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Thursday, Apr. 28, 2016

Horseless carriage hits Cherokee

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Skip Ward drove a vehicle he built himself across Iowa and his wife, Myrna, drove the support vehicle. Photo by Ken Ross
It isn't fast and it offers no protection from the elements but it will get you get you there.

The "it" refers to is a horseless carriage similar to the type of vehicle used at the start of the previous century and the "there" refers to Akron on the Big Sioux River, reached after five days of driving from the start at Saylorville on the Mississippi.

Skip Ward of Charles City drove the vehicle that he built himself in a 4 month period starting in 2005. His wife, Myrna, drove the backup vehicle, a van with a trailer in case there was any mechanical trouble with the horseless carriage. There was no trouble, at least not as of Thursday afternoon when the couple stopped in Cherokee prior to the final leg of the journey on Friday.

"Mechanically, things have been great. As far as weather, we've had about everything you could have -- rain and wind, even a tornado that touched down about half a mile from where Myrna was waiting for me," Ward said.

When rain hits, there is little to be done but to ride it out. Wind is about as bad as rain, quickly dehydrating a person.

"Family members have been very supportive," Ward noted. A son met them on one stop, a daughter at another and his sister was meeting them in Cherokee.

The vehicle, powered by an 11 horsepower Briggs and Stratton engine, has a top speed of 15 m.p.h. and gets 33 miles per gallon.

"That was something that surprised me, the mileage. I expected to get about 20 miles per gallon."

Skip and Myrna are both retired from jobs in an Osage, Iowa, manufacturing plant.

The journey across the state was a challenging one but it was an interesting experience that Ward was glad he undertook.

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