Duryea Motors – The 1st Commercial Car Manufacturer in America

Charles (left) and Frank Duryea in their 1893 Duryea gasoline car. From Outing magazine Vol 51 Pub. 1908

Charles (left) and Frank Duryea in their 1893 Duryea gasoline car. From Outing magazine Vol 51 Pub. 1908

Charles Duryea was born on this day (Dec 15) in 1861. Charles and his brother Frank were bicycle makers who in 1896 would go on to be the first to commercially serial produce vehicles in America. They did so under the name of the Duryea Motor Wagon Company in what was the largest automobile factory in the United States at the time.

In 1886 Charles became interested in the operation of a gasoline engine which he observed at the Ohio State Fair and began designing an engine of his own. Over the next 7 years Charles and Frank designed a prototype of an automobile which utilized that engine.

In 1893 Frank Duryea publicly road-tested their first gasoline powered automobile known as the Buggyaut in Springfield MA.  The automobile was a wagon with a 4 HP single cylinder gasoline engine. There was much fanfare and the vehicle was deemed to be promising despite traveling less than 600 feet before a belt failed and ending the maiden voyage.

On Thanksgiving 1895 Frank won first place and $2,000 in prize money in the first motor car race in America driving an 1895 Duryea, which was their 2nd car produced. It was a 50 mile race that went from Chicago to Evanston and back that took about 9 hours at average speeds of just under 6 MPH.

Encouraged by their successes, the Duryea Motor Wagon Company of Springfield, MA produced 13 identical cars known as ‘The Duryea Motor Wagon’ by hand in 1896, 10 of which were sold in the United States. Their cars were the first commercial produced automobile available for purchase in America.

In May 1896 one of the Duryea Motor Wagons was involved in the first recorded automobile accident in American. In New York City motorist Henry Wells hit a bicyclist with his new Duryea. The rider suffers a broken leg, Wells spent the night in jail in the nation’s first traffic accident.

In 1898 the Duryea brothers went their separate ways and the Duryea Motor Wagon Company was closed over personal and business disputes.

Charles Duryea

Charles Duryea

Charles, eight years older than Frank had been known to take advantage of Frank in publicity and patents.

Charles was a visionary with more than 50 patents, and a shameless self-promoter whose ideas were brought to life by his younger brother, Frank, a master mechanical engineer with 20 patents of his own. (Vogrin, B)

Frank went out on his own and eventually joined with Stevens Arms and Tool Company to form the Stevens-Duryea Company which was sold to Westinghouse in 1915.

Frank Duryea

Frank Duryea

Charles tried to produce some of his own designs with various companies until 1916. Thereafter he limited himself to writing technical book and articles. He died in 1938.

Frank received $500,000 in the Westinghouse deal and lived in comfort on the Connecticut shoreline in Madison and then later in Old Saybrook until his death in 1967,  just seven months shy of his 98th birthday.

While not a commercially successful venture; The Duryea Motor Wagon Company did pave the way for mass production in the automobile industry by being the first to serially produce (and reproduce) identical cars for sale.


Old Saybrook Rotary holds Wine Tasting / Silent Auction

The Old Saybrook Rotary Club drew over 150 attendees last night to their 16th Annual Wine & Beer Tasting / Silent Auction at the Saybroook Point Inn. An excellent turn out for and excellent event.

Six Rotary Clubs gather in Old Saybrook tonight to support local and international causes

About 50 Rotarians from the Old Saybrook, Essex, Chester, Deep River, Mystic and  The Stoningtons Rotary Clubs met in Old Saybrook tonight to support the Estuary Council of Seniors. The Estuary is the meeting place of the Old Saybrook Rotary Club.

Estuary Board & Old Saybrook Rotary PresidentGerri Lewis introduced Paul Doyle, Executive Director Tri Club (Rotary Clubs of Essex, Deep River, and Chester) International Chairman Jeff Mehler presented the 2014 Projects & Goals and recognized the International Sponsors.

The international committee has sponsored humanitarian initiatives from Africa to the Caribbean and South America. The Nomad Foundation, supported by the Tri-Club Committee, provides everything from wells and clean water to maternal health care and solar technology in the landlocked West African country of Niger.

ShelterBox, another of the organizations that has received aid from the local Rotary, furnishes disaster victims throughout the world with large plastic containers with the basic physical necessities of life, from a sturdy tent to a cook stove and water purifying equipment.

Simply Smiles works to improve the lives of impoverished children in southern Mexico. At the moment, the local clubs are planning a mission trip to Mexico this summer to participate in the work of Simply Smiles.

The international committee has also involved itself in a number of programs that link the local communities to Haiti, which the United Nations Human Development Index has identified as the poorest country in the western hemisphere. The local international committee is a supporter of Sister Cities Essex Haiti (SCEH), which is working to build a library in the Haitian village of Deschapelles. The Tri-Club Committee has pledged to provide 1,000 books in Kreyol, the French-based vernacular that is the most commonly spoken language in the country for the library. (text in blue: source: the day 02/20/2012)

Select photos from 6 Rotary Club Holiday Parties this week in D7980

North Haven Rotary – On Saturday 12/14/2013 five other Rotary Clubs cancelled their parties but North Haven Rotary held theirs during the nastiest of nights above the North Haven Funeral Home. The party was hosted by The Havens and Catered by Anthony’s in New Haven.

Westport Rotary – Tuesday 12/17 was another snowy Connecticut Day but that didn’t stop the Westport Rotary Club from hosting the Orphenians during their Holiday luncheon. Attendees were treated to fantastic music as well as a delicious lunch.

Norwalk Rotary – Norwalk Rotarians turned out in big numbers at the Norwalk Inn yesterday for lunch to enjoy the spirited performance by the Norwalk High School Chamber Singers.

Old Saybrook Rotary – The Club held their Holiday gathering at the Hideway in Old Lyme last night. Gerri Lewis organized a rather elaborate grab bag swap, delicious meals (too bad I couldn’t stay for that) and a nice cocktail fellowship before the meeting. It’s always a pleasure visiting OSR!!

East Hampton & East Haddam Rotary – the two Club’s came together for a joint Holiday party last night at the Gelston House in East Haddam for a very big turnout with excellent fellowship, music, food and recognitions.

Missing some great Rotarian’s

Jim, Hugh and Jianny are enduring examples of Service Above Self

Jim, Hugh and Jianny are enduring examples of Service Above Self

The Rotary new year starts with excitement and hope on July 1st but very often we are grounded by the realities of life; in particular with the loss of our very dear friends, our fellow Rotarian’s.

Sadly since the beginning of the our new Rotary year we have lost three great Rotarian’s that I am aware of:

Jim Mahon – North Haven Rotary

Hugh Campbell – Colchester Rotary

Jianny Bianchi Keegan – North Haven Rotary

Jim joined Rotary in 1971 while Hugh joined in 1975, they both enjoyed many years of fellowship and service in Rotary and were inspirations to everyone around them. Jianny was relatively new to Rotary as she joined in 2011 but like most of us, she jumped in with both feet. You probably encountered Jianny if you attended a District event in the past 2 years as she was the lady with the big smile that checked you in.

We will all miss Jim, Hugh and Jianny and how they helped to make our world a better place.

Update: Old Saybrook President, Gerri Lewis, wanted us to keep Alan Lindquist in our thoughts. Alan passed on June 6, 2013. He was a true Rotarian in every sense of the word. He was kind, generous and just an all around wonderful man and the epitome of Rotary