Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Nebraska Newspaper Articles

[the following are all the articles I could find for the Corps leg across Nebraska. Blogger is somewhat awkward about how paragraphs are shown. I put a [P] in some of the larger articles to indicate paragraph breaks. - MH]


The Crawford Celebration

The celebration at Crawford on Saturday last was a grand success in every particular, the day was an ideal one for such an occasion—cool in the morning and evening and war in the middle of the day—and the crowd in attendance was much larger than anyone expected, at least from twelve to fifteen hundred out-of-town on-lookers witnessing and participating in the festivities and amusements provided.

Early in the morning, after the firing of the National salute, the Gate City band favored the people with several very excellent pieces of music, each of which was highly appreciated. This new organization is fast winning its way into popular favor, and is deserving of the patronage of our home people whenever its services can be utilized for public occasions.

Just before noon the bicycle corps of the Twenty-fifth infantry, which had left Edgemont at 4 o’clock Friday afternoon, arrived here and rode through town from the Northwestern to the B. & M. depot where they camped for dinner. The corps which left Missoula, Montana, near the British line, on the 14th of June for St. Louis is composed of twenty-four men, and is accompanied by Dr. Kennedy, whom the Tribune had the pleasure of chatting with concerning the trip. Lieutenant Moss is in command of the outfit and this long-distance march is made for the purpose of testing the utility of the bicycle for army use. Each man carries his gun strapped to his back and sixty rounds of ammunition, besides his blankets, cooking utensils and accoutrements. A bicycle repairer with a kit of tools is also with the expedition, and the accidents the wheels have met with so far have kept him pretty busy. Lieutenant Moss’s wheel broke down several days before the men got here and he came on ahead. Three of the soldiers’ wheels also collapsed before they reached Crawford, all being repaired here by Ira Dietrick. They have had a pretty hard trip from Missoula, having found great difficulty in riding several days through the snows this side of the divide and through the gumbo country, and men and wheels look rather somewhat worn out. Dr. Kennedy says the men have enjoyed good health from the start and are all in excellent condition physically, while the experiment so far has proven a success, as they had covered a distance of about 1,000 miles in twenty days, an average of fifty miles a day, probably over far the worst part of the road. It was nearly 4 o’clock when the corps started down Second street at a lively gait, Professor Gungl’s Ninth cavalry band greeting them with the strains of Annie Laurie as only that band can play that piece while the thousands of spectators who lined the sidewalks on either side of the street rent the air with the wildest cheers to speed them on their journey. On the anniversary of the Custer massacre the corps camped on that famous battle-field. The result of this trial trip will be watched for with a great deal of interest both by the military and civilians.

All the races and contests of the day were pulled off according to program without an accident and in a very satisfactory matter. All premiums were paid in fall [sic- full] and a happier or more enthusiastic crowd never gathered anywhere to enjoy the ceremonies and festivities incident to the Nation’s great holiday celebration.

The dance at night at Firemen’s hall was not very largely attended by our people, although the boys had given their services without price in opening up the day’s program with several good selections. Only twelve dollars was cleared for the benefit of the band. This is hardly treating the boys right. If our people wish this splendid organization to grow better, or even to exist, it will be necessary to show a more liberal substantial appreciation of its merits.

- Crawford Tribune [Crawford, NE] July 9, 1897

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A party of twenty colored soldiers from Fort Missaula [sic], Mon., camped near Alliance last Saturday night. They were accompanied by Lieutenant Morse [sic], a medical officer, and an associated press reporter. All were mounted upon bicycles, and each carried from forty to one hundred pounds, consisting of blankets, cooking utensils, guns, ammunition, half a tent, two days rations, repairs for the wheels, and all necessary and useful articles. St. Louis is their destination and the long journey is being made as a practical test to demonstrate the value of the bicycle in military operations. They rode Spaulding wheels, and there were eight different kinds of tires in use. The average miles per day at the time they reached here was forty-four, about eighty-five miles being the greatest distance covered in a single day. They start early each morning, resting several hours in the middle of the day, and riding late in the evening. The result of the experiment so far is said to be highly pleasing to the military authorities, and is being watched with great interest by the public in general.

- The Alliance Times [Alliance, NE] July 9, 1897

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A troop of twenty colored infantry arrived at Hyannis Tuesday noon on bicycles. They came from Ft. Missoula, Mont., and are bound for St. Louis. They are riding the “Spaulding” bicycle, a test to determine whether or not wheels would be preferable to horses for army work. It was extremely hot when the boys arrived here, and a very few were somewhat fatigued owing to alkali water which does not agree with them, but they were standing the heat mighty well. They took dinner here and resumed their journey in the evening.

- The Grant County Tribune [Hyannis, NE] July 9, 1897

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A bicycle corps of twenty-three soldiers of the regular army are expected to reach Broken Bow tonight. They are on a 2,000 mile wheel trip, under military orders, from Fort Missoula, Montana, to St. Louis. The troopers have had a hard time walking over the sand hills of the northwest, and are said to be footsore and weary. Nearly two-thirds of the distance has been covered and from this point on the trip will be a dream, over good roads and a well settled country.

- Custer County Chief [Broken Bow, NE] July 9, 1897

[The last line… “from this point on the trip will be a dream, over good roads and a well settled country” really gets me since I know what they faced up ahead]

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Out of Sand Into Mud

BROKEN BOW, Neb., July 11-- The army bicycle corps arrived here last night, water soaked and tired. The run through the sandhills was completed without serious mishap and better wheeling is hoped for on the eastern runs. Heavy rain, however, is now falling and may seriously impede the progress of the corps.

- Falls City Journal, [Falls City, NE] Friday, July 17, 1897

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Wheel Corps of the 25th Infantry Spend a Day in Broken Bow.

The wheel corps of the 25th infantry, enroute from Fort Missoula, Montana, to St. Louis, arrived in Broken Bow last Friday evening, just as a rain was beginning to fall, and took up quarters by invitation of the Holcomb Guards in Armory Hall. The troop consists of twenty colored soldiers from several different companies, under command of Second Lieutenant Jas. Moss, of the 25th Infantry. Surgeon J.M. Kennedy and official correspondant , E. H. Boos accompany the party, the last three named being white. The corps had a hard trip through the sandhills of northwest Nebraska, as well as over the mountains of Wyoming and Montana. Lots of mud was also encountered, and on reaching this haven of good roads, the troopers concluded to rest up a day and overhaul their wheels. A certain make of wheel is used, fitted especially for the trip, a gear case of oil cloth being used to cover the chain. The wheels weigh thirty pounds each and equipments carried average about sixty pounds. Each carries an army rifle, slung across his back, 100 rounds of ammunition in his belt, a blanket, one-half tent and tent pole strapped in front of the handle bars and in the leather case between the frame, rations, cooking utensils and necessaries of all kinds. Several of the cases are of sheet iron, which when taken off and apart are two large pans, used for cooking in. One of the soldiers acts in the capacity of repair man and when a puncture or break occurs trades wheels and makes the repairs by the roadside, catching up with the squad as best he can, taking a train if too far in the rear. A supply of rims, handle bars, pedals and tires are carried along. Very few breaks or punctures have occurred, however, for so large a party and those have usually been from carelessness. The costumes worn are rather plain, blue cotton shirts, brown canvas pants, brown leggings, shoes, hats and blue coats, the latter being strapped with the handles. The marching is done in single file, and when compelled to walk long distances on account of mud or sand, they usually take the railroad track. While the greater number are experienced wheelmen, several are beginners, one soldier having had two days experience before starting. All are standing the trip well however, and one of the party stated that an average of fifty-six miles per day had been made. The trip is being made at the instance of the government, to demonstrate the feasibility of the bicycle for military use, and its advantages—if any—over horses. It will be a journey of 2,000 miles, over all kinds of roads, 1,300 miles having been passed over when this place was reached. All day Saturday was spent here by the company, leaving at 5:30 a.m. Sunday, greatly refreshed. They expect to reach St. Louis about July 25th and do not yet know whether they will return awheel or on the train.

- Custer County Chief [Broken Bow, NE] July 16, 1897

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A troop of twenty colored soldiers from the infantry branch of the standing army passed through town [Mason City] Sunday afternoon, on their way from Mt. [sic] Missoula, Mont. On their way to St. Louis, Mo. The trip is being made on bicycles for the purpose of determining the value of the wheel for long marches. The trip through western Nebraska was very hard on account of the excessively hot weather and poor water. The troop rested one day at Broken Bow. The troop is under command of James A. Moss second lieutenant Twenty-fifth infantry. They made the trip from Ft. Missoula, Mont., to Broken Bow, a distance of 1,300 miles in twenty-five days, and expected to reach Lincoln Tuesday night.

- Mason City Transcript [Mason City, NE] July 15, 1897

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The 25th U.S. Infantry Bicycle Corps of Ft. Missoula, Mont., on a trial trip to St. Louis, in command of Lieut. Moss, stopped in Litchfield Sunday afternoon and took several hours to repair bicycles and escape riding in the heat of the day. The company numbered twenty-three, all colored except the lieutenant and surgeon. They were accompanied by Edward H. Boos, official reporter, who furnishes a detailed description of the trip to the Associated Press and several papers. Bicycles has been successfully introduced into the army for speedy action at short distance, but the object of this trip is to test the advantage of the use of wheels on long marches. The presence of the company in camp drew a large number of people curious to learn the details of this mode of travel. They are averaging about 60 miles a day without trouble, and left this place about 6 o’clock.

- Litchfield Monitor [Litchfield, NE] July 15, 1897

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Twenty soldiers from Fort Missoula, Montana came in this afternoon awheel making the run from Ravenna this morning. The lieutenant of the company, J. A. Most [sic], was seen by the reporter and stated that the company was en route to St. Louis. It started from the Montana fort on the 14th of last month and has made 1220 miles since that date. The men are al mounted on Spaulding’s military wheels a modification of the road wheel, the trip being a government experiment. The men made 62 miles yesterday, making the run from Broken Bow to Ravenna. This morning they made forty miles and expected to make Aurora this evening camping there for the night. The company will leave this city this evening at five o’clock.

- Grand Island Daily Independent [Grand Island, NE] July 12, 1897

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A detachment of United States colored soldiers from Montana, under command of Lieut. Moss, enroute to St. Louis on bicycles, camped in this city, Monday night. The object of the trip is to test the value of a bicycle for military purposes.

- The Aurora Republican [Aurora, NE] July 16, 1897

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Twenty-one colored soldiers, with two white officers, on their way from Montana to St. Louis, making a government test of bicycles in transporting troops, camped here Monday night. They were riding Spaulding wheels, furnished free of charge to the government. They carried an average of eighty pounds baggage, and are making fifty miles a day. A reporter of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat accompanied them. They carried guns, knapsacks, 50 rounds each of ammunition, and tents, blankets, extras for wheels. They used the Goodrich single-tube tandem tire. They rode in single file and make a very imposing appearance.
- The Aurora Sun [Aurora, NE] July 17, 1897
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A small detachment of the 25th Inft. On their way from Missoula, Montana, to St. Louis passed through Seward last evening about 6 o’clock. The party numbered twenty-three and were traveling on bikes. They have only averaged fifty-two miles a day, the roads being so bad, but expect to do better.

- The Blue Valley Blade [Seward, NE] July 14, 1897

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SOLDIERS IN TOWN

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Experimenters With the Bicycle for Army Reach Lincoln

The detachment of bicycle soldiers from the Twenty-fifth infantry, who are making the trip from Ft. Missoula, Mont., to St. Louis to test the efficiency of the bicycle for making long trips successfully, arrived in Lincoln at 9:30 a.m. today. They camped at Germantown last night, leaving there at 5:10 this morning. They were met at Germantown by Major Fechet, who accompanied them to the city. They will leave at 4:30 this afternoon for St. Joe. They left Fort Missoula on the 14th of June, and have had a pleasant time, although all admit to being pretty tired. The experiment has so far convinced the commandant, Lieut. Moss, that the bicycle has a future in the army. They are encamped on the capitol grounds. They carry with them tents, poles and other paraphernalia used by cavalrymen on march. There are representatives of Companies A, B, F and G of the Twenty-fifth Infantry. Lieut. Moss being of Company G. The men carry extra tires and rims, and each man rides a different make of wheel.

- The Evening News [Lincoln, NE] July 14, 1897

[All of the men rode Spaulding bicycles except Boos, who rode a Sterling- MH]

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WARRIORS ON CHARGERS OF STEEL

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Regular Army Bicycle Corps Takes a Short Rest at Lincoln

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Twenty Colored Wheelmen in Command

of Lieutenant Moss Making a

Test of the Bicycle

The bicycle corps of regular army soldiers arrived in Lincoln yesterday forenoon and remained until 5 p.m. The corps consisted of twenty colored soldiers from several companies of infantry stationed at Ft. Missoula, Mont., under command of Second Lieutenant James A. Moss, Twenty-fifth regiment. Surgeon J. M. Kennedy and Edward H. Boos, a young newspaper man , are members of the corps. The soldiers camped last night at Germantown, twenty miles from Lincoln. They started early yesterday morning and reached Lincoln about 10 o’clock. The men camped on the south side of the capitol lawn while the officers busied themselves about town, getting wheels repaired and hunting for information regarding roads southeast of Lincoln. [p]

The men attracted many people to their camp, especially cyclists, male and female. They were surrounded all the time by persons anxious to ascertain how they stood the trip, the time made and other details. The soldiers reclined on the grass after dinner and tried to get some rest, but the crowd of visitors made rest almost out of the question. Some tired fellows slept, however, with people tramping all around and over them. No tents were put dup. The wheels loaded with equipments were leaned up against one another or against trees. The wheels were all of the same make but eight different kinds of tires and both wood and steel rims are used. All chains are enclosed in oilcloth gear cases. Extra rims were carried ready for use in case of emergency. Other parts and repairs are distributed among the men. Each wheel weighs thirty-one pounds, including gun, cartridges, canteen, parts of tents and disjoined tent poles and all equipments, each wheel weighs seventy pounds. This weight varies with the kind of rations carried, uncooked being heavier than cooked rations. The various articles are attached to every possible part of the wheels. [p]

The soldiers are not gaudy in uniform. They wear blue cotton shirts, brown canvas trousers and leggings. Their hats are the white felt slouch of cavalrymen. Blue jackets are rolled up on the handlebars. [p]

The corps is on the way to St. Louis. The start was made one month ago yesterday and the destination will probably be reached July 25. So far the average distance covered each day is fifty miles. The greatest distance made in one day was seventy miles and the lowest was nine miles. The nine mile trip was made in Montana during a heavy rain in gumbo mud. The men had to walk slowly and stop every few moments to dig the mud off their wheels. In the worst of the sand hill country in Nebraska they made thirty-eight miles a day. The men have not been pushed so that it is impossible to tell how far they can go in a day. Nearly all are men who have had considerable experience wheeling. One man, however, had never ridden a wheel until two days before the start. He is now one of the best in the party. The experienced wheelmen keep up a little better, but so far the inexperienced men have kept pace with the others. [p]

The object of the trip is to test the practicability of the wheel for army service. Lieutenant Moss has had a corps in command for several months and some long trips have been made. At the fort he drills the men on their wheels. He as a drill suitable for movements on the bicycle, but the drill has not yet been made official by the war department. A part of the exercise is fence jumping. The speed with which men can ride at a fence, come to a stop and lift seventy pounds over the obstruction and then start again, is said to be equal to tests made by cavalrymen. No drills are given on the road, but exhibitions will be given every day after St. Louis is reached. [p]

The men take the railroad track in country where roads are bad. They ride in single file. Every other man carries a tent. The others carry an equal weight in blankets, or other equipments. Some carry big frying pans which are made in the shape of frame satchels, two locking together, fastened in the frame of the wheel. Two men carry big camp cans in which coffee is made. The reporter carries a flag and a camera. He also rode a different make of wheel. Rations are sent by the war department to stations along the way and the men call for the packages. The route is mapped out in advance and once determined on is not changed because of shipment of rations. The regular rations are issued no extras being allowed. [p]

Quite a crowd watched the men start last evening and several cameras were there to be leveled at the file, but the sun was obdurate and refused to shine. The route to be taken includes Roca, Hickman, Firth, Adams, Table Rock and Rulo. At the latter point the corps will cross the Missouri river. They will follow along the north bank of the Missouri river as closely as possible until they reach St. Louis.

- Nebraska State Journal [Lincoln, NE] Thursday morning, July 15, 1897

[The writer says, “The speed with which men can ride at a fence, come to a stop and lift seventy pounds over the obstruction and then start again, is said to be equal to tests made by cavalrymen” cracks me up. I keep picturing cavalrymen lifting their horses over a 9 foot fence- MH]

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The 22 soldiers and one reporter who started from Fort Missoula, in Montana, west of the Rocky Mountain range, on June 14, passed through Adams yesterday morning, July 15, on their way to St. Louis. They looked like they would be good for an all summer ride. On Wednesday evening they had made 1,000 miles of their trip and camped at Firth. The trip of these soldiers from Fort Missoula to St. Louis is to determine what can be done in the way of moving troops over the country on bicycles, and the route which has been selected over the mountains and through the sand hills is certainly a good test. On the first part of the trip over the mountains, they encountered heavy storms of rains and snow, swollen streams, and muddy roads. When they passed through here the roads were good. The wheels are the Spalding [sic] military bicycle of the 1897 pattern. They carried their guns, rations and equipments for camping. One of them who stopped in town to repair his wheel said that he had worked at chopping wood, harvesting and other heavy labor but the bicycle trips beats everything to give a man an appetite.

- The Adams Globe [Adams, NE] July 16, 1897

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The bicycle corps of the regular army soldiers passed through Sterling last Thursday forenoon. The corps consisted of twenty colored soldiers from several companies of infantry stationed at Ft. Missoula, Mont. They were under the command of Second Lieutenant James A. Moss, S. M. [sic – should be J.M.] Kennedy, Surgeon and accompanied by Edward H. Boos, a young newspaper man. They were on their way to St. Louis and the object of trip is test the practicality of the wheel for army service.

- The Sterling Eagle [Sterling, NE] July 22, 1897

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Soldiers On Wheels

The twenty soldiers from Ft. Missoula, Montana, who are on their way to St. Louis by bicycle, arrived in Tecumseh, Thursday noon, and remained here for two or three hours. The trip is being made by direction of the army department for the purpose of testing the efficiency of the bicycle for long distance marches. The men have been on the road about one month. They expect to reach St. Louis one week from tomorrow. The distance from Ft. Missoula to St. Louis is about 2,000 miles. The men are all colored but two or three and are under command of Leiutenant [sic] James A. Moss of the Twenty-fifth infantry, U.S.A.

- The Tecumseh Chieftan [Tecumseh, NE] July 17, 1897

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The bicycle corps of Uncle Sam’s regulars, who are riding from Missoula, Mont., to St. Louis, on bicycles camped on the old camp meeting grounds east of town last night. The corps consists of twenty colored soldiers, under command of Second Lieutenant James A Moss. Surgeon J. M. Kennedy and Edward H Boos, a reporter for the St. Louis Globe Democrat, are accompanying the corps. They arrived in town about 8:30 o’clock and rode immediately to their camping ground. The wheels were all of the same make but eight different kinds of tires and both wood and steel rims are used. All chains are enclosed in oilcloth gear cases. Extra rims were carried ready for use in case of emergency. Other parts and repairs are distributed among the men. Each wheel weighs thirty-one pounds. Including gun, cartridges, canteen, parts of tents and disjointed ten poles and all equipments, each wheel weighs seventy pounds. This weight varies with the kind of rations carried, uncooked being heavier than cooked rations. The various articles are attached to every possible part of the wheels. The object of the trip is to test the practicability of the wheel for army purposes. They make an average of fifty miles a day. Out in Montana, during a heavy storm the boys only made nine miles one day, walking through mud almost knee deep. The corps left at 5 o’clock this morning and will reach Rulo today, and keep down the north bank of the river to St. Louis.

- Table Rock Argus [Table Rock, NE] July 17, 1897

[The Table Rock reporter appears to have lifted much of his story from the July 15 story which appeared in the Nebraska State Journal]

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Bicycle Warriors

The bicycle corps of regular army soldiers arrived in Humboldt this morning about eight o’clock but went on through to Verdon their next stopping place. The corps consisted of twenty colored soldiers from several companies of infantry stationed at Ft. Missoula, Montana under command of Second Lieutenant James A. Moss, Twenty-fifth regiment. Surgeon J.M. Kennedy and Edward H. Boos, a young newspaper man, are members of the corps.

Two members of the company stopped in this city at the Filson house and procured refreshments while the main body pushed on. Their presence attracted quite a crowd which spent the time while they were eating in careful examination of their wheels and a general discussion of bicycles in general. One gentleman of this city would have the crowd understand that he was a walking encyclopedia when it came to bicycles and clearly remembered when the safety [safety bicycle] was used over thirty years ago. This made the ears stand out on some of the boys who were some “huckleberries” themselves on bicycles, but the tone carried conviction that the “safety” bicycle had been in use over a decade.

The wheels used were all of the same make, but eight different kinds of tires and both wood and steel rims are used. All chains are enclosed in oilcloth gear cases. Extra rims were carried ready for use in case of emergency. Other parts and repairs are distributed among the men. Each wheel weighs thirty-one pounds. Including gun, cartidges, canteen, parts of tents and disjointed tent poles and all equipments, each wheel weighs seventy pounds. This weight varies with the kind of rations carried, uncooked being heavier than cooked rations. The various articles are attached to every possible part of the wheels.

The soldiers are not gaudy in uniform. They wear blue cotton shirts, brown canvas trousers and leggings. Their hats are the white felt slouch of cavalrymen. Blue jackets are rolled up on the handlebars.

The Corps is on the way to St. Louis. The start was made one month ago Wednesday and the destination will probably be reached July 25. So far the average distance covered each day is fifty miles. The greatest distance made in one day was seventy miles and the lowest was nine miles. The nine mile trip was made in Montana during a heavy rain in gumbo mud. The men had to walk slowly and stop every few moments to dig the mud off their wheels. In the worst of the sand hill country in Nebraska they made thirty-eight miles a day. The men have not been pushed so that its impossible to tell how far they can go in a day. Nearly all are men who have had considerable experience in wheeling. One man, however, had never ridden a wheel until two days before the start. He is now one of the best in the party. The experienced wheelmen keep up a little better, but so far the inexperienced men have kept pace with the others.

The object of the trip is to test the practibility of the wheel for army service. Lieutenant Moss has had a corps in command for several months and some long trips have been made. At the fort he drills the men on their wheels. He has a drill suitable for movements on the bicycle, but the drill has not yet been made official by the war department. A part of the exercise is fence jumping. The speed with which men can ride at a fence, come to a stop and lift seventy pounds over the obstruction and then start again, is said to be equal to tests made by cavalrymen. No drills are given on the road, but exhibitions will be given every day after St. Louis is reached.

The men take the railroad track in country where roads are bad. They ride in single file. Every other man carries a tent. The others carry an equal weight in blankets or other equipments. Some carry big frying pans which are made in the shape of frame satchels, two locking together, fastened in the frame of the wheel. Two men carry big camp cans in which coffee is made. The reporter carries a flag and a camera. He also rode a different make of wheel [a Sterling – MH]. Rations are sent by the war department to stations along the way and the men call for the packages. The route is mapped out in advance and once determined on is not changed because of shipment of rations. The regular rations are issued, no extras being allowed.

The corps will cross the Missouri river at Rulo which was their destination on leaving this city. They will follow along the north bank of the Missouri river as closely as possible until the reach St. Louis.

- The Humboldt Leader [Humboldt, NE] Friday, July 16, 1897

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[This article seems to be copied in parts from an article which appeared in the Nebraska State Journal on July 15. I wonder if Boos supplied many of the details over the wire. The Filson house where two of the men (I’m guessing Boos and Kennedy) “procured refreshments” was quite possibly a saloon. The June 5, 1897 edition of the Humboldt Standard (Humboldt had two newspapers!) tells us: T.T. FESSLER HOTEL

Came to this city on the first of April, 1896, and started a boarding house. His trade increased so rapidly that he found it necessary to seek larger quarters. He is now located in the old Filson house, has made it an up-to-date house and is able to accommodate a large number with board and rooms. ]

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Twenty-two colored soldiers together with the officer in command and an associated press reporter, both white men, passed through this place on bicycles last Friday. The detachment is on its way from Fort Missoula, Montana to St. Louis. The trip was undertaken to test the bicycles for transferring soldiers from one post to another. Nearly all of them arrived here about 10:30 o’clock and rested until after eleven o’clock when they continued on their way. The rest of the men were pretty badley [sic] scattered out, the last one, who was quite sick, not arriving until evening. They have been on the road a little over a month and expect to reach St. Louis by August 1st.

- The Verdon Vedette [Verdon, NE] July 23, 1897

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[The Falls City Journal has an etching of six of the soldiers on their bicycles. Strangely, there is no article anywhere in this issue to explain the picture—only a captain “Uncle Sam’s Bicycle Cavalry” above the piece. Click here to see the sketch]

- Falls City Journal [Falls City, NE] Friday, July 23, 1897

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The twenty-one colored soldiers that started from Ft. Missoula, Montana, on June 15, under command of Second Lieutenant James Moss, of the Twenty-fifth regiment, Surgeon J. M. Kennedy and Edward H. Boos, a young newspaper man, crossed the Missouri river on Ferryman Graham’s boat here at different intervals between 4 o’clock last Friday afternoon and 12 o’clock Sunday forenoon. None of them stopped here any length of time, as they desire and expect to reach St. Louis, Mo., their designation [sic], by July 25. They are mounted on bicycles weighing only thirty-one pounds. The men wear blue cotton shirts, brown canvas trousers with leggings and wear the regulation white slouch hats. Their blue jackets, parts of tents and disjointed tent poles, blankets, water canteens, cooking utensils etc., are strapped to the machines making them weigh on an average of seventy pounds each. They are all of one make, but eight different kinds of tires and both wood and steel rims are used. A distance of a little over 1500 miles had been reeled off when they got here, the average distance covered being fifty miles per day. Seventy miles was the greatest distance they had traveled in any one day and nine miles the least. Out in the sand hill part of Nebraska they report having gone on an average of thirty-eight miles per day. The object of the trip is to test the practibility [sic] of the wheel for army use. Despite the hot weather all had enjoyed good health until they reached Salem [S of Verdon and W of Falls City] where some had to lay over on account of being afflicted with cramps, which accounts for the straggling way in which they passed Rulo

- The Rulo Reporter [Rulo, NE] July 23, 1897

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The colored regiment which passed through this city sometime ago enroute for St. Louis arrived at their destination before the date set for their arrival. The experiment proved a success and bicycles will undoubtedly be more generally introduced into the army service.

- Falls City Journal [Falls City, NE] Friday, July 30, 1897

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A LONG RIDE ENDED
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Troop Bike All the Way from Fort Missoula, Mont., to St. Louis.

ST. LOUIS, July 26. --The Twenty-Fifth United States infantry bicycle corps, which reached this city Saturday night, completing its 2,000-mile ride from Fort Missoula, Mont., in 40 days, 35 of which were actually spent on the road, are encamped at Forest Park.
The Twenty-Fifth infantry bicycle corps left Fort Missoula, Mont., on June 14, 23 in number; Lieut. J.A. Moss, Surgeon J.M. Kennedy and Edward H. Boos, the official reporter, and 20 soldiers selected from four companies stationed at Fort Missoula. During the trip one of the men was returned to Fort Missoula on account of not being able to keep up.

- Falls City Daily News, Falls City, NE Friday, July 30, 1897

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The Twenty-fifth United States Infantry bicycle corps, which camped in this city on the night of the 12 inst., reached their destination, St. Louis, last Saturday night, after a ride from Fort Missoua, Mont, 1900 miles in thirty-five days. Lieutenant Moss, who is in command of the corps, says: “The trip has proven beyond peradventure my contention that the bicycle has a place in modern warfare. In every kind of weather, over all sorts of roads we averaged fifty miles a day. Seventeen tires and a half dozen broken frames is the sum of our damage. The practical result shows that an army bicycle corps can travel twice as fast as a cavalry of infantry under any condition, and at one-third the cost and effort.”

- The Aurora Republican [Aurora, NE] July 30, 1897

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Day 29 - Hannibal, MO to St. Louis, MO

I made it! Here I am (no, I'm not wincing, I'm squinting into the sun) with the World's Fair Pavillion of Forest Park in St. Louis in the background. I think this place is very close to where the Corps ended their trip. It was an intensely beautiful evening and the Park is stunning. To top it off I love fountains. This one, in the background, had moms and young couples--hugging--on the edges. Children were splashing in the water. Several kids dropped to their bellies and pulled themselves along as though trying to immerse as much of their bodies in the wonder of it as possible. The moment was enchanted and bordered on spiritual for me. It was a perfect ending for my journey. I'm quite sure it will be etched on my mind forever.

Today's ride, holds a multitude of memories. For starters, I had two companions--my sister's 15 year old son, who wanted to see what it's like to ride 50 miles without stopping, and a dear friend, "The Wellman", who goes clear back to my high-school days. I say "dear friend" because I'm hoping he'll forgive me for telling the story that is about to follow. It is way too good to let go untold...

When The Wellman got to Hannibal last night he casually mentioned needing to hit the local BigBox Store. After settling in at the B & B, I offered to go with him. My questions about what he might need at BigBox-Mart were answered when he let me know he'd left his bicycle back at home. No, he wasn't bailing out on the ride, he'd forgotten the bike through a tangled myriad of car switches and last minute concerns. We were going to the Box to find a bike. We found one, a red beauty with full-suspension. The Power Climber. Eighty-eight bucks. He took a quick spin in the adjacent towel aisle next to the bike rack in the store. Looks okay I tried to convince myself. At the checkout, the cashier whispered to The Wellman not to bother with the extended warranty which would add $5.88 to the cost of the bike. "It's not worth it", she said glancing left and right to make sure her supervisors weren't around. That night I tossed and turned at the B & B. Worries about the road closure and my two travel companions were chasing me. I knew the 20 miles out of Hannibal had some long hills. How would my buddies do? I felt responsible for them having an enjoyable experience. But with the road closed, our sag help would have difficulty helping out.

Reality started to assert itself in the morning when the Wellman got on his $88 wheel. The frame was advertised as 26" but it looked about right for a third-grader. Even though all but 1/4" of the long seat post was up, Wellman couldn't extend his legs. Wellman had found a difficulty that the Corps hadn't experienced...trying to ride a piece of junk on which your legs can't extend past 45 degrees. And the 18-speeds were really more like 10 since some of the gear combinations creating a clatter that wouldn't go away until the rider decided to move on to another ring. We got to Louisiana. Wellman Lance Armstronged it up the hills, standing up on the pedals (absolutely devastating to 48-year-old quadraceps). The road winds up and down the bluffs that bound the Mississippi. It is heavily wooded but offers an occasional glimpse down to the river. After climbing several long hills that were so steep we decided walking would be easier (Moss tells about doing this as well) we'd covered 20 miles and arrived at the road closure. We pressed on past the barriers and after a long downhill found ourselves on flatter farm ground. I wonder if Moss and the Corps followed this road or were they closer to the river? His report says the roads were "Up and down" so maybe we road the same road as the 25th.

Just before reaching Louisiana I spotted an older gentleman out in his yard. "How far to Louisiana?" I asked? "One and three-tenths miles" he drawled with absolute certainty and then, with words that are pure honey to a rider, "after this little hill, it's all downhill into town." "How long have you lived here?" I asked. "All my life". I spotted a beautiful brickhouse behind him. Is that your place? I found out it was. Pre-Civil War. He also mentioned how one of the owners had to give up her slaves when her husband died. The old man sounded sad when he related that part. Although he was quite friendly I decided not to tell him my story or about the Corps. I caught up to my companions in downtown Louisiana. They were sitting on a curb waiting for me. We decided to look for a park and wait for our saggers - my sister and mother. I spotted a young black woman walking down the street, strolling her baby and hand-in-hand with an older child. After asking directions to the park, I told her about my project and mentioned I'd heard that Pike County had had a bad reputation for racism back in the 1800s. "Has it ended?" I asked. "Yeah, for the most part." Thanks be to God.

At Louisiana our break extended into lunch and The Wellman had to travel back to home and work... Wellman, my mom and sister think you are gallant for riding thirty miles cold turkey. So do I. Thanks for doing part of the ride with me. The fact that you rode a hunk o'junk just adds to the gift you gave.

After I shuttled Wellman back to Hannibal in my pickup I made a decision. From Louisiana the Corps rode to Eolia, then Troy and back to Old Monroe. If you look at a map you'll see that there is a direct route from Louisiana to Old Monroe following Highway 79. Why did Moss and the Corps go out of their way? I don't know. It doesn't make sense considering how eager they surely were to be done. And there was a rail line that closely follows the same path as 79. The modern stretch from Eolia to Troy would be back on a four-lane highway that locals told me was chock full of truck traffic heading to St. Louis. I can't take that anymore, I thought to myself. I made a decision to depart from my goal to follow the Corps route as closely as possible. My nephew and I rode down 79.

Highway 79 runs into I-70 a major artery feeding traffic into the city. Our ride down 79, the Little Dixie Highway, was along the river and very beautiful with quaint towns every 8 miles or so. As we headed south we had a tailwind and the miles were rolling by very pleasantly with an occasional hill. But, there were no shoulders and traffic was getting heavier. I made another decision. The whole trip I had wondered how I would negotiate the horrendous traffic in St. Louis. Obviously, it would be difficult if not dangerous. We were close to I-70, near St. Peters, so I decided to get in the car and head for St. Louis and Forest Park rather than extend the ride one more day. Due to rain it took the Corps nearly a full day to do this. We did it in about an hour and I don't regret it a bit.

My sister, having been to St. Louis, led in her van. She has an eerily intuitive sense of direction and zeroed in on Forest Park as though being sucked into a vortex. Forest Park is somewhat akin to Central Park in NYC but bigger. One can actually drive into it and it contains a zoo, several museums, lakes, paddle boating and even a golf course. There are about six entry roads into the park. The Corps rode into the park from the north, following the St. Charles Rock Road which is now Martin Luther King Drive. They turned at Union Street which is directly above the Park and rode in. The newspapers tell us they were escorted by bicycle enthusiasts and that the crowds of well-wishers lining the streets grew block by block and the soldiers got ever closer. I can't imagine what must of been going through the heads of the soldiers as they got close to the end.

The Corps journey ended at a hotel/restaurant called the Cottage which was at the top of a hill in Forest Park. It is long gone but records tell us it was very close to the south end of the modern-day St. Louis Zoo and a famous landmark called the Pavilion which, today, also rests at the top of a hill. The Pavilion was built shortly after the famous World's Fair held in St. Louis. Behind the Cottage was a wooded area where the soldiers camped for several days. Thousands came to visit them. When we pulled in, up ahead was the Pavilion. We found two parking spots immediately. We stopped. Incredible! To our right was the very spot I think the soldiers camped. I noticed two women in chairs, off by themselves under a giant shady tree,visiting . I was struck by the similarity of them and a picture I'd seen in one of the St. Louis reports, and the feeling that this was the spot where the Corps journey ended. I wanted so badly to ask them if they knew about what happened in the spot they were sitting over 100 years ago. They'd think I'm a nut.


We were all hungry and went to get dinner. When we returned those two women were still there. I got my bicycle and rode with my nephew around the park. The humidity that was so heavy in Nebraska and Missouri was gone. We wondered over to the Pavilion and waded in the fountain. The sun was setting. The temperature was absolutely perfect. A driver rode by and sarcastically yelled at the kids and lovers playing in the fountain something about being baptized (a couple was sort of passionately wrestling themselves into the shallow pool below the main fountain) Maybe the driver wasn't so mistaken. A moment so intensely beautiful as this evening and in this place-- that and the water. I think it could have the power to heal.

My journey was over. What a way to end it. Wow. I rode back to my truck. Those two women were still visiting under that tree. I took pictures of the forest behind them even though I knew a picture couldn't possibly capture what I was seeing. This is the Corps camping spot I kept thinking. And then, I couldn't resist. I tried to discreetly take a picture of the women. I got it. I was hustling out of there. "Did you just take my picture?" one of them hollered as I slinked away. Caught! Oh man, how embarassing. "Yes," I admitted. "Well, get over here and take another one so I can smile this time!" I sheepishly shuffled over. We chatted briefly. They told me they were having some "me time". Both were having trouble with their men friends and commiserating about their next moves. They told me all this in a light-hearted way that made me laugh. I handed them a business card I had made with the address of this website. I'd been handing them out the whole trip. It was a way to try to give people a clue about what I was doing. Of all the people I met on this bicycle trip, and I met a lot of people, I think these two I would like the most to understand what I am doing.

You two women: Sorry I took your picture without asking first. If you read this then you found the blog. I am glad. Maybe you'll understand something about the magic I was seeing in the place you were sitting if you read about the riders and their journey. You probably thought I was crazy. Maybe you are right. Trying to explain to you would be like a person trying to explain they really did see a UFO. Explanation would only serve to convince you they didn't see anything. But, what the heck, my cover is blown and I'm going to try to explain. Moss once said that there is a poetry in cycling. I think maybe there is a poetry in many things. And I think there is meaning in places and times and little stories that are bigger than we can comprehend. How about this thought-- there are infinitesimal threads that bind every thing together...even all of us. We can't see them (but I think we can sense it if we still our minds) but we and everything we see are far more connected than we realize. And that meaning that I feel rather than think, is there about the Bicycle Corps. There's a bigger meaning to it. There's such a thing as a Bigger Meaning. So here's the deal you two women (or were you angels?). I could tell you some things about my trip and the Corps to try to explain but you know I don't really understand it myself. But I still think there's something there and I'd invite you to look and see if there isn't something there for you too. Maybe we'll all get together in Act Two and see how a bunch of brave riders, a Park and a long bicycle trip, and a chance encounter was bound up with our lives. It was all connected.

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To my readers: I am going to start putting the articles on the blog. I'll make a post here with all of them and also add them to the main page.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Day 28- Macon, MO to Hannibal, MO


Today I got off to an early start, around 4:45 am to try to beat the Missouri heat and humidity. I've been looking forward to making Hannibal for sometime. Amazingly, today was the first flat tire I suffered the whole trip. I picked up a thin steel thread, probably from a piece of tire. It was a slow leak and I tried to ride it out for about five miles. I can't believe I haven't had more flats. I'm a fairly big guy.

The two-lane highway was split by traffic cones as workers were pouring new concrete lanes to connect the eastbound and westbound lanes. I took advantage of this and rode in the now empty lane. It was a lot of fun to have a whole lane all to myself although I was a little concerned some MoDot (Missouri Department of Transportation) worker would frown on my riding in a "work zone". Moss claimed that the condition of the roads said something about the inhabitants of the place the Corps rode through. I can't make any such judgments, in Missouri anyway, because, as I mentioned in an earlier blog Hwy 36 has cut me off from the towns, history and people of this swath. It really is a shame. But I have noticed big differences in the shoulders. Usually changes occur when switching from one county to another. In the Sandhills of Nebraska huge cracks had developed in the asphalt, perhaps by expansion, that nearly drove me crazy. Every fifty feet it was another bump/jolt. The shoulders on my ride today varied as much as I can remember. From no shoulder at all to smooth as glass asphalt to wide concrete. I'm guessing the type of shoulder is probably a correlate of the amount of money available in the counties road coffers.

The road today was fairly flat for the majority of the ride and I made decent time. I wanted to get to Hannibal early not just to beat the heat but to see the famous literary home of fictional giants Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. I was also looking forward to seeing the mighty Mississippi. As I closed in the landscape became hillier and had more trees. Finally Hannibal was reached. It reminded me of a lot of coastal towns I've been to. Obvious attempts to keep the downtown section closest to the river historically preserved have been made. I wondered if such attempts would have been made if Hannibal were not the boyhood home of Mark Twain. Moss doesn't even mention Hannibal in his report but I now know the Corps went through it from newspaper accounts I've found. I get the impression that the Corps was really struggling by this point. They had become strung out and separated by hours. Findley, the Corps mechanic was very busy helping other riders keep their bicycles operating. Too, the next rations stop was Louisiana, MO, thirty-some miles down the Mississippi from Hannibal. My guess is that Moss and the men were really tired and trying to focus on getting to St. Louis. Fortunately, I was in my better shape and spent the balance of the day walking around the streets of Hannibal. We found a park that overlooks the Mississippi. The river is extremely full and an awesome sight. I've never seen it or the barges that can be occassionally spotted being pushed up and down the river. It makes me want to make a riverboat cruise-- or at least read Twain's "Life on the Mississippi".

We splurged and stayed at a very elegant bed and breakfast in Hannibal. My sister came from Indiana, bringing her 15-year old son. A good friend, "The Well Man", from Iowa also rolled in later in the evening. I'm a little concerned about tomorrow because rain has washed out a chunk of road between Hannibal and Louisiana and the road is closed to traffic.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Day 27 - At the Missouri Historical Society

University of Missouri Memorial Tower- across the street from historical society

Today I got to Columbia and the Missouri Historical Society which is located in the heart of the campus of the University of Missouri (aka Mizzou). What a beautiful campus and downtown that surrounds it. Makes me wish I was a student again! The Student Union looks like something transplanted from Oxford or Cambridge.

I was able to look at about 30 microfilm rolls of newspapers from the various routes along the Corps path across the Missouri. I was aided greatly by the bibliography that was in the back of George Sorenson's book about the Corps called Iron Riders. I was not able to find a whole lot beyond what he (or whoever did the search for him) found. But, what I did find was very telling. As the Corps neared the Mississippi negative and racist remarks start coming into the articles. I'd noticed racist cartoons and comments in the Nebraska papers, particularly those from towns close to the eastern border. The articles from Pike County in Missouri were some of the worst. The research librarian at the historical society told me Pike County had the highest slave ownership of any county in Missouri and a reputation for having some hardcore haters. Again, I'll post the articles as soon as I get home. I could not find any articles to nail down exactly how the Corps connected the dots between the towns I do know they passed through. Specifically, I was looking for confirmation that they passed through Palmyra, MO, which would make Lt. Moss's mileage figures work and Bowling Green, which is on the Hannibal and Missouri railroad route. I feel very confident that I now know pretty precisely where the Corps rode except for this little stretch right at the end. Perhaps when I read the articles I found today more carefully I'll have some insights.

[Click here to go to transcribed articles that I collected at the Missouri Historical Society]

Tomorrow is supposed to be very hot so I hope to get an early start and try to beat the heat. I've got about 60 miles to Hannibal which is my next stop. I splurged on a room which is the third floor of an old Victorian mansion in downtown Hannibal. A old, good friend is joining me there and will ride beyond Hannibal.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Day 26 - Cameron, MO to Macon, MO

Made it to Macon today and am now in a hotel in Columbia, MO. Tomorrow I'll be at the Missouri Historical Society looking for newspaper articles. I rode around 100 miles on HWY 36 today and I'm sad to report that this highway by-passes all the towns the Corps would have travelled through. I think I was usually a mile or so within their route but it wasn't the same. I had to backtrack a lot to get to them and wasn't disappointed. The actual route that the Corps probably followed is long gone. I had hoped to follow parallel roads but they only last awhile then fizzle out. Although I think it was a little off the route I made a sidetrip to Marceline, MO which is the boyhood home of Walt Disney. Of course he probably patterned the famous Main Streets in his amusement parks after the one in his hometown. Although many of these towns have very similar layouts I never tire of the late 1800s buildings that I've seen in almost all of them. These buildings have so much character and beauty. Again, it's a shame that HWY 36 by-passes this.

My general impression today was that Missouri is a bit unkempt compared to it's neighbor, Nebraska. If one buys the thought that things get wilder the further west one goes it would seem Nebraska and Missouri should have been switched. As I moved east I noticed more and more trees. It was hilly pretty much the whole way with long ups and downs. I 'm guessing the Corps probably experience more drastic rises and drops. This, like the wind, can make a huge difference in the distance a bicyclist is able to travel. It was fairly hot and humid today--mid 90s and I was getting pretty tired by the time I was closing in on Macon. The day after tomorrow I'll be trying to get to Hannibal, MO. At the archives, tomorrow, I hope to find an article which will confirm or dispell my belief that the Corps went through Bowling Green. They travelled late at night between Louisiana, MO and Eolia and I've yet to find anything which provides any details.

I am sad and excited that my journey is almost at an end. It has been a fantastic time.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Day 25 - Rulo, NE to Cameron, MO

I'm in Missouri! Not by much but I'm here. Today was somewhat disappointing. When I got to Rulo I discovered that the flooding covered the road on the Missouri side and prevented me from continuing much past the bridges. To get to St. Joe, MO I had to detour down through the NE corner of Kansas. I did go up to explore the road I think the Corps rode once once I made it to St. Joseph. I think the Corps went through Fortescue, Forest City, and Amazonia along the railroad tracks that parallel the river. Today the rode is mostly dirt and has some serious ups and downs to it. St. Joe has many historic buildings built in the late 1800s that I enjoyed looking at and taking pictures of. Ironic that people headed West from this town and I am heading East. I'm trying to figure out how to get across Missouri. The path the Corps took I'm pretty sure followed modern Highway 36. This is a fairly busy four-lane highway. I rode along it for about 28 miles to Cameron, MO. Lots of traffic that I finally got used to but I'd prefer the quieter roads I've enjoyed for most of my trip up to this point. I am searching for roads that parallel but aren't far from HWY 36.

Missouri is the one state that we have the least description of in the Bicycle Corps story. For some reason Boo's articles dried up in the Missoulian newspaper, a major source of details. Some of the articles I found in Lincoln claim Boos was employed by a St. Louis paper. Perhaps the that paper was carrying his stories he wrote describing their progress across Missouri and I've just never seen them. I've never seen any in anything I've read or seen but that doesn't mean they aren't out there.

Lt. Moss didn't give us many stories about the trip across Missouri in his reports either. I have heard a story that the Corps got kicked off a farm when the owner discovered they were not "Secesh". I don't know the origin of that tale but it was told on the PBS documentary about the Corps by Charles Dollar. Moss also indicates that the quality of the people in an area could be judged from the quality of their roads. I suspect that by this time the Corps was getting very tired and eager to finish their trip.

I also discovered that the Corps did indeed go through Hannibal, MO, a question I've been wondering about for some time. Now I'm wondering if they went through Bowling Green, MO.

I'm hoping to get a good ways down the road tomorrow in order to give myself some time to get to the archives in Columbia. I hope I can find articles, like I did in Lincoln that add to the Corps story.

Today was probably the hottest day of my ride. It was in the low 90s and very humid. The winds down in these parts are usually out of the south which is very unusual for me. In Wyoming the winds rarely come from that direction. I think I'll be in St. Louis by Friday and maybe even Thursday. I'll learn a lot tomorrow.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Day 24 - Rest Day

Today is the wedding day. I ate like a horse all day long. I'll have to ride extra hard to burn off all the calories I've consumed. The wedding was terrific and the reception that followed saw a whole lot of people having a ball thanks to the bride's father who I presume footed the bill for a wonderful supper buffet and dance. The many college kids in attendance were especially whooping it up.

Congratulations to Mike and Tara, the groom and bride. Best wishes for a long and wonderful life together!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Day 23 - Rest Day - research at Lincoln, NE

Today is Friday and I went to Lincoln to do research at the Nebraska Historical Society's archive which is located on the University of Nebraska campus. What a fantastic resource. Mainly I searched for newspaper articles from the towns the Corps travelled through as they crossed Nebraska. I found articles from 15 towns or so and I was thrilled with some of the new information that I found. I plan to transcribe all these articles and post them as soon as I get home so stay tuned!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Day 22- Tecumseh, NE to Rulo, NE

More "rollers" today and really strong winds out of the SSE. The farmground in these parts doesn't appear to be as favorable as that around Lincoln. I kept riding in and out of areas that were more and less devoid of trees. The wet weather has caused much flooding and when I rolled down a long hill into Rulo I could see that the Missouri River and overflown its banks. Today there are two bridges that cross the Missouri at this little town. One allows automobile traffic to cross and the other is for the trains. If you look at this day on the 25th Bicycle Corps part of this blog you'll see a drawing which shows the men being ferried across. Apparently they decided not to chance crossing the river on the only available bridge at that time which carried trains across. So, I am now ready to cross Missouri! But first, I have a wedding to attend. My nephew is marrying his long-time sweetheart, conveniently, in Beatrice, so I'll backtrack 90 miles or so and take the next two days off. I'm looking forward to good times with family.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Day 21 - Lincoln, NE to Tecumseh, NE

Rode a neat rails-to-trails route out of Lincoln called the North Jamaica trail. It was very level, as expected. The path was made of crushed rock that made a nice, hard packed surface. Lush, green vegetation surrouneded and often even arched overhead the pathway The trail goes all the way to Beatrice, NE a town some 35 miles to the south.I enjoyed rolling along, seeing an occassional deer or rabbit and soon I found myself in Roca, a picturesque little Nebraska town. At Roca I was back on the "rollers" as I rode from one sighted water-tower to the next.... Roca, Hickman, Firth, I went stairsteping my way south and east. I don't know if the Corps was following the tracks or county roads during the part of the ride. The road had plenty of up and downs to it all the way to Tecumseh. If the Corps followed the roads I am sure they were disappointed as they expected this part of Nebraska to be flat and allow them to make 100-mile days. Today I encountered fairly gusty winds that sometimes crossed diagonally in front of me. It was also fairly hot--in the 90s--for the first time in the entire trip.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Day 19 - Aurora, NE to Lincoln, NE

I love water towers, especially old ones. This was one of my favorites.

I got to Lincoln as fast as I could today, hoping to get to the State Archives to do some research. The early morning ride was fog shrouded and I could not see much more than 50 feet ahead of me at any given time. Seward was another town that could rival Aurora for historic beauty. It also has a stunning courthouse and town square. I'll have to give my vote to Aurora though because it has far less traffic--which I've noticed is getting worse and worse. I'm getting concerned about crossing Missouri. Garland, Nebraska is an out-of-the-way town that the Corps swung up to and camped at the day before entering Lincoln. The town was called Germantown when Moss and the men stayed there. I am guessing the name was changed to Garland during WWI. Outside of Garland are some monster rolling hills. These must of broke the hearts (and legs) of the Corps riders as they realized they would not be getting the miles they had hoped for.

I got to Lincoln before lunch and dug in at the archives. I found about eight articles from various Nebraska towns which I plan to post when I get home. My most exciting find was a drawing done for the Falls City newspaper. This also nails down that the Corps went through that town. I'm hoping the library there might have the original paper. The microfilm roll was very bad. If I can get a scan of this drawing I'll post it. [Click here to see the sketch]

I've discovered that Lincoln has an amazing and extensive network of trails by which to safely navigate the city by bicycle. Tomorrow I'll be riding one called the Jamaica North Trail. I suspect that the Corps followed the railroad out of Lincoln and this trail does the same.

Day 18- Broken Bow, NE to Aurora, NE

Today is the day, back in 1897 when Moss and the men started their journey from Missoula. Moss wanted to start earlier but the bicycles were delayed. Even though he got the bikes gratis from the Spaulding Co. he had to haggle with the Army to get them to pick up the tab for shipping.

I enjoyed several pleasant surprises today. The first was how flat the road continues to be. The flatness started at Thedford, about where I feel the sand hills ecosystem ends. The second surprise was Ravenna, a town which has become tucked away, somewhat like Seneca. It was like a page out of Mayberry. Driving off the highway one goes through a gateway of trees and then over a bridge into the town. Main street has many old, historic buildings. Today, when we drove in there was a happy birthday sign planted smack dab in the middle of main street. Passing by the hardware store, three old farmers were chatting, and they all waved. Further up main street, oak trees lined and canopied the street. In the center island that divided the lane, were poles from which two American flags fluttered. The streets had plenty of old Victorian type homes. The third pleasant surprise made up for the made rush of cars that I encountered riding into Grand Island. I discovered the Stuhr museum site which, among other things, has a rebuilt "railroad town" which mimics a spur town of the late 1800s. The last surprise was the town of Aurora. This town has a town square, in the middle sits a spectacular red-orange stone courthouse. Around the square are many old, restored buildings. Moss and the men camped at Aurora perhaps at the local park.

Although I said it was flat, Moss reports that his men were slowed by hills that started about Ravenna. Later he reports his disappointment that the Corp can't go faster. They had hoped to travel 100 miles a day in this part of Nebraska.