When I was growing up in Seattle, I remember my mother telling me about her father selling cars in the small eastern Washington town of Ritzville.

In 1991 I was able to purchase my great grandparents’ home in Ritzville.  We moved in about a year later.  Wanting to know more about my grandfather’s car business, I went to the Ritzville Public Library and started reading old newspapers on microfilm reels.  During this time I was also collecting old Ritzville photographs and advertising items.  This volume is the result of my interest in granddad’s car selling days.

This work is really meant to be a rather light-hearted, pictorial overview of Ritzville’s encounter with the new horseless carriage.  It is not intended to be a heavy historical document and should not be used as such.

If the reader comes away with a smile on his or her face and some useful information as well as a better understanding of some of the trials of early day motoring in and around Ritzville, then I have accomplished what I set out to do.


SKU: N/A Categories: ,



A lighthearted look at the automotive history of early day motoring in and around Ritzville, Washington. This work contains early advertisements of all known auto dealers, gas stations and repair shops from 1910 thru 1940. Included are many interesting pictures and stories of the misadventures of local residents and their new- fangled horseless carriages. This unique book was originally written to document to author’s grandfather, John Peter Koch, who started selling the Maxwell car in Ritzville in 1915 and went on to form Big Bend Motors Company. At its peak, the Big Bend Motors Company was the largest automobile sales company in Adams County, both in terms of the number of employees, number of different makes sold and total sales. Sales included Hupmobile, Chalmers, Chandler, Haynes, Paige, Cleveland, Cadillac, Star, Chevrolet, Stephens, and others.

Other local Ritzville auto dealers included are:

  • Rehn Motor Company: Buick, Oldsmobile Marquette, Chrysler, Plymouth
  • Kalkwarf & Rehn: Buick
  • Koch & Dewald: Maxwell
  • John Ott: Chevrolet
  • Ott & Zander: Chevrolet
  • Ritzville Motor Co.: Ford, Lincoln
  • Ritzville Garage: Ford, Buick, Hudson, Chandler, King-Eight
  • Kiehn & Koch: Hudson, Mitchell, Willys Knight, Overland,
  • Skinner Auto Co.: Studebaker, EMF, Flanders
  • Ritzville Trading Co.: International
  • Rieker & Hoefel: Buick
  • Adams County Mercantile Co.: Interstate
  • C. H. Vehrs Auto Co.: Hupmobile
  • Big Bend Machinery Co.: Oldsmobile and Buick
  • Friesinger & Co.: Chevrolet
  • W. L. Bennington: Chalmers
  • Derr Bros.: Chevrolet
  • Baumann Bros.: Velie
  • Chris Rieker Motor Co.: Erskine, Chevrolet, Ford, Oakland, Buick, Cadillac, Star, Durant
  • Central Auto Co: Dodge Bros., Star
  • J. C. Koch Auto Co.: Abbott-Detroit
  • J. P. Koch: Maxwell
  • Koch & Vehrs: Abbott-Detroit
  • August W. Sickmann: Paige, Oakland, Pontiac
  • Dunn Motors: Willys Knight
  • Kalkwarf Motor Co.: Buick
  • Miles Haight: Hudson, Essex, Paige
  • Harris Bros. Garage: Studebaker
  • The Metal Hospital: Nash, Oldsmobile
  • Kalkwarf & Lamparter: Nash
  • Kanzler & Son, Chrysler, Plymouth, Gra- ham Paige
  • Bauer Bros, Overland Whippet
  • Oscar Gaskill, Hupmobile
  • Henry Kiehn: Willys Knight
  • Krehbiel Motor Service: Nash, Chevrolet
  • M. M. Streck, Dodge dealer
  • Bauer & Koch, Desoto agent
  • Summers Auto Co., Dodge, Hudson agent
  • Haight & Becker, Paige
  • W. H. Landreth, Regal agent

After several additional printings, Ritzville Auto History was expanded and revised. It was also given a new cover and an index was added. The current cover is depicted here. The book contains 148 pages with 356 photos and advertisements and has 22 color photos. A fun read for anyone interested in Automotive history.

Additional information


Hardcover, Softcover