The First Automobile in Ashland




Alice Mullaly



Southern Oregon is home to Lithia Motors, one of the largest automotive dealerships in America ranking in Fortune Magazine's top 1000 companies. But the first car ever seen in the area was driven into Ashland, Oregon's, Lithia Plaza, in September 1902. Mr. and Mrs. G. W. Carmack were on a trip from their home in Seattle, Washington, to Sacramento, California. Pulling into downtown Ashland in their horseless carriage dubbed "Carmack's gasoline machine," they stopped their rather large and cumbersome automobile, built especially for them by the Mobile Company of America, at the Plaza to obtain fuel. The Ashland Tidings newspaper used the occasion to explain to readers the popularity of the automobile, reporting there were some ten thousand of them in the country. The editor of the paper then surmised, "It does not seem improbable that within a few years their price will be reduced so materially that the number of persons who own them will be very much greater than it is today." In 1946, an automobile dealership was started by Walt DeBoer on the very plaza in Ashland where the Carmacks had stopped for gas forty-four years earlier. And from that humble beginning, Lithia Motors got its start. The rest, as they say, is history. Ashland Tidings, September 18, 1902;, "Our History"


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