Wednesday, December 8, 2010

"Motor Cars" in Danville, Virginia in 1910

By 1910, there seem to have been many cars driving around. When my son Bobby came across this 1910 Virginia license plate, I looked at some old car advertisements for that year.

The first Virginia car tags were issued in 1906. These were permanent as long as the vehicle was operated. The were steel with black porcelain and white letters. In June of 1910, these red and white porcelain coated steel tags were first issued. They expired on December 31, 191o, so they were only on cars for six months. Since they were only used a short time and not very many were issued, they are extremely rare and valuable. Only 2,704 were issued by the state. The 1910 licenses were the first to be dated and the first annual issue. In 1910 the fee was $5 to $20, depending on the advertised horsepower.

"It's a mighy rough road from Lynchburg to Danville," so the song goes. The "Old 97" fast mail trail didn't quite make it through Danville in 1903. The road is smoother now and the trip takes about an hour. Bobby lived in Forest, near Lynchburg, and usually comes down about once a month.

Bobby and I both like finding old and interesting things. We scout around Danville and Pittsylvania and have made some great discoveries. On December 1, 2010, while searching mostly for old bottles, Bobby found the 1910 license.

There were probably not very many cars in Danville in 1910, since only about 2,700 licenses were issued statewide. This number 1164 was not quite half way through the issue.

In 1920, Crowell Auto Co. built this new building on Craghead at the corner of Newton Street. I remember as a kid going there in the early 1950 to see the new Fords the day they came out in the fall. There is a sign with the tractor here that says: "If I don't work, I don't eat." Farmers had to feed their mules all the time. Crowell was in operation in 1914 down the street on Craghead oppsite Colquhoun Street. Herman Cook's dad worked there in 1922. He would go to the nearby depot and pick up crated Model T's and put them together.

Charles K. Carter was an early car dealer in Danville. In the 1910 census, he is living on Green Street and a machinist in a foundry. On September 5, 1911, he is part owner in the Dan Valley Motor Company located at 320-322 Craghead Street. On that date, the Washington Post reported that the Studebaker factory sent a special train to take dealers to Detroit. Charles K. Carter was one of the passengers to make the trip.

This is a newspaper clipping from the Washington Herald on May 19, 1912. A one-ton Buick truck was delivered to "A. Roddnett & Son" in Danville, VA. (thanks Anne Evans).

Here are a few of the cars which were aroung in 1910. Studebaker claimed to be the "World's Largest Makers of Motor Cars, Many Times Over," in 1910 advertisements.

1910 Thoms Flyer

The "17" Coupe was one of the Studebaker "Electrics" for 1910

Another 1910 Electric from Studebaker

1910 Cadillac

Detroit for 1910

Ford Model T for 1910 caost $1,200. Henry Ford was the first to used an automated assembly line which cut production time in half.

Four guys are riding a 1909 Big 6 Knox motor car

1910 Palmer-Singer

REO for 1910
Ransom Eli Olds, born in 1864, left the Olds Motor Vehicle Co. which he founded in 1905 and began operation of the REO (after his initials) car. His 1905 production was the first use of the assembly line, but his line was not automated. REO continued the manufacture of cars until 1936. The company continued to make trucks and buses.