I know, I know it’s a lousy photo. I got it from a blog entitled the Westport Wave. The story below the pic was written by a gentleman named Thad Van Beuren and it appeared in the March 2013 post.
Here’s Thad’s (edited) commentary on the pic ……..
“This month I’d like to share a photograph taken sometime in 1906 or 1907 in front of the Hardy Creek Hotel. [The pic] depicts Wilson McFaul’s Schacht automobile. The image was almost certainly taken during the wet season because mud is caked inside the fenders, the tires are wrapped with rope to provide traction, and the people in the scene are dressed warmly.
McFaul was heavily involved in the tanbark and split stuff industry, and helped establish the first landing at Hardy Creek in the 1890s. When Juan Alviso died in 1900, McFaul purchased his lands around Juan Creek and built Union Landing south of the creek’s mouth. By the time this photograph was taken, McFaul had far-reaching interests that continued to focus on tanbark and split stuff acquired from an extensive area between Hardy and Howard creeks. A large-scale lumber milling operation began production at Hardy Creek in 1903, and the railroad tracks connecting the wharf to the mill and woods is visible just in front of the car.
Wilson McFaul must have been fairly prosperous at the time, because few people in the local area had cars at this early date. The newfangled contraptions were hand made and relatively expensive. William and Gustav Schact produced 8000 automobiles in Cincinnati, Ohio between 1904 to 1914. Thereafter, the G. A. Schacht Motor Truck Company focused exclusively on building trucks until 1940. McFaul’s 2 cylinder, 10 horsepower “high wheeler” runabout clearly reveals how early autos adapted their form from horse-drawn carriages. This model was water-cooled and featured vulcanized hard rubber treads covering spoked wooden wheels. The top speed of such early automobiles did not typically exceed 25-30 mph. Given the rough condition of the early wagon roads available at that time, doing more than 20 mph was actually dangerous. Nowadays we think nothing of doing 55 mph and a finished asphalt-concrete highway.
But imagine how differently people experienced the landscape traveling rutted dirt tracks at slower speeds. It was a time when traveling to the Westport area remained arduous and trips were not undertaken for frivolous reasons. Each trip involved a lot of effort and even discomfort. Perhaps also some mud in the eye!
Casting our minds back to those times, the slower pace and difficulty of travel implied people were more rooted to places and local social networks. Sure, there was mail and products were shipped in, but the lifestyle was slower paced and in many ways more localized than in our modern day. It makes one wonder now what will happen a century in the future, as our unsustainable dependence on global transportation comes into sharper focus.”
Very good Thad.