Mar 08 2010

The Alco “White Beast” at the 1910 Worcester Dead Horse Hill Climb

One of the earliest forms of automotive sports was competition against time over an uphill course. The "hill climbs" provided a natural venue for spectators and a challenge for the early automobiles.

The Alco-6 competed in two hill climbs in 1909 and 1910 in Worcester, Massachusetts- only 60 miles from the American Locomotive Company's factory in Providence, Rhode Island. The course was set up on the oddly named hill called the "Dead Horse Hill".

Driver Harry Grant and his trusty mechanician Frank Lee finished first in the 1909 Dead Horse Hill Climb (gasoline cars) and second in the 1910 race trailing only Caleb Bragg's "big Fiat" by 4 seconds. As seen in this photo, the Alco "Black Beast" was the #3 "White Beast" for this 1910 race.

More information on this photo is available on Mark Dill's excellent website


Mar 14 2010 jan Hyde 2:35 PM

Hillclimbs can be more dangerous than road racing.
The ALCO looks like a handful.

I nearly killed myself at Duryea in 1975.  Have not tried to drive “in anger” since then besides a few track days on closed courses.

Mar 15 2010 Bob Thomas 8:50 AM

I agree.
Hillclimbs are usually on narrow roads with tight turns, little runoff area and plenty of trees,etc. just off the verge.
Not that this was so different from the early(pre-1940)road courses, witness the Nuburgring course in Germany(a frightening 33+/- mi course thru the mountains).
The Vanderbilt courses were “safe” compared to most courses pre-1940.

Mar 28 2010 Robert Whitworth 7:16 PM

My grandfather built Locomobiles and knew Barney Oldfield. The company used to test their cars on a winding road in Fairfield, CT that went uphill across the Easton, CT line. The original name of the road was Snake Hill Road.

It earned a new name because of the car testing and became known as Sport Hill Road, the name which it retains today.

One of these days I’d like to get to the Bridgeport, CT library, which has the Locomobile company records.

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