First Automobiles

1902 Oldsmobile.

One of the first automobiles in North Dakota was the Oldsmobile "runabout" purchased by John Stewart Dalrymple (son of Oliver Dalrymple) in 1899.

The first two gasoline-engine automobiles in Fargo were both one-cylinder Oldsmobiles (see picture to the right) purchased by G.S. Barnes (a wealthy landowner) and R.S. Lewis, a Fargo banker. (There are reported at least two electric motorcars that preceded these.)

Lewis and Barnes showed off their cars in Fargo's first automobile race on July 4, 1900. The two-man race was expanded at the last minute when a Minneapolis man joined the race with his two-cylinder Cadillac. The three racers began on Front Street (Main Avenue). raced west to 13th Street, south to Third Avenue, and east to Eighth Street on which the race ended. Lewis passed Barnes on Eighth Street to win. (The Cadillac driver had missed the 13th Street turn and was not a factor after that point despite his more powerful automobile). The Fargo Forum reported on June 24, 1909 that there were over 125 automobiles in daily use in Fargo. There were 87 cars licensed for private use with the remaining 40 or so being livery cars at garages and dealer stock. The Forum said that on "Almost any day one can count several of these buzz wagons while walking a block." In fact, there were so many automobiles in Fargo that the Forum estimates that if each automobile could carry 5 passengers, the entire population of Fargo could be removed in just 29 trips.

The first automobile garage in Fargo was opened by Hector G. Barnes on Second Avenue. The garage offered a parts and repairs. It was also a Cadillac dealership.

Another early garage was established by Dave Rea on NP Avenue in early 1908. Rea was also an agent for the Chalmers-Detroit, Buick, and Glide automobiles.

The first company to sell autos in Fargo was Frank Lynch & Co, established in 1904. They sold Ford, Brush, and Velie makes of cars. Another early car dealership was More Brothers on Front Street, established in March 1909, and selling Lambert, Richmond, and Wescott cars.