BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The gorgeous vista of the Fort Madison riverfont was peppered Thursday afternoon with vintage roadsters and buggies.
A tour of about 26 cars dating back to the early 1900s rolled through town as part of the Red Flag Horseless Carriage Tour.
Jeff Krugg, the coordinator of the event from Mt. Pleasant, said the tour snatched on to a beautiful day to roll 95 miles from Mt. Pleasant to Fort Madison and back.
“People have come front all over the country to tour southeast Iowa this year,” Krugg said Thursday afternoon while the group lunched at the Elks Club.
“This is an annual tour around this part of Iowa. We take them to historical places, museums, maybe a factory one year and we explore different places.”
This year’s tour is themed the convict tour, because the group toured the historic Old Iowa State Prison, and on Friday they will be part of a re-dedication of the first Iowa concrete roadway built with prison labor near Columbus Junction.
The group was formed with a glance back in time to the end of the 19th century where in England the first horseless carriages were escorted down paths.
“What happened in England was that if a horseless carriage, an automobile, was traveling at more than four miles per hour, it had to be preceded by a person carrying a red flag,” Krugg said.
“In 1896, they repealed that law and raised the speed limit to 14 mph. To celebrate that they had a run from London, England to Brighton England.”
The group will be recreating that run on Saturday when they travel from New London to Brighton, Iowa.
Krugg said most of the vehicles in the tour date back to the early 1900s with some as old at 1905. One driver in the group was in an 8-horsepower French Di Dion-Buton, which is a 3/4 size car.
Other cars included vintage Fords andMason’s, which were part of the Edward Mason Motor Company in the early 1900s, and Maxwell Automobiles, which became the current day Fiat-Chrysler Company.
The group spent the morning in Fort Madison on the tour and having lunch at the Elks Club and then left town to visit Herschler Winery in Franklin before heading back to Mt. Pleasant.
“We allow a couple hours to get here and then some tours and then we meander our way back. Obviously we have to stop for ice cream. But we’ll be back in Mt. Pleasant tonight,” Krugg said.