Anniversary of first police chase and speeding ticket in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS — This week marks the anniversary of the first police chase and speeding ticket in St. Louis. Officers used their new “Skidoodle” wagon to apprehend the speeder. He was going 28 miles per hour on Union. The legal speed limit on St. Louis city streets was 8 miles per hour. The fine, $50.

The police chase happened 113 years ago on July 13th, 1904. The ticket was issued on July 14th, 1904.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch offers an extensive archive of historic clips on their website. It is in partnership with the Missouri History Museum. You can see this article and many more like it here.

Here is a transcript of the archived clipping:

“The highest fine yet imposed for auto-mobile scorching in St. Louis was saddled onto William H. Pattison of 3558 Pine Street by Judge Pollard this morning in Dayton street police court.

Fifty dollars was the price of his speed.

Incidentally, the police department made the first use of the automobile with which it has provided itself for the purpose of running down and arresting scorchers and which was put into commission last Sunday.

Shortly before 8 o’clock Wednesday evening mounted policeman James Cooney and William Stinger were riding north on Kingshighway under the care of William Sleuer, the police chauffeur, when they observed a big auto driven by a young man wo provided to be Mr. Patterson, who is in the employ of an automobile company, and was taking a prospective patron for a ride.

He turned his machine into Delmar boulevard, going west.

At that time the speedometer on the police machine showed it to be travelling at a rate of 12 miles per hour – the chauffeur having smoked up a bit to keep in sight of Mr. Pattison.

The legal rate of speed at which an auto may travel through the city is eight miles per hour.

Shortly after turning west the speed increased to 16 miles, and by the time Union avenue was reached Mr. Pattison was hitting the grit at a somewhat dizzying pace of 20 miles per hour.

He turned north on Union avenue,and, by the time he had reached Maple avenue, according to the police indicator, he was ripping up the ozone at a rate of 28 miles per hour.

The policeman, fearing that they would bump up and hit a cloud if they kept on much longer, called a halt by ringing a bell – an innovation, by the way, in the line of auto signals. Mr. Pattison was attracted by the sound and looked back.The policeman bade him halt and he halted. He was placed under arrest.

“Why, I thought you wanted to race me. You were coming at me so swift,” he declared, vastly surprised.

“Nay, nay,” said the cops, in unison, “but the judge will lead thee a merry chase on the morrow.”

Thus it came about that young Mr. Pattison was haled into court where evidence was produced against him by the minions of the law.

He told the same story about laboring under a misapprehension as to a race, but Judge Pollard was deaf in both ears.

“It is time,” said the Dayton street jurist, “that people should be restrained from running these mighty machines of death through the public streets. There is no excuse for it. I ought to fine this young man or the company he represents, the limit, which is $500.”

Mr. Pattison pleaded that he would have to pay his own fine, and Judge Pollard marked down his opinion to $50.

Auto scorchers heretofore have usually been eft off in the police courts with fines of $5 or $10.”