I was cycling on the West Side this past Sunday and flatted on Harrison. After patching the tire and filling it with “fresh country air” I started off again. About a mile outside of Miamitown I flatted again (the roads are terrible. Still!). This time I had to walk into town. My luck was with me because West Trails Bike Shop was open and I was able to get settled. Hanging in their shop is a photo that I’ve not seen before of a party of wheelmen resting after their ride into town. This photo is intriguing on a number of levels – There’s a mixture of uniforms, so this is a group of friends from different clubs, there’s a young girl peeping out the window, and there’s some variety in the wheels – including a safety bike for good measure. This is an undated photo, but perhaps with a little sleuthing more can be discovered about it. Anyway, it was interesting to see the folks from a hundred years ago with their wheels. Clearly they were enjoying themselves. When I set out again towards Oxford I felt like I was in good company.
Here’s the Brighton Bicycle Club posing for a group photo on the steps of the Butler County Courthouse, which still stands in Hamilton County. The club would frequently make the trip out to Hamilton because both Eddie Muhlhauser and Willie Windisch’s families had hops farms close by. Here’s the view today:
Charles F. Williams, who in 1910 was elected the head of Western & Southern Life Insurance Company in Cincinnati, was a member of the Porkopolis Wheelmen and made several century runs (100 mile rides) in his day. He was elected Secretary of the Associated Cyclers Clubhouse in 1896.
He had an impressive collection of artwork, which included works by Sargent, Duveneck, and Van Dyke (among many others). It was said of him that throughout his life he ate simple fare and was kind to his workers.
Here he is leaning over the porch rail of his father’s home in Mount Adams, rallying his club for a run in the country.
In 1894 the Dunlop Tire Company surprised visitors to the Springfield Ohio Wheelmen’s meet with their “giraffe safety” piloted by Lem Smith. Bearings magazine wrote: “Smith rode the abortion through the streets of Springfield, guiding in and out for carriages and crossing slippery tracks with impunity.”
Poster available from the Enquirer offices in full color for 25 cents.
Bicycles at rest in front of the Huber Furniture Repair shop in New Richmond, Ohio
From the Cincinnati Enquirer, July 10 1898.
For the benefit of those who have never taken a ride up the River pike to New Richmond a description of the route may not be amiss. Leaving Eastern Avenue at the Columbia Hotel, start down Carrel tending from the schoolhouse down an incline into the village of California, over which the wheel flies without any effort on the rider’s part, offering a mute but powerful appeal for cycle path along the entire route. From California to Coney Island is less than a mile, a driveway at either end of Lake Como connecting the grounds with the pike. Here a good gravel road diverges up Three Mile Creek, leading to Mt. Washington. About a mile east of the island, crossing Four Mile Creek, the Sweet Wine house is reached, a good place to stop for rest and refreshment.
A mile further along is the hostelry kept by “Uncle Joe.” With whom scores of wheelmen are familiar. Along this portion of the route for quite a distance the Ohio rolls along in plain view. Crossing Seven Mile, Eight Mile, and Nine Mile Creeks in turn, and about a mile apart, one reaches the hamlet of New Palestine, where Ten Mile Creek is crossed. An intersecting road or pike follows each of these creeks for some distance, finally connection with the Ohio pike three of four miles from the river. A mile beyond New Palestine is Blairville, so called because of its being the site of Blair Bros brick manufacturing plant, one of the largest of its kind the in United States. From here to New Richmond, a distance of three miles, the pike follows the base of the river hills, along which small caverns may be observed here and there in the outcropping rock. Passing through a covered wooden bridge over Twelve Mile Creek New Richmond comes into view. A pleasant town of some 3,000 inhabitants, stretching along the river front for a mile, and extending back to the hills, with shady streets and hospitable citizens. Wheelmen are numerous within its borders. The town boasts two good hotels, a fine park and other attractions for the casual visitor. Here is also an artisan well whence flows the famous magnetic water, the merits of which are widely known. The distance from city limits to New Richmond is about 15 miles; there are no hills to climb, and the grades are easy; the scenery is picturesque; the river breezes are invigorating; shady nooks are plentiful, and taken in all, the route is perhaps one of the most inviting out of this city, and when the cinder path is completed it will be unsurpassed.
A race from New Richmond to Coney Island was held on July 16, 1898 to raise funds for a cinder bicycle path out of downtown Cincinnati. Prizes included a White bicycle, a diamond pin, a bicycle suit, among many other prizes. Twentieth place was awarded one dozen bottles of “catsup.”