F.A. Wiggins launched automobile advertising and sales in downtown Salem with this ad placed in the September 13, 1903 Capital Journal. George Graves purchased a Rambler to become Salem’s second automobile owner, after Otto Wilson and his Oldsmobile. Find out more interesting stories about transportation in Salem during Autoists Attack! a special, free Salem Sunday Streets Downtown Heritage Tour starting at 2pm in front of Salem’s Riverfront Carousel.
For thousands of years, people living in the Salem area relied on walking and water transport to get around. Later, a horse and travois sped things up a bit but only when the wheeled wagon creaked across the prairie did Salem see another burst of activity. The Barnum and Bailey Circus brought the first auto to Salem in addition to the novelty zebra pictured above.
Water still played the main role after the refinement of Fulton’s Folly and steam-powered sternwheelers enabled Salem to become an international leader in wheat, wool and hops exports. In this photo, the “City of Salem” (built in Portland), is loaded up on the riverfront dock.
Rail travel displaced the sternwheelers and provided passenger and freight travel straight to the heart of downtown Salem. The recently uncovered and covered tracks in the photo attest to the popularity of of rail transport downtown.
Bicycles returned mobility to a human scale, if only for a few years, until the automobile began its evolution. Stock up on crash suits and we’ll tour Salem in leisure Sunday, September 8.