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Transportation, Automobile, Art, Sport Hill Climb, Connecticut, Berliet Auto, Antique Photograph, 1907


Second Annual Hill Climb, Bridgeport Automobile Club, Sport Hill, Easton Conn.
Connecticut: May 30, 1907
Black and white photograph, mounted on board
11.5 x 14 inches, overall
Provenance: Estate of James Carr

Photograph of an early 40-horsepower Berliet automobile driven by a duo during the 1907 Sport Hill Climb, a popular annual road race sponsored by the Bridgeport Automobile Club at Sport Hill in Easton, Connecticut. The observers are seen in the background through the rising dust. During much of the first decade of the 20th century, the Sport Hill Climb was held annually on May 30, or Decoration Day, which later became known Memorial Day. Early auto racing took place on public roads, and Sport Hill provide a steep, winding gravel road ending in a straightaway at the top, providing a challenging and exciting setting. The driver of the car is listed as W.J. Morden of the Yale University Automobile Club. University records indicate that Morden graduated from the university’s Sheffield Scientific School as a member of the Class of 1908.

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Although the inscription on the back of the photo labels this the “Second Annual Hill Climb,” the year of the first race is unclear and may have been as early as 1902. By 1907 the Sport Hill Climb was open to both professional and amateur drivers, some of whom were sponsored by automobile manufacturers. According to a 2020 article published by the Easton Courier News:

The races were officially sanctioned by the Automobile Club of Bridgeport that also sponsored the event. By 1908 it had already become one of the most recognized hill climbs in the entire country and was getting national media attention by newspapers and periodicals alike. The Sport Hill event drew large crowds – estimated by some to exceed five thousand spectators – and by 1909 it was arguably the best- known automobile racing event on the east coast after the prestigious Vanderbilt Cup races that were held on Long Island each year between 1904 and 1910.

The Berliet was manufactured in Lyon, France. The company was named for its founder, Marius Berliet (1864-1949), who assembled his first one-cylinder vehicle in 1894. By the early 1900s he had established thriving factories, thanks to strong sales in North America. He also established successful lines of commercial vehicles, and stopped producing passenger cars to concentrate on industrial vehicles and trucks in 1939. The company was sold to Citroen in the early 1960s and is now a part of the Renault Industrial Vehicles division.

Inscription on verso: “Second Annual Hill Climb. Bridgeport Automobile Club. Sport Hill, Easton Conn. Memorial Day, May 30, 1907. 40 H.P. “Berliet” Driver, W. J. Morden. Yale University Automobile Club.”

Condition: Generally very good with the usual light overall toning, soiling, scratches, mild wear, mostly to edges. Mounted on thick pasteboard, probably as issued.


Fabrice01. “Re: Berliet.” Plebicity. (24 August 2004).

Nelson, Bruce. “The Sport Hill Races – 1908.” Easton Courier News. 30 May 2020. (5 November 2021).

“Admissions to New York Yale Club.” Yale Alumni Weekly. October 10, 1919. p. 62. Online at: (5 November 2021).

Additional information


20th Century