August 30: Cadillac Endurance Test
W. H. Horton, owner of the Horton Motor Co., sold Cadillacs at his dealerships in Devils Lake and Fargo, distributing the cars all across the state and into eastern Montana. He was such a believer in the superiority of Cadillacs that he made an unusual offer in the spring of 1913. Horton challenged any owner or dealer of six-cylinder cars to race him from Fargo to Minot and back, with the winner getting $100. Horton would drive a four-cylinder stock Cadillac.
No one took Horton up on his offer, but was not deterred. He declared that he would drive a Cadillac from Fargo to Minot and back, a 621-mile trip, and make it in twenty hours. On this date in 1913 Horton and three passengers left Fargo at 3:54am for the epic around-the-state trip.
Horton and crew had their first obstacle even before leaving Fargo. A police officer stopped them for speeding, but after a few minutes Horton convinced the officer to let them continue.
After 4 hours and 21 minutes they reached Devils Lake, having traveled 184 miles. The spent spent eight minutes replacing a tire, and then William Redmond took over as driver. Averaging about 40 miles per hour, the Cadillac reached Minot at noon. In Minot the dust had to be cleaned off the gasoline pipe and carburetor, and an air valve was replaced. The Cadillac left Minot at 12:51, with William Rickard now behind the wheel.
The Cadillac was making incredible time, but near Carrington they came upon a farmer’s wagon in the road. William Richard was now driving. He swerved to avoid the wagon, got too close to the edge of the road, and the Cadillac slipped into the ditch. The Cadillac was too damaged to continue, thus ending the round-the-state speed run. Fortunately, no one was injured.
Despite not finishing the trip, Horton had still proved the reliability and speed of Cadillacs. His car had driven 325 miles from Fargo to Minot in only 8 hours and 4 minutes, which was also how long it would have taken to take a train. The Cadillac’s engine was left running all the way from Fargo to the crash site – about 500 miles.
One-hundred and ten years later, a driver can expect to drive from Fargo to Minot in about 4 and a half hours.
Dakota Datebook by Trista Raezer-Stursa
- Author Unknown. “Cadillac Car Made Good Run of Nearly 500 Miles, The Devils Lake World, September 5, 1913, pgs. 1, 5.
- Author Unknown. “Cadillac Maintained Remarkable Speed on Trip Around the State,” The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican, September 1, 1913, pgs. 1, 7.
- Author Unknown. “Ready to Open Fargo Branch,” The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican, August 27, 1912, pg. 6.
- Author Unknown. “Terrific Pace Set by Cadillac in its Round the State Run,” The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican, August 30, 1913, pg. 1.
- Horton, W. H. “Cadillac,” The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican, September 5, 1913, pg. 2.
- Horton, W. H. “Challenge,” The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican, April 7, 1913, pg. 3.