers’ contribution to petroleum transportation technology.

The first functional railway oil tank car was invented and constructed in 1865 by James and Amos Densmore at nearby Miller Farm along Oil Creek. It consisted of two wooden tanks placed on a flat railway car; each tank held 40-45 barrels of oil.

densmore oil tank cars and modern design oil tank cas

Riveted cylindrical iron tank cars replaced Densmore brothers’ wooden vat cars. Discarded Densmore tanks can be seen. Photo courtesy Drake Well Museum.

A successful test shipment was sent in September 1865 to New York City.

By 1866, hundreds of tank cars were in use. The Densmore Tank Car revolutionized the bulk transportation of crude oil to market.

According to an ExplorePAhistory.com article, the benefit of such cars to the early petroleum industry’s infrastructure was immense, especially as more Americans eagerly sought oil-refined kerosene for lamps.

Despite design limitations that would prove difficult to overcome, independent producers took advantage of the opportunity to transport large amounts of petroleum.

Other transportation methods required teamsters taking barrels to barges on Oil Creek and the Allegheny River to get to kerosene refineries in Pittsburgh.

As larger refineries were constructed, it was found that it cost $170 less to ship 80 barrels of oil from Titusville to New York in a tank car instead of individual barrels.

But the Densmore cars had flaws.

They were unstable, top heavy, prone to leaks, and limited in capacity by the eight-foot width of the flatcar.

Within a year, oil haulers shifted from the Densmore vertical vats to larger, horizontal riveted iron cylindrical tanks, which also demonstrated greater structural integrity during derailments or collisions.

Today, the same basic cylindrical design for transporting petroleum can be seen as modern railroads put dozens of other products – from corn syrup to chemicals – in the versatile tank car.

From Oil Tank to Typewriter

Although the Densmore brothers left the oil region by 1867 – their inventiveness was far from over.

densmore oil tank car Amos Densmore typewriter company

Amos Densmore helped invent one of the first practical typewriters.

In 1875, Amos Densmore assisted Christopher L. Sholes to rearrange the “type writing machine” keyboard – so that commonly used letters no longer collided and got stuck. The “QWERTY” arrangement vastly improved Shole’s original 1868 invention.

Following his brother’s work with Sholes, inventor of the first practical typewriter, James Densmore’s oilfield financial success helped the brothers establish the Densmore Typewriter Company, which produced its first model in 1891.

The ExplorePAhistory.com article concludes:

“Biographies of the Densmores – and even their personal papers now residing at the Milwaukee Public Museum – all refer to their work on typewriters, but make no mention of their pioneering work in railroad tank car design.”

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The American Oil & Gas Historical Society preserves U.S. petroleum history. Become an AOGHS supporting member and help maintain this energy education website and expand historical research. For more information, contact bawells@aoghs.org. © 2020 Bruce A. Wells.

Citation Information – Article Title: “Densmore Oil Tank Cars.” Author: Aoghs.org Editors. Website Name: American Oil & Gas Historical Society. URL: https://aoghs.org/transportation/densmore-oil-tank-car. Last Updated: April 6, 2020. Original Published Date: April 7, 2013.

 

Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

Crucial time passed before containment and cleanup efforts began.

 

“No one anticipated any unusual problems as the Exxon Valdez left the Alyeska Pipeline Terminal at 9:12 p.m., Alaska Standard Time,” an account by the Alaska Oil Spill Commission would later report about the 1989 disaster. 

Exxon Valdez oil tanker ran aground in 1989.

Field studies continue to examine the effects of the Exxon supertanker’s disastrous grounding on Bligh Reef in Alaska’s Prince William Sound in 1989. Photo courtesy Erik Hill, Anchorage Daily News.

On March, 24, 1989, after nearly a dozen years of daily tanker passages through Prince William Sound, Alaska, the super-tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground. The grounding at Bligh Reef spilled about 260,000 barrels of oil, affecting hundreds of miles of coastline. Some consider the spill amount,used by the State of Alaska’s Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council, too conservative.

When the 987-foot-long tanker hit the reef that night, “the system designed to carry two million barrels of North Slope oil to West Coast and Gulf Coast markets daily had worked perhaps too well,” explains the Alaska Oil Spill Commission’s report. “At least partly because of the success of the Valdez tanker trade, a general complacency had come to permeate the operation and oversight of the entire system,” noted the report. This complacency was shattered when the Exxon Valdez ran hard aground shortly after midnight.

oil spill map of Alaska coast in 1989

“Eight of 11 cargo tanks were punctured. Computations aboard the Exxon Valdez showed that 5.8 million gallons had gushed out of the tanker in the first three and a quarter hours.”

“The vessel came to rest facing roughly southwest, perched across its middle on a pinnacle of Bligh Reef,” noted the report. “Eight of 11 cargo tanks were punctured. Computations aboard the Exxon Valdez showed that 5.8 million gallons had gushed out of the tanker in the first three and a quarter hours.”

Tankers carrying North Slope crude oil had safely transited Prince William Sound more than 8,700 times during the previous 12 years. Improved shipbuilding technologies resulted in supersized vessels.

“Whereas tankers in the 1950s carried a crew of 40 to 42 to manage about 6.3 million gallons of oil…the Exxon Valdez carried a crew of 19 to transport 53 million gallons of oil.”

Alaskan weather conditions – 33 degrees with a light rain – and the remote location added to the 1989 disaster, the report continues. With the captain not present, the third mate made a navigation error, adds  another 1990 report, Practices that relate to the Exxon Valdez by the National Transportation and Safety Board. “The third mate failed to properly maneuver the vessel, possibly due to fatigue or excessive workload,” it concludes.

Hard Lessons about Responding Faster

At the time, spill response capabilities to deal with the spreading oil will be found to be “unexpectedly slow and woefully inadequate,” according to the Oil Spill Commission’s report. “The worldwide capabilities of Exxon Corporation would mobilize huge quantities of equipment and personnel to respond to the spill – but not in the crucial first few hours and days when containment and cleanup efforts are at a premium,” the reported explained.

“The U.S. Coast Guard would demonstrate its prowess at ship salvage, protecting crews and lightering operations, but prove utterly incapable of oil spill containment and response,” the commission added.

illustration of oil tanks inside super tanker Exxon Valdez

At 987 feet long and 166 feet wide, the Exxon Valdez – delivered to Exxon in December 1986 – was the largest ship ever built on the West Coast.

Exxon began a cleanup effort that included thousands of Exxon and contractor personnel, according to ExxonMobil. More than 11,000 Alaska residents and volunteers rushed to the coastline to assist.

“Because Prince William Sound contained many rocky coves where the oil collected, the decision was made to displace it with high-pressure hot water,” reports a Wikipedia article, adding:

However, this also displaced and destroyed the microbial populations on the shoreline; many of these organisms (e.g. plankton) are the basis of the coastal marine food chain, and others (e.g. certain bacteria and fungi) are capable of facilitating the biodegradation of oil.


At the time, both scientific advice and public pressure was to clean everything, but since then, a much greater understanding of natural and facilitated remediation processes has developed, due somewhat in part to the opportunity presented for study by the Exxon Valdez spill.

Learn more in the Alaska Oil Spill Commission’s Details about the Accident report. Experts continue to review the effects of the Exxon Valdez grounding on Bligh Reef.  Most scientists today say the ecosystem in Prince William Sound, although still recovering, is healthy. According to ExxonMobil, the company spent $4.3 billion as a result of the accident, “including compensatory payments, cleanup payments, settlements and fines. The company voluntarily compensated more than 11,000 Alaskans and businesses within a year of the spill.”  Field and laboratory studies continue to examine affects of the spill, which resulted in the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.

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The American Oil & Gas Historical Society preserves U.S. petroleum history. Become an AOGHS supporting member and help maintain this energy education website and expand historical research. For more information, contact bawells@aoghs.org. © 2020 Bruce A. Wells.

Citation Information – Article Title: “Exxon Valdez Oil Spill.” Author: Aoghs.org Editors. Website Name: American Oil & Gas Historical Society. URL: https://aoghs.org/transportation/exxon-valdez-oil-spill. Last Updated: March 23, 2020. Original Published Date: March 24, 2009.

 

First Car, First Road Trip

Bertha Benz’s 60-mile drive in 1888 made headlines for her husband’s fledgling auto company.

 

German mechanical engineer Karl Friedrich Benz invented and built a three-wheel “motorwagen,” today recognized as the world’s first car. His wife helped steer the company’s first marketing campaign.

 

Others had experimented with electric and steam-powered vehicles. A gasoline powered engine had been placed placed on a pushcart in 1870, but is was Karl Benz who invented the modern car when he built his “Fahrzeug mit Gasmotorenbetrieb” (vehicle with gas engine) in Mannheim, Germany, in 1885.

first car image with Bertha Benz driving

Just two years after Karl Benz applied for his patent, his wife Bertha in 1888 was the first person to drive his gas-powered motorwagen over a long distance, bringing worldwide attention…and sales.

Benz applied for an Imperial patent for his three-wheeled carriage powered by a one-cylinder, four-stroke gasoline engine on January 29, 1886. The Benz patent is recognized as the world’s first for a practical internal combustion engine powered automobile.

Although there had already been “auto-mobiles,” Benz used the internal combustion engine as the drive system for a “self-mover,” notes a Mercedes Benz company historian. “He presented his stroke of genius at the Imperial Patent Office – the car was born.” Since he soon built several identical three-wheeled vehicles, Benz also has been credited with first “production car” in history.

Born in 1844 in Baden Muehlburg, Benz founded a “Iron Foundry and Machine Shop” in 1871, He received his first engine patent in 1879. His remarkable 1886 engine – with a displacement of 0.954 of a liter – “anticipated elements still found in every internal combustion engine to this day: a crankshaft with balance weights, electric ignition and water cooling: enough to generate 0.55 kW and a top speed of 16 km/h, virtually corresponding to the power of a whole horse.”

It would not be long before his wife – from a wealthy German family who had earlier used her dowry to help Benz – made headlines driving his new automobile.

First Road Trip

Thirty-nine-year-old Bertha Benz made history on August 12, 1888 (History.com says August 5), “when she became the first person to complete a long-distance trip by automobile,” proclaims. “The trip helped popularize Karl Benz’s latest invention—and likely saved him from professional and financial ruin.”

Bertha reportedly drove away with the “Model III Patent Motorwagen” without her husband’s permission, although she left a note saying she was taking their two young sons to visit her mother in Pforzheim. Her route from their home in Mannheim was about 60 miles. The drive, which included stops at apothecary shops to buy a petroleum solvent needed keep the car running, took about 15 hours. She returned home three days later.

“The value of the journey to the fledgling car company that would in time become Mercedes-Benz is hard to quantify properly, but she surely helped to ensure that by the end of the century it was the largest car company in the world,” concluded a 2013 article in The Telegraph.

“Bertha’s journey proved many things, not least that a woman was every bit as capable of handling one of these newfangled contraptions as a man,” the article also noted. “Today you can go to Mannheim and retrace her steps by following the signs of the Bertha Benz Memorial Route.”

According to Mary Bellis at About.com, five years later, in 1903, Benz retired from Benz & Company after his designs became outdated by inventions by Gottlieb Daimler. Daimler (together with his design partner Wilhelm Maybach) in 1885 had taken the internal combustion engine “a step further and patented what is generally recognized as the prototype of the modern gas engine,” noted Bellis.

Karl Benz would serve as a member of the supervisory board of Daimler-Benz AG from 1926, when the company was formed, until his death in 1929. Bertha Benz was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 2016 as the first female automotive pioneer.

In America, Charles Duryea claimed the first U.S. patent for a gasoline automobile in 1895. One year later, Henry Ford sold his first “quadri-cycle,” creating the auto industry. By the turn of the century, about 8,000 vehicles shared mostly unpaved roads with horses and wagons. In New York City public workers removed 450,000 tons of horse manure every year.

Read about a November 1900 event in Cantankerous Combustion – 1st U.S. Auto Show.

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The American Oil & Gas Historical Society preserves U.S. petroleum history. Join AOGHS and help maintain this energy education website, expand historical research, and extend public outreach. For annual sponsorship information, contact bawells@aoghs.org. © 2020 Bruce A. Wells.

Citation Information: Article Title: “First Car, First Road Trip.” Author: Aoghs.org Editors. Website Name: American Oil & Gas Historical Society. URL: https://aoghs.org/transportation/benz-patents-first-car. Last Updated: January 27, 2020. Orginal Published Date: September 15, 2015.