RED BUG BOULEVARD
Reprint of an article that appeared in The Arch, Euclid Beach Park Now’s quarterly newsletter: Volume 18, Issue 3, Spring 2007. Author unknown.
The Red Bug Boulevard ride at Euclid Beach Park was a short-lived attraction. These small battery powered cars ran on a wooden track and presented a couple of interesting challenges. Prior to their use as an amusement attraction they were marketed as a useful form of transportation but their small size made them quite hazardous on the road. The vehicles were produced between 1914 and 1928 by a number of manufacturers and under a few different names. The original vehicle was introduced by the A.O. Smith Company in 1914 and known as the Smith Flyer. It was powered by a gasoline engine. In 1919 the rights to the vehicle were sold to the Briggs and Stratton company and it was renamed the Briggs and Stratton Flyer, however about 1920 the name changed yet another time and the vehicle became known as the Red Bug Auto. This name was presumably a reference to the color and size of the auto. In 1924 the rights were again sold, this time to Automotive Standards, formerly known as the Automotive Electric Service. Automotive Standards introduced an electric version of the Red Bug which used two six volt batteries to power an electric motor. This same motor used was used as the starter in Dodge Brothers automobiles of the period. Red Bugs did come equipped with headlights, a tail light and klaxon horn, however their very small size made them quite impractical as transportation. The fact that were sold at F.A.O. Schwartz, the toy store, and were advertised as being able to comfortably seat two eight year olds pretty well sums up the vehicle’s capabilities. Top speed was a mere 12 miles per hour and the electric moto sold for $150.00 in 1924. Optional special batteries were available which increased the top speed to a blazing sixteen miles per hour.
The Great Depression certainly didn’t help sales of these curious vehicles. Records indicate that in 1927 Euclid Beach Park purchased the Red Bug Boulevard ride from the Custer Specialty Company at a cost of $10,12.36 and also show a building (perhaps the wooden track) costing $7,008.24. The track snaked through the framework of the Derby Rader which was renamed the Racing Coaster in later years. Comparing photographs of the Euclid Beach cars to a 1924 Red bug auto on display in the Crawford Auto Aviation Museum shows that the conversion to an amusement ride was fairly simple. A metal bumper was installed around the perimeter of the vehicle and the horn was removed.
In an era when women wore shirts and dresses, the bare bones design of the cars didn’t do much to preserve modesty, so the Humphrey shop fabricated and installed nose and hood assemblies on the cars. Another limitation of the ride was that the batteries required frequent recharging and this task was performed at a point a considerable distance from the ride.
It seems likely that Custer purchased the vehicles from Automotive Standards for resale, and it is also likely that they were obtained at a distressed price due to the poor business conditions of the time. In 1928 the rights were sold to still another company, Indian Motorcycle, who never went into Red Bug production. In 1930 Euclid Beach Park sold ten of the cars to Palisades Park New Jersey and the ride was dismantled sometime in the 1930’s. It has been reported that some of the cars were used in the Campgrounds/Trailer Park after the ride was dismantled.
Robert and Mark riding the Euclid Beach Park Grand Carousel. Each brother shared their Euclid Beach Park Memories in Volume 33, Issue 2, Spring 2022 of The Arch. They donated their mother's, Sarah Bonko, Euclid Beach Park memorabilia collection to Euclid Beach Park Now.
January 16, 2024
Band Organ Temporarily Removed
January 1, 2024
Check out the new, reprinted article for January/February 2024 on THE ARCH page. RED BUG BOULEVARD an article that appeared in THE ARCH, Volume 18, Issue 3, Spring 2007
November 16, 2023
2024 Calendar offer. Euclid Beach Park Grand Carousel, HOME page.