In my research one day, I tripped across an article from the July 4, 1906, issue of The Horseless Age, a magazine devoted to the growing popularity of the motor vehicle. In a section of the magazine devoted to “commercial applications” of the motor vehicle, just after an article about an enterprising undertaker who had recently started using a motor car to carry caskets, was a piece entitled, “Automobiles at Summer Resorts.” Therein was a contribution from C.B. Martin, proprietor of Turk’s Head Inn in Rockport, describing how he had recently started using motor cars.
Coincidentally, a week or so after reading that, I found this postcard. I believe it may show the very motor cars Martin described in that article.
Here’s what Martin told The Horseless Age in 1906:
During the season of 1905 we used light touring cars between the house and the railroad station, a distance of 1 1/2 miles, in which is one quite steep hill. With these cars we are able to carry 12 passengers between the house and the depot. On account of having fourteen trains daily we find the touring car an advantage over a barge because the average number of passengers carried from each train is only four. We allow six minutes between the house and depot, while with horses we have to allow at least twenty-five minutes. In all last summer’s work we failed to make only one train on time, caused from defect in the auto.
We also used cars for short pleasure trips, taking the place of horses and carriages. We consider the venture has been a success so far, the income having been more than sufficient to meet the expense of operation and depreciation. This year we will put on more cars, and use still fewer horses.”
The postcard shown here has an undivided back, which generally means that it was printed before 1907, the year postal regulations changed to allow divided backs. That means it is probably from 1905 or 1906. The two cars pictured in the card both resemble 1905- and 1906-model touring cars. (Several companies made them but they looked very much alike, especially given the low level of detail in this picture.)
Given the year of the card and the type of cars — not to mention the absence of any other cars — these could well be the cars Martin described in his contribution to the magazine.
As another clue, look at this 1905 postcard of the inn. In it, you see a wagon but no cars. Perhaps this was the wagon — or “barge” as Martin called it — he used to pick up passengers before buying his cars.