A Tale: A Yellowstone Tour Proves the Value of Bicycles — 1896

At the end of the Nineteenth Century, the bicycle was being touted as a great innovation in transportation. An army tour of Yellowstone Park was the ultimate test of their versatility and durability.


Fort Missoula, Mont.

Oct. 15, 1896.



In testing the practicability of the bicycle for military purposes in a mountainous country, the Twenty-fifth U.S. Infantry Bicycle Corps, consisting of eight soldiers commanded by myself, has used Spalding Bicycles exclusively. In making our experiments we have ridden about 1,400 miles, the greater part being over some of the worst roads in the United States. On our 800-mile trip to Yellowstone Park, the Main Divide over the Rocky Mountains was crossed twice, the first time over “The Summit, near the Mullan Tunnel, and the second time over the old Mullan Stage Line, now little more than a mere trail, and without doubt one of the worst roads in this country.

As it was our object to thoroughly test the matter under all possible conditions we made and broke camp in the rain; we traveled through mud, water, sand, dust, over rocks, ruts, etc.; we crossed and re-crossed mountain ranges and forded streams, carrying our rations, rifles, ammunition, tents, blankets, extra underwear, medicine, tools, repairing material, cooking utensils and extra bicycle parts. The heaviest bicycle, packed, weighed 86 lbs., and the rider 186 lbs.; total. 272 lbs. The lightest bicycle, packed, weighed 67 lbs., and the rider 135 lbs.; total, 202 lbs. The average weight of the bicycles, packed, was 79.7 lbs.*, the riders, 157.4 lbs.; the bicycles and riders, 237.1 lbs.

The test was of a most severe nature, and it affords me great pleasure to be able to state the bicycles stood the work extraordinarily well, and are without doubt very fine machines.

Very truly yours,


Second Lieutenant Twenty-fifth U. S. Infantry, Commander Twenty-fifth V. S. Infantry Bicycle Corps.


— This advertisment appeared in League of American Wheelmen Bulletin and Good Roads. January 29, 1897.   25(5):121.

— Image from the U.S. Library of Congress.

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