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Automobiles in the United States

Automobiles of various kinds had been around since the late 1700s, Most were unsuccessful. Gunpowder fuels just didn't quite do the job.

Steam-powered cars were produced before the Civil War, and gasoline-powered cars with internal combustion engines began to have a real impact in the early 1900s.


Sheet music: Merry Oldsmobile









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Where is this, and why is there a picture of it? (part 2)

Unknown town with dirt roads, a blacksmith shop, buildings, and a buggy behind a building.






















Studying the details

From time to time, I would take the mystery picture out of the box and look for more clues. But the faded photograph was difficult to study. In fact, my high-resolution scan was much more informative.


Detail of sign that reads:


A clue in a sign
I used Adobe Photoshop and zeroed in on various parts of the scene, starting with the building at the right. It has a sign, and with lots of enlargement, I could read it! It says "B. D. THOMAS, HORSE SHOER". So this is a blacksmith's shop. It affirmed my belief that horses were still being used for transportation and farm work.

Better still, this name might lead me to the location in this picture.





There's life on this street
I had thought that the blurred girl in the foreground was the only sign of life. But another detail showed more people. Under the awning near the center of the picture are two or maybe three people with bicycles. You can see the wheels and maybe some spokes in the bicycle wheels. There's one bicycle on the left of this detail, and one or more on the right. The people—boys, I think—are to the right.

Detail showing people and bicycles







So people ride horses and bicycles in this town. That puts the picture in the late 1800s or early 1900s, just as I thought. But what about cars? The next clue answered that question.



Automobiles were in use
It's difficult to read, but the sign is "WEST END GARAGE". This open shed is just to the left of the blacksmith's shop.

Although no automobiles are visible, the term "garage" makes me think that this is an auto repair facility.


Furthermore, there is a community called West End just west (of course) of Atlanta. Is this the same place?

Towns, roads, bridges, and communities were once named for what they represented. Atlanta Road (and there were several) went to Atlanta. Whitehall Street went from Atlanta to the community of Whitehall. Paces Ferry road went to . . . well, you know. And that was the problem. I figured that lots of towns had their own versions of West End.


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Last update: April 7, 2014