Morrison County had no shortage of inventors where the automobile was concerned. In 1906, Nels Montbriand built his own automobile, the engine of which was made out of a wood sawing machine. The Little Falls Daily Transcript reported on the new automobile on August 28, 1906. A full description of the machine is given in the article, which states, “All parts of the machine, except the engine, which came originally from an outside state, were made in town.” The automobile was capable of going 3½ to 4½ miles per hour and “while not beautiful, it seems to be practical.” (LFDT – August 28, 1906)

The same year, Joe Heisick and Bill Vondrasek appeared in Royalton with their version of an automobile. A photo in the September 16, 1968 Little Falls Daily Transcript captures the scene. The men, who were from the Bowlus/Elmdale area, are shown sitting in what looks like a bare skeleton of a car with huge wagon wheels. There is no hint of a roof on the vehicle and the engine and its belts are exposed.

On February 14, 1917, the newspaper reported that L. C. Smith had “applied for a patent on a cover for the top of an automobile door. The cover is made of galvanized iron and covered with leather. It is shaped to fit the top of the door and fastens on the inside with leather covered tacks. The tops of doors on the lower priced cars are covered with enameled tin and become scratched easily and the cover is designed to improve their appearance.” (LFDT – February 14, 1917)

In addition to these local inventions, Hans Gosch of Randall invented a road drag machine. See Museum Sundries in this issue of the newsletter for more on this invention.

by Mary Warner
Copyright 2001, Morrison County Historical Society

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