Automobile Industry in Des Moines

Imperial Automobile Company advertisementWith the Mecum Auto Auction here in town this past weekend, I thought a little bit of history about Des Moines’ automotive industry would be in order.

From the late 1800’s through the 1930’s Des Moines had a vibrant automotive industry. Automobiles were designed and manufactured here by a number of companies. From early electric carriages (yes, electric cars have been around for that long) to gas-powered luxury cars, Des Moines was a happening place when it came to automobiles. We even had a Ford manufacturing plant in what is now Central Campus for the Des Moines Public Schools! In 1906 Fred Duesenberg designed his first automobile, the Mason, in his machine shop at 915 Grand Ave. The car was named for Edward R. Mason, the financier of the project. Iowa was even number one in the nation in automobiles per capita in 1916.

For a more in depth look at Iowa’s automotive industry find Iowa’s Automobiles : Made in Iowa : An Entertaining and Enlightening History, Bill Jepsen.

Checkout this street scene of Des Moines from History.com. Four modes of transportation in one picture!

Image: Imperial Auto advertisement from The Midwestern, March 1914.

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