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Tuesday, 09 March 2010


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Since 1933 my hometown of Murrysville, PA, has had a large evergreen sign similar (although seemingly smaller and not as well done) to the Studebaker one. It's actually not all that visible, until we get some snow and the trees stand out a bit more.

You can see it on Google maps : http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=murrysville&ie=UTF8&z=18&ll=40.423208,-79.696503&spn=0.002695,0.007693&t=k&om=1

I lived in South Bend for a year...and never went to the Studebaker museum. But they did have a few old cars inside the airport terminal, and I would spend my idle pre-boarding hours peering into them.

Maybe Bron has something to add, seeing as he lives there.

Here I thought Packard was first, but they missed it by a year it seems.


I sometimes drive right by what is left of the old Packard proving grounds on the way to work.

Coincidently, Packard and Studebaker merged in 1954 in an effort to stay in business, but were not succesful.

That was interesting Mike. Thanks.

Apropos of Studebakers and trees, a shot from my website:


Mike... it's possible to visit the Studebaker family mansion (1899) in South Bend, IN. The mansion now houses a restaurant called "Tippecanoe Place" and the furnishings seem to be from the period when the house was new. I last visited there about 10 years ago and it was a great experience.

The gray line on the right is a four lane highway, for scale. At the lower right is a round, green spot, which was the skid pad for testing brakes.

I didn't know about the "sign". Thanks.

According to Google Maps satellite view, the Studebaker sign is still there.


I learned to drive on a Studebaker. Boy, do I feel old... :-)

I wonder why satellite pictures look more contrasty and lack the bluish haze as seen in aerials. This happens in every circumstance, not only here. Another spectrum? Post?

Its a good example of minor acts today having possible long term effects. Who would have thought that 85 years ago a minor advertising "stunt" would have produced such an elusive aftereffect.
Global warming probably fits in the same category. What seems small and insignificant today could have effects 50 to 500 years from now. Its time to leave smaller footprints.

Mike, the EXIF data is still in the aerial shot you link to and say "date unknown" -- it claims 2007:12:24 13:45:18.

I am glad you mentioned it. The last Studebaker Larks were classy compact American cars (Chevrolet 327 v-8's if I recall correctly). I remember being stranded next to one, out of gas in Georgetown , Maine in January. Likewise driving from Portland in a terrific blizzard. It was a friend's car. I should have bought it from him. Convertible, too.All the good stuff disappeared.

In another Sandra Bullock moment, you're going to get a ton of replies saying that the wood still seems fine according to Google maps.

Amazed and really tickled that Studebaker would have gone to these lengths, and that the wood is being maintained.

The "sign" still looks good on Google Maps or Google Earth in imagery from 2005.


This picture made me think of the forest swastika that was largely unknown for many years: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forest_swastika

My grandfather always had a spare Studebaker or two around. I cut some of my first driving teeth in his 1957. One weird car - it had a flathead six with overdrive and the speedometer floated in this bubble in the middle of the dash. It may have had a warning light or two but no other instrumentation.

Bendix Woods, Olive, IN

The sign can still be seen in the Google Earth image.

Your photo looks to be from Google Earth.

The sign is alive and well, at least according to a satellite picture taken in 2010 by DigitalGlobe:
Click here for the image on Google Maps.

No matter what, when this automobile brand is mentioned, a movie quite pops into my head -

Ahh, a bear in his natural habitat - a Studebaker.

-Fozzie Bear, The Muppet Movie

Reminds me of an incident in these parts (S. Yorkshire, UK) a few years ago ..... Some convicted teenagers that were carrying out Community Service had planted a large number of daffodil bulbs on an inclined bank next to a main road. Spring came along and emblazoned along the bank was..... "BOLLOCKS" (An English mild profanity)


Here are two similar signs, relics from the USSR, celebrating Lenin's 100th birthday, and the USSR 50 years. Thought it might be of interest to see how the soviets picked up this American propaganda technology.



Too bad you did not include the bits on Studebaker. My old 53 is here: http://prometheus.med.utah.edu/~bwjones/C1276349108/E1080162364/Media/53%20Studebaker.jpg

Excellent post, Mike. Just to add a photographic by-the-way:

In the satellite image from directly above, the test track is clearly narrower at one end.

But because of perspective, in the aerial image shot from the narrower end, it's possible to think the turns at both ends have the same radius.

Seen from the air, the bushes in my backyard look exactly like sensor dust.


In his youth, my grandfather worked in the Studebaker factory.

In his youth, my father, on his way to IUSB for a class, was pulled over at the bottom of Studebaker Hill (on the highway adjacent to the park) for speeding.

In my youth, I went sledding at Bendix Woods in the winter.

Apropos of nothing, least of all photography, but enjoyable memories nonetheless.


I will take only the mildest of insult ... "apropos of nothing", as, being a onetime resident of "Cheesehead land," I can hardly denigrate the Badger State.

Miserere, you "domers" need to stop, smell the ethanol, and see scenic South Bend.

Pretty sure, though you being an editor, just pretty sure, Studebaker folded in 1963, and the big storm was in 2001; my kielbasa market, blown over in that storm, has 2002 on their cornerstone. Nits.

On a geographical note, at the exact bottom of the photo, the land starts to rise into a glacial moraine, from the flat of the former Kankakee marsh; Lake Michigan being a product of that glacier.

On Michigan avenue, Chicago, the Fine Arts building, is a former Studebaker showroom, carriages; the first floor, where the restaurant is, was once the stables. (Mikes habit of taking test drives would have required horses then.) Wagons for the Civil War made Studebaker, not to mention they built Lincolns Hearse, and one of his carriages. Oh, ... I just did.

Is everybody asleep now? Bye.

Um I think you are mistaken.
You wrote "Built in 1926, it has the distinction of being the first dedicated automobile test track in the world built and maintained by a car company"

But according to the wikipedia entry:
"The General Motors Milford Proving Ground was the industry's first dedicated automobile testing facility when it opened in 1924."

And from here http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-15749767.html we have:
"Milford Proving Ground, the world's first automotive testing facility and largest of its kind in the world, is located on the outskirts of a small southeastern Michigan village. GM opened its Proving Ground in 1924 on 1,125 acres of land. The facility consisted of two buildings and 5 1/2 miles of test roads -- four miles which were gravel. The brainchild of legendary Alfred P. Sloan, former president of ..."

Perhaps not that important but, my dad (who worked there for years) often complained about GM not getting credited for all the great work done at that facility.

Ted Kelly

What I mean, of course, is that it is not apropos of any photographic topic that you might expect to read about on TOP, that's all. I'm not insulting anything or anyone!


Mike said
"Built in 1926, it has the distinction of being the first dedicated automobile test track in the world built and maintained by a car company"

then Ted Kelly said
But according to the wikipedia entry:
"The General Motors Milford Proving Ground was the industry's first dedicated automobile testing facility when it opened in 1924."

But in 1923 Fiat opened their test track. With high speed banked turns! In the middle of a city! On the roof of a factory building!

Photos here

FIAT had a test track on their factory roof in 1923!

Cheers, Robin

ISTR that the detailed Google Earth images are based on aerial photography, not satellite images

Google Earth's Historical Imagery feature gives the date on which the most recent aerial photograph of this area was taken as March 30, 2005. The oldest in Google Earth is from April 11, 1998.

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