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Crumple Zone: 1917

Crumple Zone: 1917

"Auto wreck, Washington, circa 1917." D.C. license plate number for this car: 26. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.


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Texting while driving

What do want to bet the driver was tapping away on the wireless telegraph instead of keeping her eyes on the road?

Sidelamp font

That small round thing on the sidewalk is the bottom part (oil font) for one of the car's kerosene sidelamps. They twisted off so you could fill 'em up with kero. Probably got dislodged in the accident.


What's that little roundish thing on the sidewalk beneath the running board? It appears to be open at the top, with liquid on the ground around it, and the cylindrical thing lying next to it looks a lot like the wick assembly for an oil-burning lamp, and you can even see what looks like wick cloth coming out on the left side in the photo. Could that be some sort of kerosene or gasoline burning heater? Cars used to use gasoline burners to provide passenger heat, but I've never seen one. The Sherlock Holmes part of my brain deduces that it fell out of the car and the top (wick assembly) popped off, and some of the fuel spilled out. If that's what it is.

[It's a flare pot (road torch, highway flare). UPDATE: Commenter above says it's a sidelamp font. - Dave]

Tire chains

This photo has some great detail. The running board utility box was popped open in the crash and seems to contain tire chains.

Antique wreck

looks like the seat was dislodged and some of the supports for the canopy have been pushed in. and it looks like it had a utility/tool box mounted on the foot step, full of chains.

It'll be o.k.

That will buff right out.

More pictures, please

Dave, I hope you'll be posting more pictures of this soon. I wonder if this was a fatal accident? Even though it's a right-hand-drive car, given the amount of damage, I would think someone was ejected from the vehicle.

Some other things I notice are the bald tires (except for the right rear), and all the chain stored in the toolbox on the running board. And those wooden artillery wheels never held up well in an accident.

Crunch Time

I was about to say that the front of the car looked decent, myself. Looks to me like it was T-boned and pushed up on the curb. Bye-bye wood spoked rims! What kinda car was this jalopy?

The trained eye

It is quite obvious from the photo this car was "T boned" by a 1913 Marmon, (Imprint of impact can leave no other conclusion). Further, this being a right had drive car and having his mistriss sitting on his left side wearing a big frilly feathered hat made him blind to the oncoming car. The impact drove the car over the curb breaking the wood spoked rear wheels. They were fortunate the inpact didn't rupture the acetylene tank for the headlights. As for the rope, this was used as a seat belt for the back seat. Seems to have worked very well by the fact the back seat is still intact, but the front seat is not. Thank you, thank you. No autographs please.

The Steerer

I notice the steering wheel and column are still intact. I guess the car was broadsided from the passenger side and the driver probably survived.

Haz Mat

Those look like they could be tire chains in the box on the running board. You would certainly need them with those treadless tires!

And would someone please call 911, I think we have a hazardous waste spill on our hands, better get this remediated right away!

Krash in Kalorama

It appears that this crash is located at 21st and Massachusetts Ave, NW, and the view is facing north on 21st. You can see what is now the Phillips Collection directly in the background.

Rough ride

Although I don't know how bad the accident was, it looks like the driver and passengers must have had a rough ride due to the fact that the seat has become at least partially detached from the frame. The damage is pretty extensive considering, that most of those cars were made of fairly heavy steel. Thanks for the history.

I bet

I bet they weren't wearing their seatbelts, and looks like the airbags failed to deploy.

Ouch! (Or, The Eternal Teenager #3)

I'll bet that somebody got into a heap of trouble when they got home. Some things never change.

Things change

Wooden spoke wheels were common on cars during that time. I suspect the rope was used to drag the car out of the street. If you look at the car, the major damage was on the FRONT end of the vehicle.

[The front of the car is undamaged. - Dave]

Why the rope?

I'm curious about the rope tied on the rear end of the car then thrown into the inside. It's also interesting to see the spokes on the wheel are made of wood, not metal.

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