Fact Friday 96 – The Auto Invades Pt. 2

Fact Friday 96 – The Auto Invades Pt. 2

Happy Friday everyone!


Ford Motor Company under estimated the southerner’s yen and for motorcars. When Ford built its Charlotte service branch in 1914, there were only 40 employees to furnish service parts to Carolina dealers; but the enthusiastic market alter the plan. In 1915, workers assembled 6,85 Ford automobiles. In 1916, the plant met a payroll of approximately $60,000, and in 1918, it turned out 85 cars daily. In the mid 1920s, after expansion into a new plant on the large Hutchison farm at Statesville and Derita Roads, 300 cars a day rolled off the assembly line. The plant closed in the early ‘30s.


Frye and Crowell's was the first Ford garage in Charlotte.

W.G. Frye Wrecking Service. 

Some say the reason General Sherman avoided Charlotte was that he heard about the mud. Surely there were other reasons, but Mecklenburg mud was so formidable that it has been referred to in accounts of Charlotte history ever since the first wagon cut ruts in compact clay. The Plank Road from Lincolnton around 1850 was a travel miracle. Subsequent macadamized roads stretched through town in the 1880s. Railroads through Charlotte tied it to trade and tourists, but slippered, sophisticated feet had to walk at some point. Goods had to go from the field or factory to the loading platform.


A favorite street game along the town’s unpaved sidewalks was to drop mother’s sewing pins down the deep cracks in the dried summer clay, hoping they would slide to China. And if streets were not muddy, there was all that dust. In 1915, Earl Draper noted teams of horses pulling water wagons to spray West Trade.


Captain Sydenham “Syd” Alexander saw the need for better roads. He owned Enderly, a large farm 2 miles west of Charlotte. He had orchards, sheet, turkeys, dairy cows and vineyards, which meant that he had products he needed to get to market. When elected to the state Senate in 1878, He introduced a bill allowing municipalities to use tax money to build and keep up public roads. That in itself was a radical departure from common practice. The law require every able-bodied men ages 18 to 45 to work one day each year on public road upkeep. Capt. Alexander was not a popular man after that. It became state law only by exempting all counties except Mecklenburg. He lost the next election, and his law was repealed. But meanwhile people noticed that the roads built because of the brief law had spurred commerce and were convenient. Alexander was back in favor. His idea was the early basis for Charlotte mayor T. L. Kirkpatrick’s (1915 to 1917) successful road promotion program, largely implemented statewide by Cameron Morrison of Charlotte (the “Good Roads Governor,” 1921-25).


Until next week!




Email me at chris@704Shop.com if you have interesting Charlotte facts you’d like to share or just to provide feedback!


Information taken from:


Charlotte North Carolina: A Brief History, Mary Kratt, 2009



“We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.” – Frederick Douglass




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