Formed in 1880, the League of American Wheelmen worked throughout the late-19th century advocating for road improvements, fighting for the right of cyclists to use public roads, and promoting bike racing as a sport. Baltimore boasted a large community of cyclists in the 1880s and 1890s and played host to the League’s annual Convention in 1888 and 1896. On a warm July evening in 1894, the Maryland Division of the League of American Wheelmen lined up at Druid Lake for an evening parade through the streets of Baltimore:
“‘Line up,’ ‘Fall in by twos,’ ‘Don’t jam,’ and then the parade of the Maryland Division, League of American Wheelmen, was off.
The route of the parade was Eutaw Place to Eutaw street, to Monument, to Charles, to Chase street, to Broadway, to Canton avenue and return by the same route. Some of the wheelmen came up Baltimore street on the return trip, but the larger part of the parade returned by Mt. Vernon Pace.
The largest contingents of riders came from the Harlem Wheelmen captained by George Kugler, the Maryland Bicycle Club led by Captain A.L. McMormick and the Baltimore Cycling Club, with 60 riders, led by Captain E.R. Folger. Bike clubs from across the city – Centaur, Clifton, the Young Men’s Christian Association, Patapsco, Riverside, and the Junior Order United American Mechanics – joined the parade.
When the cyclists were ready there was a wavering of the crescent of lamps far out at the east end of the lake. As Chief Consul Albert Mott, who commanded as marshal, came down the line he was received with applause. Club after club fell into line on the right and whizzed past the waiting cyclists on the left.
As Consul Mott went through the Eutaw Place gate after the start he had nearly a thousand wheelmen at his back, and a half-dozen wheelwomen too, who were not to be outdone by their male comrades. The ladies rode to the finish.
The riders passed through large crowds of spectators on each side as they went through the streets and responded to the applause by giving club yells, tooting syren whistles and jingling several bells that sounded as if they had done service as cowbells in the country.”
I’ve traced the route described in the account from The Sun (available through ProQuest) and included some suggested detours that Baltimore’s one-way streets demand. I’m hoping this will be the first in a series of posts that follow along with cyclists from the past in Baltimore and beyond.