Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum
|Photo on display at the |
Carrie M. McClain Memorial Museum
Today, just like in the early 1900s, there is no road connecting Nome to other Alaska cities. Still, automobiles were shipped in as early as 1905 to make use of the early roads scraped out to the mining camps. We suspect that the Thomas Flyer shown in this earlier post was the first automobile to arrive there, and we know of a few others that followed including a Columbia runabout, IHC highwheeler, Jeffery Quad and eventually Model Ts. In early 1914 several magazines and newspapers wrote that 10 Imp cyclecars had been ordered for Nome, the plan being to put spikes on their rear wheels and skis under the front ones so they could run on snow. There were also some interesting motorized sleds built in Nome, including an air-propelled one built by legendary musher Scotty Allen in 1917 (above).
The museum's photographs revealed some Nickle-era cars, while the newspapers yielded little new info (and no mention of the Imps arriving). Several old-timers had a shared tale of woe for me, that being that most of Nome's old cars were gathered up at one point by order of the mayor, hauled to the dump, crushed and buried. Local historian Cussy Kauer showed me the old cars she knew of, but the real treasure is the old mining equipment that has managed to survive. Nome is rightfully proud of their mining history and it is a fascinating place to visit. I still have a few interviews to conduct with some old miners, so hopefully I'll be able to learn more about the automobiles that played a role in Nome's first decades. If you have any stories to share, please let me know!