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Monument to First Trip by Car.

Monument to First Trip by Car

Field review by the editors.

Kokomo, Indiana

Kokomo is known as the "City of Firsts": birthplace of the first canned tomato juice, the first aerial bomb with fins, and many similar original accomplishments. But by far the most important first was the First Trip by Car. It's so important that it has its own monument, which marks the historic starting spot.

The trip lasted six miles, driven by Elwood Haynes on July 4, 1894. The car was his invention, and it was a real car, not a horse buggy with a motor attached to it -- such as the one that Charles Duryea drove in Springfield, Massachusetts, a few months earlier (This may seem nit-picky, but auto historians accept the difference). Several hundred people witnessed Elwood's trip, and 28 years later several thousand witnessed the dedication of the monument, including VIPs such as the governor of Indiana (President Harding sent a letter of apology for his absence). Elwood Haynes was there, as was his car, which he had borrowed back from the Smithsonian. The plaque on the monument is made of super-durable Stellite, a metal that Haynes had invented.

Monument to First Trip by Car.

Elwood's life went downhill from there. Two years later his car company went bankrupt, and six months after that he was dead.

In 1994 the Pioneer Auto Club of Kokomo staged a centennial celebration at the monument. They tried to borrow the original car again, but this time the Smithsonian wouldn't loan it out.

Monument to First Trip by Car

S. Goyer Rd, Kokomo, IN
East edge of the city, on the northeast corner of S. Goyer Rd and E. Boulevard St. Park in the lot of the Grace Community Foursquare Church.
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