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Letting Off Steam - Homepage

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From the 1890s through the 1920s, people experimented with a new engineering marvel: the automobile. While the skeptics waited for the fad to pass and the world to return to the civilized ways of the horse and carriage, others looked to a future of motorized travel. A few companies succeeded, and many failed. In 1897, twins Francis and Freelan Stanley of Kingfield, Maine, designed their first automobile, in many ways just to see if they could do it better. By 1902, the Stanley Motor Carriage Company was born. They did not design just any automobile, but one powered by steam, the most advanced and prevalent technology of the time. The Marshall Steam Museum is pleased to present the electronic version of Letting Off Steam: The Stanley Legacy, a new exhibition that explores the rise and fall of the Stanley Motor Carriage Company and the enduring legacy of that company on the Marshall family and Auburn Heights.

We sincerely appreciate the support received from the following toward this exhibition and related educational programming:

Delaware Humanities Forum
Joseph Boxler Education Fund
Marshall-Reynolds Foundation
Mushroom Festival Grant Program
University of Delaware—Museum Studies
The Stanley Museum


Marshall Steam Museum, Stanley Museum Archives and the Friends of Auburn Heights Preserve


1902 Stanley Stick Seat Runabout

2009 Photo of 1902 Stanley Stick Seat Runabout (Fred Rosenber)

1902 Stanley Stick-Seat Runabout
Birth of Motorized Travel

Having developed a prototype steam car in 1897, in 1902, twins Francis Edgar (F.E.) and Freelan Oscar (F.O.) Stanley launched the Stanley Motor Carriage Company, based in Watertown, Massachusetts. At the time, few knew whether the automobile would last, but the Stanleys were betting on the enduring power of steam as the motive power for their automobile. 

When this car left the factory, Clarence Marshall (the second-generation Marshall to call Auburn Heights home) was only 17 years old. Fascinated by machines from an early age, Clarence developed a lifelong passion for automobiles that dominated his leisure time. He served as a Stanley dealer before partnering with Frank Diver to establish a Packard dealership in Wilmington and only transitioned to collecting antique autos (predominantly Stanleys, the automobiles of his youth) in the 1940s.

As you explore the exhibit Letting Off Steam: The Stanley Legacy, look for Marshall Connection labels to learn more about the Marshall family story at Auburn Heights in the early 1900s.

1897 ''tad'' (Clarence) Marshall Centerdel Farm near Centerville

Clarence Marshall, age 12, at Centerdel Farm near Centerville, Del., 1897. (Marshall Steam Museum Archives)

Letting Off Steam - Homepage