The next two accidents drew national attention, probably as much due to the salacious events leading up to the tragedies as the tragedies themselves. Both involved Ford's new "6-40" K runabout, and involved excessive speed.
The first took place in the Denver/Colorado Springs area. This story begins with A. W. "Mark" Marksheffel's purchase of a Ford "six-forty" runabout, guaranteed to make 70 miles per hour:
On August 18, 1907, the "Daily Denver News" reports that Marksheffle's Ford will race in the upcoming Overland Park Races. The races receive regional attention and include many well known race car drivers and several makes of cars:
On Memorial Day 1907, the races are held. During the 50 mile race, two fatalities occur, and the Model K and Marksheffel are implicated:
A driver (Dasey) was thrown from his car, and in the ensuing melee, it's believed Marksheffel driving the Ford struck and killed the unfortunate driver:
This is not the accident that will receive national attention, but does introduce us to Mark Marksheffle and his Ford "six-forty."
Tomorrow, "the accident"
Two weeks after the Memorial Day race fatalities, Marksheffel and eight friends were returning home at around two in the morning. They had been to an Elks party, then to a nearby suburb to visit the red light district:
The partiers were crammed onto the Ford "six-forty" and eye witness accounts said they were traveling in excess of 60 mph just before the accident. The local newspapers carried stories and photographs of the accident. Three were instantly killed with another near death:
Newspaper photo of Marksheffel with the six-forty in the background, taken at the races two weeks earlier:
As with the fatal 1906 "K" accident, many major newspapers carried the gory details. Throughout the western half of the U.S. newspapers printed the story of Marksheffel and the Ford:
(Message edited by Rob on February 08, 2015)
Nasty. Some interesting reporting also. So was it eight or nine men jammed onto that car?
The societal shifts surrounding technological leaps are interesting. While people of that time tended to be far more aware of their own personal risks and responsibilities, they also were quite unaware of the severity of many of those new risks. Factory machines and belts could literally shred a man in an instant, and had been around for nearly a century by then. However, at the time of this accident, most people had very little experience with travelling much faster than an average horse could run (roughly 20 mph). The idea, the fact, that risk and damage potential go up exponentially with speed was not well understood.
While train wrecks and shipping accidents could be spectacular and claim so many lives? They generally were not so much speed related. Prior to the 1890s (merely fifteen years before the era we are now talking about), the vast majority of trains rarely ran much over 40 mph.
I could probably look up the exact year and specifics, but cannot at this time. It is interesting to note that one of the major annual automobile races in Europe was suspended after so many spectators were hit and killed because they simply stepped out in front of oncoming racers to get a better look. I believe it was the Grand Prix about 1903, but could not find it quickly on Wikipedia.
FWIIW. My personal connection to some of this technological growth and danger is that my great great grandfather was one of the survivors of the Sultana riverboat explosion in 1865. And the event that sent my grandfather's family to move from Tennessee to Califunny about 1900 was a close friend and family member being mauled and killed in a factory accident in Tennessee.
Interesting (if gruesome) thread Rob!
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
I can understand if they were all drunk, but you state they were busy involved in other pursuits that night.
Dave, My guess would be that one of those "pursuits" was getting drunk! Prior to the automobile, getting drunk was not generally considered to be particularly dangerous.
In some ways it appears early automobiling held similarities with the recently ended wild west. It also seems, as you pointed out, that spectators were at risk and often injured or killed during races. I believe the 1907 Vanderbilt Cup Race was cancelled because there wasn't a good plan for crowd control and safety.
There were eight passenger, including Marksheffel (my mistake). A little more followup:
A photo of the six-forty the day after the crash
Marksheffel was later charged with manslaughter. However, after two years of legal maneuvering, charges were dropped:
Amazingly, Britton Graves, the passenger who was expected to die survived. Maybe even more amazing, Marksheffel repaired the Ford, and, with Britton, sets off for home with the Ford a few months later:
times have changed, even going to see loose women is dangerous now too!
Eight? Nine? Not your error Rob. While a few of the articles you posted are ambiguous as to the exact number of people in the car, a couple clearly state that nine people were in the car. Yet another gives a precise count of three dead, one dying (actually did survive however), and five injured, for a total count of nine. One article listed names, I only counted eight. Several other articles stated that eight men were involved.
Just typical errors in reporting. That is why we need you Rob! To help find for us, the truth.
And do drive that 6-40 K roadster carefully once you get it back together!
But drive it often and enjoy, W2
I wonder if Mr Marksheffel got the message after two terrible crashes and lived quietly to old age?
It looks as though there were nine in the silhouette drawing above (I forgot about the Maltese cross for the man riding on the hood).
If you think women were part of the problem with this accident, wait until you see Model K incident number three.......
Marksheffel didn't change his stripes. He appears to have lived on the edge long after this accident. He even married a "black widow" who was amours in her own right (with a book written of her exploits and demise).
Another forum member sent an email saying his father bought a pickup from a dealership still referred to as "Marksheffel's Garage" in the early sixties. He also sent this link with more info on Marksheffel: