Automobilia: The 1903 Endurance Run commemoration

Karl Darby’s 1913 Maxwell 40, made in Tarrytown, NY, participated in the 1903 Endurance Run Commemoration, the brain child of artist Robert Selkowitz, that took place September 23. (photos by Dion Ogust)

As the vintage automobiles lined up on a gorgeous early fall day at Woodstock Harley Davidson on Saturday, September 23 for the eastern portion of the Pilot Rally commemorating the 1903 Automobile Endurance Run, the event’s founder, artist Robert Selkowitz reflected on its creation.

“I remembered that in 1903 the National Association of Automobile manufacturers staged an endurance run that came up what was then called the Ulster and Delaware Turnpike [now Route 28]. And this road goes back to the 1700s. But at that time, in 1903 it was the birth of automobiling, where the machines were capable of practical use. It was also the birth of road building. When they came up here in 1903 there was 20 miles of crushed bluestone macadam paving that had been put down with state contracts. They spent the first night in Pine Hill and the next night they were going into Delaware County and a deluge came upon these cars with no windshields, no tops, on the dirt roads. Delaware County didn’t believe in state engineers and taxes. So it was heroic motoring of an unbelievable difficulty, but they persisted.

“The story was covered all over the United States. But it’s been totally forgotten. In 1903, they were covering 800 miles. It’s not a reenactment, it’s not a race, its a commemoration of the pioneers. We’re going through 90 miles of Ulster and Delaware Counties until we cross the Susquehanna River at Unadilla.

I felt it was important to go from the Hudson across both branches of the Delaware River and meet the Susquehanna….I want to create an annual event and I want to create an Automobile Heritage Trail across the 14 counties of New York.”

And so it was, that a 1913 Maxwell, 1924 Model T’s, a 1939 Buick Special, even a 2015 Tesla Model S85D among others made their way along the route to a reunion at the Cauliflower Festival in Margaretville and on to Unadilla.

Selkowitz plans for it to be an annual event, so look for it again next fall.

Search YouTube for Tobe Carey 1903 for a beautiful short film on the event. 

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