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The Forgotten Contributions of Central
Illinois to the Bicycle Boom of the 1890's
Les Contributions Oubliées de l'Illinois...
What comes to mind when you think about Illinois
and bicycles during the 1890’s?
Ce qui vient à l'esprit quand vous pensez...
How did I end up here?
• I’ve lived in Central Illinois most of my life
• My undergraduate degree is in History
• My gradu...
Let’s get oriented!
Some Early Illinois Bicycle Statistics
• 1879- Chicago Bicycle Club Founded (second oldest in the U.S.?)
•1891 Chicago’s P...
Thesis:
Central Illinois played a significant role in the bicycle boom of the 1890’s. This role has
been forgotten and ove...
Peoria Bicycle Manufacturing
• In the 1890s Peoria was the second largest city in Illinois. According to the
1900 census t...
Luthy Bicycles
• Founded in 1887 as a manufacturer and
distributor of carriages and agricultural
implements
• Made bicycle...
Luthy Tandem
Peoria Rubber and Manufacturing Co.
• 1895-1899
• At peak it employed 600
• Manufactured 10,000 bikes annually
• Manufactu...
Patee Bicycles
• Manufactured by
Peoria Rubber and
Manufactuing Co.
• Fred Patee,
President
• 1896-1900
• Employed 40-50
•...
Ide “High Art” Bicycles
• Founded by Ferdinand F. Ide- a former watch maker and machinist
• 1893-1899
• Employed 300, made...
1894 Elliptical Spring Crank Patent
• Under pressure the crank
straightens out and provides
more leverage.
• Claimed 12.5%...
Rouse, Hazard & Co.
• 1864 Established as agricultural implement wholesaler / distributor
• 1879 Bicycle department establ...
American Rudge Factory
and Wholesaler
“We import the English made and
finished bearings, forgings, parts,
etc., from the p...
Sylph and Overland Bicycles
• 1892 Rouse and Hazard begin manufacturing Charles Duryea’s Sylph
and Overland bicycles
• 189...
Charles Duryea
• 1861, 1869 Charles and younger brother Frank
were both born in Central Illinois
• 1879 Builds himself a b...
• Many bicycle inventions. Some patented, some
not. Some significant, some not.
• 1884 Hammock-style suspended ordinary se...
John Deere- 1894-1900 (Some models were Re-
badged Chicago-made bikes)
Leclaire Bicycles, 1896-? Leclaire
Bloomington Area...
Bicycle Racing in Peoria
• During the 1890’s, Peoria’s
Lakeview track was part of
the national “Grand Circuit”.
• Peoria h...
1890 National Tournament
• A. A. Zimmerman beat
the previously
undefeated W.W.
Windle in both the
quarter mile and 10
mile...
Major Taylor in Peoria
[Peoria’s Lake View Track] “…was known throughout the cycling
world as one of the finest that ever ...
World? Records set in Peoria
Distance Time Rider Date
½ Mile 1:10 4/5 W.W. Windle Sept. 11, 1890
½ Mile 1:13 1/5 P.J. Berl...
Central Illinois Bicycle Culture and Characters (a selection)
Peoria Bicycle Club
Founded 1881
Peak Membership: 400
Bloomi...
Leonard “Baby” Bliss
Bloomington, IL
World’s heaviest cyclist (565 pounds)
Baby Bliss and
Ignaz Schwinn
Thomas W. Davis, Centurion
• Peoria and Bloomington
• Claimed to have ridden the most
miles of any cyclist in the world
• ...
Questions?
csweet@iwu.edu
Thanks to:
Illinois Wesleyan University
• Artistic and Scholarly Development Grant
• Re-centerin...
The Forgotten Contributions of Central Illinois to the Bicycle Boom of the 1890's
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The Forgotten Contributions of Central Illinois to the Bicycle Boom of the 1890's

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Presentation for the 2015 International Cycling History Confrence, Entraigues, France.

By the end of the 19th century, the state of Illinois was home to more than 60 bicycle manufacturers whose output accounted for an impressive 28% of the national total. Naturally, much of the bicycle industry was located in and around Chicago. Long forgotten, is the fact that Central Illinois also had a vibrant and productive bicycle industry. At the time, Peoria, Illinois (which is located in the central part of the state) was the second largest city in Illinois and home to a number of bicycle manufacturers including: Ide, Rouse and Hazard, Patee, Luthy, and Peoria Rubber and Manufacturing. Peoria-made “high art” bicycles were even exported to France and other European markets to meet overseas demand. Charles Duryea, who would go on to invent one of the first automobiles, began his career manufacturing bicycles in Peoria. Even Central Illinois-based agricultural manufacturing giant, John Deere, tried its' hand at manufacturing bicycles during the height of the boom.

In addition to manufacturing, Peoria was also an important stop on the national bicycle racing circuit. During the 1890's, races on Peoria’s Lakeview track attracted international competition. Many world records -on both ordinaries and safeties- were set in Peoria. During the 1890 Peoria tournament, the “unbeatable” Willie Windle lost twice to newcomer August Zimmerman. Major Taylor, who grew up in neighboring Indiana, began his early racing career in Peoria. In his autobiography, Taylor would later recall, “Peoria was the Mecca of bicycle racing in those days. On its historical track all the fastest riders in the World struggled for fame and glory.”

This presentation will discuss the historical significance of Central Illinois bicycle manufacturing and bicycle racing during the 1890's. This analysis will include social, cultural, and economic impacts of the bicycle both within the state and across the nation.

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The Forgotten Contributions of Central Illinois to the Bicycle Boom of the 1890's

  1. 1. The Forgotten Contributions of Central Illinois to the Bicycle Boom of the 1890's Les Contributions Oubliées de l'Illinois Central à l'essor de vélos des années 1890 Chris Sweet Illinois Wesleyan University
  2. 2. What comes to mind when you think about Illinois and bicycles during the 1890’s? Ce qui vient à l'esprit quand vous pensez à l'Illinois et aux vélos dans les années 1890?
  3. 3. How did I end up here? • I’ve lived in Central Illinois most of my life • My undergraduate degree is in History • My graduate degree is in Library Science and includes archival work • 2015 Sabbatical Project: History of Cycling in Illinois • Life-long cyclist and triathlete
  4. 4. Let’s get oriented!
  5. 5. Some Early Illinois Bicycle Statistics • 1879- Chicago Bicycle Club Founded (second oldest in the U.S.?) •1891 Chicago’s Pullman bicycle race attracts an estimated 100,000 spectators •“Two-thirds of this country’s output of bicycles and accessories comes from within a radius of 150 miles around Chicago” The Chicago Bicycle Directory, 1898. •1900 Census of Manufacturers lists 60 Illinois manufacturers whose principal product was bicycles. •Total product value of these manufacturers was nearly $9 million or 28% of the national total
  6. 6. Thesis: Central Illinois played a significant role in the bicycle boom of the 1890’s. This role has been forgotten and overshadowed by the better-known Chicago history. Presentation Elements: • Manufacturing • Charles Duryea • Racing • Cycling Culture and Characters (a selection)
  7. 7. Peoria Bicycle Manufacturing • In the 1890s Peoria was the second largest city in Illinois. According to the 1900 census there were 89,000 people living in Peoria. •Like Chicago, Peoria’s geographical proximity to rivers and railroads let to it becoming a major manufacturing center. •During the 1890’s there were 5 major bicycle manufacturer’s in Peoria • Luthy • Peoria Rubber and Manufacturing • Patee Bicycles • Ide • Rouse and Hazard
  8. 8. Luthy Bicycles • Founded in 1887 as a manufacturer and distributor of carriages and agricultural implements • Made bicycles 1894-1900 • Employed 25-30 and produced 1000-2000 bicycles • 1899 catalog claimed 35-40 World and American Records (Every mile between 4- 26 on an unpaced tandem!) • Were exported and sold in France by Felix, Fournier & Knopf
  9. 9. Luthy Tandem
  10. 10. Peoria Rubber and Manufacturing Co. • 1895-1899 • At peak it employed 600 • Manufactured 10,000 bikes annually • Manufactured 25,000 pairs of tires annually. • 1899 Purchased by the Rubber Trust / American Bicycle Trust
  11. 11. Patee Bicycles • Manufactured by Peoria Rubber and Manufactuing Co. • Fred Patee, President • 1896-1900 • Employed 40-50 • Up to 5,000 bicycles annually
  12. 12. Ide “High Art” Bicycles • Founded by Ferdinand F. Ide- a former watch maker and machinist • 1893-1899 • Employed 300, made up to 3,000 bicycles annually • Multiple patents including elliptical cranks and frame lap brazing reinforcement
  13. 13. 1894 Elliptical Spring Crank Patent • Under pressure the crank straightens out and provides more leverage. • Claimed 12.5% increase in power • “will not transmit any perceptible jar to the rider” (Patent application) • “In every hill climbing contest that we have knowledge of, where our machines were used, riders of them took every prize.” (1895 Ide Catalog)
  14. 14. Rouse, Hazard & Co. • 1864 Established as agricultural implement wholesaler / distributor • 1879 Bicycle department established • Initially a wholesaler, distributor, and importer • One of the oldest and largest wholesalers in the country (before Montgomery Wards and Sears) • First wholesaler/mail order company to sell bicycles on an installment plan • 1893 Warehouse contained 3,800 bicycles and the showroom had 300-500 cycles on display. (1893 catalog) • 1893 Official American Rudge Factory, also sole agents for Rudge Circa 1889 Sylph spring- frame safety. (Sold by Rouse and Hazard, but not manufactured in Peoria). Pryor Dodge Collection. You might recognize this image from David Herlihy’s book!
  15. 15. American Rudge Factory and Wholesaler “We import the English made and finished bearings, forgings, parts, etc., from the parent factory of the Rudge Co. at Coventry, Eng and in our American Branch Rudge Factory at Peoria, the machines are assembled and finished according to the latest improved American methods by skilled American workmen under the rigid inspection of American experts of high repute.” (1893 Rouse, Hazard and Co. Catalog, p. 16)
  16. 16. Sylph and Overland Bicycles • 1892 Rouse and Hazard begin manufacturing Charles Duryea’s Sylph and Overland bicycles • 1893 Sylph bicycles win highest award at the Chicago World’s Fair. • 1895 Sylph Track Racer: 16 pounds • 1896 New factory employed 350 and manufactured 7,500 bicycles • 1894-1898 222,000 bicycles (Peoria Star, Tuesday, May 11, 1943) Your’s truly with a 1898 Sylph Model S from the Peoria Riverfront Museum / Marty Potts.
  17. 17. Charles Duryea • 1861, 1869 Charles and younger brother Frank were both born in Central Illinois • 1879 Builds himself a bicycle out of scrap parts • 1886 Moves to Washington D.C. and goes to work for H.S. Owen (Psycho Cycles) • 1887 H.S. Owen produces some Ladies drop-frame safeties based on Charles Duryea’s design • 1890 Contracts with Ames Manufacturing in Chicopee Mass., to build his Sylphs • 1892 Building Sylphs in Peoria under Rouse and Hazard • 1895 Duryea wins first automobile race in Chicago • 1896 Duryea car involved in first recorded auto- bicycle accident in New York City • 1898 Duryea Manufacturing Company formed in Peoria, built first American-made “mass” produced 3-wheeled automobiles (about 12 were made) 1899 Duryea Motor Trap (Henry Ford Museum)
  18. 18. • Many bicycle inventions. Some patented, some not. Some significant, some not. • 1884 Hammock-style suspended ordinary seat. (Patent # 432,125). Bought by G&J, then contested. • 1886 Improved ordinary handlebar (Patent #350,683) • 1890 Spring-frame Safety Improvements (Patent #432,124) • 1900 Improved bicycle chain (Patent #657,526) • Gummy liquid to inject into tires to seal punctures (not patented) Duryea Inventions
  19. 19. John Deere- 1894-1900 (Some models were Re- badged Chicago-made bikes) Leclaire Bicycles, 1896-? Leclaire Bloomington Area: Harber Brothers, 1892-? Bloomington Manufacturing Company, 1892-? W.J. Matern, 1896-? West of Chicago (but not Central IL) Belvidere Sewing Machine Company, Belvidere Elgin Cycle Company, Elgin Stover Bicycles, Freeport Other Central Illinois Bicycle Manufacturers
  20. 20. Bicycle Racing in Peoria • During the 1890’s, Peoria’s Lakeview track was part of the national “Grand Circuit”. • Peoria hosted the L.A.W. National Meet 1889, 1890, 1891, 1892 and 1899 • Attracted the best national and some international competition • 8-10,000 spectators • Deep prize lists that include thousands in cash, a grand piano, solid gold medals for records and even a lot in the city of Chicago
  21. 21. 1890 National Tournament • A. A. Zimmerman beat the previously undefeated W.W. Windle in both the quarter mile and 10 mile race. • H.E. Laurie and E.J. Willis brought the first pneumatic bicycle tires from England. Banned from the main races, allowed to race exhibition
  22. 22. Major Taylor in Peoria [Peoria’s Lake View Track] “…was known throughout the cycling world as one of the finest that ever staged a bicycle race. As a matter of fact the Peoria track, and those in Springfield, Massachusetts, Waltham, Massachusetts, and Asbury Park, New Jersey were four of the most famous bicycle tracks in the earlier days of cycle racing in this country.” (Taylor Autobiography) Some of Taylor’s earliest races were in Peoria. He definitely raced in the 1890 (Ordinary) and 1891 Boys Under 16 races. 1899 LAW 5 mile race: “Even now I consider that five-mile race the climax of the most grueling day’s work I ever put in on the bicycle track during my whole racing career covering almost seventeen years on both sides of the Atlantic.” (Taylor Autobiography)
  23. 23. World? Records set in Peoria Distance Time Rider Date ½ Mile 1:10 4/5 W.W. Windle Sept. 11, 1890 ½ Mile 1:13 1/5 P.J. Berlo Sept. 15, 1890 ¾ mile 1:49 2/5 W.W. Windle Sept. 15, 1890 ¾ Mile 1:51 P.J. Berlo Sept. 15, 1890 1 mile 2:30 P.J. Berlo Sept. 15, 1890 1 mile 2:25 3/5 W.W. Windle Sept, 15, 1890 2 mile 4:59 3/5 W.F. Murphy Sept. 18, 1891 6 miles 16:08 2/5 C.W. Donntage Sept. 22, 1891 10 miles 26:46 2/5 C.W. Donntage Sept. 22, 1891 15 miles 40:55 2/5 C.W. Donntage Sept. 22, 1891 20 miles 53:56 3/5 C.W. Donntage Sept. 22, 1891
  24. 24. Central Illinois Bicycle Culture and Characters (a selection) Peoria Bicycle Club Founded 1881 Peak Membership: 400 Bloomington Bicycle Club Founded 1883
  25. 25. Leonard “Baby” Bliss Bloomington, IL World’s heaviest cyclist (565 pounds) Baby Bliss and Ignaz Schwinn
  26. 26. Thomas W. Davis, Centurion • Peoria and Bloomington • Claimed to have ridden the most miles of any cyclist in the world • Began riding at age 61 (1889) • By age 85 he had ridden 141,200 miles • Kept meticulous logs including how long various bicycle components lasted • He used a Patee bicycle for 34,441 miles and a single saddle for 70,000. A set of Peoria Tires lasted 6,233 miles.
  27. 27. Questions? csweet@iwu.edu Thanks to: Illinois Wesleyan University • Artistic and Scholarly Development Grant • Re-centering the Humanities Grant Marty Potts: Peoria images and catalogs Bradley University Special Collections Peoria Public Library Special Collections

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