Saturday, December 3, 2016

Tuesday, June 16, 1903

Stoddart Hotel, 1907
On June 16th, Wyman woke at the hotel run by the widow Stoddart and her two sons in Marshalltown, IA.  He rode east out of town along Main Street at 7 am. His goal was to make Cedar Rapids by the end of the day.  Following the Northwestern RR tracks, he alternated between riding the ties and the roads adjacent to them.  As he approached the small farming communities along the route, some of the "section hands" would order him off the tracks.  It became sort of a game to Wyman as he always attempted to blarney his way along the tracks.

Here, in his own words taken from: "Through the Valley of the Two Great Rivers to Chicago", G.A.Wyman, The Motorcycle Magazine, September, 1903

     "Imagine a man so anxious to ride a bicycle over railroad ties that he would lie awake at night planning how to prevaricate to the section men! My luck in the gentle art of telling fairy stories was variable. Some passed me on with a doubtful look, but others were rude enough to refuse me credence and order me "back to the highway." Although I was east of there, I was like the man going to Omaha, who persistently returned after being put off the railroad train. Some section bosses and track walkers I went past, others I went around, and by using road and rail bed alternately I kept making headway."

Wyman's "snapshot"
About 20 miles from Marshalltown, Wyman rode along the RR ties through the Meswakie Indian Settlement near Tama.  As the tracks intersected what is now Meskwaki Road, Wyman left the tracks and took to the road.  (this stretch of road would become part of the Lincoln Highway system, circa 1913.)  A passing wagon caught Wyman's interest and he snapped this photo with his Kodak Vest Pocket camera.

     "There is a reservation at Tama, Iowa, through which place I passed and most of the Indians I saw were from there...while I was on the road I tried to get a snapshot of one of the parties of Indians that I met in wagons. There was a squaw in the party, and she yowled like a coyote when I pointed the camera at her and made haste to cover herself with a blanket...This squaw waved her arms and threw herself about so that I thought she would fall. I persevered, however, and got a snapshot; although it was an unsatisfactory one, because, after all, it shows only the Indian lady seated in the wagon with a blanket over her head."

He continued on, alternating between the rails and good roads.  Near the small community of Fairfax, Wyman's motor started to miss fire badly.  The spark for the combustion was produced by batteries stored in the metal compartment behind his seat.  Still following the tracks of the Northwestern RR he decided to switch to the adjacent road and pedal the rest of the way into Cedar Rapids.  Alas, another instance of final drive failure as his coaster brake malfunctioned.  Undaunted, he walked the rest of the way to Halls Bicycle Shop at 108 Second Avenue to affect repairs.  He remained overnight in Cedar Rapids, IA

     "Five miles from Cedar Rapids my batteries got so weak that my motor began to miss and finally gave out. When I tried to pedal the clumsily repaired coaster brake it broke again and I had to walk into Cedar Rapids. The rapids, which I passed as I entered the city, were pretty, but I, plodding along and pushing my bicycle envied their rapidity more than their beauty. I traveled about 77 miles this day, though the distance by rail from Marshalltown to Cedar Rapids is only 69 miles."

41.920245, -91.780172
Wyman Waypoint Sign Mounting
We are pleased to announce the City of Fairfax, IA has joined the Wyman Memorial Project as the hosting authority for Wyman Waypoint 616.2 Cedar Rapids Outskirts.  The Waypoint sign is mounted on the southside of Railroad Street just east of Vanderbilt Street.

The George A. Wyman Memorial Project thanks the City of Fairfax, IA for their enthusiastic support of our efforts to enrich the history of their community with the Wyman story.

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