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Stanley Steamer Locomobile: Kerosene is not a good substitute for gasoline!

Updated: Dec 1, 2022

Commonly known as a "Stanley Steamer", this steam-powered carriage was designed by identical twins Francis and Freelan Stanley. Before going into production, they sold the rights to the Locomobile Company. The Stanley twins received worldwide publicity for this vehicle design when it climbed Mt. Washington in August 1899, the first self-powered vehicle to do so. Later the vehicle was also sold by the Mobile Company. Several years later, the twins revised the vehicle design and manufactured the improved "Stanley Steamers" in Watertown, MA under the Stanley Motor Carriage Company name. By 1900, you could purchase a Locomobile at Springfield Automobile Company, located at 25 Main Street.

This Locomobile or Mobile, which was probably manufactured around the turn of the century, was chain-driven and gasoline-fueled. Pictured in the above photo is Henry L. Boyden of Springfield with his English Bulldog named Dan. In a story passed on by his niece, one day Henry needed to conduct some business in Longmeadow. Unable to buy gasoline, he filled the tank of this vehicle with kerosene instead. He drove down Longmeadow Street accompanied by clouds of thick smoke and an eye-burning stench. As he neared the middle of town, the Chief of Police dashed out of his office, stopped him cold, and made him drain the kerosene out of the tank. Then, the chief provided him with a large horse to ride so that he could complete his business in town.


  1. Robert Wilhelm,

  2. Longmeadow Historical Society archives

  3. Springfield Republican, Dec. 16, 1900

Contributed by Elizabeth Hoff, Longmeadow Historical Society Board Member

Originally published April 2, 2020

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