Monadnock Moments No. 16: The Steamobile Company of America
In the early days of the auto industry it was not unusual for small firms to produce cars in small towns throughout the country. Keene was the home of one such company.
Reynold Janney built an experimental auto in the Trinity Cycle Manufacturing Company plant on Church Street in 1900. Janney was the superintendent of this bicycle factory that was housed in the Jones Building where Woodward Motors and Walier Chevrolet were later located. The experimental machine, a light pleasure wagon, was given its trial run on June 26, 1900. The car had three cylinders attached to a revolving shaft. The shaft activated gears that powered the vehicle. Steam power was used to run the engine.
The trial run was successful and in January of 1901 the Church Street factory began production the new auto. During the next month the “Keene Sentinel” announced that the Steamobile Company of America, a Delaware corporation with capital stock of $500,000, had acquired the factory, machinery, and patent rights of the Trinity Cycle Company and were to commence the manufacture of the new auto under the name “Steamobile.” The new firm was to test the model built the previous summer and then begin work on 125 of the new vehicles.
Although the firm advertised different models, including the “Model C” that sold for $950, the Steamobile Company was apparently not a success, going out of business within two years. Illustrations of these early Steamobiles are all that remain of Keene’s brief entry in the nation’s automobile industry.