I'm writing a short story about a man driving a Model T in 1926. Lives on the Plains on a farm. Let's say he has to drive 20 miles on a cold winter day in snow. I've researched the roads and there were no paved roads in 1926 in this area- South Dakota. So he would be driving on dirt roads covered in snow, probably having to cross a few wooden bridges (not sure about the bridges, he might have to cross creeks). The hills are rolling, not steep. How long do you suppose it would take him to get to town. I say at least three hours. My husband says 1. But then he's never driven my Model T either. I have a 1926 Tudor, so I'm trying to gauge the time based on summer driving time. Help would be appreciated.
Hard to say but I'd think some where in between. It would depend on how bad the snow drifts are, the depth of the creeks, and other hinderences. Getting stuck a few times can consume lots of time so I would say you can use just about any time frame that would best fit the story.
I think your husband is being optimistic in thinking that he could average 20 mph in the snow on the roads you're describing. I think you're probably closer, although there are a lot of variables that could make it take more or less time. On the other hand, if you're the author, you get to determine the variables. I'll say 2-1/2 hours. (Ask Stan Howe - he can probably answer from personal experience!)
Stan Howe from Montana can help you out here.
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South Dakota is a paved road.
In summertime a T could easily go 20 miles in S.D. in an hour. That's just barely out of low pedal.
I heard a singer in San Francisco say she was from one hour west of Oslo, Norway, 2 weeks in the wintertime.
I have gone 7 miles on a paved road with two of us with aluminum scoop shovels in a model A sedan with chains on the rear wheels in two hours one early morning.
We avoided the hill by driving around them on other roads.
We drove home that same day in 20 minutes, even going over the hill, as the 5 miles was plowed out at about noon.
If the snow is more than a couple of inches deep, you may want to have him wrap the rear wheels with large rope first. Rope acted like chains do nowadays. You lace it through the spokes and around the tire. Make sure he dresses warm, there are no heaters.
Of course, he could have bought an add-on kit to convert the Model T to a better snow vehicle.
4 days! Ha. Love the suggestions. If I were courageous enough I'd try it out and go 20 miles on one of our dirt roads in mid winter. But I take your meaning. If all went well and the drifts weren't high and there was no ice then I think about an hour or two.
I'll have to ask Stan. First-hand experience is always better. Thanks guys.
For the answer, by the book "Ford Tramps."
It depends. First of all. There are a lot of differences in South Dakota. Eastern?? Western?? Northern?? Southern?? West of the river?? Close to Sioux Falls and the eastern part of the state there would have been excellent roads by 1926. From Aberdeen west the roads would not have been so good but the main road across the central part of the state would have been good graded gravel and the north/south road through Pierre would have been good. Highway 10 along the Milwaukee Road would have been graded gravel. My grandparents bought a new 26 coupe in the fall of 25 and made many trips from Plevna, Montana to McLaughlin and Mobridge, South Dakota, leaving in the morning and covering the 250-300 miles in time to be there for supper with one of the children they had living in the area. The highway followed the Milwaukee tracks and it probably cost less to ride the train than drive but my grandfather liked to drive so they could come and go as they pleased. He died in 1928 so their trips were all prior to that. The "Good Roads" campaign was in full force in the 20's and many roads were rapidly improved after world war one. I believe there were quite a few paved roads in SD, ND and Montana by 1930 as the road from Baker to Miles City was built in 1932/3/4 to shorten the distance from Baker to the west rather than going through Terry. It was paved as it was built. I would think the roads to the east would have been paved about the same time. I'm sure the road from Plevna to Mobridge was all paved by 1934 or 5 and I would think it would have been paved further east before that. The country roads would not have been paved but would have mostly been graveled by then and would have had bridges instead of creek crossings on country or state roads.
So in answer to your question, if the road was just snow covered and not drifted shut to the point where he would have had to shovel the car out of a drift, etc., he could probably have pretty easily covered the 20 miles in an hour or a little more.