APRIL 2018 PROGRAM
THE HISTORY OF BICYCLING IN THE TONAWANDAS
Wednesday April 11, 2018 at 7:00 PM
Eldredge Bicycle Club • Tonawanda, New York
On April 11, 2018, the Historical Society of the Tonawandas celebrated spring with a program on the History of Bicycling in the Tonawandas. Our meeting will be held at the center where much of it started: the Eldredge Bicycle Club at 17 Broad Street in the City of Tonawanda from 7:00-9:00 PM.
The Eldredge Club was established in 1898 and is one of the oldest and continuously operating clubs of its kind in the country and perhaps the world. Named after the bicycle made in nearby Pennsylvania, it had over 1,700 members in the 1960’s.
Bicycling Clubs began to spring up in Buffalo and surrounding areas in the late 1800s, some as racing clubs, others as social cycling. Meeting houses varied from a few rooms to elaborate homes with smoking, billiard, card, and library rooms, as well as gymnasium and exercise rooms. There was bicycle storage for members and repair areas especially handy to tune up for a big race. A few even had ball rooms and dining rooms.
The first club in the area was the Buffalo Bicycle Club, established in 1879 and, after a few lapsed years, is still in existence. It began with four members who were the first four to own bicycles in Buffalo.
Our program will feature the story of bicycling in the Tonawandas, including the manufacturers, dealers, racers, and social activities that developed around the bicycle. Photos from our archives have been skillfully put together in this presentation that you won’t want to miss. We will have on display one really ancient bicycle that we are hoping to identify with your help. There will also be a local bicycle racer’s trophy: The Tonawanda Championship Trophy won by William Blake on July 4, 1893.
The program featured Ron Spohn, an avid bicyclist and member of the Niagara Frontier Bicycle Club. He gave a short talk on the history of bicycles with emphasis on Buffalo cycling. Since Ron is also a "modest" collector of old bikes and showed us his late 19th century Rudge highwheel and an early 20th century Pierce shaft drive bicycle. We are also pleased to announce that long-time Eldredge Cub member, "Hap" Holway, shared some of the club's history.
Eldredge Bicycle Club circa 1920s
Mabel Fassett Hepworth with her new “safety”
bicycle with pneumatic tires, circa 1893.
HSOT Cycling Exhibit