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As It Was: Automobiles Reach Grants Pass in 1904: Goodbye Horses

The first automobiles came to Grants Pass in 1904, resulting in a declining number of horse-drawn carriages on the roads.

John H. Williams owned the first automobile in Grants Pass, bringing it from Crescent City in May 1904.  In July, B.O. McCullough brought the second car and Carl Gentner the third.

A year later, the state required $3-dollar license plates good for three years.  At renewal time, the owner received a new numbered plate to place on the car.  In order to receive an Oregon driver’s license, one had to be at least 16 years old, have five days of driving experience and pay a 25-cent fee.

Paved streets didn’t show up until 1910.  The next year Grants Pass had 100 cars. 

Not everything ran smoothly as the number of cars on the roads increased.  The first woman to drive a car in Grants Pass, Opal “Tin Lizzie” Gentner, was also the first to get a speeding ticket.  It was said that she drove the usual 10-hour trip to Crescent City in eight hours.

By 1925, the Oregonian newspaper advocated more law enforcement to curb reckless driving.

Sources:  LaPlante, Margaret. Images of America Josephine County. Arcadia Publishing, 2016, pp. 44-45, 119; "Mondays Make History." Daily Courier, 29 Jan. 2007 [Grants Pass, Oregon], www.oregongeology.org/.../HistoricalSociety/.../LuckyQueenMineMondaysMa; Swanson, Gary. "Graveyard Tour." Josephine County Historical Society, Active Rain, 24 Sept. 2010, activerain.com/.../graveyard-tour---presented-by-the-josephine-county-historic.

Luana (Loffer) Corbin graduated from Southern Oregon College, majoring in Elementary Education.  The summer after graduation she was hired to teach at Ruch Elementary, where she taught for 32 years. After retiring, Corbin worked for Lifetouch School Photography and then returned to Ruch as an aide helping with reading instruction and at the library.  More recently, she has volunteered at South Medford High.