Nebraska-Made Douglas Trucks

I found this old, brass radiator cap a while back, and I have never seen another like it:

It is embossed with the name “Douglas,” and I can only assume it is a product of the Douglas Motors Company that was once located in Omaha. The Douglas story begins with another Nebraska-made car called the Drummond. The Drummond was initially offered in a four and six-cylinder in 1916, and then became the Drummond Eight for the 1917 model year. This early V-8 automobile was powered by a Herschell-Spillman engine.

In 1917, the Douglas Motor Corporation organized to take over the Drummond Motor Company and sent solicitors all over the state to find investors. Notice the emphasis the advertisements (below) place on the high returns generated by investment in other automobile companies like Ford. By the time the campaign for the sale of stock was over, Douglas had sold half a million dollars in shares to 900 shareholders.

One of the new shareholders was rancher George Christopher who hailed from Nebraska’s largest county, Cherry County, located on the border with South Dakota in the magnificent Sandhills region. At a stormy shareholder meeting in 1918, charges of “gross extravagance” were leveled against the managers of the company. Apparently a charismatic sort, Christopher rose and gave a rousing speech in an effort to convince the others he should serve on the board. He received nearly everyone’s vote and moved to Omaha where he was soon running the company.

The Douglas was a 1.5-ton truck powered by a Buda engine and was advertised as “The Farmer’s Friend.”  Many other parts with familiar brands were also utilized in the building of this truck as seen in this 1919 advertisement:

Sometime before 1920, the company moved from its original location at 26th and Farnam to a new home at 30th and Sprague.  The factory had a capacity of 10 trucks per day, plus passenger cars. The cars being manufactured were now called Douglas Eights but were still being built with Herschell-Spillman engines.

This surviving example of a 1920 Douglas Truck is located at Shoemaker’s Travel Center in Lincoln:

The company flourished for a time due to the post-war boom, but financial struggles led to the company’s sale to the Nebraska Auto & Truck Manufacturing Company, led by L. C. Nash, in 1925. The purchase included the rights to the name “Douglas Trucks” and, according to a 1926 article, the trucks were being sold in the states neighboring Nebraska in every direction as well as Oklahoma and Texas.

Douglas Trucks were an early pioneer of the twin axle six-wheel truck, an ancestor of modern semi-trucks. This story about Douglas introducing the six-wheel truck to the Midwest appeared in 1928:

These ads appeared the following year, 1929:

There isn’t much information available regarding the closing of the company, but I did find this advertisement from 1936. It appears Douglas was likely yet another victim of the Great Depression.