Leo F.N. Baldwin and D. Walter Harper - Racing Stanleys

Leo Baldwin's record run  (photo credit: www.virtualsteamcarmuseum.org)



While researching other stories, I noticed that Leon F.N. Baldwin (often stated as L.F.N Baldwin) appeared in the results of quite a number of early races - always driving for Stanley Motor Carriage Co. On one of these research adventures, I bumped into http://www.virtualsteamcarmuseum.org (great site) that had posted the postcard seen here of Leo Baldwin after winning the 1909 Dead Horse Hill Climb in Worcester, MA.

I grew up outside of Worcester and felt compelled to find out more. I'm familiar with the Dead Horse Hill Climb and have been to a couple reenactments. The Dead Horse Hill Climb was held by the Worcester Automobile Club (with support from other local automobile clubs) with the hill climbing 830 feet to the summit (with a max grade of just over 12%). The event was started in 1905 and by 1909 was well known and attended. In 1909, it's said that over 15,000 came to watch the highly anticipated match between Bruce Brown in his 120hp Benz and Ralph DePalma driving a Fiat. Although this match up never materialized, as Brown crashed the Benz in a preliminary run, but the crowd was treated to a record run by Leo Baldwin in the 1906 Stanley - one of two racers built for the 1906 Vanderbilt Cup, though never run in the Cup race. Baldwin would run the hill in 54 seconds; a record that would not be broken prior to the Dead Horse Hill Climb being stopped in 1912.

Leon F. N. Baldwin was born in Vermont in 1869. He made his way to Providence, RI and became the official Stanley agent there. Baldwin was 40 years old when he made the record run in Worcester. He was part of an unofficial Stanley race team that included Fred Marriott. Marriott and Baldwin battled over many titles and in researching Baldwin's race record, I came across the following notable events:

Oct. 22, 1904 - Brighton Beach - One mile handicap (Seabreeze Cup) - L.F.N. Baldwin (steam car) 1st
Dec. 3, 1904 Narragansett Park - Steam cars - Baldwin (Stanley) 2nd
May 25, 1905 Worcester MA - Dead Horse Hill - event 19 L.F.N. Baldwin (20hp Stanley) 1st
Aug. 6, 1906 Sachuset Beach - Steam cars - L.F.N. Baldwin (20hp car) 2nd
Nov. 29, 1906 Pawtucket, RI - Stump Hill / Steam Runabouts - L.F.N. Baldwin (20hp car) 1st (he also win the free-for-all)
June 12, 1909 Worcester, MA - Dead Horse Hill Free-for-all event - L.F.N. Baldwin (Stanley Racer) record for the hill in 54 seconds

The other person of interest from this postcard is D. Walter Harper - his stamp on this card describes him as "Phila. Representative 2534 N. Broad St.". Broad street in Philadelphia was the automobile dealers row at the time (although most dealers were closer to center city). The only reference I found for this address was for the Hump Motor Garage - listed under garages not dealers - however, it is clear that the Hump garage did represent a few brands. I can't confirm that D. Walter Harper worked for Hump, but he was clearly a Stanley enthusiast. I also found him listed as "Harper, D. Walter - 2503 N. Carlisle St., Philla.,  PA - Garage". Records show that Harper campaigned Stanley's frequently and with great success. I don't believe Harper was associated with the factory, but simply a privateer racer - A few of his exploits are seen below:

Wildwood, NJ - mile time trial - D. Walter Harper - Winner (see attached article)
Sept. 3, 1906 - Ventnor Beach - record trial steam - D. Walter Harper (20hp Stanley) 1st
Nov. 12, 1906 - Point Breeze Track - Five mile event for American touring cars - D. Walter Harper (Stanley) 1st
Aug. 5,6,7, 1907 - Ventnor Beach - steam cars - D. W. Harper (25hp Stanley) 1st

The Motor World Sept., 10, 1908

Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal July 25, 1909

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