Apr 03 2017

Mystery Foto #13 Solved: The Record-Breaking Run from Chicago to New York in October 1904

Bruce Duffie forwarded last weekend's Mystery Foto featuring his grandfather Lawrence Duffie.

Answers to the Mystery Foto questions:

  • Identify this automobile and the record that it  broke.

30-HP Columbia that  drove from Chicago to New York in 58 hours and 35 minutes, breaking the record by 14 hours and 8 minutes.

  • Identify one or more of the men in the Mystery Foto.

The three men in the Mystery Foto were the drivers for the Chicago to New York record run. From left to right: Bert Holcombe, Lawrence Duffie (Bruce Duffie's grandfather) and Eddie Bald. Holcombe  was relieved by Duffie on the trip to Cleveland, at which point the pair were joined by Bald. Bruce Duffie has documented the record Chicago to New York run in this excellent website.

  • Where and when was this photo taken? Provide a rationale.

The Mystery Foto was taken in front of the 1904 press box/officials' stand on the Vanderbilt Cup Race course on Jericho Turnpike in Westbury. The photo was taken 1 or 2 days before the Vanderbilt Cup Race on Thursday, October 6, 1904 or Friday, October 7, 1904.

Comments (11)

Congrats to Dick Gorman, Art Kleiner (See Kliner's Korner), Greg O., Frank Femenias, Steve Lucas (see Lucas' Learnings), Tim Ivers and Ariejan Bos (see Bos' Bonus) for identifying the Columbia's Chicago to New York record run. Kudos to Greg O. and Ariejan Bosfor identifying the 1904 Vanderbilt Cup Race press box/officials stand and the approximate date the Mystery Foto was taken.


Howard Kroplick


Location of the 1904 Press Box/Officials' Stand

Courtesy of Bruce Duffie

The Columbia Car

Left: Lawrence Duffie

Right: Bert Holcomb

Motoring and Boating, October 13, 1904 (Courtesy of Bruce Duffie)

Lucas Learnings (Submitted by Steve Lucas)

This  NY Times article (October 7, 1904) was borrowed from www.bruceduffie.com.  This website was established by the grandson of Lawrence Duffie and provides considerable background info.

Article was also submitted by Ariejan Bos and Art Kleiner.

Kleiner's Korner (Submitted by Art Kleiner)

Source: Detroit Public Library

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, October 3, 1904

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, October 7, 1904

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, October 7, 1904

1904 press box/official's stand

Bos' Bonus (Submitted by Ariejan Bos)

The Motor World 1904, Volume 9 Page 123

Automobile Review 1904 Volume 11 page 373

Let's Go Mets!

Roz and I were proud to represent all Met fans in yesterday's New York Post article on the Mets' prospects for 2017. That's me waving the Met flag.

Another wonderful Opening Day!


Apr 01 2017 Dick Gorman 9:41 AM

Mystery Foto # 13… The automobile was the 30 hp Colombia which broke the driving record from Chicago to New York. The driver was Bert Holcomb with help from Harry Sandell, Lawrence Duffie, R.W. Harroun and Eddie Bard. I believe that the photo was taken at Garden City Hotel on October 8,1904, the day after the record run. They were at the Vanderbilt Cup race headquarters for the race that took place on that day in 1904. The rationale for the date and place is that the Colombia was still covered with mud from the record breaking drive the day before and was now carrying a banner to announce this new record.

Apr 01 2017 Art Kleiner 2:04 PM

Identify this automobile and the record that it broke.  35 HP Columbia Touring Car, broke the Chicago to New York route.

Identify one or more of the men in the Mystery Foto.  Lawrence Duffie (Bruce’s grandfather), Bert Holcomb, possibly Eddie Bald, Harry Sandell or R.W. Hourran

Where and when was this photo taken? Provide a rationale.  The Vanderbilt Cup Race grandstand on Jericho Turnpike in Westbury.  October 7, 1904.  Newspaper accounts (indicating the car and drivers met at The Garden City Hotel before going to view the Cup race track) and previous blog pictures showing the grandstand.  The Columbia arrived in NY on October 6 and the Vanderbilt Cup Race was October 8.  The grandstand didn’t have the race decorations up yet and no spectators. 

Apr 02 2017 Greg O. 8:32 AM

Lawrence Duffie is the front seat passenger and Bert Holcomb is the driver in a 1904 Columbia that broke the Chicago to New York speed record with a time of 58 hours 35 minutes. Unsure where the photo was taken, but maybe I’ll have an answer before the reveal.

Apr 02 2017 frank femenias 3:10 PM

I cheated, the banner on the auto indirectly gave it away. Oct 1904, this Columbia auto broke a second record from Chicago-New York of 1177 miles in 58 hours, 35 minutes. The first record was set on Sept 28 – Oct 1, 1903 in a Columbia 24hp gasoline craft, accomplishing it in 76 hours. I believe the driver is Bert Holcomb, with front passenger Lawrence Duffie, Bruce Duffie’s granddad.

This photo was taken around Oct 8, 1904 in front of the 1904 VCR grandstand, the first international road race held in the U.S., once located at today’s Jericho Tpke between Hitchcock Lane and Powells Lane. See attached.

The electric and gasoline Columbia’s were manufactured in Hartford, CT 1897-1913 by:
Pope Manufacturing Co.- 1897-1899
Columbia Automobile Co.- 1899
Columbia & Electric Vehicle Co.- 1900
Electric Vehicle Co.- 1901-1909
Columbia Motor Car Co.- 1909-1913, a division of U.S. Motor Co.- 1910-1913.

All the above was seen on Bruce’s wonderful website.

Apr 02 2017 S. Berliner, III 4:00 PM

L. L. Whitman and probably C. S. Carris in a 1904 Columbia which made a record trip from Chicago to New York, broken by Carris in a Franklin on 05 Sep 1906: <http://www.kcstudio.com/col-nyt06.html>, et seq.  Funny -there’s all sots of info. on-line on the Franklin run but next to nothing on the earlier Columbia trip.  Wild guess - Sheepshead Bay track, behind infield (low) stands?  Sam, III

Apr 02 2017 Greg O. 5:08 PM

Let’s try this one more time since sometimes you get so wrapped up in the details, you miss the big picture!

-Identify this automobile and the record that it broke.
1904 Columbia that broke the Chicago to New York speed record in Oct 1904 with a time of 58 hours, 35 minutes.

-Identify one or more of the men in the Mystery Foto.
Bert Holcomb is in the driver seat and Lawrence Duffie is the front-seat passenger in this photo. Many other photos showing switched positions.

Where and when was this photo taken? Provide a rationale.
In front of the 1904 Vanderbilt Cup Race press box on Jericho Turnpike between Hitchcock Lane and Powells Lane. The car and group made an appearance at the race since arriving in New York two days beforehand at 1:45pm on October 6, 1904.

For those who missed it and are interested; A very nice website with the cars’ history designed and maintained by Lawrence Duffie’s grandson.

Apr 02 2017 Greg O. 5:19 PM

For those who may have not found it, or are interested, here’s a website that was designed and maintained by Lawrence Duffie’s grandson, Bruce Duffie with information and newspaper articles.


Apr 02 2017 Rich 5:23 PM

...can’t help but notice the front of this car, which seems to be enjoying the moment!

Apr 02 2017 Steve Lucas 7:19 PM

That’s the 1903 Columbia that had just broken the record time for driving from Chicago to New York. That’s probably Bert Holcomb (real name=Burton Beckwith Holcomb) and Lawrence Duffie in the front with possibly Eddie Bald or Harry Sandell in the back. Their time of 58 hours & 35 minutes (as referenced on the banner on the car) had broken the previous time of 72 hours & 46 minutes which had been set by Ellis and Schnitt only a month prior. The photo was taken on Jericho Tpke. in Westbury in front of the grandstand that was set up for the first Vanderbilt Cup Race. Since Holcomb and the Columbia only arrived in New York on October 6, 1904, the photo was probably taken either on the 6th., 7th., or 8th., the date of the race.

Apr 02 2017 Tim Ivers 8:58 PM

Looks like a 1904 Columbia with Eddie Bald, Larry Duffie and Bert Holcomb in it.
This car broke the time record between Chicago and New York that year.
The location looks like it might be the Westbury grandstand area before the start
of the Vanderbilt Cup race of 1904.

Apr 03 2017 Howard Kroplick 10:48 PM

From Ariejan Bos:

Hi Howard,
Here is the solution of the Friday-mystery. Although I suppose it was not too difficult and maybe lots of material is already available,  above is extra documentation! Thanks and best wishes,

The car is a 1904 Columbia 30-35 hp with stripped body, which brought the Chicago-New York record down to 58 hours and 45 minutes.

The car was driven by Bert Holcomb, Lawrence Duffie and Eddie Bald, who joined the other two in Cleveland. The start of the record run was on Tuesday, October 4th 1904 at 2 am and the run ended on 39th Street in New York on Thursday, Oct. 6th at 0.45 pm (the text on the banner reads 58 hours 35 minutes, but that was the time only until Weehawken ferry).

Although the record run itself was written a lot in the magazines, the fact that the car was present on the Vanderbilt race track there was almost nothing. A small article in the New York Times reported that the crew and car drove on to Garden City ‘after a brief rest’.

The Columbia is standing at the Vanderbilt course in the photo near the start/finish line with the timers’ and judges’ stand in the background. I assume that the photo was taken on Friday, October 7th, the day before the race: it is still very quiet and clean!

Apr 03 2017 Bruce Duffie 11:00 PM

Thanks to all who responded to this photo!  I sent it to Howard in hopes of getting more info about it since it was at the Vanderbilt course but did not run in the race.  You guys helped a lot, and I learned a few new facts about my grandfather and his adventures in the Columbia Car.  Check out my site… there are over 80 webpages about the Columbia cars from 1895-1913.  The full index is here…  http://www.kcstudio.com/colindex.html  Any further info is always appreciated.  BD

Howard Kroplick

Bruce, thanks for documenting the historic run of your grandfather!

Apr 04 2017 Art Kleiner 1:32 PM

Thanks Bruce - always happy to do some research for a fellow enthusiast, and heir!

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