Think about how you came to the Carriage Barn & Historical Museum located at Heritage Park in Santa Fe Springs. Did you drive? If so, you’re not alone: many people use cars to get around. In fact, cars and paved roads are so common today that it might be difficult to imagine sprawling citrus groves or oil fields covering the area instead. But before 1900, the people of Santa Fe Springs travelled by horse and buggy, or horse-drawn surreys like the one displayed at the Carriage Barn. Automobiles were not common, mainly because this “horseless carriage” was a luxury for anyone with $2,000-$8,000 to spend. A horse-drawn carriage was only about $30-$50 in comparison, and many families already had horses.
Despite this drawback, by 1905 the new automobile was a common sight on the roads, fighting for space among the horses. As time passed, automobiles weren’t as expensive anymore, and people wanted to experience the freedom that a car gave them. So more and more cars were purchased – and then it was horses and buggies that became the rare sight around town.
The Model T on display at the Carriage Barn was manufactured by the Ford Company in 1917 and originally purchased for $330 – a bargain in comparison to the initial price of thousands of dollars. It was advertised as the automobile of the “everyman”. It has a gasoline-powered engine, also known as an internal combustion engine, and works by lighting gas mixed with air, causing combustion, or an explosion, inside a cylinder. This “explosion” moves a small metal piece, called a piston, which powers the machine. Cars today work similarly but have many more features than early automobiles.
Driving one of these cars on the road with the summer breeze blowing in through the open window sounds like a great time. Even now it might be possible for you to buy one! Some Model T cars are available for purchase, but mostly only to collectors or classic car fans because they can be very old. Admire this Model T and respect it, because it’s the great-great grandfather of all current cars we see today!