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Men of Automobiles
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comes with a full flavor of newness. Much also has been acquired
from original sources and has never before been given to the public.
The investigator into this subject will find, doubtless, to his very great
surprise, that the story of the pioneer inventors, who, in the early part
of the nineteenth century, experimented with the problems of the
steam road carriage, has been recorded voluminously and with much
detail. It was a notable movement, that absorbed the abundant
attention of inventors, manufacturers and the public at large at that
Writers of that day recorded with a great deal of particularity the
experimenting with boilers, engines, machinery and carriages, and
the promoting of companies for the transportation of passengers and
the hauling of goods. Modern students and historians of this subject
find themselves greatly indebted to the writers of that epoch, like
Gordon, Herbert and others, who preserved, with such painstaking
care, for future generations, as well as for their own time, the account
of the lives and labors of such men as Watt, Trevithick, Maceroni,
Hancock and others. Every modern work upon this subject draws
generously from those sources.
Concerning the later period from the middle of the century that has
ended, down to the present time, there is less concrete information,
readily available. With the cessation of public interest in the matter
and its general relegation into the background, by inventors,
engineers and those who had previously been financial backers of
the experimenting, writers ceased to give the subject the enthusiastic
attention that they had before bestowed upon it. Records of that
period are scant, partly because there was so little to record and
partly because no one cared to record even that little.
Until comparatively recent times the historian of the self -propelled
vehicle, who was so much in evidence seventy-five years ago, had
not reappeared. Even now his work is generally of a desultory
character, voluminous, but largely ephemeral. It is widely scattered,
not easily accessible and already considerably forgotten from day to
day. Especially of the men of the last half century, who have made
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