Peddling Bicycles to America

The Rise of an Industry


In stock

About the Book

This economic and technical history of the early American bicycle industry focuses on the crucial period from 1876 to the beginning of World War I. It looks particularly at the life and career of the industry’s most significant personality during this era, Albert Augustus Pope. After becoming enamored with English high-wheeled bicycles during a visit to the Philadelphia World’s Fair in 1876, Pope soon started paying Hartford, Connecticut’s Weed Sewing Machine Company to make his own brand of high-wheeler, the “Columbia,” the first to be manufactured in America in significant numbers. A decade later, Pope bought out that company, and ten years after that, Hartford’s Park River was lined with five of Pope’s factories. This book tells the story of the Pope Manufacturing Company’s meteoric rise and fall and the growth of an industry around it.

About the Author(s)

Bruce D. Epperson is a retired attorney who has written technical works on urban transportation planning (including bicycles) for the Federal Highway Administration, the Transportation Research Board and the Institute of Transportation Engineers. He lives in Highland, New York.

Bibliographic Details

Bruce D. Epperson
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 302
Bibliographic Info: 38 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2010
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4780-0
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5623-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments      1
Introduction: A Gala at the Allyn House      7

1. I Was Not a Bad Boy, Only Mischievous      13
2. Colonel Pope Goes to Hartford      24
3. The Great Patent Wars      35
4. Building the Mass Market      55
5. The Coming of the Safety Bicycle      74
6. Reading, ’Riting, ’Rithmetic and Roads      89
7. The Great Bicycle Boom      105
8. The Motor Carriage      129
9. Troubled Times      149
10. The Bicycle Trust      171
11. Picking Up the Pieces      189
12. After Pope      207
13. All Gone to Their Account      229
14. The Long Road Home      235

Chapter Notes      247
Bibliography      277
Index      289

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Wealth of interesting material”—Technology and Culture