Oliver Lippincott arrives at Grandview Point on Jan. 12, 1902.
(Photo: Grand Canyon National Park #05122)
Eight years ago, Nick Howell purchased an antique 1901 Toledo Steam Car(riage). He later discovered it was the very same car that had made the first automobile trip from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon.
Steam engines capable of propelling themselves developed about 100 years before internal combustion engine automobiles. The light steam car developed about the same time as cars powered by internal combustion engines.
Oliver Lippincott was a Los Angeles photographer who liked trailblazing remote areas with new technology.
The first automobile to enter Yosemite was a Locomobile steam car driven by Lippincott. Lippincott and his mechanic arrived June 24, 1900 and spent several weeks taking pictures to promote both Yosemite and the Locomobile.
Part of what protected the Grand Canyon for so long was its remoteness. A railroad to Flagstaff was completed in 1882 and stage coaches started to take tourists from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon in 1883—a 70-mile, 11-hour journey at $20 per person.
The first train with paying passengers (the 64-mile trip cost $3.95) arrived at the South Rim on Sept. 17, 1901 from Williams.
In January of 1902, Lippincott planned to drive the roughly 70 miles from Flagstaff to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
Accompanied by a local guide and two reporters from the Los Angeles Herald, Lippincott's 1901 Toledo steamer became the first vehicle to successfully make that trip. In what was later described as "The Trip from Hell," what was supposed to take seven hours took two days—or two weeks, depending upon who told the story.
The Toledo Steam Carriage was a very well-made, high-quality machine and is considered one of the best steam cars produced at the time.
Because steam cars used technology already developed for steam locomotives, they initially had the advantage. In 1900 the steam car was superior and held land speed records, but by 1920 the internal combustion engine had progressed to a degree of refinement that made the steam car obsolete.
Eight years after purchasing the Toledo Steam Carriage, the Howell brothers recreated Lippincott's historic trip. The brothers hoped to do the trip in seven hours, but it, too, took two days. On Aug. 26 and 27, 2014 (with the help of several car and history buffs—and lots of tea) they did it.
And the Howells weren't towed in—unlike Lippincott.
I strongly encourage you to follow the link below to read more about their daring adventure.
Well done, gentlemen. Well done.