Brainerd's first mod of transportation was by true horsepower ---- usually one of two horses pulling a wagon, carriage or cart over city streets paved with sand.
When a family wanted to take a Sunday afternoon drive, a horse and buggy rig was rented for ab $1 a day from any one of several liveries. Most business establishments had a horse or two and a wagon for home and other deliveries. Many early residents had a horse and a cow of their own housed in backyard barns.
Automobiles started appearing in 1906 and to have one was considered quite the things of the day. But autos created havoc with horses not accustomed to the sputtering early 1900 vintage Fords that exhumed gusts of fire and weaved out of control in bursts of sudden speed. Horses were hitched at posts along downtown Brainerd streets and parking an early automobile quite often led to a terrified horse taking off at full gallop pulling his cart, wagon or carriage behind.
Needless to say, tempers flared and new words were quickly invented to handle the situations.
Keeping the streets clean during horse and buggy days was a never-ending chore if they were cleaned at all and boardwalks line the streets and crossings for pedestrians. Especially after a hard rain or during spring and fall thaws, it was difficult enough to get a wagon through the heavy sand, let along a spindly wheeled Ford.
FIRST BUICK----This is the first Buick sold at Imgrunds. Rudolph Creger, standing, was the purchaser.
Horses were by far the most efficient way to get around. They were dependable, didn't need special parts for their motors and a hand crank to get them going. Horse owners were often called upon by stranded motorists to pull the old Fords out of sand-locked streets and back-country roads. Getting stuck outside brainerd meant a hike into town to get help from a horse owner.
Automobiles created a large vacation business and forced the improvement of streets and highways. The rise of the automobiles industry also led to the establishment of scores of successful business enterprises.
Pioneers in the automobile industry were Henry and Peter Rosko who also brought the first airport to Brainerd. It was located on the he Rosko farm, south of Brainerd.
GAS STATION----This is an early gas station here. Stations gradually supplanted garages as sources of gasoline.
Henry brought the first car to Brainerd in 1906 and opened the first garage at 9th and Laurel in 1908. The two Rosko brothers operated the garage until 1945 when they sold out to the Palmer Motor Company.
The Roskos started their mechanical careers by repairing threshing machines. Their automobile business was mainly a repair shop for the cars which were beginning to appear but early cars were sold as well.
Other names connected with the early history of autos in Brainerd include E. C. Bane and Charles Stadibauer, early Ford dealers; W. E. Livley, a bicycle dealer who shifted to cars; Jack and John Imgrund, John F. Woodhead, L. W. Sherlund and Stewart and Henry Mills.
With the automobile industry, came gasoline stations, Jim Graham opened the first gas station in about 1922 on 6th Street.
EARLY TRUCK----It didn't take the gasoline engine long to start supplanting the horse in the hauling business. This truck belonged to Silas Hall's Transfer Line just after World War I. It was used for hauling freight from the NP depot to stores around town as well as for other kinds of moving. Pictured are Roy Hall in the driver's seat, Silas Hall an Jacob Meuller. The picture was taken in front of the railroad freight office. Before the truck, Silas Hall used teams and wagons which he kept at 415 Main (now Washington).
The Imgrund Auto Co. holds the record for dealership in one make of car. The company has sold Buicks since 1915 when John and Jack Imgrund bought out Ezra Smith, who was the very first Buick dealer. Imgrund's now deal in Oldsmobiles, Pontiacs and GMC trucks as well as Buicks.
The Imgrund company was first located in back of the Coast to Coast Store. In 1921, they built on 6th Street and in 1948 expanded to Norwood Street. Louis Imgrund and several other members of the Imgrund family joined in the garage business.
This Mills Motor Inc., auto agents and dealers in used cars, is another early pioneering car business. The Ford dealership was started by E. C. Bane and Charles Stadibauer who first had a garage at the corner of Front and 7th Street. Their Ford Agency was acquired by John. F. Woodhead in 1916 Woodhead sold to Walter Tyrholm from whom the Mills brothers bought the business, now located at 416 S. 7th Street.
The Mills Brothers garage business was started by W. E. Lively, an early bicycle repair man who had a shop in the 700 block on Laurel Street. Louis Hostager, a hardware dealer in Brainerd for many years started his career with Lively.
The Lively business was acquired by Stewart C. Mills in 1921 after Lively moved to the 500 block on Laurel. (The Mills Motor Inc. used car lot is located at 610 Washington.)
Another early automobile dealer was L. W. Sherlund who handled several makes of cars in the early automobile days and maintained a garage. However, his main business continued to be plumbing and heating.
For a time Sherlund handled Chevrolet and Oldsmobiles. Earlier, the firm sold Hames and Oakland cars, the Sherlund business was closed in 1943. It was first located on Laurel across the alley from the Elks building before it was moved to larger quarters on South 6th Street.
In 1923, R. D. Conklin established an auto business which eventually became Konshak's Chevrolet and Cadillac garage. John Konshak bought the business from Burton and Farrow in 1933. It is now the Dondelinger Chevrolet and Cadillac, Inc., on W. Highway 371 and 210.
Although most of the early automobiles businesses were located in downtown Brainerd, the industry has now moved for the most part out along the main highway arteries.
Until filling stations became common, the garages all carried gasoline and oil. First gasoline was pumped from barrels. Later tanks were buried in the ground and each gallon of gas had to be pumped separately.
About the time filling stations appeared, five and 10-gallon pumps began to disappear. Brainerd now has dozens of service stations which are out numbered the garages.
With the increasing importance of the automobile, allied businesses sprang up including automobiles accessory stores, tire shops and used car lots.