River Views — Early wheels: 1905 L-A Auto Club parade drew record crowds

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It was a warm and sunny Saturday for St. John’s Day, June 24, when the residents of Lewiston and Auburn lined the streets to welcome summer and to witness a most unusual sight … a parade of automobiles.

The occasion was described in a June 26, 1905, article in the Lewiston Evening Journal headlined “Automobilia.” The Lewiston Commandery of Knights Templar was hosting a parade of automobiles, including guests from Bath and Rockland units of the organization.

The writer said there were 43 automobiles in the “record-breaking parade,” and more than 175 members of the Masonic organizations “had the pleasure and privilege of riding in them.”

The reporter said, “During the entire tour of all the streets of the two cities, there was not even the first faint suggestion of an accident to horse-drawn vehicle or auto.”

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One of the most admired cars in the parade was that of F.E. Tufts of Mechanic Falls. The story said, “The car is a four-cylinder Ford of the latest 1905 pattern. Not only its graceful body and rich finish, but also its almost noiseless running qualities attracted the unstinted admiration of the experts.”

The writer added, “It is said that this car has power enough to take Auburn Heights at the rate of 18 miles an hour.”

The newspaper account noted that the largest and most powerful car in the parade “by actual horsepower” was a large vehicle recently purchased by the Rickers, owners of the Poland Spring House, to transport its guests between the railroad stations of L-A and the famous resort hotel.

“It is a splendidly imposing vehicle with three broad, luxurious seats,” it said.

There was one “absolutely brand new” car in the parade. It was a Rambler owned by F.S. Neal of Auburn and it was given “the first place of honor” next to Parade Marshal Emerson and his car.

The story said, “Mr. Neal operated the car himself with perfect care and competence.”

Finally, the reporter described the “comely and catchy” car of Marshal Emerson.

He said, “This also is a brand new machine fresh from the factory. Its finish of blue paneling with yellow running gear is most artistic and effective.”

The story gave special credit for the successful event to Emerson, who was president of the Lewiston and Auburn Automobile Club as well as organizer of the parade.

He was praised for setting the right pace, and the writer further explained, “the difficulty is to fix a pace that will be slow enough to satisfy the spectators and fast enough to give plenty of room for the comfortable manipulation of the different cars.”

The parade of vehicles extended from one end of Lisbon Street to the other, the article said.

The day’s festivities concluded with a banquet at the Masonic Hall where owners and drivers of the vehicles “were entertained like royal guests.” He went so far as to say the parade was evidence that local residents “fully appreciate the horseless age and its exponents, and that, too, in their own country and upon their own streets.”

The story might give the impression that nearly every automobile in the Twin Cities was displayed. Motoring was actually becoming commonplace at that time, and there was another story that same day about an auto tour from Lewiston to Tim Pond in the Dead River region of Maine.

It said, “The innumerable scenic advantages of Maine as one of the leading automobile states of the Union have only just begun to be appreciated.”

Dave Sargent is a freelance writer and a native of Auburn. He may be reached by sending email to dasargent@maine.com.

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