Fritchle 2,140 Mile Electric Tour Ends in Washington, DC

photo: O. P. Fritchle

On December 10, 1908 at 1:00 PM, Oliver Fritchle arrived in Washington, DC in his “100 Mile Fritchle Electric” completing a 2,140 mile trip from Lincoln, Nebraska. Nearly 60 years would go by until an electric vehicle would travel farther than Fritchle.

In September, 1967, the Arizona Public Service Co. bought an electric car called the MARS II built by Electric Fuel Propulsion Inc. in Detroit, Michigan and drove it 2,226 miles to Phoenix. It was promoted as “the first cross-country trip of an electric car in the United States.”

Coincidentally, O. P. Fritchle’s nephew, Merrill Fritchle, lived in Phoenix and read of the claim in the Arizona Republic. He contacted the paper and presented evidence that the first cross-country electric vehicle journey was actually accomplished by his late uncle, Oliver P. Fritchle 59 years earlier.

The Arizona Republic reviewed the documentation of Fritchle’s trip and on October 19, 1967, they published a story with details of Fritchle’s decades-old electric tour along with comments from his nephew, who said, “If my uncle was so far advanced with electric transportation 50 years ago, I wonder what refinements we might have today, had all the research gone toward electric propulsion, instead of gasoline.”


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