R.R. 1, Box 144, Gorham, Kansas
Our 15 year-old boy, Lawrence, has been an enthusiastic fan of the antique car and machinery world ever since we demonstrated our old horsepower threshing outfit in 1952, which made a great impression on him. For Christmas this year, he received three books advertised in The Album, namely -'Treasures of Early American Automobiles', 'Motor Memories', and a reprint copy of the first edition of 'The Horseless Age'.
These books deal with early makes of cars and in 'Motor Memories', are several paragraphs on Walter P. Chrysler's part in the automobile industry. What isn't mentioned in the book is that Chrysler's earlier years as a mechanic were spent in the Union Pacific Roundhouse at Ellis, Kansas, where he learned all about machinery firsthand. When one knows this, he can readily understand why 'Chrysler scraped the $5000 together to buy a car, only to take it apart, piece by piece, and reassemble it, so he could understand it better', as mentioned in the book, 'Motor Memories'.
My hometown is Ellis and it's called the 'boyhood home of Chrysler'. My mother well remembers how Chrysler had built a small railroad track in his back yard and had a coal-burning steam locomotive which he run on this track. Her brothers worked with Chrysler in the U. P. Shops and after work, evenings, they'd go to Chrysler's back yard and watch him run his steam engine on this track. Chrysler made the railroad ties for his track and every bolt by hand. I'm not sure but guess he made his steam engine also, as he was poor at the time and had no money to spend on such things.
It's a well-known fact that when Chrysler married his wife at Ellis, she was said to have 'picked a lemon' because she was very popular and could have chosen a wealthier and better looking man. Her dad had a race track north of Ellis and she loved to drive a horse, hitched to a racing cart, on this race track and once narrowly escaped death when the horse ran away with her in the cart.
The house Chrysler lived in at Ellis still stands and one passes by it as you go thru Ellis on U. S. Highway 40. Walter Chrysler became famous for his advancement in the automotive industry but at Ellis he'll always be remembered as having as his first love -- the steam engine, running on a railroad track.