Mercer in the Mud

I am not sure about the story behind this adventurous pair, but the car is obviously a Mercer, based on the signage on its bonnet. Mercer was named after the New Jersey County in which it was incorporated. They produced quality cars and were quite competitive in racing for several years until Team Captain Spencer Wishart was killed in 1914 at the Elgin, Illinois road race. The company was a victim of the natural shake-out of a maturing industry hampered by a recession in the early 1920's and the death of one of its principles, Walter Roebling II in the Titanic disaster of 1912. The brand survived until 1925.
As for this photo, it is likely that this was part of trail blazing tour or an endurance run such as the Glidden Tour, which was conducted from 1902 to 1913. As part of the effort to promote better roads and to illustrate where cars could travel even around remote areas of the country, trade publications frequently sponsored such adventurers as they surveyed and assessed terrain.

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