If you're from St. Cloud, you may already be aware that there was once a car maker right here in town. It's interesting what happened, and why they closed down so quickly!

According to Minnpost, in 1918 the first car from the St. Cloud auto maker rolled off the assembly line - called the Pan Car. The auto had fold-down seats for sleeping, a compartment for tools and extra gasoline, clearance for bumpy country roads, and a place for food and drink - luxury back in those days. A couple years prior to that, Sam Pandolfo took to the road and started selling shares of stock in his car company for $10 per share. By 1917 there were 9,000 shareholders. St. Cloud was decided as the home town for the company because of it's proximity to Duluth's harbors and iron ore mines, as well as St. Cloud's 2 major rail lines.


Pandolfo built the Drop Forge Plant (now Brock White Company) to build the automobile in St. Cloud. He also built housing for his workers near the plant. Those homes are still there, and that area of St. Cloud is known as "Pantown".

At the end of 1919 Sam Pandolfo was fined $4000 and sentenced to 10-years in prison for mail fraud. The plant and company shut down, and St. Cloud lost it's chance to become a major auto manufacturing town. The Pan Motor Company continued to build metal products and auto parts for other auto makers until it shut it's doors for good in 1922.

Pandolfo died in 1960 in Alaska where he was originally buried. In 2011 he was re-buried in St. Cloud, the town and community that gave him his original dream of owning a major automobile company.

A great video tour of Pantown and the story of Pan Motor Company is below. It's a story every person from St. Cloud should watch:

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