1st Steam-Powered Automobile  LbNA # 44924

OwnerWisconsin Hiker      
Placed DateNov 23 2008
LocationRacine, WI
Found By Brandys Choice
Last Found Dec 20 2015
Hike Distance1-2 mi
Last EditedMay 15 2016

Last checked/found: 30-AUG-12 (clue updated)

This letterbox was created by Lee & Nancy of California for the WI Letterboxing 10th Anniversary Gathering. It is now planted in a permanent location.

Location: edisffilC kraP

Time: 45-60 minutes depending on trail conditions & your hiking speed.

Terrain: Grassy and dirt trails, some small hills.


In 1871 John Carhart, a Methodist minister in Racine, designed and built the first steam-powered automobile. It was named the "Spark" and had wagon wheels and a two-cylinder steam engine. Aided by his uncle and a wealthy lumberman, Carhart's Spark proved successful. However, he was pressured by townspeople to dismantle the machine after it caused the death of a valuable horse that had been frightened by the noise. Nevertheless, Carhart's invention was recognized years later by the American Manufacturers' Association as a forerunner of the automobile.

To find an image of this historic vehicle, motor in to Picnic Area 2. Head over to the yellow gate to take a path through a lightly wooded area. You’ll soon reach a large clearing. Keep steamin’ along the treeline, first heading east, then north. You’ll see some “steam” stacks in the distance. Although this path is wide enough for an auto, you’ll be taking a turnoff to the east on a smaller trail when a water tower is at 190 degrees (barely visible over the treetops if it is summer)and two houses at 250 and 285 degrees.

Next take the first path to the left. Don’t speed or you may find yourself taking a roll into the small ravine on the left. You might think an all-terrain vehicle is needed to reach the top of a T-topped hill. When you reach it, take a left turn, then another left at another “T”.

Oh-oh! Don't fall off the cliff! It seems this is a dead end, but what a nice view of the lake. Backup to a small path midway between the view and the stream. Chug up toward the rim for a distance equivalent to 15 steps. You’ll find the steam auto parked amidst a 15+ trunked shrub. After admiring this antique, be sure to return it securely in the “garage”.

To return to your own vehicle, go back across the streambed, then veer left at the “Y”. At the next major intersection, choose the right direction and continue on, ignoring any side streets. At a major “T”, turn left and you’ll eventually emerge into Picnic Area 3. From the corner of the parking lot you can see an alleyway for a shortcut back to your starting line.

We'd really appreciate an email with a status update if you look for the box. Thanks!