Flint Road Cart

Here is the only known surviving “Flint Road cart”. I took this photo in the spring of 2008. It dose not have a very prominent place at the Sloan anymore. note: They now have found an original “Coldwater, Michigan built” version that is on display at the Sloan. Early Coldwater map


Robert J. Whaley president of Citizens National Bank at the time that Billy Durant needed money to purchase the tooling and patents for the Road Cart, could not have known the importance that this one loan would have on the future of Flint. The Flint Road Cart shown in the top photo (Invented by William Schmedlin and Thomas O’Brien in Coldwater, Michigan) was the vehicle that started William Crapo Durant and Josiah Dallas Dort on there long journey. It is the only known survivor, now owned by the Sloan Museum in Flint. Shown in the middle photo is the original bank book showing the $2,000.00 loan that started them on their way. This book is on display in Flint Michigan at the Whaley Historical House. They had earlier agreed on a handshake but the formal date of their partnership would be this book, dated September 28, 1886. Pictured at the bottom is Whaley himself. Of all the historic events that led to the creation of General Motors the most important would have to be Durant being late for a meeting at either the Flint Gas Works or Water Works plant, “two different accounts are in different publications”. If he had not been running late and had not by chance came upon John Alger, who was an employee at the Bussey Hardware store of which Dallas Dort was Manager at the time. And if Alger had not offered Billy a ride in his new buggy, the whole history of the auto industry as we know it would be quite different. I wonder what made him late on that particular day? One account states he was checking meters before going to this meeting. Since both used meters it is hard to say which is correct. Gas at that time was used for lighting. Also people were not paying their water bills because of the horrible service they were receiving. Another interesting twist of fate would be William A. Paterson (Paterson advertisement) one of Flints leading carriage makers, who would eventually build the first carts for the Flint Road Cart Company. In a chance meeting with one of Durant’s customers he tried cutting Billy out as the middle man. This taught Durant a valuable lesson that he would never forget. And that is when Durant and Dort decided to build the carts themselves. This was the start of the Flint Road Cart Company.

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