From October 6-13, 1903, the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers staged the inaugural Endurance Test, a drive from New York to Pittsburgh via Binghamton, Buffalo and Cleveland that drew 36 vehicles from 17 companies. Since 2017, that event has been commemorated in the Catskill Conquest Rally, which puts vehicles of various vintages onto a stretch of the original route.
This year the route spans 75 miles, starting in Mt. Tremper and ending in Unadilla on September 26, with visits to festivals and attractions along the way. The entry fee is $60 per car.
“We intend to run the 4th annual Catskill Conquest Rally on September 26th rain or shine and with social distancing, if necessary” organizers noted.
Interesting the note regarding “rain or shine.” Back in 1903, 6 inches of rain soaked the first day of the run, turning unpaved roads to mud. By the time they reached the Susquehanna River in Unadilla, 10 inches or rain had fallen and flooding was widespread. Those who kept going to Pittsburgh dubbed themselves the “Mud Larks.”
Among them was the event’s single female passenger, Edith Riker, who rode along with her husband, Locomobile’s chief engineer Andrew Riker.
Organizers of the commemorative Catskill Conquest event have announced plans to someday travel the full 800-mile original route, which they hope might be designated as an “Automobile Heritage Trail.”
For more information, visit the Historic Automobile Endurance Runs website.