Posts Tagged ‘hunterdon’

1937 Yellowstone Park Bus

1937 Yellowstone Park Bus

I saw this car in Readington, NJ, off to the side of Route 22. I was headed south, not doing anything but driving along, when I saw this 4 row open air … Frankencar. I couldn’t think of another word to describe it. It looked like some really old car had been stretched and customized into something totally new.

Turns out, it wasn’t new at all. It was in fact, very old. The car is owned by the Tewksbury Balloon company and it is used as their chase vehicle. When you fly in a hot air balloon, you gain lift through the use of hot air jets, but despite that you are still at the mercy of the wind. The pilot has to watch the winds very carefully and at the same time be watching the terrain for suitable landing spots. Most of the time, balloon pilots set down in a large open space such as a baseball field, parking lot or a farm. On rare occasions it’s someones backyard. A chase vehicle follows on the ground and when the balloon lands they pick up the pilot and passengers. The basket goes on or in the vehicle along with the balloon itself.

This chase vehicle is a 1937 White Model 614 Yellowstone Tour bus. Yellowstone National Park was the first National Park established in the United States by President Grant on March 1, 1872. Covering over 3,400 square miles, the Park was a popular destination for Americans eager to explore thanks to the recent introduction of the automobile. As visitor levels soared, increasing traffic volumes created problems for Park management so in 1917, multi-passenger bus tours were introduced. The model pictured above was first introduced in 1931. These 14-passenger units featured glass side windows and an opening top cover so that guests could stand up to enjoy the scenery. These buses also had a more powerful 75hp engine than their predecessors, to facilitate climbing the mountain passes, and new hydraulic brakes provided increased safety.

Many of the Yellowstone buses are prized by collectors and are often used in tourism related businesses. More information on the history and models of Yellowstone buses can be found at Geyser Bob’s detailed website here.

The Tewksbury Balloon company flies passengers over the hills of northern and central NJ out of White House Station, so if you fly with them you can ride in their Yellowstone bus on trip back to their launch site. There are lots of pictures on their facebook page.

You can also see pics of another restored 1937 yellowstone bus here

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