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Dakota Datebook

The Emergence of Auto Accidents

 

Automobiles were still relatively new in 1911, and with them came accidents, caused by the new technology, changing lifestyles, and even the landscape. In one instance that year, a newspaper reported that Charles McCloskey of Sentinel Butte had escaped more serious injuries when the car he was in "turned turtle," pinning him underneath. He had another occupant in the car, who was thrown clear and was able to help him escape from his predicament.

 

Another report noted that Secretary of State P.D. Norton broke his leg, and W. D. GIllispie, a Fargo architect, sprained his ankle in an accident near Richardton. Their automobile rolled over when the starting gear broke. Other passengers were unhurt, but the car was wrecked.

 

Near Milton, when a car left the road and hit a telephone pole, one person died, one was seriously injured, and one broke an arm.

 

In another accident, Attorney L. F. Clausen from Kenmare said he and his family, along with a cashier of the Coteau Bank, were lucky in escaping serious accident. They were on their way to Bowbells to catch a train. Outside of town, they noticed another car coming toward them. At the time, they were on a high grade of perhaps seven feet. Mr. Hoveland, who was driving the car, steered to one side, coming within inches of tipping over and rolling down the grade.

 

Serious accidents, lucky escapes, and near misses were fairly common in 1911 – unlike the accident reported on this date that year from Minot.

 

While driving around and looking at Ward County land with a local automobile party, J. S. Loomis of Iowa had a harrowing experience. He was going 35 miles an hour, heading north, and driving into a stiff wind when he felt the urge to yawn, and a sparrow flew directly into his mouth! The newspaper reported:  "Needless to say, the bird was equally as startled as Mr. Loomis and lost no time in getting out of its strange quarters."

 

Loomis did not suffer major injury, though he was taken to a local doctor immediately to care for several scratches from the bird's claws.

 

Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker

 

Sources:

The Dickinson Press, Oct. 17, 1911, p5

The Evening Times, June 23, 1911, p1

The Bottineau Courant, June 23, 1911, p4

The Bowbells Tribune, September 15, 1911, p5

The Bismarck Daily Tribune, Wednesday Evening, May 10, 1911, p1

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