The year was 1912. The American automobile industry was in its infancy, having been started in 1891 when John Lambert built his Buckeye gasoline buggy in the small village of Ohio City. Henry Ford began building cars in 1896 and started his own company, the Ford Motor Company in 1903. Nine years later, those who could afford to buy an automobile did so more for the novelty than practicality. In 1912, there were almost no good roads to speak of in the United States. The relatively few miles of improved road were only around towns and cities. A road was “improved” if it was graded; one was lucky to have gravel or brick. Asphalt and concrete were yet to come. Most of the 2.5 million miles of roads were just dirt: bumpy and dusty in dry weather, impassable in wet weather. Worse yet, the roads didn’t really lead anywhere. They spread out aimlessly from the center of the settlement. To get from one settlement to another, it was much easier to take the train.
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