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Electric-Car Rally Celebrates 'Sociability Run' 100 Years Ago: UPDATE


Electric Sociability Run participants, 100 years apart. Photo by Lanny Hartmann

Electric Sociability Run participants, 100 years apart. Photo by Lanny Hartmann

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Modern electric cars like the Tesla Model S and Nissan Leaf are slowly getting better-known to consumers today, but their history stretches back much further.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Washington D.C's original "Electric Sociability Run" of 1914, and local enthusiasts are planning a commemorative re-creation set to take place June 7.

Few of today's car buyers realize that recent development of plug-in cars is actually a resurgence of an earlier trend.

Around the turn of the 20th century, electric cars competed on equal footing with gasoline and steam cars. Brands like Milburn, Waverly, and Detroit Electric--which is attempting to make a comeback--filled the first dealerships in those days.

Electric Vehicle Sociability Run. Photo by Cre8tiv Photography by Christopher A Smith.

Electric Vehicle Sociability Run. Photo by Cre8tiv Photography by Christopher A Smith.

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To galvanize interest in electric propulsion, a group of auto dealers called the Electric Vehicle Association of America gathered 54 electric cars in Washington, D.C. on May 27, 1914.

They drove 14 miles to Joaquin Miller Cabin in Rock Creek Park, which took just over one hour and 15 minutes. it wasn't the first Sociability Run, but was by far the highest-profile.

Now, with a whole new generation of electric cars on sale, a group of enthusiasts have decided to re-create it.

The first Sociability Run of the 21st century was held last year, in the D.C. area. For the 2014 run, drivers will convene in Charles Town, West Virginia.

Located about 70 miles northwest of the nation's capital, Charles Town boasts 14 electric-car charging stations under solar canopies.

Electric Vehicle Association ad, 1912 (detail)

Electric Vehicle Association ad, 1912 (detail)

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The 2014 Sociability Run will also feature excursions to Shepherdstown and Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, as well as a trip to Hagerstown, Maryland.

[UPDATE: Green Car Reports was later informed by the organizers of the Sociability Run of some details of the event. The rally attracted 48 plug-in cars, with drivers traveling from as far away as New York and North Carolina to attend. Events included music and a trivia contest, as well as opportunities to use the solar-powered charging stations at the American Public University System's Solar Array Parking Lot in Charles Town. We've also added a couple of photos from the event.]

[hat tip: Lanny Hartmann]

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