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The Well-Attired Car

The word “tire” can be traced back to the early 1800s. It is actually short for “attire.” The idea is that a wheel with a tire is well-dressed. The earliest tires were bands of leather placed over wooden wheels. Bands of iron eventually replaced the leather. These primitive tires increased the lifespan of the wheel, but did nothing to make the ride smoother.

In 1844 Charles Goodyear discovered how to transform sticky raw rubber into a soft, pliable material. This allowed for tires of solid rubber.

In 1888, the first practical pneumatic tire was made in Belfast. John Boyd Dunlop designed the tire for use on bicycles. The air-filled tire provided a much more comfortable ride. It was the start of the Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Company, and a brand that remains familiar today.

Early automobile enthusiasts faced many challenges. Roads were often one-lane country tracks. It was not uncommon for adventurous drivers to get their vehicles bogged down in mud.  Road maps? Roadside motels? In 1914, those were still unknown.

One of the challenges was getting a reasonably comfortable ride. This could be a problem even on paved roads. The pneumatic tire was much more suitable than solid rubber, a changed which eased the ride for passengers. But there was a problem in North Dakota. Car and tire companies often took advantage of an absence of regulations by sending old and used tires into the state. Consumers couldn’t be sure what they were buying.

On this date in 1914, the Devils Lake Weekly World reminded one and all that a new law had gone into effect on January 1. The state legislature had passed a law the previous year designed to protect unwary consumers from purchasing old or previously used tires. The new law required all tires to exhibit the name of the manufacturer and the year of production. The information had to be displayed in raised type, part of the original tire, making it impossible to falsifying the date.

The newspaper applauded this new law. Saying it would “give North Dakotans an opportunity to know just what they are getting.”

Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher


Devils Lake Weekly World. “New Law is in Effect.” 9 January 1914. Devils Lake ND. Page 1.

Continental Tire. “The History of the Passenger Tire.” http://www.continentaltire.com/content/history-passenger-tire  Accessed 12/7/18.

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