We recently joined a group of Tesla drivers who gathered in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to drive through the battlefield following the self-guided Auto Tour. We were not the first electric cars to tour the famous Civil War site.
On November, 25, 1908, Oliver Fritchle stopped in Gettysburg on his 1800 mile drive from Lincoln, Nebraska to New York City in his “100 Mile Fritchle Electric” that his company manufactured at a factory in Denver, Colorado. His trip was staged to demonstrate the long distance capability and durability of his electric car and batteries.
When Fritchle pulled up to the Eagle Hotel in Gettysburg at 3:00 that rainy afternoon, a battlefield guide named Harry Gilbert offered his services. Gilbert was the son of a veteran of the Battle of Gettysburg and his father still lived in town. Fritchle and Gilbert toured the Gettysburg battlefield in the car and took pictures of points of interest. Two of those photos are shown above along with the same scene today shown with a Tesla Model S.
Gettysburg did not have an electric vehicle charging station in 1908 so Fritchle charged at the power house for the electric street car system. He converted the system’s 500 volts using an improvised rheostat made from running the current through a barrel of water. Article on Water-Rheostat Construction.