The Veteran Motor Car Club of America (VMCCA) has chosen North Conway, NH for the 71st Revival AAA Glidden Tour. It will be held September 11-16, 2016. This is the first time this historic antique car tour has been in New England since 1998.
The Glidden tour is the oldest and largest antique car tour in the country. It will bring up to 200 antique cars here where they will drive their pre-1943 vehicles up to 125 miles each day. Their routings will include a trip on the M/S Washington from Center Harbor to Wolfeboro, crossing the Kancamangus Highway to Clark’s Trading Post, Mt. Washington Omni Hotel, and the dramatic scenery on the North Conway Railway as well as two side trips into western Maine. Each evening they will return to North Conway.
These tours were started in 1904 by the American Automobile Association to promote the safe use of vehicles and lobby for standardized laws. AAA continues to be an important part of this tour, but the name Glidden goes back goes back to a man with family roots in New Hampshire, Charles Jasper Glidden.
Glidden was a telegraph messenger for the Northern Telegraph Company. Within a year, he became the manager of the Atlantic Pacific Franklin Telegraph Company office in Manchester, NH. In 1876 Glidden met Alexander Graham Bill, inventor of the telephone, and together they made history. By age 43, Glidden was a wealthy man, retired and in love with the automobile. He traveled the world with his wife in their British Napier.
In 1905, Glidden arranged for a special trophy for AAA’s Reliability Tour which went from Buffalo to Bretton Woods. It was a large sterling silver trophy – so valuable that the winner had to post a $2,000 bond for the year it was in his possession. The tour was named after that early adventurous traveler, Charles J. Glidden, who continued to be supportive. The tour even came back to New Hampshire in 1908 to challenge the quality of the newly manufactured cars. Travel here was remembered for its “wiggling, bumping, rocking, dipping and skidding of this nerve-racking, car smashing trip.”
After 1913, it was no longer necessary to prove that cars were here to stay and the tours were discontinued until revived by VMCCA in 1946. The Glidden continues to be held annually somewhere in the United States.