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REO Heroes: 1906

June 1906. "REO Mountaineer, New York to San Francisco and back." Percy Megargel and David Fassett at Huber's Hotel on 162nd Street in the Bronx at the end of their 10-month, 11,000-mile trip in a 16-horsepower REO (Ransom E. Olds) touring car. View full size.

June 1906. "REO Mountaineer, New York to San Francisco and back." Percy Megargel and David Fassett at Huber's Hotel on 162nd Street in the Bronx at the end of their 10-month, 11,000-mile trip in a 16-horsepower REO (Ransom E. Olds) touring car. View full size.


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Eye of the beholder

IMO the tall, dark man standing behind the three gents on the far right, with his eyes cast downward, is also pretty handsome. The triple threat, as it were.

Not a speedy wagon

If I did the math right, that averages out to just over 1.5 mph. If they drove just 8 hours a day, it averages out to about 4.6 mph. They didn't try for a direct route, but seemed to try to drive through as many states as they could.

Today, with a direct route from NY to SF of 2906 miles, Google says you can make the round trip in 86 hours.

Much more info here.

Almost Home

Currently, just west of third base at the (new) Yankee Stadium.

It would have been 9 months

If they did not have to lace up those boots every morning.

Re: Timing is everything (from the SF fire to the band in IL)

To make it to San Francisco in time for "the big one", they might have used a REO Speed Wagon (the truck, not the band); but that vehicle wasn't to appear on the scene until 1915; and the band wasn't on the scene until 1966. On an interesting note, the band got its name (R.E.O. Speedwagon) from the vehicle, as founder and keyboardist Neal Doughty saw it written on the blackboard of his "History of Transportation" class at the University of Illinois (Champaign) in 1967. And if all of that wasn't enough coincidence, on his first keyboard, one of the first songs Neal Doughty learned was "Light My Fire" by The Doors. I can just hear those famous words by Robert L. Ripley ringing out, "Believe It or Not!"

Timing is everything

I figure they were somewhere in Ohio when the Big One hit San Francisco.

REO in the UK

Many motor buses in Britain were REO. The story was 'Ruins Every Operator'... You may say that - I could not possibly comment!

Riding Shotgun

So you wouldn't get relegated to the back seat. Unless a couple honeys come along then Riding Shotgun wasn't important.

Bottom side

I'm curious as to the purpose of the shroud of fabric underneath the vehicle. Is it to catch those falling parts along the way?

Ransom E. Olds

Had given his name to the Oldsmobile brand back in 1897, but left the company in 1905. He tried to continue under the name Olds, but legal action from Oldsmobile kept him from doing that so he settled on Reo. Had one of the most descriptive and interesting names for its cars in the 20's, specifically the Reo Flying Cloud. After the Depression settled into making large trucks and was absorbed by Volvo after bankruptcy in 1975.

Unreadable script

The REO on the left has three letters on the front of the radiator. These are someone's initials. These could be bought from aftermarket vendors who sold dusters etc. to personalize one's car.

Bowlers and boaters

There is a bit of a mix of hats there, though I would suppose that June was well into straw hat season. Wearing the wrong hat when the season changes could cause a riot, especially in NYC.

The Bronx?! The heck you say.

"How can this be the Bronx?" I asked myself. "It's not even paved." Then the light bulb went on. Curious as to what might be there today, I did a quick Google and found the approximate location. Suffice it to say, as a native New Englander, I wouldn't be caught dead there now outside of the AL East wild card playoffs...

Clearly, a time-traveller.

The passenger is checking his cellphone.

Long and winding road

This was aptly described at the time as an 'endurance run'. Percy and David originally estimated the round trip would take 112 days. One reason it took three times that: they routed through Detroit, Chicago, Salt Lake City, Portland, Los Angeles, Flagstaff, Gallup, Denver, and Omaha. They reported that the car was once stuck in quicksand for three weeks until a snow-melt flood washed it loose.

They were in San Francisco in November 1905, so they missed the earthquake by five months.

The photo below was captioned: "Lost between Williams and Flagstaff, Ariz." (They are less than 34 miles apart--but Arizona was still a territory.)

162nd and Jerome Ave

Across the street from the (future) House That Ruth Built!

Modern Automobile

This REO seems to have more basic systems in common with a 1980 car that the 1980 car has with a 2021 car (or crossover/SUV/Truck, since they hardly make cars anymore).

Not a very smooth trip

New York Tribune Thursday Jan 11, 1906



The Winchester rifle was only drawn once, for a bear:

Shades of the Old West

The cowboys of the 19th century had a rifle in a scabbard secured under their saddle. Percy and David had the rifle in a scabbard secured under the fender. I wonder what its purpose was, hunting for food, defense or both?

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