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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

CLEVELAND-NEW YORK DRIVE - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

The CLEVELAND-NEW YORK DRIVE by ALEXANDER WINTON† and Wm. A. Hatcher in 1897 was the first reliability run in the history of the American automobile industry. Winton made 2 important drives from Cleveland to New York: the historic 1897 drive and a more widely publicized drive in 1899. He undertook the 1897 drive to demonstrate the viability of motor transportation and the dependability of automobiles made by his Winton Motor Carriage Co. (see WINTON MOTOR CAR CO.) Along with Hatcher, his shop superintendent, Winton left Cleveland for New York on 28 July 1897, in a 2-cylinder vehicle powered by cleaning fluid. The pair arrived in New York on 7 Aug. The 800 mi. trip over often terrible roads took 78 hours and 43 minutes of actual driving. In New York, Winton tried to gain publicity for the feat but was unsuccessful. Publicity of the event in Cleveland, however, brought his company additional investors and more orders for vehicles.

In May 1899 Winton made a second, more widely publicized, and quicker drive to New York, sponsored by the PLAIN DEALER. Accompanied by reporter Chas. B. Shanks, who sent daily reports of the trip to about 30 newspapers, Winton left Cleveland on 22 May and made the 707 mi. trip to New York in 47 hours and 34 minutes. The well-publicized event developed more interest in the automobile and stimulated orders for vehicles. Shanks's reports of the trip are credited with firmly establishing the French term "automobile" in the American language over rival terms used to describe the new vehicles. Winton and Shanks attempted to be the first persons to drive across the country in 1901, again sponsored by the Plain Dealer. Leaving San Francisco on 20 May 1901, they were forced to give up the journey 31 May when their car became stuck in the desert sands near Imlay, NV. A Winton automobile did make the first successful cross-country drive in 1903 but neither Winton nor Shanks was involved in that journey.

Wager, Richard. Golden Wheels (1975).

Last Modified: 14 Jul 1997 03:37:08 PM

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