To Philadelphia and Return in an Electric Automobile


Originally Published in Central Station – December, 1914

Mr. Frank T. Kalas, Washington manager of the Electric Storage Battery Co., Mr. E. S. Marlow, manager of the Commercial Department, and the writer, all of us members of the Washington Section of the Electric Vehicle Association of America, which held its convention in Philadelphia, October 19th to 21st, inclusive, left Washington at 7:00 A. M., on Saturday, October 17th, in two electric Victorias to attend the convention, carrying a letter from President Wilson to the president of the Electric Vehicle Association.

Our party was met at Relay, Maryland, by Mr. Douglas Burnett, of Baltimore, and Mrs. Burnett, who escorted us into Baltimore, where we arrived at 10:15, 3 1/4 hours after starting; the run from Washington to Baltimore having been made at an average speed of approximately 12.4 miles per hour.

After leaving Mr. Marlow uptown the cars were taken to the Eutaw Street Garage of the Consolidated Gas, Electric Light and Power Company, where they were put on charge at 11:20 and left while the party took lunch with Mr. Burnett. On return from lunch the cars were found to be fully charged, and disconnected at 1:30 after charging for two hours and ten minutes. At this point the party was joined by Mr. William Ullman, editor of Motor News, and Mr. J. J. Bartram, in the latter’s gasoline car. At 2:10 the entire party left the garage under the guidance of Mr. and Mrs. Burnett, and accompanied by Mr. Sproat, of the Consolidated Company in an electric, and started for Havre de Grace. At Towson Mr. Sproat left the party and Mr. Burnett assumed the position of guide.

The journey through the Long Green Valley was a delightful one, though on this portion of the ride the roads were rather poor on account of the recent rain, and on one hill the gas car which Mr. Bartram was using, not having been able to secure an electric for the trip, got stuck in the mud. Mr. and Mrs. Burnett left the party at about five miles from Belair. The rest of the run was rather uneventful and considering the condition of the roads through the Long Green Valley the trip was made in remarkably good time, the party arriving at Havre de Grace with about a third of the charge still left in the batteries, the time of the arrival being 5:50 P. M., which made the running time from Baltimore 3 1/4 hours, allowing 25 minutes for the time consumed in helping the gas car out of the mud. The distance from Baltimore was 42.7 miles and the average speed 13.1 miles per hour.

The central station company at Havre de Grace took good care of the cars belonging to the party and turned them over Sunday morning fully charged. A start from Havre de Grace was made at 8:30 A. M. We crossed the bridge between Havre de Grace and Perryville and for about five miles there was a wonderful concrete road, for the next five miles there was a half-built mud road in very bad condition, due to road construction work.

On arriving at Northeast good roads were again found and they remained satisfactory to Wilmington where the party arrived at 11:25 A. M., the distance from Havre de Grace being 35.5 miles, which made the average rate of speed 13.4 miles per hour.

The cars were put on charge at the Wilmington and Philadelphia Traction Company’s garage at about 12:10 P. M. The cars were found to be fully charged, and disconnection, at 1:40. The party left for Philadelphia five minutes later, arriving at the Bellevue-Stratford without incident at 4 :25 P. M. Elapsed time, two hours and forty minutes; distance 33 miles.

On the return trip we left Bartlett’s Garage on Thursday morning, October 22nd, at 8:58, carrying a reply to President Wilson from President Smith of the Electric Vehicle Association, arriving at Wilmington at 11:45. Distance, 33 miles; time, two hours and forty-seven minutes; an average speed of 11.8 miles per hour, which we consider very good as we had to climb a number of rather steep grades on this portion of the run. We put our cars on charge at Wilmington at 12:12 and continued the charge for one hour and thirteen minutes, during which time we had lunch. The party left Wilmington at 1:28 P. M., returning over the same route which they had taken in the journey to Philadelphia, except that at one point we took the wrong road and made a detour of about a mile which brought the mileage of this run up to 36.3 miles instead of 35 1/2. miles as it was on the northward trip. We found the roads in rather better condition as they had had opportunity to dry, but the running was extremely difficult as in this direction the worst places were on the up grades. However, we managed to make the 36.3 miles at an average speed of 12.9 miles per hour, one of the best runs which we made during the trip, arriving at Havre de Grace at 4:18. Here we put our cars on charge with a delay of only five minutes, but were only able to secure about 40 amperes to be divided between the two cars. Owing to the condition of our batteries we decided to give our cars a short boost and proceed to Baltimore the same evening. After supper we took the cars off charge at 6:37, they each having received an estimated charge of between 30 and 35 ampere hours. We left Havre de Grace at 6:40 and arrived at Baltimore at 12:18, a distance of 42.7 miles in an elapsed time of five hours and thirty-six minutes. Mr. Kalas’ time of arrival being considered the official time as I was wrongly directed and got lost getting into Baltimore. Upon arrival in Baltimore the batteries of both cars were practically exhausted, but we came in under our own power. The slow speed on this portion of the run was largely due to our cars not being equipped with searchlights, it being necessary to run very slowly through Long Green Valley.

After a good night’s rest we left Baltimore on Friday morning at 12:35 P. M. Arrived at Laurel at 2:25, where we spent thirty-five minutes for lunch. Shortly after leaving Laurel we were met by a group of enthusiasts from Washington, who escorted us to the Lord Baltimore Club where we spent thirty minutes. We arrived at the President’s Office in Washington at 4:30, having made the distance from Baltimore, 39.5 miles, at an average speed of 12 1/2. miles per hour.

Source, p. 187-188