The Devil Wagons are coming!

The 2nd Annual Catskill Conquest Pilot Rally Commemorating the 1903 Automobile Endurance Run will be held Saturday September 22. View more than 30 vintage vehicles Saturday morning  at the Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center, 5069 State Route 28, Mount Tremper. Many will later stop by the Cauliflower Festival in Margaretville.

The route will follow 75 miles of the historic Endurance Run through Delaware County and across the Susquehanna River at Unadilla.

This event celebrates the birth of automobiling. In October 1903, after a daunting journey through torrential downpours on dirt roads in the Catskill Mountains and Central New York State, the 125 people in 36 automobiles from 17 American makers in the First Annual Endurance Run of the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers demonstrated their pluck when 25 cars completed the 800 mile route from New York City to Pittsburgh. The noisy and smelly early cars frightened horses and people and Sunday drives kept them from church, hence they were called Devil Wagons. Their perseverance through the debacle of the Endurance Run gave the veterans the nick-name of the Mud Larks which they proudly carried through later reunions.

The 17 makes represented in the 1903 Endurance Run were: Pierce Arrow, White (steam), Columbia, Locomobile, Packard, Rambler, Pope Toledo, Oldsmobile, Knox, Phelps, Stearns, Northern, Haynes-Apperson, Franklin, Holley, St Louis and Fredonia. In many cases the builders and design engineers drove their own cars: A. L. Riker in the Locomobile, Percy P. Pierce in the Pierce Stanhope, Frank Stearns in the Stearns, L.J. Phelps in the Phelps, John Wilkinson in the Franklin. ET Fetch had driven his Old Pacific Packard from San Francisco to New York that Summer, then ran the Endurance Run in October. BB Holcomb and Lawrence Duffie had just set a speed record from Chicago to New York in their Columbia and then returned up the route in the Endurance Run.

There was one woman who took part, Edith Riker, wife of A. L. Riker in the Locomobile. Edith was often mentioned in the press and was interviewed by a ride-along correspondent of The Automobile, a few quotes illustrate her undaunted character, she was “delighted”: O, isn’t this glorious? Do you know, I just think this is fine. Afraid? No, why should I be? The car is true and tried and Mr. Riker is driving…Mr. Riker does love to drive fast and I don’t care. He won’t jeopardize his own life and I am as safe as Mr. Riker, anyway…It is glorious, I think, to fly through the country night or day at a railroad speed over all sorts of roads.

An 1898 Riker Electric Car and a 1909 Locomobile are expected at the start in Mount Tremper at the Catskill Interpretive Center. Richard Riker will talk about his grandfather’s career and we will have a light breakfast from 9am and head out along the route about 10:30. Host checkpoints along the way include the village of Pine Hill, the Cauliflower Festival in Margaretville, the Delaware County Historical Association with an exhibit of the 1907 NY State Engineer road building maps and the Franklin Railroad and Community Museum. There are several historical railroad sites along the way and the route passes through Fleischmanns, where a vintage baseball game is scheduled, and also through the village of Andes.

Registered entrants include a 1933 Franklin Olympic and cars of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s from Ford, Plymouth and Chevrolet. Clubs participating include the Hudson Mohawk Region Mercedes Benz Owners Club, Northeast Region Plymouth Owners Club, Reservoir Thunder Auto Club and Team Shelby Northeast Region. Other entries include Porsches and a 1957 Thunderbird, all are welcome.

For more information please call Director Robert Selkowitz at 845-657-6982 or email at 1903autorun@gmail.com.