Wednesday, May 31, 2023

June 1 - Across America on a Motor Bicycle

(Bitter Creek to Walcott, WY)

"After having breakfast in the boxcar restaurant, I left Bitter Creek for Rawlins. In this stretch, about 20 miles from Bitter Creek, I crossed my third desert, the Red Desert of Wyoming. It takes its name from the soil of calcareous clay that is fiery red, and the only products of which are rocks and
G.Wyman
sagebrush, and they will grow anywhere. There is a Red Desert Station on the map, but there is nothing there but a telegraph office, and the same is true of Wamsutter and Creston, the succeeding names on the map. I took a snapshot of the road in the desert near Bitter Creek and wrote on the film: "Who wouldn't leave home for this?" East of Red Desert the road improved considerably, and from Wamsutter to Creston it was really fine.


It was along this fine stretch, just before reaching Creston, that I came to the
G.Wyman
Great Divide and took a picture of the signpost, which marks the ridgeline of the great American watershed. Standing there and facing the north, all the streams on your left flow to the west and all those on the right side flow toward the east, the waters of the former eventually finding their way to the Pacific, and the latter to the Mississippi River. This is the backbone of the continent and it is duly impressive to stand there and gaze at the official sign. It does not mark the exact middle of the continent though, as some have mistakenly thought. It is about 1,100 miles east of San Francisco. I had rather expected to find the continental divide, if I did come across it, on the summit of a mountain, in a very rough piece of country, but it is in a broad pass of the Rockies, that seems more like a plain than a mountain, although a commanding view is obtainable from there. To the north are the Green, Febris and Seminole chains of mountains, and further, in the northwest is the Wind River range, and beyond that again the Shoshone range, while to the south are the Sierra Madres, all escalloping the horizon with their rugged peaks, here green, there shrouded in a purplish veil, and far away showing only a hazy gray of outline. One realizes that he is in the Rockies positively enough.



G.Wyman

From Creston to Rawlins there is nearly 30 miles of downgrade, and, as it is a fairly good highway of gravel, I made lively time over it. After leaving Creston there come Cherokee and Daly's ranch before you get to Rawlins, and it was between these places, both mere railroad points, that I got the picture of the abandoned prairie schooner that was printed in Motorcycle Magazine. Rawlins, where I stopped only for gasoline, is a town of some size, having more than 2,000 population. From there the country becomes rolling again, and after passing Fort Fred Steele, I began to ascend once more. It is a great sheep ranch country all through here now from Rawlins. At Fort Steele there is nothing left but the ruins of abandoned houses. I now follow the old immigrant trail that winds across the River Platte, and am fast approaching the Laramie Plains, over which my route lies to the Laramie Mountains. Beyond Fort Steele I enter White Horse Canyon, which got its name, so the story goes, from an Englishman, one of the sort known in the West as "remittance men," who drank too much "Old Scratch," and, mounted on a white horse, rode over the precipice and landed on the rocks 200 feet below.

At 6:10 p.m. I reached Walcott, a "jerkwater" settlement, composed of two saloons, a store and a railroad station. It is made important, though, by the fact that two stage lines come in there. The hotels at places of the sort are generally clean, and they are kept more-or-less peaceable by the policy of reserving an out-building for the slumbers of the "drunks," so I concluded to tarry. I found some interest in automobiles here, and, after inspecting my machine, the natives fell to discussing the feasibility of running automobiles on the stage lines, instead of the old Concord coaches, drawn by six horses, that are now used. One of the stage drivers said that if anyone would build an automobile that would carry 12 or 14 persons and run through sand six inches deep. He would pay from $3,000 to $5,000 for it. I told him to wait awhile. After supper I mended my broken spokes with telegraph wire, and entertained quite a group of spectators, who watched the job with open curiosity. I find a variable reception in this country to my statement that I have journeyed from San Francisco, and am bound for New York. A great many do not believe me, and smile as if amused by an impromptu yarn. There is another class, though, that of the old settlers, the real mountaineers who have had adventures of all sorts in the mountains and the wilderness. These men are surprised at nothing, and they rather nettle me by accepting me and my motor bicycle and my statement with utmost stolidity as if the feat was commonplace. For awhile I thought that this class, too, were unbelievers, but later I learned that as a rule they are the only ones who do believe me, because they are men who believe anything possible in the way of overland journeying."



Across America on a Motor Bicycle - "Over the Rockies and the Great Divide to the Prairies" by George A. Wyman, The Motorcycle Magazine, August 1903, Vol 1 No 3
Ogden, UT to Omaha, NE
May 28 to June 11, 1903





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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

May 31 - Across America on a Motor Bicycle

(Granger to Bitter Creek, WY)

"Leaving Granger, which is a division town of about 200 people and has one hotel, at 6:30 o'clock in the morning, I found the road to Marston terribly rocky, and I returned to my old love, the crossties, after going half the distance, or about six miles. At Marston I found the old stage road to Green River, and many portions of this are gravelly and fine. Green River is quite a place with a population of about 1,500, but I did not stop there. I pushed on past the famous castellated rocks to Rock Springs, 45 miles from Granger, and, arriving there at 11:45, I stopped for dinner. You always eat dinner in the middle of the day in this part of our glorious country, and if you get up with the sun and bump on a motorcycle over the hallways of the Rocky Mountains, you are ready for dinner at 12 o'clock sharp, and before. At Rock Springs the country begins to look upward again, the elevation there being 6,260 feet, 200 feet more than at Green River. From Rock Springs on, except for one drop of 500 feet from Creston to Rawlins and Fort Steele, there is a steady rise to the summit, about half way between Laramie and Cheyenne. There the elevation is a cool 8,590 feet.

Rock Springs, where I had dinner, is in the district of the Union Pacific Company's coal mines. It is memorable for labor troubles and murders of Chinamen. I had the ends of my driving belt sewed at Rock Springs, and set out again past Point of Rocks, 25 miles east to Bitter Creek. East of Point of Rocks the road Is fairly level, but it is of alkali sand, and when I went over it, it was so badly cut up that in some places I had to walk.

Bitter Creek might well be called Bitter Disappointment. I do not mean the stream of water that the road follows, but the station of the same name. It is one of those places which well-illustrates what I have said about the folly of taking the map as a guide in this country. About one-third of the "places" on the map are mere groups of section houses, while a third of the remainder are just sidetracking places, with the switch that the train hands shift themselves, and a signboard. Bitter Creek belongs to the former class. The "hotel" there is an old boxcar. Yet, if you take a standard atlas you will find the name of Bitter Creek printed in big letters among a lot of other "places" in smaller type. The big type, which leads you to think it must be quite a place, means only that the railroad stops there. The "places" in smaller type are mere sidetracking points. The boxcar is fitted-up as a restaurant and reminds one faintly of the all-night hasheries on wheels that are found in the streets of big cities. The boxcar restaurant at Bitter Creek, however, has none of the gaudiness of the coffee wagons. Still, I got a very good meal there. When I cast about for a place to sleep it was different, but I finally found a bed in a section house. This experience was one of the inevitable ones of transcontinental touring. It was 7:15 o'clock when I reached Bitter Creek Station and it is 69 miles from there to Rawlins, the first place where I could have obtained good accommodations."

Across America on a Motor Bicycle - "Over the Rockies and the Great Divide to the Prairies" by George A. Wyman, The Motorcycle Magazine, August 1903, Vol 1 No 3
Ogden, UT to Omaha, NE
May 28 to June 11, 1903


May 30 - Across America on a Motor Bicycle

(Evanston to Granger, WY)

"After riding about six miles that day I bumped into a rut and the stem of my handlebars snapped, but there was about an inch of the stem left, and I hammered it down with my wrench into the head tube and managed to make it do. This repair lasted to Chicago. I took to the railroad leaving Evanston, as there has been a new section built there, cutting off some distance and leading through a newly completed tunnel at Altamont, 13 miles from Evanston. 

It was early morning when I reached the tunnel. It is a mile and a half long. A train passed me and through the tunnel just before I got to it. It takes half an hour for the smoke to get out of the tunnel after a train passes through. I sat down to wait at the station and got to talking to an operator. He calmly informed me that several other trains would be along before long, and that it would not be safe for me to go through the tunnel for hours. Such luck! The only thing for me to do was to follow the trail over the summit through which the tunnel runs. This I did, walking and pushing my bicycle and stopping every few minutes to "breathe" myself. I ascended 300 feet in less than half a mile. I rode down on the other side using both hand brake and the coaster brake. I forsook the railroad after this and followed the road through Spring Valley and Carter to Granger, riding past the famed buttes, or table mountains of the Bad Lands. Bad they are, too. Even the road was marshy and muddy with clayey, sticky mud that just hugged my tires and coaxed them to stay with it. I was going down-grade now from Altamont to Granger. 

It is a great country at
Carter, WY c.1900
Carter, where altitude is 6,507 feet, it is a wonderful sight to see the buttes with seashells on their sides marking the high water mark of a prehistoric flood. Only it is a pity the water would not dry up entirely and give a bicycle a chance. I covered 85 miles on this day and it was one more like the three preceding days. An idea of climbing can be gained by stating that at Evanston the elevation is 6,759 feet, at Altamont 7,395 feet, and at Granger 6,279 feet. There were more round stones the size of baseballs on that piece of trail over the Altamont summit than ever I saw before in my life. At times they all seemed to be rolling around in an effort to get under my tires. If ever I travel through Nevada. Utah and Wyoming again on a bicycle it will be with a railroad track attachment. The telegraph operators at the lonely stations in the deserts have them to travel on back and forth from their homes to their offices. Putting the flanged guide wheels of the attachment on one rail the wheels of the bicycle are kept strictly in place on the opposite rail, and splendid time can be made. With such an attachment and a motor bicycle one could follow the railroad and make 150 miles a day, rain, snow or sunshine."


Across America on a Motor Bicycle - "Over the Rockies and the Great Divide to the Prairies" by George A. Wyman, The Motorcycle Magazine, August 1903, Vol 1 No 3
Ogden, UT to Omaha, NE
May 28 to June 11, 1903



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Sunday, May 28, 2023

May 29 - Across America on a Motor Bicycle

(Ogden, UT to Evanston Depot, WY)

"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.

It may be said that I splashed out of Ogden. That is the way it comes to me as I now recall it. It had rained for three weeks before I arrived there. The roads in all directions were muddy and the streams swollen. I was now entering the Rockies, and almost as soon as I got out of Ogden I began to encounter mountain streams, which I had to wade across. They were composed largely of melted snow water and were icy cold. At the first one I stopped, removed my foot gearing, took off my leggings, rolled up my trousers, and splashed across barefooted, and, except that the water was too cold, I rather enjoyed it. After going a mile I came to another stream and repeated the undressing performance. I did not enjoy it so much this time. Then the streams began to come along two or three to the mile, and I quit the undressing part and waded across with my shoes and all on. Sometimes the water was knee deep and a couple of times my motor got more cooling than it wanted and I had a job starting it again. In the forenoon of that day I waded more than a dozen of these mountain streams. It is a well watered country this, and it abounds in orchards and farming lands cultivated by Mormon industry. The streams I crossed were racing toward the Weber River as it ran through the Weber Canyon, which extends 140 miles southeast to Granger.

I am following the wagon road now, and 12 miles out of Ogden I enter the Weber Canyon. Turning to the left, I find myself walled-in by the grand granite walls of the canyon that tower upward to the clouds, and I come abruptly upon Devil's Gate, where the waters of the river fall from a great height and thrash around a sharp bend that has been obstructed for ages by a helter-skelter fall of great blocks of stone from above. It is a seething cauldron of water that rushes with insane, frothing fury around or over the obstructions, and one is impressed with the idea that the name is an apt one. A little further on I passed the Devil's Slide, another place well named, where the rocks rise in two
Devil's Slide, c.1900
perpendicular walls, hardly five yards apart, from the floor of the canyon to the mountain summit. It looks as if the stone had been sawed away by man, so sheer are the sides. But these are only a couple of the many wonderful and grandly picturesque phenomena of nature that I encounter from here on for many miles. It is a beautiful country, and the scenes shift from wild and rugged natural grandeurs in the narrow parts of the canyon to pastoral loveliness in the places where the mountain pass broadens and the small but fertile and splendidly kept farms of Mormon settlers are found here and there where the sides slopes to the river. As I go on toward Echo City, 40 miles from Ogden, I get out of the narrow part of the canyon and tilled land becomes more common.


Every one from 50 miles around was bound for Echo City or Evanston on that day, May 29, to see President Roosevelt, whose train stopped in passing long enough for him to make a speech at all the towns of any size- For this reason there was an unusual amount of travel on the roads, and I was repeatedly forced so far over to the side that I had to dismount to escape an upset. The farmers seemed to think I had no right on the road when they wanted to use it, and several swore as they called to me to get out of the way. One man abused me roundly, and told me I ought to get off the road altogether with my damned "bisickle." I did an indiscreet thing in answering him in kind, and he pulled up his team with the intention of getting off and horsewhipping me or to get a steady position to take a pot shot at me with a revolver. I don't know which - I didn't stop to learn. I let out my motor and quickly got around a bend in the road out of sight, and kept going, so that he did not see me again. I felt that tempers are too uncertain in that part of the country to risk a row with a native. I was alone in the land of the Mormons, and they are famed for the way they stick to one of their clan.

I reached Echo City, a railroad settlement of about 200 persons, and, after eating, pushed right on toward Evanston. East of Echo City the canyon narrows again, and here it is known as Echo Gorge. I had my fill of it, and the echoes of my ride through it lasted for days. The roads were in frightful condition owing to three rainy weeks. In many places it was harder traveling on them than over my friends the railroad ties. In the 80 miles that I rode it is 76 by railroad - between Ogden and Evanston on this day of grace my insides were shaken together like a barrelful of eggs rolling down a mountainside. My shaking-up was received in going uphill, though, for I found by consulting my guide that I had climbed 2,400 feet that day. The elevation at Ogden being 4,301 feet and at Evanston 6,759 feet. At night my back felt as if some good husky man with a club had used it on me heavily. The new belt rim that I had put on in the morning got shot full of holes that day by being punched against sharp rocks at the roadside. It is a strenuous country, and must have been plenty pleasing to the President. I had little chance to revel in the magnificent
Pulpit Rock, Echo City, UT
scenery, but I knew about the Pulpit Rock from which Brigham Young delivered a Sunday sermon during the pilgrimage of the Mormons to their settlement at Salt Lake City, and I had a glance at it as I rode away from Echo City. Sixteen miles east from my luncheon stop I passed the towering sandstone bluffs, with turreted tops naturally formed, that are known as Castle Rocks, and lend their name to a railroad station of the Union Pacific there. If any one got off there, though, you would surely have a spell of wondering what they were going to do, for there is no village of any sort. The day was nice enough so far as temperature was concerned, but the story of what had been in the recent past was told to me just before I got into Evanston by the sight of thousands of sheep carcasses strewn on the hillsides and even right along the sides of the road. They had been killed by snow and hailstorms, only a few days before.



Restored RR Depot, Evanston WY
Room in which Wyman slept
It was 8:35 p.m. when I reached Evanston in Wyoming, just across the State line from Utah, and, although this is a town of something over 2,000 persons, with half a dozen hotels, the place was crowded with visitors. Every cowboy, ranchman, farmer and miner for many miles around had been there to hear the President speak in the afternoon, and at night food was at famine prices and sleeping accommodations simply not to be had. I was not wanted anywhere and I felt the slight in the difference between welcome given to the President and to me keenly. After trying at a couple of hotels and boarding houses I made up my mind that I would have to sit it out. Chairs however, were at a premium, and I stood and watched a poker game at the hotel until midnight, and then strolled over to the railroad station where I found a chair, and in that I bunked, sore as a stone bruise until morning, leaving the town at 6:20 o'clock."


Across America on a Motor Bicycle - "Over the Rockies and the Great Divide to the Prairies" by George A. Wyman, The Motorcycle Magazine, August 1903, Vol 1 No 3
Ogden, UT to Omaha, NE
May 28 to June 11, 1903




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May 28 - Across America on a Motor Bicycle

(Zenda to Ogden, UT)

"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.  


UPRR Depot & Express Office, c.1900
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."


Across America on a Motor Bicycle - "Over the Great Deserts to the Rock Mountains" by George A. Wyman, The Motorcycle Magazine, July 1903, Vol 1 No 2
Reno, NV to Ogden, UT
May 21 to May 28, 1903




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Friday, May 26, 2023

May 27 - Across America on a Motor Bicycle

(Terrace to Zenda, 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."

Across America on a Motor Bicycle - "Over the Great Deserts to the Rock Mountains" by George A. Wyman, The Motorcycle Magazine, July 1903, Vol 1 No 2
Reno, NV to Ogden, UT
May 21 to May 28, 1903




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May 26 - Across America on a Motor Bicycle

(Wells, NV to Terrace, UT)

"This day, between Wells and Terrace, May 26, I had two experiences more interesting to read about than to pass through. It is rather high altitude there, the elevation at Wells being 5,628 feet, and at Fenelon, the name of a side switch without a house near it, 20 miles east, the elevation is 6,154 feet. There was a heavy frost on the ground in the morning when I left Wells at 6 o'clock, as, indeed, there was nearly every morning during that week. It was bitter cold, and before I had gone 20 miles my ears were severely frosted. There was no snow to rub on them though, and I had to doctor them the best I could with water first and then lubricating oil. In the afternoon of the same day it grew very hot, and my ears got badly sunburned, in common with my face. That gives an idea of the climate of the country. The other experience of the day was not so painful; it would commonly be considered a treat; but it was a distinct shock to me because, not being in condition to use my wits properly, I did not understand. I was about 70 miles east from Wells, near Tecoma, and riding on the finest stretch of trail that I had struck in several hundred miles, when I saw coming toward me in the distance one of the Conestoga wagons drawn by a team of horses with two men walking along beside the horses. I was somewhat doubtful about the road I was following, afraid it would lead me too far from the railroad, and I was delighted to meet with someone who could tell me where the road led. As the wagon approached it was lost to sight behind a bunch of sagebrush in a turn of the road. I kept riding toward it, and when I got to the spot there was nothing there. The desert was all about, devoid of any human being except myself, and there was no place behind a cliff or any hollow of the land where a team and wagon could disappear. I was dumb with amazement, and dismounted in a daze, wondering if the sun had affected my head. My mind could not have been working clearly, for I never thought of its being a mirage, as I afterward knew it to be, I was afraid I was losing my mind, and went on silently with a feeling of dread. The stretch of road was of red gravel, and lasted 10 miles beyond the mirage. I covered it in 30 minutes. Then it began to rain, and I got back to the track and rode into Terrace, Utah, at 7:30 p.m. having covered 98 miles during the day of 13 hours.


G.Wyman
Terrace, where I stopped overnight on May 26, is in Utah, and is another division of some size. It is the biggest eating station on the Southern Pacific road between San Francisco and Ogden. I crossed the line between Nevada and Utah when I was about 30 miles out of Wells, and at Terrace was about three-fourths of the way through the Great American Desert. Around this place I saw the greatest collection of dugouts and log houses built of railroad ties that I had yet seen. Such dwellings are common on the outskirts of the division towns and in the settlements of section hands, but one sees only two or three at a time ordinarily, while at Terrace there is a swarm of them. For the dugouts the owners dig cellars about four feet deep and build up, criblike, four feet above the ground, giving the interior one or two rooms eight feet in height. Foreigners mostly live in these and the tie houses, which are simply log shanties made of cross ties, and plastered up with adobe mud. Sometimes Indians of the blanket variety occupy these dugouts, but more often the aborigine stragglers from the reservations occupy tepees on the outskirts of the towns, if these places of a couple of dozen houses can be called towns. 

While I saw plenty of Indians on my trip, I did not have any adventures with them. I did not have time to work up adventures; enough came without seeking; besides, the Indians I saw are not of the adventurous sort. They are a lazy, dirty lot that sulk about while their squaws work in the eating houses and elsewhere to get money for extra tobacco for the bucks. The only time I spoke to an Indian during my trip was to ask a slouching fellow about a route and I could not understand his reply enough to derive any satisfaction. So that settles the Indian matter, for I don't propose to manufacture any dime-novel incident just for the sake of adding color."


Across America on a Motor Bicycle - "Over the Great Deserts to the Rock Mountains" by George A. Wyman, The Motorcycle Magazine, July 1903, Vol 1 No 2
Reno, NV to Ogden, UT
May 21 to May 28, 1903




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Wednesday, May 24, 2023

May 25 - Across America on a Motor Bicycle

(Carlin to Wells, NV)

"I stopped overnight in Carlin, and left at 5:10, still travelling in the canyon, which extends from Palisade, thirty-five miles further east, to Elko.  I had ten miles of fair going on the road, and then had to take to the railroad again.  When I did so I was confronted by a tunnel just 3,000 feet long with a curve in it, so that you cannot see the little round hole of light at the other end.  There was a river on one side, a precipice on the other and the tunnel beetween.  There was nothing for it but the tunnel, and I went through it.  I walked.  I had to slide my foot along the rail in order tell where the track was.  The other side of this railroad borrow the roadbed was sandy and I kept on walking.  After tramping ten miles I reached Elko, where I stopped to by some gasolene.  I got what two beer bottles would hold, about three pintes, and paid four bits for it.  This is at a rate of about $1.25 a gallon, and was the highest price I paid anywhere.

I should say the average price I paid was about 40 cents a gallon.  The further East I got the cheaper gasolene became.  I used an average of two quarts of gasoline to every fifty miles very uniformily.  My regular gasolene tank held two quarts, but the the Far West I carried an extra tank holding two gallons, so as to be prepared for the emergency of not being able to get any.  On this day between Carlin and Wells I used three quarts of gasoline, travelling eighty-six miles.

After walking out of Elko, which I put down as a bunco town, because of the gasolene, I came to a piece of road that looked good and I started to motor.  I was now entering the Great American Desert.  After riding about two miles I rand into a washout caused by a cloudburst.  It was six feed deep and ten feet across.  I was going full tilt when I saw it, but I could not stop, for my brake was put out of commission when I broke my handle bars.  The motorcycle went into the hole and I fell on the other side of it on my back. and lay stunned for several minutes.  I tore a piece out of my finger, smashed my watch and sprained my back, but the motorcycle was unhurt.  If it had been a rocky place instead of a sandy one this part of the story would be different.  I reckon it would be about the place for a crape curtain to drop.  I finally motored on to Wells, my mileage for the day being eighty-six miles."

Wells is a division town of about 200 population, with the biggest hotel I had seen since leaving Reno. The dining room there for railroad passengers would have seated the whole population of the place. They feed largely for 50 cents a meal, and I never left anything on the dishes. Riding over the ties must have jolted my food down to my boots. I was always empty, and I doubt if any restaurant made anything on me, even the high priced ones, where they charge 50 cents a meal. Mentioning prices, the highest figure for a meal I saw posted was 75 cents, but this was on a very nicely graduated scale of prices, one calculated to fit the different sorts of eaters and give satisfaction all around. This high price was on a board nailed on the outside wall of a dugout at a section station. The sign read:  

Meal.................................................. 25 cents
Square meal....................................... 50 cents
Gorge................................................. 75 cents

I am afraid that if all the restaurants had such a schedule and lived up to it I would have paid 75 cents apiece for all my meals.

At Wells I had to tighten up the spokes of the wheels on my motorcycle, as I often did at other places. Pounding over the ties was a terrible strain on the bicycle. I marveled every day that it stood it so well. It is well I knew better than to congratulate myself when over the Forty Mile Desert. That was only a sort of initiation for me. The Great American Desert, which stretches from Elko, Nevada, to Kelton, Utah, is nearly 200 miles across, or 5 times as big as the first one. I struck the alkali sand of the Great American Desert going out of Wells, and for three miles found a stretch hard enough to ride on. Then I walked for two miles, and went over the railroad, where I found fair tie-pounding. I was interested in this part of the desert to find that the picturesque old prairie schooner of the Forty-niners, who traveled this overland trail, is not extinct. I passed quite a few of them at different times. Most of them carried parties of farmer families who were moving from one section of the country to another, and several were occupied by gypsies, or rovers, as the natives call the Romany people."


Across America on a Motor Bicycle - "Over the Great Deserts to the Rock Mountains" by George A. Wyman, The Motorcycle Magazine, July 1903, Vol 1 No 2
Reno, NV to Ogden, UT
May 21 to May 28, 1903




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Tuesday, May 23, 2023

May 24 - Across America on a Motor Bicycle

(Battle Mountain to Carlin, NV)

"Battle Mountain is somewhat of a historic spot, in a bit of fertile farming land that is about 40 miles across. It is said that they reap more grain and hay to the acre there than anywhere else in the State. I had been gradually ascending since leaving Humboldt. Battle Mountain has an elevation of 4,511 feet. It was near there that there was a great Mormon massacre. Going out of the town, toward the east, one can see upon the mountain the cross that marks the "Maiden's Grave." The town itself is the usual frontier settlement - a store and several saloons. 

I put up at the house of a Mrs. Brady, and, to tell the whole truth, I went to bed thoroughly disgusted with my bargain. I felt as if I was a fool for attempting to cross the continent on a motor bicycle. I was tired of sand and sagebrush and railroad ties. My back ached, and I fell asleep feeling as if I did not care whether I ever reported to the Motorcycle Magazine in New York or not. In the morning it was different, and I was as determined as ever to finish the task, and was eager to be off. It is a mighty bilious country, this Nevada of ours, but they feed you well. Indeed, all through the real West I got better living for the same money than I did as I worked East. 

I left the Battle Mountain at 7 a.m., and found hard going. It had rained over night. The mud on the road blocked the wheels and I went to the railroad. That was just as bad, the roadbed being of dirt instead of gravel. After a walk of 10 miles, I managed to drive the motor along slowly. I swore on that stretch that I would not ride a bicycle through Nevada again for $5,000. The only way to travel there is in an airship, and then I believe it would somehow give out and strand the vessel. I made 36 miles in 5 hours and stopped for lunch at Palisade, a telegraph station in the canyon.
Palisade, NV c.1890
I had little more than got started again when I got caught in a thunderstorm, and in less than a minute I was as wet as if I had fallen in the river. After the shower the mud was so sticky that I had to stop every 30 yards and scrape off the wheel in order to let it turn around. A lovely country; yes! I thought at times I would have to let the motor stay in the mud and hunt up a wagon to haul it and me to the next place giving an imitation of civilization. When I was almost ready to give up I struck a stretch of gravel roadbed, and got a rest for awhile. A little further on I had to walk through the mud again. 


I finally got to Carlin at 7 p.m., having made 58 miles after the hardest day of work I had yet had. I turned a fire hose on the motorcycle at Carlin in order to soften the mud so that I could wipe it off. This was on May 24, a memorable day, and I was a week out from Sacramento. Carlin is a division town in a canyon, Its surveyed elevation is 4,807 feet, but the place is a liberal dispenser of "Old Scratch" That's what the whiskey is called out there. When the natives drink plenty of "Old Scratch" the elevation of the town rises to unsurveyable heights. Like most of the other settlements of the region, gambling is one of the chief industries."

Across America on a Motor Bicycle - "Over the Great Deserts to the Rock Mountains" by George A. Wyman, The Motorcycle Magazine, July 1903, Vol 1 No 2
Reno, NV to Ogden, UT
May 21 to May 28, 1903


2018 - Wyman Memorial Challenge, 'Rendezvous' Grand Tour

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May 23 - Across America on a Motor Bicycle

(Humboldt House to Battle Mountain, NV)

"The people in that country did not get up early enough to suit me, and I left Humboldt at 5:40 a.m. without breakfast. I struck sandy going at once, and took to the everlasting crossties and kept on them nearly all the way to Winnemucca, 45 miles from Humboldt. Seven miles west of Winnemucca I came to a stretch where I could see the place in the distance, and I left the railroad to take what I thought to be a shortcut over a trail that runs along an old watercourse, diverging gradually from the railroad. This is where I made a sad mistake. A 10-mule team could not haul a buggy through the sand there, and after going 3 miles and getting half a mile away from the railroad tracks, I
G.Wyman
got stuck in the sand hopelessly. I found that the trail did not lead to Winnemucca anyhow. It took me an hour to push the bicycle by hand back again to the tracks across the sand hills. When I wanted to rest, though, the sand was useful, for the bicycle stood alone, and once I took a snapshot of it while it was thus set in the sand. This is the place where the automobiles that try to cross the continent come to grief. If they get to Winnemucca they have a chance of getting through. In the struggle with the bicycle, I lost my revolver and my wrench through a hole in my pocket, and I lost an hour looking for them, but I found them in the sand. I wouldn't have lost that revolver for a great deal. It furnished me with all the fun I had in my loneliness. I did not have any occasion to draw it in self-defense, but I practiced my marksmanship with it on coyotes - they pronounce it ki-o-tee out here, with the accent on the first syllable. It is a long .38 that I carry, and a remarkably good shooter. I could hit a coyote with it at 200 yards, and left several carcasses of them in the desert. There is a bounty paid for their hides, but I did not have time to skin them and collect the money. The buzzards - it is against the law to shoot them and I let them alone. In the greener spots of the country I had shots at rabbits and doves, and I guess I could have had a bagful of game every day if I had looked for it.



G.Wyman
Winnemucca, a cattle town is quite a place. I got some gasoline there, and put a plug of food in my stomach, which had been without breakfast. At noon I started for Battle Mountain, 63 miles away. The first 10 miles out I found the road fairly good, but then I had to take to the tracks again. For about 4 miles I had the best bit of time between the tracks that I had between the tracks since I left Frisco. Then I had to walk for 6 miles because the sand lay in ridges between the ties. They are laying a new stretch of road along there, and after my walk I came to a place where I ran the motor at top speed for 10 miles. Then my handlebar broke while I was going full-tilt, and I had a close call from striking my head on the rail. I missed it by a few inches. After a walk of a mile I reached a boxcar camp and got a lineman to help me improvise a bar out of a piece of hardwood, which we bound on with tarred twine. I made as good a job of it as possible, for it is a poor country for bicycle supplies, and I realized that I would not be able to get a pair of new bars until I got to Ogden, nearly 400 miles beyond. In spite of my troubles I reached Battle Mountain at 7:15 p.m, having made 109 miles for the day."

Across America on a Motor Bicycle - "Over the Great Deserts to the Rock Mountains" by George A. Wyman, The Motorcycle Magazine, July 1903, Vol 1 No 2
Reno, NV to Ogden, UT
May 21 to May 28, 1903


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