Thoughts Concerning the Wyman Trip

By The Editors of Road Rider Magazine
Published August, 1979, issue Volume 10, Number 8

In addition to the indisputable printed and photographic proof of Wyman's right to the title of the first person to cross America on a motor vehicle, we have been able to located several news clippings from the period which add even more credence to Wymans right to claim the honor.

The July 8, 1903 issue of The Horseless Age carried a brief mention of the Wyman trip, called "Crossed the Continent on a Motor Cycle."

The Bicycling World and Motorcycle Review, which was printed in New York, carried a complete narrative of Wyman's trip -- in eight weekly installments.  In many ways, the Bicycling World coverage closely paralleled what was written in Motorcycle Magazine -- even using several of the same photos.

Wyman's trip made news even in England, where Motor Cycle mad mention of the journey and its significance in their August 5 , 1903 issue.

Although there are other press releases concerning the trip which have come to our attention, we'll mention on one more here.  An early-20th-century version of the Guiness World Book of Records, called Famous First Facts, written by Joseph Nathan Kane, records the Wyman trip -- complete with dates and a description of his motor bicycle.

George Wyman must have been a very private man, because there remains no trace of his fate after the trip.  Researcher Knudsen has made extensive inquires concerning Wyman -- including writing a personal letter to every Wyman appearing in the San Francisco, California telephone directory -- to no avail.
The same anonymous fate awaited Wyman's machine.  All we know about it is that it was a "Regular Model" 1903 California Motor Bicycle (sometimes referred to as "Yale-California"), built (or possibly distributed) by the California Motor Company, Inc., 305 Larkin Street, San Francisco, California.  It was a 1-1/2 horsepower (Wyman referred to it as being 1-1/4 horsepower), belt-drive machine weighing only 90 pounds. (See the ad-photo in the Wyman story.)

One Dr. Horatio Nelson Jackson -- accompanied by his mechanic Sewell K. Crocker, and traveling in a 20-horsepower Winton automobile -- has long been accredited the honor of being the first person to make the transcontinental trip with a motor vehicle.  In fact, Dr. Jackson arrived in New York City on July 26, 1903 . . . 20 days after the arrival of Wyman.  That's the way history stands at this time.

We'd like to set the record straight, and we'd like you to help.
Mr. Don H. Berkebile of the Division of Transportation, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., has indicated an interest in setting up a Wyman display . . . but it's up to us to locate the material for the display.

To quote from a letter to Roger Hull written by Mr. Berkebile:
"An identical motorcycle would be welcome addition to our collection, if one could be found.  We would not want anything else, except anything that accompanied him [Wyman] on the trip, but if you cannot learn what happened to him, you are also not going to find anything he took along.  Any documentary material would also be welcome."

The motorcycle industry has indicated considerable interest in the Wyman/Smithsonian project.  In addition, anyone having any valid, substantiated information regarding either Wyman or his machine (or an identical model) should contact us here -- RR will act as a "clearing house" for the information.

Send your information or inquires to:  Road Rider Magazine, Wyman Project, P.O. Box 678, S. Laguna, California 92677
George A. Wyman did his part back in 1903 . . . the rest is up to us.  [RR]   

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