Sunday, April 17, 2016

Colfax Station

Wyman got a late start leaving Sacramento on Monday, May 18, 1903.  The Sierra Nevada Mountains lay before him and shortly after noon he crossed the American River over the Central Pacific RR bridge.  Wyman had been this way before.

     "I was traveling familiar ground. During the previous summer I had made the journey on a California motor bicycle to Reno, Nevada, and knew that crossing the Sierras, even when helped by a motor, was not exactly a path of roses. But it was that tour, nevertheless, that fired me with desire to attempt this longer journey - to become the first motorcyclist to ride from ocean to ocean."
 G.A.Wyman, "Over the Sierra's and Through the Snow Sheds", The Motorcycle Magazine, June, 1903

Wyman traveled the roads east of Sacramento that followed the Central Pacific "Transcontinental" Railroad.  The gradual sloping countryside would increase in elevation as he passed through the town of Rocklin.  By the time he got to Auburn his motorcycle was "chugging" along, laboring under him as he rode up ever increasing grades.  By riding over the roads that followed the railroad tracks, he would always know where he was and what was up ahead.  The Railway was the dominate transportation artery across America in 1903.  Wyman was using the "Official Guide" listing all the stations, section houses and other official CPRR points from San Francisco to Omaha, NE.  It listed the railroad miles from San Francisco and the elevation.  Wyman would refer to it many times along his journey.

1902 USGS Topo Map
It was early evening when Wyman arrived in Colfax.  Entering town along Green Valley Street, he rode to the CPRR Depot, pausing for a few minutes to check on his motorcycle and gear.  Tired from his 60 mile ride from Sacramento, Wyman sought out a good meal and comfortable lodging in town.  The Depot was right next to the newly open Gillen Hotel, which at the time catered to both train passengers and over the road travelers alike.  Wyman's trip was being under-written by the Goodman Company as a promotion for the soon to be published "Motorcycle Magazine."   It is likely he stayed at the Gillen Hotel;  it was close, inviting and he was on a expense account of sorts.

Wyman at Colfax Depot
Pictured here is a photo believed to be George Wyman at the Colfax Station on May 18, 1903.  The photo was reportedly published for the first time in "Motorcycle Magazine" and republished by the Antique Motorcycle Club of America.  Though the photo is old and grainy, the definite profile of the 1902 "California", complete with rear carrier can be made out.  Also, one can detect the small triangular box/tank under the seat post behind the gas tank.  This "farkle" has only been seen in photos of Wyman's 1902 "California"  motorcycle.  It was not an original equipment item on the "California" motorcycle designed by Roy C. Marks.  We speculate it was by fabricated by Wyman for the trip and served as a tool box or storage compartment.  (click here to view on Google Drive)

We are pleased to announce!

The City of Colfax, California, had joined The George A. Wyman Memorial Project as the hosting authority for the 518.4 Colfax RON Wyman Waypoint location.  The City Council approved mounting of the Wyman Memorial Journey plaque and Wyman Waypoint sign at the City owned park between the Colfax Depot and the old Gillen Hotel building.   The Colfax Area Historical Society will display the Wyman Colfax site narrative, Wyman Waypoint Poster and photographs inside the Colfax Passenger Depot museum.

The dedication ceremony has tentatively been set for May 18, 2016; the anniversary of Wyman's over night stay in Colfax.  Tom and Helen Austin are the Wyman Memorial Plaque Sponsors for the 518.4 Colfax RON location and have graciously agreed to represent the Project at the dedication.

The George A. Wyman Memorial Project is grateful to the City of Colfax for joining the Project and enthusiastically embracing the Wyman story.  Working together, we are....

"Linking the Past to the Present to Enrich the Future"