Prime Mover

The Model T Ford made the world we live in. On the 100th anniversary of the company Henry Ford founded, his biographer Douglas Brinkley tells how.

"I will build a motor car for the great multitude,” Henry Ford proclaimed to the public when he announced the machine that would change America and indeed the world. “It will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one—and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God’s greatest open spaces.”

It was quite a sales pitch. At the time of the Model T’s introduction, on October 1, 1908, the Lord’s pastoral delights remained almost exclusively the domain those wealthy enough to get to them.Read more »

Rescue Squad

TODAY NEARLY HALF
a million men and women serve two-thirds of the country in a crucial volunteer service that began only recently—and only because a nine-year-old boy witnessed a drowning

 
 

ON A WARM MAY AFTERNOON IN 1909 THE quiet along the river in Roanoke, Virginia, is broken by cries for help. Two canoeists have capsized. Bystanders rush to the banks, throw branches toward the foundering men. It is in vain. The swift current carries them under; they drown. A nine-year-old boy watches them perish. Read more »

The Stanleys And Their Steamer

Teetotaling twin brothers built the most wonderful car of their era, and its day of glory may not be over yet

At the turn of the twentieth century, the American automobile industry was in a stage of youthful indecision. Two courses lay open to it: to follow the already well-defined path of steam propulsion, or to explore the lesser-known byway of gasoline power. Steam seemed to have the brighter future and, at this point, was heavily favored by the early auto makers. In the year 1900 more than 1,600 steam cars were produced, compared to only goo driven by gas.

Death Of A Dirigible

“Come and see the boiling cloud, ” said a woman on the ground; aloft, the slender Shenandoah headed straight into the eye of the vicious squall

Over Lakehurst, New Jersey, the sky was unsettled on the afternoon of September 2, 1925. At times it was almost clear; then ominous clouds would scud across the field of the Naval Air Station and disappear as quickly as they had come. The airship Shenandoah , nose to her high mooring mast, was floating gracefully with the variable breezes. Her twenty gas bags were about 91 per cent full, her tanks loaded with 9,075 pounds of water and 16,620 pounds of gasoline. Sailors were riding up the elevator to the top of the mast.

Railroad In A Barn

Snowshed crews on the Central Pacific, battling blizzards and snowslides, built “the longest house in the world”

The Boomer Brakeman, a Paul Bunyan of western railroad lore, is supposed to have made the run over the Sierra Nevada mountains just once. For nearly forty continuous miles, in the 1890’s, the main line of the Central Pacific Railroad was covered by wooden snowsheds—a railroad enshrouded in one long, twilit forty-mile tunnel protecting the tracks and the transcontinental trains against some of the heaviest snows known to man.