Sunday, May 3, 2015

Bravo, Mr. Higgins

The George A. Wyman Memorial Project has identified another Wyman Waypoint for the Memorial Grand Tour - Rider's Guide, pictured below.  It has taken the Project almost a year of searching for the details about S.C. Higgins of Ogden, UT.  Thanks to Greg Rice for the tip and especially to Eileen H. Stone of The Salt Lake Tribune for doing the investigative work on scene in Utah. 

This is a great example of how the long-distance riding and motorcycle touring community along with the interested public can help keep the Wyman story alive.  Whether through your tax-deductible donations, joining Friends of George, or just "Sharing" us on social media, together we can work towards "Linking the Past to the Present to Enrich the Future."

528.3 - S.C. Higgins RON
Date:  Thursday, May 28, 1903
Coordinates:  N41.21475°W111.97344°
Address:  2783 Grand Ave, Ogden, UT

Description:  While working on his motorcycle at the shop of L.H. Becraft, Wyman met up with Samuel C. Higgins, a machinist with the Southern Pacific RR.  Higgins, according to Wyman, owned and rode the only motorcycle in Ogden, a 1902 Indian designed by George M. Hendee.  After completing repairs to his motorcycle Wyman accepted an invitation to spend the night at the Higgins home on Grant Avenue, just a few blocks south of the Becraft bicycle shop.  This example of help and hospitality for a fellow enthusiast is today a time-honored tradition in the long-distance riding and motorcycle touring community.  Bravo, Mr. Higgins!

Special thanks to Eileen H. Stone, of The Salt Lake Tribune.  She discovered the details regarding the location of Samuel C. Higgins employment and residence.  After an article, she authored appeared in The Salt Lake Tribune, Livinghistory: An incredible journey via motorized bike across 1903 America the Wyman Memorial Project contacted her.  Intrigued by the goals of the Project, Eileen volunteered to use her investigative reporter skills on the task of finding information about S.C. Higgins.  Below are the fruits of her search:

  • From the 1902 City directory, Samuel C. Higgins was listed: Mach, Southern Pacific Co., 249 30th Street, Ogden, Utah.
  • From the librarian in Special Collections, Weber State University: Higgins lived at 2783 Grant Avenue in Ogden He was an employee of Southern Pacific. 

Wyman's account of his journey from Terrace to Ogden, UT
"It rained the night I stopped in Terrace, and, starting the next morning at 5:10 o'clock, I had to walk for several miles along the tracks; then I struck the desert, and found that the rain had left the sand hard enough to make good riding. It was an uneventful day, and I made 104 miles, the road winding along the northern shore of the Great Salt Lake, of which I caught frequent glimpses. I stopped 19 miles west of Ogden because it began to rain. I put up at a section house, that of the foreman of the gang, and he gave me a bed for the night. The railroad furnishes these section houses for the men, and I found them more comfy than I expected. There were no carpets, but the bed had a springy wire bottom, a good mattress and fine sheets. The hands do not fare like the foreman, though: they huddle together a dozen in a house in the other two buildings that constitute the "place." The place where I stopped is down on the time table as Zenda, but I was no prisoner there, and there was no romance to the situation. l am glad the foreman took me in, for a section gang is a motley lot, a regular cocktail of nationalities, and full of fighting qualities. At some of the places I passed I saw Chinamen at work on the railroads, and this was a new thing to me accustomed, as I am, to the pigtails of the Pacific coast. It is not often that John engages himself in such arduous and un-remunerative labor. The next morning the ground was so wet that I walked half the way to Ogden.

According to the railroad survey, Ogden, Utah, is 833 miles from San Francisco. I rode on the railroad track fully half the way. What distance I actually covered getting there I cannot say with preciseness owing to having lost my cyclometers, but while there I took a map, and, summing up my detours, I figured it out that I had ridden very nearly 100 miles more than the distance by rail, or about 925 miles.  At Ogden I found a pair of new tires and a gallon of lubricating oil waiting for me at the express office. They came from San Francisco, and the charges on the tires were $2.75 and on the oil $1.50. I put on one new tire and expressed the other, with the oil, to myself at Omaha. I got to Ogden at 11a.m., May 28, and spent the day there. I got a new pair of handlebars and put some new spokes in my wheels. While there I met up with S.C. Higgins, who has the other motorcycle in that city of 15,000 inhabitants. I met him at the store of L.H. Becraft - the pioneer cyclist of Ogden and the proprietor of a large bicycle store there. I spent the evening with Mr. Higgins and slept at his house, in response to a pressing invitation.At Ogden, Utah, where I arrived after traveling 925 miles, I had 10 new spokes to put in to replace those that were snapped by pounding over railroad ties. As I had ridden 400 miles with a stick for a bar, I got also a new handlebar and I put on a new belt rim and one new tire, shipping my extra tire and oil and other stuff on to Omaha. This was on May 28, and I left Ogden on the 29th at 6:10 a.m.  S.C. Higgins, who had been my host overnight, rode out of the city with me on his motor bicycle for three or four miles in order that I might not take the wrong road. He is a genuine enthusiast, although well past 40 years of age, I should judge, and he took the liveliest sort of interest in my trip and the success of my undertaking. Mr. Higgins is a machinist, and several years ago he made a motor bicycle for himself. Now he rides an Indian."

The Motorcycle Magazine, July 1903, Volume 1, Number 2 (Digitized PDF)
II - Over The Great Deserts To The Rocky Mountains
Reno, NV to Ogden, UT  May 21 - May 28, 1903