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Orphanage Gallery features rare 1906 automobile this summer

Feb 27, 2024

On the turntable at The Orphanage is a 1906 Pope Tribune Roadster Runabout on loan from The Forney Museum of Transportation until mid-August.

It sports a front mounted, water cooled, vertical 2 cylinder engine generating 14 horsepower. The headlights used acetylene gas while the side lamps used kerosene. Its price new was $500, equivalent to $16,850.00 in 2023.

The side lamp on the Pope Tribune was fueled by kerosene. Note the right-hand location of the steering wheel. (Photo by Richard Birnie)

Headlamps on the Tribune were fueled with acetelyn. (Photo by Richard Birnie)

(Photo by Richard Birnie)

(Photo by Richard Birnie)

(Photo by Richard Birnie)

(Photo by Richard Birnie)

Introduced in 1904, the Pope Tribune was a small car designed along European lines and was the least expensive marque in the Pope lineup. Early examples had a one cylinder, 6 horsepower engine, a rear mounted gearbox with two forward speeds and one reverse and braking only on the transmission. For 1905 an improved Model became standard with a fully water-cooled engine encased in a boxy bonnet, rear-wheel mechanical brakes and a gearbox relocated to a central position. Larger cars joined the Tribune’s ranks but the Hagerstown, MD factory never operated at a profit and production of the Pope Tribune ceased in 1908.

The story of the Pope Manufacturing Company is a story of experimentation, bankruptcy, and reorganization. The company was founded, in Boston around 1876, by Colonel Albert Augustus Pope, a veteran of the American Civil War, and incorporated in Hartford, CT in 1877. The intent of the business was to “manufacture and sell air pistols and guns, darning machines, amateur lathes, cigarette rollers and other patented articles.”

In 1878, Pope contracted with the Weed Sewing Machine Company of Hartford, CT to manufacture bicycles, high-wheelers, or penny farthings, under the name of Columbia. Columbia bicycles are manufactured, to this day, by Columbia Manufacturing Inc., Westfield, MA. The Pope Manufacturing Co. produced the Pope motorcycle between 1902 and 1918 and, later in the 20th century through the late 1980’s, several models of mopeds also under the name of Columbia

Pope’s first cars were electric and were built, for a short period of time, beginning in 1897. He wanted to focus on the development of electric vehicles because “you can’t get people to sit over an explosion.” The production of gasoline vehicles followed in 1903. The cars produced, spanned a wide range of size and price, including the Pope Waverly, an electric car produced in Indianapolis, IN; the Pope Tribune, an inexpensive brass era car produced in Hagerstown, MD; the Pope Robinson, a luxury touring car produced in Hyde Park, MA; the Pope Hartford, a medium-priced touring car produced in Hartford, CT; and the Pope Toledo, a top-of-the-line luxury car produced in Toledo, OH.

After shedding models and companies for years, final production of a Pope model automobile ceased in 1914 when the company went into receivership due to competition from other manufacturers.

The 1906 Pope Tribune can be seen at The Orphanage in downtown Yuma, at 300 South Main Street. For more information about this exhibit and future shows, please contact Richard Birnie (970) 630-3360, or visit the website at The Forney Museum of Transportation is located at 4303 Brighton Blvd., Denver.

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