WALTER P. CHRYSLER

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.

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