Catskill Conquest celebrates 1903 auto endurance test

Driving event in September over part of original route is on, even if it must maintain social distancing

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Locomobile
Edith Riker was the only woman included on the 1903 Endurance Test | Photos courtesy 1903autorun.com

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. 

In 1903 the entrants spent their first overnight on a muddy field in Pine Hill, New York
Map of the original roundabout route from New York to Pittsburgh

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.”

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Taking in the view from Palmer Hill
2020 event will conclude in Unadilla

For more information, visit the Historic Automobile Endurance Runs website.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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