Gliding through the Duryea Festival

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 Since he was a child, Roger Brown has been a big part of the family hobby: restoring historic automobiles.

Now retired, the Peora man heads up the hobby started by his father and is proud of the tradition as well as the collection of cars in the family. That includes the 1916 Glide that was manufactured in Peoria and is similar to the most famous Glide of them all -- the one in which Teddy Roosevelt toured the Peoria area in 1910 annd dlcared Grandview Drive "the world's most beautiful drive."

"It was quite an automobile. Still is," said Brown, standing proudly beside his dark blue Light Six-40 Touring sedan that he displayed this past weekend at the Duryea Festival in Peoria Heights.

Outside this weekend, the car is on display at the Wheels O' Time Museum in Dunlap, north of Illinois Route 6 on Illinois Route 40. It has been displayed there the past 15 years.

There were many antique vehicles displayed at the festival. Not only did it have its annual auto show of vintage cars and trucks, the festival also had a gathering of antique bicycles, highlighted by several of the high-wheeled bicycles of the type that were made in Peoria Heights at the turn of the century -- the 20th century, that is.
Some of those bicycles were seen outside the Heights late Saturday afternoon, when they toured part of the Rock Island Trail, including crossing the new bridge built for the trail over Knoxville Avenue at Junction City.

Brown, who is a member of the Illinois Valley Antique Automobile Club -- the oldest continuous meeting club in Illinois, since 1954 -- ­committed to bringing his Glide back to the festival next year. He also committed to putting it in the parade that annually opens the festival. That is, he intends to drive it in the parade.

"It will run, but it needs some fine tuning before I can drive it in a parade," he said.

The Glide, which starts with a crank, was manufactured at the now-defunct Bartholomew Company in Peoria. It sold for $1,095 new.

This particular car has quite a history, Brown said. While he doesn't its earliest history, he knows it was once owned by Jack Johnson, one of several Glides he owned. He sold it to a Rockford man who restored it to its original condition and displayed it in that city for several years.

It later was acquired by a man who displayed it in Reno, Nevada and later in California. It was there that Kent Brown of Peoria, Roger's father, saw it and bought it, believing it should be returned to the city of its birth.

There are only 15 or 16 Glides remaining worldwide, Brown said, and not all of them are restored and in driveable condition. This particular car includes a removable top and side curtains.

"The Bartholomew Company made the Glide from 1904 to 1917. The 1916 model came in dark blue. That's the only color they made them in that year," he said.

After the Duryea Festival the Glide was returned to the Wheels O' Time Museum, which is open for the summer, through Oct. 31, from noon to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sunday.

For more information about the museum visit

About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).