Historical Images of Porter County

New York-to-Paris Automobile Race
Burdick, Indiana

Date: 1908
Source Type: Photograph
Publisher, Printer, Photographer: The Automotor Journal [Volume 8, Number 13, Page 1]
Postmark: Not applicable
Collection: Steven R. Shook
Remark: The caption for this photograph set states "NEW YORK-PARIS. -- Scenes on the trip across America on the New York-Paris Race. The top picture represents a team of horses at night near Burdick, Indiana, hitched on to the American Thomas car, to help it on its way. The lower picture is a typical scene on the road, also in Indiana. Both are almost as picturesque as Signor Scarfoglio's cabled accounts of his doings on the journey."

The following description of the New York-to-Paris Automobile Race through Northwest Indiana was published in the February 27, 1908, issue of The Motor World [Volume 17, Number 22, Pages 931-932]:

American Car Leads the Way, After Strenuous Struggle Through Snow -- Horses Play Important Parts.

Although an Arctic explorer predicted that if the contestants in the so-called New York-Paris race ever succeeded in getting to Alaska the contest would develop into a struggle between them to see who could procure the most dogs in the shortest period of time, dismantle the car and load it on sleds to be pulled by the canines, reports from snowbound Indiana show that it already has developed into a call for horses instead of dogs. Whichever of the five contestants can secure the most horses and the largest crews of rural snow shovelers is the one that makes the greatest headway.

"This is no race," wires Bourcier St. Chaffray, of the DeDion outfit, to the New York newspaper promoting the American end of the affair, and the Frenchman seems to have guessed right the very first time. It is an endurance contest but not in the accepted sense; it is more of a combination horse-pulling and snow-shovelling contest.

Chicago, 1,043 miles from New York, was reached by the leading Thomas car, Tuesday afternoon. The French DeDion and the Italian Zust had progressed as far as Michigan City, 987 miles, while the German Prothos was last reported at Ligonier, Ind., 912 miles. The Motobloc, the other French car, had gotten to Kendallville, Ind., Tuesday, and at last reports was still going on.

Roberts, in the Thomas car, has had a terrible time of it in the last week. Since he left Kendallville, Ind., six days ago, he has covered only 152 miles, an average of 25 1-3 miles per day. Much of this distance was accomplished with the aid of horses and large crews of snow shovelers, while more of the ground has been covered on rural trolley tracks, which necessitated much bumping over railroad ties and trestles. In that time his longest day's run was on Thursday, from Burdick, Ind., to Chicago, 47 miles. The day before only 9 miles were covered, from Michigan City to Burdick, and this distance was literally dug and pulled through yard by yard.

Robert's experience has been the experience of others. The cars have had to be pulled through anywhere from two to twelve feet of snow in Indiana and the farmers are reaping a harvest. According to the correspondent in the Thomas car it has cost $800 to cover the 64 miles between South Bend and Hobart, while the mile and one-half of snow drift near Burdick station, reached at 7 a. m. Tuesday, cost the Thomas outfit $95. This went to the farmers for digging the car out of the drifts and using their horses to pull it through the smaller ones. All the other drivers report similar experiences.

It was a relief to Roberts and his fatigued crew when they sighted Chicago on Tuesday afternoon. In the fourteen days since his departure he has lost twenty pounds in weight; he looked it when he reached Chicago. Part of the last day into Chicago was covered on the tracks of the Lake Shore and the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern railroads. As Chicago was entered ten cars from the Chicago Automobile Club met the Thomas car and escorted it to the club house, where the crew got their first real rest since leaving Buffalo. The Thomas car will be thoroughly overhauled in Chicago and will not leave before this morning (Thursday).

Although Roberts has had a strenuous time in leading the way to Chicago, the foreigners have had just as hard a time in their rear chase after the American car. If Roberts and his crew were tired when they reached Chicago, the foreigners are practically "all in." Maas and Knape, on the German car, are about used up and Lieutenant Koeppen, the other member of the German party, has gone on to Chicago by train to arrange for extra tires and parts so the car will not be delayed when it reaches the Windy City.

As was expected the French DeDion and Italian Zust cars reached Chicago last night (Wednesday). The Thomas crew spent the day resting in Chicago, and the Frenchmen and Italians will remain to-day and are expected to leave with the Thomas car to-morrow.

The entry of the DeDion and Zust into Chicago afforded some excitement, as it prompted a good natured race between the two cars. Nearly one hundred cars acted as escort and a brass band helped make some enthusiasm, although it could not be stopped from playing "We Won't Get Home Till Morning!" It wasn't the case for the Zust beat the DeDion to the club house by just one minute, arriving at 6:32 p.m., after which banquets were in order.

The German Prothos car was reported at 3 p. m. yesterday at Elkhart, Ind., having covered 932 miles, while the Motobloc was at Goshen, Ind., at 5 p.m.

Probably the most disagreeable incident of the contest occurred on Tuesday night, when the Motobloc car was looted of its entire outfit, according to a dispatch from Charles Godard, its commander. It may have been the sight of two cases of champagne strapped to the car which prompted the loot, but anyway, according to Godard, the car was left in a barn at Goshen, Ind., over night. When he examined the car the next morning it had been stripped of every thing, including the champagne, cameras, films, guns, tools, ammunition, supplies, clothes and even the crew's extra change of linen. Godard states that the authorities refused to aid them in any way and that their inability to speak English perfectly caused the police to regard them with suspicion. They proceeded without having found a trace of the thieves.

What has become of the "independent" which left New York a day before the "regular," by a different route, but also bound for Paris, no one knows or seems to care. The three men on the car had a squabble between themselves when they got to Philadelphia, and one of them, LeLouvier, got his dander up and went back to Paris. The others continued but have not been heard from since.

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