Longtime readers of Grand Traverse Journal are in for treat. Take a close look at this photograph:
Notice the look in the man’s eyes, the jaunty tilt of the cap, the devil-may-care, speed-demon attitude. Some of you may recognize him, I hope. It’s our good friend, that alligator-owning, intrepid inventor, Charles A. Augustine.
Perhaps you need a refresher? Take a look back at Julie Schopieray’s article on Charles, his one-time partner Andrew Smith, and the aircraft industry that almost took off (pun intended) in Traverse City, ca. 1910. As you will recall, Charles was keen on building anything that moved, including his own motorcycle!
On December 16, 1911 Charles tried out another new invention which was a watercraft he called a hydroplane. The description given in the newspaper is similar to that of a modern airboat or fanboat:
The hydroplane consists of two hollow steel tubes which not only serve as floats but are also necessary to retain craft’s equilibrium. It might be termed as a hydro-plane with the planes [wings] taken off, for the means used to propel it is in the shape of an aeroplane propeller about three feet in length, and driven by a four cylinder motor cycle engine. This odd yet practical and pleasure giving affair is the work of a local young man, Chas. Augustine, who is not only the owner of the first hydro-plane in this vicinity; but it will be remembered that he is the first one to have an aeroplane and a motor sled… The boat is capable of making eight of ten knots an hour, he having rode from Greilickville across the bay to the mouth of the river and up the river to Park street bridge in about twenty minutes…
This photograph was found in a (quite random) pile of materials donated to the Traverse Area District Library recently… a warning to all who might just throw things away! As far as we know, this is the last surviving copy of this photograph in existence, and we are pleased to publish it for your viewing pleasure.
Thanks to Julie Schopieray for her keen eye in spotting this image from the aforementioned “pile.” Amy Barritt is co-editor of Grand Traverse Journal.