Friday, February 12, 2016
The Johnstown Tribune - February 12, 1945
To read larger - CLICK HERE
Sanner - Kreger
Brown - Bendon
Poorbaugh - Musser
Harrison - Murray
Hall - Davidson
Kertes - Lang
Mr. & Mrs. Fred Kring
Mr. & Mrs. J.C. Bowser
Garfield School Building
Thursday, February 11, 2016
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Fred and Carl Leitenberger's claim to fame is that they say they made the first cars ever built in Johnstown. Their two steam automobiles were constructed between 1896 and 1898.
One of them they sold to Joe Cole of Patton and the other to a laundryman in Cumberland, Maryland. The third car the Leitenbergers built in 1898 was powered by a four-cylinder gas engine.
They used a piano box buggy carriage for the body and had the castings for the engine made at the old Hannan Foundry in Johnstown.
The engine was mounted under the buggy seat and the rig was steered by a tiller.
The pair built the gas-powered horseless carriage by working nights in their home machine shop they had on Power Street in Cambria City. The biggest trouble the brothers had with their new car was keeping it running long enough to make a trial run and get back to the shop before it stopped again.
They eventually discovered the reason behind the trouble - after the engine got hot, the batteries would run down.
They then tried two sets of batteries with a two-way switch to enable them to cut over to the second set when the first ran down. This helped.
However, the solution came when they put in an induction coil to provide a heavier spark. They got the idea for the induction coil from the "shocking machines" they had been making to sell to doctors at one time. After they put the induction coil in, they were able to take their new horseless carriage for rides all around the Johnstown area. But they were never able to get anybody else interested in going into the horseless carriage business with them.
Folks around town called the pair crazy and that their cars belonged on a railroad track. The teamsters (wagon haulers) and horse and buggy set also didn't think much of them either.
The teamsters used to tell them they had no business on the road and when the brothers saw a team - they would have to pull off the road till the horses passed.
If it was on a hill, they would have to pull off the side of the road nearest the edge of the hill so that incase the horses became frightened, they wouldn't go over the hillside. The old steam cars could be as balky and troublesome as the early popping gas buggies.
Believe it or not - they would use oatmeal to seal up leaky joints - when the boiler heated up - it cooked the oatmeal which in turned served as a sealer for the leaking joints.
Carl - better known as "Charlie" operated his own machine shop which developed into the car dealership.
Fred followed a varied career, which included running a machine shop, serving as a brewery engineer and later as a rancher in Texas. By 1936, a local doctor in need of some braces for polio patients asked Fred if he could make him some. He did and started his orthopedic appliance service along Horner Street that made braces, artificial limbs and foot supports.
Note: In the future - I will also be writing about the Trabold Family - who also claim to have built the first car in Johnstown - given the advance of time - it is basically impossible to prove who really was first. But that's ok, these stories make for some very interesting reading - even if you can't prove who actually was first.
Posted by Lisa Cacicia at 6:33 AM