Bloomington’s First Horseless Carriage Manufactured by J.O. Howe

The first horseless carriage to run on the streets of Bloomington was constructed by Joshua O. Howe sometime between 1896 and 1906.  In his day, Howe was one of the best mechanics in Bloomington.  He also conducted a jewelry store on the square, kept the old courthouse clock in running order, constructed and ran a steamboat on Bloomington’s first waterworks lake, and was the engineer on Bloomington’s various steam fire engines

When Haynes, Apperson and Ford began building their first machines, Howe decided he would make one of his own.  He had no model to go by, could buy no auto parts, so the entire machine had to be assembled in Bloomington, much of it in the back room of his jewelry store.   The engine was the most vital part, and it was made in the Seward Foundry.

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