Updated: We have featured a number of historic buses over the years but none that were as odd as this one. The “Motor Coach Transportation” Volume 3-4, of 1926 reported that the Alton Transportation Company was a subsidiary of Chicago & Alton Railroad which began operating in 1862 with a run between Chicago and Alton, Illinois located on the Mississippi River.
At some point, probably in the late-1910s to early-1920s, the Railroad decided to run a bus line and apparently designed and constructed this No.2 Bus in the Company shops in a manner that followed locomotive practices. It was built upon two four-wheeled trucks with the front one rotating on a pivot that handled the steering of the unusual machine.
The bus rider’s compartment construction is similar to that of a passenger train car and the drivers compartment and the water-cooled power plant was located above the front truck. It appears that the engine powered a generator that supplied current to run one or more electric motors mounted in the rear truck.
We are hoping our readers can lead us to more information or the construction details of this behemoth. Share with us interests you in this hand-painted glass plate lantern slide courtesy of the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Update: Thanks to reader Steve Bogdan for the following information about this unusual bus: This particular vehicle was built in 1925 by the Versare Corporation in Albany, NY. The rear wheels on each 4-wheeled truck were driven by an electric. A 100-hp Waukesha engine drove the generator.
Editors note: learn more about this Versare Bus at Coachbuilt.com.