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Jacob J. Rauch came from Bavaria to New York City in the 1840s, eventually making his way to Cleveland, Ohio, where he established a blacksmith's shop on Columbus Road. in 1853. At the time, the Cincinnati to Cleveland stagecoach traveled by his shop on a daily basis and in no time at all, several hands were hired to man the four fires in Rauch's busy smithy. At that time, Rauch's first assistant, Joseph Rothgery, received a salary of $75 per year.
In 1860, Jacob's son Charles opened up a second shop on Pearl Road, just southwest of the city on the route of the Columbus to Cleveland stagecoach. Both father and son were skilled blacksmiths and wheelwrights, and the pair began manufacturing carriages and wagons from the two shops.
Jacob J. Rauch was killed at Gettysburg on January 3, 1863 while serving with Cleveland's 8th Regt. Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Gibralter Brigade of the Army of the Potomac (aka Union Army), and young Charles closed down the Columbus Road shop, concentrating his efforts at Pearl Rd.
Cleveland's population grew exponentially following the War Between the States, and by 1878, the city's inhabitants numbered 160,000, ten times the city's 1853 population. Although Charles had only been active in the firm for a short time, he was clearly in the right place at the right time and by the 1870s his carriage manufactory was Northern Ohio's largest.
For many years Rauch had manufactured a small number of wagons, drays and heavy-duty trucks as well as carriages. Their most popular model was their ice wagon which featured a large polar bear painted by A.M. Willard, a popular artist of the era and one of them received a bronze medal at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876. As did most other carriage builders, Rauch built a large number sleighs for used during the harsh northern winters of which the Buffalo Speed Cutter was their most popular model.
Charles E.J. Lang was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1858 and after graduation was trained as a bookkeeper and it was in this capacity that he was hired by Charles Rauch in 1878. His family had extensive real estate holdings in the Lakewood suburb of Cleveland and he soon proved invaluable to the firm, becoming a partner in 1884. The resulting firm was capitalized with $75,000 and incorporated as the Rauch and Lang Carriage Company, whose board included Charles Rauch, Charles E.J. Lang, Henry Heideloff, Herman Kroll and John Kreifer. Rauch was elected president, and Lang, secretary-treasurer. Rauch and Lang collected $1800 salary, the other board members, $1000. A four-story factory was leased at the corner of Pearl Road. (now West 25th St.) and McLean Streets. for $1650 per year.
By 1890, Lang had become the firm's vice-president and a second 4-story building was leased adjacent to the Pearl Road manufactory. Joseph Rothgery, their very first employee, was now in charge of the finishing department and was on hand whenever a Rauch & Lang carriage was delivered locally. The Ireland, Mather and Hanna families rode in Rauch & Lang carriages, as did most of the region's leading citizens. They specialized in Broughams, Victorias, Stanhopes, opera busses and doctors wagons which sold for between $500 and $2000.
In 1894 Rauch & Lang posted a profit of $40,000, and introduced a new line of light delivery vehicles that proved to be very popular. In 1903, their Cleveland wareroom became a dealership for the new Buffalo Electric automobile, and within two years, they were manufacturing their own electric vehicles which had been road tested by Joseph Rothgery, who had just celebrated his 50th anniversary with the firm. Initially only a Stanhope was available, but by the end of 1905, a number of coupes and depot wagons had been manufactured, 50 vehicles in all.
Many of the Rauch & Lang Electric's non-coachbuilt components were sourced from Cleveland's Hertner Electric Co. and following a $175,000 recapitalization, Hertner Electric became part of Rauch & Lang in 1907.
Charles E.J. Lang's family was associated with the Lakewood Realty Co., whose president, Charles. L.K. Wieber, provided much of Rauch & Lang's new capital. Wieber became the firm's new vice-president, and the rest of the officers were given a substantial increase in salary at the same time. John H. Hertner, the founder of Hertner Electric Co., and his chief engineer, D.C. Cunningham, were put in charge of the electric vehicle division and from that point on all of the automobile's components were manufactured in-house.
By 1908, they were producing 500 vehicles annually, and had back-orders for 300 more. Consequently, a mechanical engineer was brought in to see what could be done to increase capacity. A year later, the firm was recapitalized to the tune of $1,000,000 and Charles L.F. Wieber was given the title of general manager and a salary of $10,000. A new 340,000 sq. ft. factory was built, and the firm bought an interest in the Motz Clincher Tire and Rubber Co. to insure an adequate supply of tires.
In 1911, the Rauch and Lang Electric was voted the most popular car in San Francisco and Minneapolis and a year later, worm drive was introduced. A Rauch & Lang advertisement penned by Albert Lasker of the Lord & Thomas Advertising Agency stated:
"Again has the Rauch and Lang electric asserted its premiership as Society's chosen car. The success of the new worm drive has been immediate."
"This new feature means continued leadership in driving quality just as the beautiful body lines, rich finish and ultra refinement in every detail have always marked supremacy of Rauch and Lang construction. They are enthusiastic because the Rauch and Lang Straight Type Worm Drive (top mounted), which is superior to all others, means a greater than ever all 'round efficiency, a silence that is manifest, a power economy hitherto unknown and a driving simplicity that appeals to the most timid women. The Rauch and Lang is the highest priced automobile on the market. Its value is readily apparent to those who seek in a car artistic and mechanical perfection."
Later that year they were sued by their cross-town rivals, the Baker Electric Vehicle Co., for infringing upon Baker's patented drivetrain.
In 1912, 356,000 passenger cars were produced in the United States, and towards the end of the year, Charles Rauch, the founding father of Rauch & Lang, passed away. On November 26, 1912, the board of directors elected Charles C.F. Wieber president and general manager of the Rauch and Lang Carriage Company. Charles E.J. Lang became vice-president-treasurer and F. W. Treadway the firm's new secretary.
The October 23, 1913, issue of the Automobile announced that Rauch and Lang had introduced a radically new drive principle, the bevel gear transmission. They also introduced the dual control coach, a five-passenger, $3200 electric sedan that could be driven from either the front seat, the rear seat, or both, a safety switch deactivated the forward controls if the revolving front seat was in any position other than forward.
A period Rauch & Lang ad boasted: "Whatever your ideas today, you are certain to come to the conclusion, sooner or later, that an enclosed automobile like the Rauch & Lang Electric combines all the desirable features and eliminates all the well-known annoyances and much of the expense incident to gasoline cars."
The introduction of Charles Kettering's self-starter in 1912 market the beginning of the end for the electric automobile and by 1915 their share of the burgeoning automobile marketplace had fallen dramatically. Despite their earlier lawsuit, Cleveland's two electric vehicle manufacturers decided to merge, hoping that by streamlining their engineering and manufacturing operations, they might survive.
On June 10, 1915, the Automobile announced the merger, and the resulting firm, the Baker, Rauch & Lang Co. was capitalized for $2,500,000. The officers were: Charles C.F. Wieber, president; Frederick R. White, first vice-president; Charles E. J. Lang, second vice-president; R. C. Norton, treasurer; G. H. Kelly, secretary; F. W. Treadway, counsel. Fred R. White and Rollin C. White, two of the owners of the White Motor Co., were early investors in Baker, and as such were represented on the new Baker, Rauch & Lang Co.'s board of directors.
It soon became apparent that the days of the electric car were numbered and despite both firm's previous success, a decision was made to look for additional products to produce in their large Cleveland factories.
As early as 1902, Walter C. Baker and Justus B. Entz were independently searching for methods to simplify the operation of the motor vehicle. Baker concentrated his efforts on the electric vehicle, Entz on the electromagnetic transmission, a device that used a magnetic field to drive a propeller or driveshaft. By varying the intensity of the field, a vehicle could go faster or slower without using a clutch. Baker purchased the rights to the Entz patents in 1912, and licensed them to R.M. Owen & Company, the producer of the Owen Magnetic, a gasoline-engined car that utilized an Entz transmission.
It was decided that Baker, Rauch & Lang would produce the Owen Magnetic in Cleveland, so in December of 1915, they absorbed R.M. Owen & Co. and relocated it to Cleveland. Raymond M. Owen became a vice-president of Baker, Rauch & Lang and was placed in charge of sales for the Owen Magnetic whose drivetrains were built in the former West 83rd Street Baker plant, the coachwork in the former Rauch & Lang facilities.
The new vehicle attracted the attention of the General Electric Company, and in 1916 they contributed $2,500,000 to the venture which increased Baker, Rauch & Lang's capitalization to $5,000,000. In return, General Electric was given exclusive contracts for the vehicle's electrical components and got three seats on their board of directors.
The Owen Magnetic proved popular and was available in nine versions, four on a 29hp 125-inch wheelbase and five on a 34hp 136-inch wheelbase - all powered by a six-cylinder gasoline motor. Rauch & Lang's coachwork was amongst the finest available, and the attractive cars featured styling similar to that of the finest European chassis. The cars were priced from $3100 to $5700 and were owned by many celebrities including: Enrico Caruso, John McCormack, Arthur Brisbane and Anthony Joseph Drexel Biddle.
Baker, Rauch & Lang built most of the Owen-Magnetic's coachwork, however in 1916-1917 a small series of open sports tourers were built by Holbrook that featured distinctive flat-topped and angled front and rear fenders.
Unfortunately the impending war forced Baker, Rauch & Lang to abandon full production of the vehicle and much of their workforce geared up to manufacture electric tractors, trucks and bomb-handling equipment for the US Armed Forces. Baker had experimented with electric industrial trucks prior to the merger and following the Armistice, Baker, Rauch & Lang's indus trial trucks and tractors were placed on the market and eventually became the firm's most popular product.
On January 13, 1919, Charles C.F. Wieber was made chairman of the board of directors and Frederick R. White was named president. E. J. Bartlett was named a vice-president and general manager. Notably absent from the reorganized board was Charles E. J. Lang and Raymond M. Owen, the firm's two vice-presidents.
Although the legal name of the firm continued to be Baker, Rauch & Lang Co., following Lang's departure their products were marketed as either Raulang or Baker-Raulang products although they wouldn't change their legal name until 1937.
In exchange for his stock, Owen had been given the rights to manufacture the Owen-Magnetic on his own and relocated to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania where he made an arrangement with Frank Matheson to build them in the former Matheson automobile plant. A couple hundred more Owen Magnetics were completed in Pennsylvania before the firm when bankrupt in 1921. Much of Owen's 1920 and 1921 output was sent to England re-badged as the Crown Ensign (aka Crown Magnetic). Crown was the name of the British importer Crown Limited who also manufactured the British Ensign. Total Owen Magnetic production from 1915 to 1921 was approximately 975 vehicles, of which only a handful survive.
Charles E. J. Lang sold his interest in Baker, Rauch & Lang and organized the Lang Body Co. with the proceeds. Early on, Lang received several large orders from Dodge and Lincoln for production bodies, but was out of business by 1924.
The electric automobile division of Baker, Rauch & Lang was sold to Raymond S. Deering, a Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts businessman who also owned the former factory and assets of the defunct Stevens-Duryea Motor Co. He reorganized that firm in 1919 as Stevens-Duryea Inc. and started production of a new Stevens-Duryea automobile. Using the Rauch & Lang trade name, Deering manufactured a small number of electric taxicabs in a new plant that was built next to the existing Stevens-Duryea factory. Unfortunately, a number of financial setbacks plagued the Deering enterprises and by 1922, both firms were in receivership.
In another one of the great coincidences is US automotive history, Raymond M. Owen, the former builder of the Owen Magnetic and current president of the Syracuse Owen-Dyneto Electric Corp., purchased Stevens-Duryea Inc. for $450,000, and started producing new Stevens-Duryea automobiles in 1924 as Stevens-Duryea Motors Inc. Robert W. Stanley was placed in charge of the Rauch & Lang Inc. subsidiary and Owen's brother Ralph was placed in charge of Stevens-Duryea. Only 53 Stevens-Duryea cars were produced through 1927, and only a handful of Rauch & Lang taxis.
However the firm survived for a few more years building and repairing truck, bus and van bodies for area firms. In August, 1928, half of the Rauch & Lang plant was leased to the Moth Aircraft Corporation (the US subsidiary of DeHaviland Aircraft, Ltd.) to build the Gypsy Moth airplane.
Between 1929 and 1930, Raymond M. Owen's Rauch & Lang Inc. produced a couple of experimental automobiles with electronic automatic transmissions with backing from a disabled millionaire named Colonel Edward H.R. Green. Green was the incredibly wealthy son of the Witch of Wall Street, Hetty Green. When Edward was only 10, he severely injured a leg while sledding. Because his tight-fisted mother refused to pay for a doctor to treat the leg, gangrene developed, and the leg had to be amputated. He had the last laugh as he spent her $95 million dollar fortune as fast as he could following her death in 1916.
(source: Copyright 2003-2005 Coachbuilt.com, Inc. All rights reserved.)
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