The Million Mile Man

Cañon City Daily Record
December 22, 1945
Frank Bunten, Who Began Driving in 1905, Finishes Millionth Mile
Frank L. Bunten completed one million miles of motor vehicle driving in 40 years at 9 a.m., Sunday morning, Dec. 22. During that time he never had a serious accident of any kind in which anybody was hurt or any motor vehicle damaged to any extent.
The millionth mile was completed in front of the Daily Record office after a trip to Three Mile Springs and back, making the six miles necessary to complete the of which Mr. Bunten has kept carefully during all his driving experience.

Frank L. “Peanut” Bunten, Cañon City’s first auto salesman, was a well-known sight around the city. He always took a daily walk into town and kept pieces of cellophane wrapped candy to hand out according to his obituary in the Cañon City Daily Record on July 9, 1962. Born in Coatesville, Indiana on August 15, 1880, Bunten and his family moved to Colorado in 1886, arriving in Cañon City three years later. The first automobile to be driven into Cañon City was by Dr. G.H. Kellenberger in 1902. Bunten was fascinated by automobiles and purchased an Oldsmobile in 1905 with money saved from his bicycle shop.

Bunten was operating his bicycle shop at 316 Main Street when he opened an agency to sell the Reo, a six-horsepower model, in 1906. He later sold Maxwell, Ford, Buick, and Cadillac cars. In the meantime, he maintained automobiles for hire. He charged $25 for a trip to Colorado Springs, $20 for a trip to Pueblo, and $25 for a trip and return from Salida. By 1910, he sold off his automobile business and moved to Oregon for a year. Upon his return to Cañon City, Bunten opened an auto stage line to Cripple Creek. Discontinuing that business in 1922, Bunten then operated a Chevrolet agency in Alamosa followed by a motor court in Flagstaff, Arizona which he operated until 1952 upon his retirement. Bunten then returned to Cañon City.

The nickname of Peanut was supposedly inherited by Bunten from his stepfather who was called the same due to his habit of chewing peanuts after he quit using tobacco. Regardless of its origins, Peanut stuck as a nickname. In his youth, Bunten was considered a champion racer in many of the bicycle races he entered. Bunten married Josephine Fourney on September 27, 1906. The couple had a daughter and two sons. Bunten passed away in July 1962 at the age of 81.

Happy Birthday, Frank “Peanut” Bunten!

A grayscale photographic print of a man identified as F. L. “Peanut” Bunten inside his bicycle repair shop located at 316 Main in Cañon City, 1904. Object ID: 1997.069.004; Copyright Royal Gorge Regional Museum & History Center

A grayscale copy print of two men in a “Star Car” being driven up a wooden ramp to the top of a brick building. One of the men in the car is identified as Frank Bunten, ca. 1922. Object ID: 1997.069.009; Copyright Royal Gorge Regional Museum & History Center

The information presented in this article is compiled using research conducted by the Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center.        

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *