A Pioneering Motor Truck Run is Launched in Washington, D.C.

May 5, 1913

An assortment of motor trucks departed Washington, D.C., on a Monday morning for a four-day, round-trip “reliability run” that would take them through valleys and among mountains in Maryland and Pennsylvania.  The Washington Post Motor Truck Reliability Run, the first competition of its kind held in that region of the United States, sought to promote for manufacturers and users alike – as well as the general public – the potential advantages of trucks when it came to delivery services.

“When the trucks roll into Washington next Thursday afternoon, they will have created an epoch in the commercial motor vehicle industry of this country,” proclaimed the Washington Post prior to the start of the run. “This test will prove to the business man that the horse is a thing of the past when it comes to hauling freight in an economical, cleanly, and expeditious manner.”

M.C. Burrell, the Washington manager for the commercial vehicle manufacturer C.B.B. Motor Company, likewise highlighted the potential benefits of the Washington Post Motor Truck Reliability Run. He ventured, “It is our belief that nothing can do more to stimulate the interest of those who are considering the possibilities of motor trucks than some such move as this contest, which will bring to the attention of those who desire it, complete information as to what these machines will do under the conditions which they would be forced to meet if used for interurban delivery in this particular section of the country.”

The trucks began pulling away from the Washington Post headquarters building in the nation’s capital at one-minute intervals starting at 6:45 a.m. on May 5. The trucks were soon rumbling through the Maryland countryside and heading north towards the Pennsylvania border. A total of 20 trucks, which were each loaded to capacity, competed against one another in the event.

Observers followed the trucks during their shared journey and assessed each vehicle on criteria such as cost-effectiveness, ability to navigate the terrain, and mechanical functioning. Officials from various federal agencies tagged along as well to likewise examine first-hand how well the vehicles performed out on the road. In the course of the four-day run, the trucks made their way into southern Pennsylvania before traveling to Baltimore and then west back to Washington.

The 288-mile (463.5-kilometer) competition was pronounced a success, with a four-ton (3.6-metric ton) Vulcan truck receiving the top prize for best overall performance. “This is regarded as a splendid showing,” asserted the Washington Times, “and demonstrates that the motor truck has reached a point in its development that entitles it to favorable consideration at the hands of every business man.”

Photo Credit: The Automobile magazine (15 May 1913)

For more information on the Washington Post Motor Truck Reliability Run, please check out the 10 May 1913 Automobile Topics magazine article “Washington Run Tests 20 Trucks” at Automobile_Topics 

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