Abbott-Detroit Motor Car Company

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Abbott-Detroit radiator badge.

The Abbott-Detroit was a conventional car, initially powered by a 30hp 4-cylinder Continental engine, and with one body style, a 5-seater tourer priced at $1500. Founder Charles Abbott left his company in 1910, but by 1912 the range had been expanded to five styles on two wheelbases, 2972 and 3046mm (110 and 120inch), priced from $1275 for a 4-door roadster to $3000 for a 7-passenger limousine. That year the company built 1817 cars, its best output as it turned out, and the slogan was ‘Built for Permanence’.

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1913 Abbott-Detroit 44-50 tourer.

Abbot-Detroits were of very conventional appearance, apart from the 1913 Battleship Roadster which had a striking vee radiator. A 6-cylinder engine, also by Continental, joined the range in 1914 when the company was reorganised. New owner Edward F Gerber left in 1915 and was replaced by RA Palmer, who had formerly managed Cartercar. He changed the name to Consolidated Car Co, and expanded the range to include the Model 8-80, powered by a Herschell-Spillman V8. The four was dropped after 1915. In order to increase production Palmer relocated the company to Cleveland in April 1917, a few days before America entered World War 1, changing the name of both company and car to Abbott. He acquired a large factory taken on a ten-year lease, but sales never justified the move and were lower than they had been in Detroit.

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1917 Abbott-Detroit Model 6-44 roadster.

Very few of the 8-80 were made and none at Cleveland, where a small number of sizes were built before Abbott went bankrupt in January 1918. Just 312 cars were made that year, with total production of Abbott-Detroit and Abbott cars over a nine-year period being just over 12,000 units. The Cleveland plant was acquired by the National Electric Lamp Works, and it is believed that a few cars were assembled by them with leftover parts.

The source for this blog entry was Nick Georgano’s book “The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile”, Stationery Office, London, 2000, p. 5

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The strange disappearance of Private Gerry Irwin

I have always had an interest in UFO’s or Unidentified Flying Objects, and have read reports of some of the more famous sightings, as well as the claims that humans have been abducted by the beings on these craft before being returned to Earth. Unfortunately, despite all of the thousands of reported sightings and details of abduction encounters, physical evidence has always been lacking. Also, many of these encounters seem to take place in country locations in the middle of the night – if the aliens are so keen to make contact with us, why don’t they land one of their craft in the centre of a busy city in the middle of the day in front of multiple witnesses? Also, with the explosion of mobile phones and other personal recording devices, the amount of new, well-focused footage of possible sightings hasn’t exploded.

Despite my skepticism, I still like to read about such cases. One of the more unusual ones that I have just come across was the experience of US Army Private First Class Gerry Irwin on a winter’s night in Utah in the late 1950’s.

Gerry Irwin was a Nike missile technician at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. On February 28, 1959, he was driving back from Nampa, Idaho, where he had been on leave. At Cedar City, Utah, he turned southeast on to Route 14. About six miles from the turnoff, he spotted a glowing object that seemed to come to earth in a field just off the road. Thinking he had seen an airplane crash, or at least a forced landing, he stopped to see if he could give assistance. He wrote a note and placed it on the steering wheel of his car:

“Have gone to investigate possible plane crash. Please call law enforcement officers.”

Then, he wrote STOP in large letters on the side of his car.

About thirty minutes later, a fish and game inspector happened to being driving past, and stopped at Irwin’s car. He saw the note, and took it to the Cedar City Sheriff’s Office, where Sheriff Otto Pfief gathered a party of volunteers and returned to the site. When they searched, they found no trace of a plane crash, but they found Private Gerry Irwin unconscious in a field by the side of the road. . Ninety minutes had passed since he had first seen the glowing object.

Irwin was taken to the hospital in Cedar City, where a Dr. Broadbent could find nothing physically wrong with him. Irwin was merely asleep, and could not be awakened Dr. Broadbent could find no explanation for this, so his diagnosis was “hysteria”, meaning that his condition could not be attributed to any organic disease.

When Private Irwin eventually awoke, he felt perfectly well, but he was mystified by the glowing object he had seen. He was also confused by the fact that his jacket was missing. The sheriff’s search party stated that he was not wearing it when they found him.

Irwin was flown back to Fort Bliss and placed under observation at William Beaumont Army Hospital for several days, after which he was released as fit to return to duty.

The episode was not over yet, though. Some days later, Irwin fainted on base, and a few days after that he fainted while in the city of El Paso. He was taken to Southwest General Hospital where he was found once again to be asleep and unwakeable. About twenty four hours later, he awoke asking, “Were there any survivors?” He behaved as if he had lost all memory of the period between seeing the object on February 28th in Utah, and waking up on March 16th in El Paso.

Once again, he was taken to William Beaumont Army Hospital, where he was placed under observation by psychiatrists. After one month, extensive testing could find nothing wrong with him, so he was released on April 17. The next day, Irwin was seized by a powerful impulse that made him take a bus from El Paso to Cedar City, arriving on April 19. He then walked back to the field in which the Sheriff’s party had found him. He found his jacket on a bush. There was a pencil stuck in one of its buttonholes with a piece of paper wound tightly around it. Irwin burned the paper and then seemed to come out of some kind of trance. He could not recall the path back to the road or why he had come there. He made his way back to Cedar City and turned himself in to Sheriff Otto Pfief, who told Irwin about his first encounter on the 28th of February. Once again Irwin returned to Fort Bliss and was given psychological examinations. On July 10, he again entered William Beaumont Army Hospital. He was discharged again, but on August 1 he failed to report for duty, and one month later he was listed as a deserter. After this Private Gerry Irwin disappears from the public view, and his current (if he is still alive) whereabouts are unknown.  This case poses some interesting questions:

  • Irwin had been on leave in Nampa. Had he suffered some traumatic event while on leave, which caused him to have a hallucination or some other experience?
  • Was Irwin visiting family in Nampa? Wherever they lived, have they ever been located and contacted to help explain Irwin’s behaviour?
  • The US Army doesn’t usually let “deserters” just walk away. Did they ever locate him, and find out what actually happened?
  • What did Irwin mean when he said “Are there any survivors?” when he was in hospital?

The following books were used for this blog post:

Kevin D Randle, “The UFO Dossier: 100 Years of Government Secrets, Conspiracies and Cover-Ups”,  Visible Ink Press, 2015, pp 134-141

Richard M Dolan, “UFOs and the National Security State: Chronology of a Coverup, 1941-1973”, Hampton Roads Publishing, 2002, pp-312-313

Damon Wilson, “The World’s Greatest Unsolved Mysteries”, Barnes and Noble Publishing, 2004. pp. 34-36

Kelly D Bell, “A New Look at UFOs”, iUniverse Publishing, 2007, pp 63-64

 

The disappearance of Andrew Carnegie Whitfield

One of the more interesting examples of a person disappearing while in an aircraft is the case of Andrew Carnegie Whitfield over New York city in April 1938.

Whitfield was the nephew of the famous steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, and had graduated from Princeton University. He was working as a businessman, and had recently married Elizabeth Halsey.

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Andrew Carnegie Whitfield, who disappeared in the sky above New York City in 1938.

 

Whitfield was a keen pilot, and had logged over 200 hours of flying in his Taylor Cub monoplane. On the 17th of April, Whitfield departed in his small plane from Roosevelt Field on Long Island. He planned to land at an airfield at Brentwood, approximately 22 miles away. The weather was perfect for flying, and Whitfield’s plane had more than enough fuel for a flight that should have taken approximately fifteen minutes. Whitfield never arrived as scheduled and has never been heard from again. An extensive search for him and his plane produced no evidence as to his whereabouts. There were unconfirmed sightings of Whitfield after his disappearance. The most bizarre was in August 1939, at Council Bluffs, Iowa. Railway police said that an unkempt Whitfield, still wearing his flying suit, was seen in a freight car on the outskirts of town. Whitfield saw the police, grinned and held out a bundle of money, before the train disappeared down the tracks.

 

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Roosevelt Field, Long Island – the starting point of Andrew Whitfield’s final flight.

 

After Andrew had disappeared, it was discovered that he checked into a hotel in Garden City on Long Island under the alias Albert C. White on the day he vanished. He paid $4 in advance for the room and never checked out. His personal belongings, including his passport; clothing; cuff links engraved with his initials; two $6000 life insurance policies in his name listing his wife, Elizabeth Halsey Whitfield, as the beneficiary; and several stocks and bonds made out in Andrew’s and Elizabeth’s names; were left behind in the hotel room. Phone records also indicated that he called his home while his family was out looking for him, and a telephone operator says she heard him say over the phone, “Well, I am going to carry out my plan.”

Based on this alleged comment, police and other investigators believed that instead of travelling to Brentwood, Whitfield had turned the Cub over the Atlantic Ocean, and committed suicide by crashing the plane into the water. However, despite an extensive search, no wreckage was ever found. There was also no evidence that at the time of Whitfield’s disappearance that he was having any personal or business problems, which may have lead him to consider taking his own life. Whitfield was planning on moving to Pennsylvania with his new bride later in the year.

I think that based on the evidence found in the hotel room and the comment overhead by the telephone operator, that Whitfield had decided to take his own life. With the amount of fuel that the plane had, I think that Whitfield would have flown west until he was in a mountainous and inaccessible area, and then crashed the plane. There are several examples of planes which disappeared in remote and uninhabited parts of the United States – is Whitfield’s plane one of those?

The source for this blog post was Jay Robert Nash’s book “Among The Missing: An Anecdotal History of Missing Persons from 1800 to the Present”, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Maryland, USA, 1978, pp. 333-334.

 

 

The man who sold the Eiffel Tower – twice!

Circus promoter PT Barnum is alleged to have said “There’s a sucker born every minute”, and as long as there are gullible people, there are cons and crooks who will exploit that stupidity for their own financial gain. One of the most famous of these cons was Victor Lusing.

“Count” Victor Lustig was born in Bohemia, on January 4, 1890, in what is now known as the Czech Republic. He was originally known as Robert V. Miller, one of several children born into the upper-middle class Miller family. His father was the mayor of the small town of Hostinne, Czechoslovakia, and under his care Lustig proved to be a bright child with a penchant for trouble.

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“Count” Victor Lusig

By the time he was 19, Lustig was taking time away from his studies at the University of Paris to gamble in poker, bridge and billiards. Around this age he also earned a scar across the left side of his face from a jealous man, who though Lustig was paying too much attention to the man’s girlfriend. Using his quick wit and his fluency in the Czech, German, English, French and Italian languages, Lustig left school and began committing dozens of petty crimes under countless aliases across Europe. His favorite, however, was that of “Count” Victor Lustig. Under this name he traveled Trans-Atlantic cruise ships, gambling and bilking wealthy passengers out of their money. When World War I put an end to pleasure cruises, Lustig’s con career also dried up. He decided to head to the United States, during the height of Prohibition.

By 1922, Lustig had conned his way to Missouri, where he learned of a repossessed ranch. Posing under the alias Robert Duval, Lustig offered the American Savings Bank $22,000 in Liberty bonds, and convinced them to exchange an additional $10,000 of the bonds for cash, so that he would have some extra capital to run the ranch. The deal was struck, and the money was placed in two identical envelopes. Through a sleight of hand, however, Lustig had switched envelopes and made off with both the bonds and the cash. He was tracked to Kansas City, where he was arrested, but Lustig managed to talk his way out of an indictment and walked free.

In May of 1925, Lustig traveled to Paris to plan another con, the one which would make him famous. While reading the newspaper, Lustig noticed an article about the run-down condition of the Eiffel Tower. At the time, the Eiffel Tower had become an expensive nuisance left over from the 1889 Paris Exposition. The original plan was to move the monument, but time and money prevented the transfer. The tower had instead fallen into disrepair, and Parisians lobbied for its removal. Lustig saw an opportunity, and forged government credentials naming him Deputy Director General of the Ministère de Postes et Télégraphes. He met with a small group of scrap metal dealers, and explained that the city wanted to sell the Eiffel tower for scrap but that officials wanted to keep the plans a secret to avoid backlash from citizens.

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The Eiffel Tower, the site of Lusig’s most brazen confidence trick.

 

One of the dealers bought the story and put down a cash bid to tear down the tower. Yet when he went to city officials to cash in on the deal, they had no idea what he was talking about. The dealer realised he was duped, and was so embarrassed that he refused to go to police. A month later, Lustig returned to Paris and ran the whole scam yet again. Lustig barely managed to elude authorities the second time around, and was forced to flee to America to prevent his own capture.

But Lustig seemed incapable of keeping a low profile, and in 1926 he became even more infamous for a con known as the Rumanian Box. Lustig had a cabinetmaker in New York City make a handcrafted mahogany box with a narrow slot cut in either end. One side of the box, Lustig had installed a series of complicated handles and levers. Lustig told his marks that the mahogany box was the world’s only “money-duplicating machine.” He would place an authentic $1,000 bill in one end, along with a piece of paper, and then turn a series of cranks and knobs. The only problem was that the process, he told his victims, took six hours to complete per bill.

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The Rumanian Money Box.

Together, he and his victim would wait six hours then Lustig would turn the crank to produce another, authentic $1,000 bill. Lustig would then have the victim take both bills to a local bank to confirm their authenticity. They were real bills in actuality, because Lustig had concealed a second real $1,000 bill in the box. Once his mark, sensing high profits, paid a remarkable sum for the box, Lustig would disappear-and no real money would ever come out of the box again.

By 1934, Lustig had gained too much attention as a counterfeiter in the U.S., and the Secret Service put together a special squad to find out who was flooding the United States market with counterfeit bills. Lustig was arrested, and a search revealed a set of money-printing plates and $51,000 in fake currency. Lustig was sent to the Federal House of Detention in New York City.

On December 5, 1935, he stood trial, and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Lustig received and additional five years for his escape attempt a few months earlier. According to The Evening Independent in Massillon, Ohio, Lustig died in prison on March 11, 1947, after suffering a brain tumor. Other sources claim Lustig died from complications of pneumonia. Lustig was 57 years old at the time of his death. Secret Service agents said that the occasional counterfeit bill, known as “Count Lustig Money,” still managed to turn up in the years after his death.

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The Medical Centre for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri, where Lustig died in 1947.

 

The biography of Lustig at http://www.biography.com was used as the basis for this blog post.

Fontaine locomotive – wheels on wheels

As the need for more powerful steam locomotives became obvious, engineers looked at various ways to improve the design and layout of locomotives to gain that extra power.

As with all forms of design and experimentation, there were several designers who looked “outside the square” for more power. One of these was Eugene Fontaine of Detroit, who came up with a very novel way of trying to increase the power of a steam locomotive.

 

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The 1881 Fontaine locomotive, with driving wheels placed on top of each other.

As can be seen from the above illustration, Fontaine’s answer was the arrangement of the driving wheels. Instead of having driving wheels driving in unison via coupling rods, Fontaine’s design featured driving wheels on top, resting on a smaller set of treads below, driving these by friction. These treads were an outward extension of a wheel, larger in diameter, which actually made contact with the track.

Track conditions were part of the reason for this unusual design. European designs, with large driving wheels and a high centre of gravity, were unstable on American tracks. Safe operation required a lower centre of gravity and smaller driving wheels. While compensation for the smaller driving wheels could be gained by increasing the revolutions of the engine, this put extra stress on the cylinders, pistons, wheels and valve gear.

Two prototype Fontaine locomotives were built in 1881 by the Grant Locomotive Works of Paterson, New Jersey for the Canada Southern Railway. A top speed of 90 mph was claimed, but it seems that this figure was never achieved. The Fontaine locomotive was tried on a wide range of passenger and freight trains, but the expected power advantages over conventional locomotives never materialised. After many modifications, the Fontaine locomotive was rebuilt as a standard 4-4-0 locomotive.

The main source for this entry was “World Railways of the Nineteenth Century – A Pictorial History in Victorian Engravings” by Jim Harter, JHU Press, Baltimore, Maryland, 2005, pp. 78-79

 

 

The mystery of Room 1046

Those of you who are followers of this blog should know that I have an interest in the unusual, bizarre and the unexplained. One event that fits all of these categories, as well as being chilling and scary, is what happened in the room of a hotel in Kansas City in early 1935.

Here is a newspaper account from the Newcastle Sun of the 22nd of May 1943, of the murder that took place in Room 1046 of the Hotel President, and the unusual events that took place both before and after the grisly death of Roland T Owen.

Mystery Murder in Room 1046

Too many clues spoil the broth! So the police of Kansas City, Mo., might have parodied the old adage on that morning, some eight years ago, when the curtain rose on one of the strangest murder mysteries in the annals of American crime.

At 7 a.m. on January 4, 1935. the switchboard operator of the Hotel President prepared to call Room 1046 in accordance with instructions left by the occupant, who had registered on New Year’s  Day as Roland T Owen, Los Angeles, Cal.  As she picked up the plug, the red light over 1046 blinked on. Indicating that Mr. Owen had removed the receiver from the hook, presumably to inform her he was already awake. But no response to her repeated “good mornings” came from the other end of the line. Perhaps Mr. Owen had inadvertently knocked the receiver from its cradle in his sleep, she thought, and despatched a bellboy. In answer to his knock a gruff voice responded, and the boy returned downstairs.

At 8.30 the phone in 1046 was again off the hook. Discovering the door locked-from the outside-the bellhop entered with a passkey. The blinds were drawn, the room dark; and he was surprised to see the shadowy, nude form of Owen sprawled on the bed, face to the wall. The bell boy, believing Owen intoxicated, replaced the phone which had fallen from its stand, and tiptoed out. At 11.15 the same thing was repeated. This time the bed was empty. The bellboy raised a blind-and froze. A chair was overturned. The telephone sprawled on the floor. The bedclothes were in a rumpus, and everywhere-on sheets, pillows, wall- were crimson stains. Blood! The bathroom door was ajar. Seated on the edge of the tub was a stalwart figure, stripped, clung with scarlet hands to the wash stand. Shoulders, chest, abdomen were slashed and bleeding.  The back of his head was crushed; his throat was gashed: blood pumped from a stab wound above his heart. House doctor and detective, summoned by the bellboy’s walls, found Owen still conscious. The detective knelt over him. ‘Who did this. Mr. Owen?’ ‘Nobody.’ he whispered. ‘What happened?’ ‘I fell against the bathtub,’ he mumbled, and collapsed. He died 18 hours later without regaining consciousness. Meantime a police squad, rushed to the hotel: discovered that not a single article of Owen’s remained in the room. His clothing, travelling kit, toothbrush, everything was gone. The door key, too, was missing. The telephone and a broken tumbler yielded smudged fingerprints-apparently a woman’s.  They could not be traced. Guests in an adjoining room reported hearing visitors in 1046 around midnight. The voices indicated two couples, they thought, and about 2 a.m. a quarrel developed. Then at 4 a.m. there was a sound like drunken snoring. The night elevator man recalled taking up to the tenth floor a woman who inquired for 1046. A half-hour later she’d descended to the lobby. An hour after that she returned with a man and went up to the ninth  floor. This couple departed the hotel around 4 a.m. So did a gentleman carrying a Gladstone bag.

The inquest established that Owen had been attacked about 4 a.m., but the identity or involvement of the nocturnal visitors could not be determined.  His slayers had tortured Owen cruelly. Why? And why had he refused to name them? And who was Owen? Los Angeles authorities, advised of the murder, were unable to find any records of such an individual. A maid in the hotel said that on the afternoon of the 2nd (Wednesday) she had entered 1046 and found Owen sitting with the shades drawn, in semi-darkness. ‘Leave the door unlocked. I’m expecting a friend.’ he told her, and walked out looking worried. Returning later with fresh linen she found him lying on the bed in the still darkened room. The following morning she found the door locked from the outside, and let herself in with a pass key to make up the bed. To her surprise there sat Owen, fully dressed, in the dark. He told her to go ahead with her work.  Presently the phone rang and she heard Owen say. ‘No, Don I’ve had my breakfast. I don’t care to go out.’   Obviously, then, Owen was being held a prisoner. And in a situation in which he did not dare attempt escape or appeal for help. On March 3, 1935 the local papers carried an announcement that Owen’s body was to be buried in potter’s field.

Hardly was this story on the  street when the phone rang in one of the city’s editorial rooms. ‘You have a story in your paper that is wrong,’ a woman’s voice said. ‘Roland Owen will not be buried in a pauper’s grave. Arrangements have been made for his funeral.’ ‘Who are you?’ queried the startled editor. ‘Who’s calling? ”Never mind. I know what I’m talking about.’ ‘What happened to Owen at the hotel?’ ”He got into a jam,’ was the laconic answer, punctuated by the receiver’s click. Meantime: ‘Don’t bury Owen in a pauper’s grave.’ a man’s voice instructed McGilley’s undertaking parlors. ‘I want you to bury him in Memorial Park Cemetery. Then he will be near my sister. I’ll send funds to cover the funeral expenses.

‘Who is this? I’ll have to report this to the police.’   ‘That’s all right, Mr. McGilley,” the undertaker was assured.   In answer to another question the voice explained that Owen had jilted a girl he’d promised to marry— the speaker had witnessed the jilting— the three had held a little meeting at the President Hotel. ‘Cheaters usually get what’s coming to them!’ he exclaimed, and hung up. A little while later the telephone rang in the office of the Rock Floral Company. ‘I want 13 American Beauty roses sent to Roland Owen’s funeral.’ the anonymous caller said. ‘I’m doing this for my sister. I’ll send you a five-dollar bill, special delivery.’ None of these phone-booth calls could be traced. Neither could the subsequent letter to McGllley’s mortuary— its address carefully printed by pen and ruler. Enclosed was 25 dollars. A similar missive with money reached the florist. Inside was a card, its handwriting obviously disguised, to go with the flowers: ‘Leave for East. — Louise.’ These melodramatic developments, tauntingly brazen, drove the Kansas City authorities to new furies of endeavor. A love vendetta seemed evident. Louise was the jilted. Owen, supposedly faithless, had been decoyed into a trap and vengefully slain. Detectives serving as pall bearers guarded the funeral. Others, disguised as grave diggers, watched the cemetery for days. But nothing happened.

Two years went by-then in November 1936. Mrs. L. E. Ogletree, of Birmingham, Ala., saw a resume of the case published in ‘The American Weekly,’ with ‘Owen’s’ photograph. Mrs. Ogletree was shocked to recognise the portrait. The scar-result of a childhood burn. The features-stalwart build. No doubt about it. ‘Ronald Owen’ was Artemus Ogeltree-her son! Early in 1934, Artemus, then a 17-year-old high-school student, had started to hitch-hike to California, she said. Ample funds were sent him while he was apparently enjoying his holiday. Then, early in 1935, Mrs. Ogle tree had received a typewritten letter, signed ‘Artemus,’ queerly slangy and unfamiliar, postmarked Chicago. In May, from New York, came a second note, telling her Artemus was going to Europe, followed immediately by a special delivery saying he was sailing that day. The letters seemed spurious-Artemus had never before used a typewriter-and Mrs. Ogletree was suspicious, and worried. Then, on August 12, 1935, she received a long-distance call from Memphis, Tenn. A man who gave his name as Jordan and explained that her son had once saved his life, said that Artemus was in Cairo, Egypt, and well. He called later to tell her Artemus had married a wealthy woman in Cairo and was unable to write because he’d lost a thumb in a bar-room brawl. The speaker sounded irrational. Mrs. Ogletree sent her son’s photograph to the Kansas City police. Sergeant Howland identified the youth at once. And the grim fact was immediately evident-Mrs. Ogletree had received mysterious phone calls and typewritten letters after Artemus was dead. Was the purpose of this cruel deception to further cloak the slain youth’s identity? Perpetrator of letters and calls has never been found. The mystery of Room 1046 is still unsolved.”

I originally was made aware of the story of Room 1046 through this blog entry on the Strange Company blog, which has some further details. One detail from this account is how Owen was found wandering the street and hitched a ride to a cab rank. If he was in such mortal danger, why didn’t he just flee Kansas City and go somewhere else?

It looks like the murder in Room 1046 will never be solved.

 

 

 

 

 

1930 Marquette

The Marquette was introduced by Buick in the wake of the success that Oakland had discovered with its Pontiac, and Cadillac with the La Salle. It was a companion car, a distinct marque of its own, but produced and marketed under the aegis of the Buick Motor Company. A small car on a 114-inch wheelbase, the Marquette was powered by an L-head six cylinder engine, unlike the famous Buick famous valve-in-head engine. It was offered in six body styles in the $1,000 price range, and rushed into production on the 1st of June 1929, nearly two months before the introduction of Buick’s 1930 model line (It was common practice then for cars built in the second half of a year to be classified as a model of the next year).

Promotion was vigorous, and press reaction was favourable. Although the car looked like Oldsmobile, another General Motors marque, one reporter called the Marquette “a small edition of the Cadillac”. Its herringbone-pattern radiator core set it apart from other GM marques.

1930 Marquette Model 34 Sports Roadster - the herringbone radiator pattern can clearly be seen.
1930 Marquette Model 34 Sports Roadster – the herringbone radiator pattern can clearly be seen.

If the Marquette did not shine in styling or engineering, it did in performance, with a maximum speed of nearly 70 mph. A Marquette was driven from Death Valley in California to the top of Pikes Peak in Colorado with no problem at all, covering the 778 miles in 40 hours and 45 minutes.  It seemed that the car had a strong and successful future, but this was not to be. The stock market crash of late 1929 occurred shortly after the car’s release, and with sales being slightly sluggish, Buick cancelled production of the Marquette after just one year. Buick production had been declining each year in the late 1920’s, and the company decided to produce an “economy” car at a slightly lower price to bring in money to the company. The company was also planning on bringing out a full range of straight-8 engine powered Buicks in 1931, and thus the company wanted to concentrate on getting these cars right prior to their introduction.

Total production of the Marquette was approximately 40,000 cars, with 35,000 being built in the United States and 5,000 cars being built in Canada. Approximately 760 chassis were imported into Australia and fitted with Holden bodies.