LaMotte’s Indian & Harley Motorcycle Feedback
A YorksPast article contained 1914 motorcycle illustrations of a Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Truck, an Indian, a Thor and a Yale Motorcycle. The article was the result of a reader request to my write-up about Vulcan Technology in Pullman’s Electrically Controlled Gasoline Automobile. In that post, I noted the Harrisburg Auto Show of 1914 also included motorcycles. Reader Rick Wall wanted to see any of the motorcycles pictured in the 1914 Auto Show flyer.
After seeing the 1914 motorcycle illustrations, Dorcas LaMotte Townsley provided the photocopy and wrote:
I always thought my dad’s motorcycle was an Indian, but it looks more like the Thor on your article.
He was Fred LaMotte of Red Lion. I am his daughter Dorcas LaMotte Townsley.
The picture of LaMotte’s motorcycle does have some features similar to the Thor motorcycle; features likely designed into later Indian Motorcycle models. The following are zoomed-in views of the photocopy provided by Dorcas. The last few letters of Indian are seen on the gas tank, so this is definitely an Indian. Can any of my readers provide the model year of this Indian?
The Harley-Davidson exhibit at the 1914 Harrisburg Auto Show featured their side-car and their motorcycle truck; with the motorcycle truck pictured in their ad:
The caption under the photo of the motorcycle truck stated:
After six years’ study of the light delivery problem and more than two years’ rigid testing of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle truck, as it now stands, we are offering a proposition that has actually demonstrated its worth. In the hands of retailers and wholesalers all over the United States, as well as in the Government service and general parcel delivery.
Gasoline consumption, 30 to 40 miles per gallon with full load [600 pounds]. Speed, 2 to 35 miles per hour.
Harry Landis told me he remembered his grandfather having a similar motorcycle truck; although his cargo box was out to the side. Later in life, Harry asked for more details about the motorcycle truck owned by his grandfather; he heard two stories. One story had his grandfather modifying a sidecar on a Harley so that, approximately a 30” x 45” x 15” deep, cargo box could sit in its place; with speculation that maybe he was the first to do this. Another story had the grandfather purchasing a motorcycle truck, which had been in an accident and he fixed it up. Harry had been told it was used many years as a delivery vehicle in a part-time business run by his grandfather. Harry tried to locate a photo, but was not successful.
While doing newspaper research for a future post, I discovered the following York Cycle Company Ad in the March 22nd, 1928 issue of The Gazette & Daily:
I sent a copy to Harry. His recollection was that the ad illustration looked exactly like the delivery motorcycle owned by his grandfather. He came to the realization there was nothing homemade about his grandfather’s delivery motorcycle; he had likely purchased and fixed a factory built Harley-Davidson 1/4-Ton Capacity Package Truck, which had been in an accident.
Related posts include:
- The 1914 Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Truck; also 1914 Indian, Thor & Yale Motorcycles
- Unplanned Motorcycle Races at York Fairgrounds in 1912
- Vulcan Technology in Pullman’s Electrically Controlled Gasoline Automobile