A story out of Edmonton, Alberta Canada really caught our interest: A couple of car guys wanted to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Calgary-Edmonton Trail as a major historical automotive route between Calgary and Edmonton.
The C&E Trail was the first major shift from horse to horseless carriage in 1914 because cars were still in their teething stages at the time.
The man behind the idea was Ray Fowler and it was clear Ray had a real passion for a bygone era from long before he was born a car guy.
Ray discovered a road map which outlined the 1914 route and he wanted to replicate the experience in 1914 fashion, complete with a period automobile.
Ray chose his 1914 McLaughlin, while his good friend Pat McKenna drove his 1915 Studebaker on the 210 mile (350km) route.
Behind every successful car guy marriage is an understanding woman and Ray’s wife Lynn is one of those special women. She told us Ray always had a spirit of adventure and Lynn commented about an accurate wedding prediction made years ago; “their marriage would be one big adventure”.
Clearly Lynn has enjoyed every second of her life with Ray and his thirst for bold new adventures.
The current adventure challenges started on Day One when they broke a wheel on one of the cars and had no replacement with them. A wheel for a 100-year-old car is not found on a parts shelf to say the least, so they connected with a local car guy who donated a wheel from an Overland car.
They were forced to cut out the center on the Overland wheel to make it fit their car and likely experienced a fundamental component of motoring 1914 style-ingenuity.
Both Ray and Pat looked forward to the complications of a lengthy journey in 100-year-old automobiles because nothing was easy for 1914 motorists. Lynn believes “Ray is a man who was born in the wrong era” because he is perfectly comfortable behind the wheel of his crank-start McLaughlin that requires regular inspections for issues like manual valve adjustments.
Most people in today’s world would not possess the right mechanical skills to own a McLaughlin, but Ray is both comfortable and happy in that role.
They were forced to cope with their second issue when the tire gave out on the replacement wheel. They had something called split rims back in ’14 and these rims made the entire tire change process complicated and dicey for the flat-changers.
Pat mentioned they were a little short on the right tools for the job, plus they had to change the tire in a full-on lightning storm. None of these details fazed the four intrepid travelers, but a TV crew was with them and one of them was a self-confessed non car guy.
The event will stay with the TV guy for a long time, but he now has a healthy respect for the sheer skills and enthusiasm demonstrated by the two drivers and their fellow traveler Jerry Huck.
We were impressed with Lynn’s assessment of the trip because she was blown away by the scenery along the long untraveled main route between Calgary and Edmonton.
They averaged about 25-35 miles an hour on flat roads so Lynn was able to connect with a part of her Alberta birthplace that she had never seen before in her life.
She also liked the challenge of roads with signs that read “impassable” because that message fell on deaf ears with them. One of the advantages of a 100-year-old car is they were built for terrible roads and an “impassable” road in 2014 was probably a pretty good road in 1914. However, one muddy road forced the McLaughlin to get towed out by the Studebaker, a fact proudly noted by owner Pat.
Congratulations to this crew of modern day automotive enthusiasts because they were bold enough to travel back in time on their car trip.
We applaud and envy these four antique car adventurists because they took a road that has been less traveled for several decades.
Best of all, they truly embraced the journey.
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