19 June 1997

Day 6 - Fort Harrison [Helena], MT to Recap [near Three Forks], MT

Distance travelled: 63.5 miles
Winds: Slight back
Grades: Up and down
Weather: Forenoon fair; slight rain afternoon
Condition of roads: fair
Delays: Bicycles – 15m/Tires – 15m/Lunch –2h 30m/ Other – 45m
Actual travel time: 9h 5m
Rate per hour: 7 mph
- Lt. J.A. Moss Report to the Adjutant Synopsis of the Trip

Places & times mentioned: Fort Harrison; Helena; Beaver Creek; Winston; New Bedford; Townsend; Toston; NP Construction Camp Recap MT

“….the corps laid over at Fort Harrison until the morning of the 19th, waiting for the weather to settle, when, with a fairly bright sky, we left the post and fifty minutes later were gliding through the streets of Montana’s capital. About noon, with thirty-seven miles to our credit we lunched at New Bedford, and seven hours later went into camp at Recap, a construction camp on the Northern Pacific.”
- Lt. Moss, Los Angeles Times The Army A-Wheel, Nov. 7, 1897

Recap, where the Corps spent the night was more commonly spelled "Rekap". It was about 3.5 miles down from Clarkston, MT. (45° 59' 23.64" N 111° 26'37.49"W)

FROM FORT TO FORT--Fort Harrison Left and Fort Custer Gained After a Hard Struggle--Rains Descend and Made Mud
--Twenty-fifth Bicycle Corps Have a Hard Time of it Wheeling Through Montana. --Fort Custer, Mont., July --, 1897
The corps was quite well rested and freshed up after a day’s stay at Fort Harrison, and an early start was made on the morning of the nineteenth. The corps attracted much attention while going through Helena. The roads east of the latter place were rather rough after bad storms, but as we gained distance and the travel decreased, the condition improved and after about an hour we had comparatively good riding. We passed through east Helena and thence along a long hill, passing by a haunted house, the memory of which was distinctively marked on the minds of the ones that made the trip last year. The condition of the road was now getting worse and we encountered some hills, the boys always keeping a good line and attracting the attention of all the farmers and people along the line. When nearing Beaver Creek the road became impassable for bicycles and the order was given to keep to the railroad track. We tried this plan for several miles and were nearly jolted to pieces when the good roads again appeared and which we were glad to use. Our way was up a long hill, which was walked up pushing our machines. After reaching the summit of this hill good roads were met and we skimmed along the country at a good rate, crossing Beaver Creek on a good bridge. At 10:35 we reached the Winston, 26 1/2 miles from our starting point. The road from Winston east led down a long hill but on account of washouts and large boulders, we made but fair time and at noon we camped at New Bedford, 36 1/2 miles out, for our lunch. The weather was poor at this place and the command to start was given as soon as possible after lunch. We wheeled along a prairie covered with prickly pears and uphill roads for a few miles until we came in sight of the Missouri River, to whose banks we run and crossed over to Townsend, striking some very rough roads. The corps stopped at Townsend a few minutes giving the residents a chance to inspect our wheels and pass opinions, which were comical in some instances.
The weather up to this time was good, but now the clouds lowered and showed signs of rain. We made a forced march to Toston 13 1/2 miles further on over some desolate country. We reached Toston in good time, and as the rain had not commenced to fall so we concluded to push on a little further for the day. A number of citizens volunteered information and after listening to a number of stories about the poor conditions of the road by the way of Three Forks, we determined to take the railroad track, which cut off a few miles.* We marched on this track which was just being renewed and was without ballast for 20 miles pushing our tires over the ties, which were from six inches to two feet apart, subjecting them to most severe test. In the worst part we carried our heavily loaded machines on our shoulder. The mosquitoes were very bad and we hard a hard time. The hour was getting late and the men tired and hungry so we pitched camp at a temporary station called Recap. Our beds this night were hard and care had to be exercised not to rest on the many prickly pears. Distance covered that day was 73 1/2 miles, and was made under some of the most trying conditions. Although we passed through a country literally covered with cactus not a puncture was reported and no accidents.”
- E.H. Boos Daily Missoulian From Fort to Fort [Missoula, MT] July 10, 1897

*the road the Corps took took them through a canyon, carved by the Missouri River, which is about 20 miles long. I'm guessing "the road by the way of Three Forks" that the Corps decided not to take was closer to modern HWY 287 which joins Toston, MT to Three Forks, MT to the west of the canyon.

“The bicycle corps of the Twenty-fifth Infantry…is now between Helena and Bozeman”
- E.H. Boos Daily Missoulian June 19, 1897

“ The night of the 19th was spent at Recap, Mont., a construction camp between the N.P.R.R. track and the Gallatin River*, only a hundred yards or so from the railroad.”
- Lt. Moss Report to the Adjutant General (pg. 5)

* It seems to me that Moss must have meant the Missouri River, not the Gallatin. The Gallatin (along with the Jefferson and Madison) are further south, below, at Three Forks where they meet.

Bicycle Trip by Soldiers to Determine
if the Wheel is Available as
a Transport
Why Lieutenant Moss and Command
of the United States Army are
on Their Journey

The bicycle corps of the Twenty-fifth Infantry, U.S.A., which left Missoula Monday morning, June 14th, for St. Louis, Missouri, is now between Helena and Bozeman, and as the weather has improved will make better time than was made between Missoula and Helena, owing to the muddy condition of the roads. Why the trip was undertaken is fully explained in what follows:
Not many years ago the bicycle was looked upon as a mere toy, a kind of "dandy horse," and the riders were regarded as fit subjects for pity. That time, however, is a thing of the past; the bicycle of today is a very important factor in our social and commercial life, and bids fair to figure conspicuously in the warfare of the future. France, Austria, Switzerland, England, Germany and other European powers, have, of late years, devoted considerable attention to the bicycle as a machine for military purposes, resulting in its adoption as component parts of their armies."
- E.H. Boos Daily Missoulian Military Purposes, June 19, 1897

"The bicycle corps of the regular army, which passed through here last Saturday, report that they were not obliged to do any walking, since leaving Missoula, until the arrived at Placer."
- The Winston Prospector [Winston, Montana] 24 June 1897

The following story was on the same page of the Winston Prospector. It has nothing to do with the Bicycle Corps but I thought it was funny.....
Of Course She Was to Blame.
There is only one time when a man freely and voluntarily admits that his wife is a "woman rights" advocate to the extent of having worn his clothes, and that is when he is trying to catch a train. To the absolute knowledge of your reporter, a Winston man, after the special express had been standing half an hour on the track, was seen hat on one side, one shirt sleeve unbuttoned, coat-tail horizontaly aflair in the breeze, caused by the concussion of air behind him, as he flung arms and legs in desperate effort to overtake the morning train which was just pulling out. His heart had been set on celebrating with the Union boys in Helena. The following is the conversation between himself and wife--considerably abbreviated:
Husband--Wife, where is my pants?
Wife--Hanging in the wardrobe, John.
Husband--Wife, what in the name of sense did you do with my collar button?
Wife--In the velvet case on the bureau, dear.
Husband--Where is my hat? You must have had my cuff-buttons or what could have become of them?
The wife left the care of the little one to assist his arm into his coat sleeve, and then sympathetically called from the window, "O, papa, its no use now, the train is going." After an hour or so slowly walking about the town, looking as though he would kick every dog that gave him a friendly glance, and knocking down anyone that dared to say good morning to him, he returned home and declared, "It's all your fault, wife."

1 comment:

Mike Higgins said...

Modern sign at Clarkston, MT -
Clarkston (Magpie)
The Northern Pacific railroad passed through here in 1883 and traveled to Helena. The station was called Magpie for the many black and birds residing here. Magpie was an early day homesteading are and by 1911 most of the land was settled. In 1910 Guy Clark established a store and post office (1910-1958) and the town’s name was changed to Clarkston. The store’s name originated from the old sawyer Ranch, the Circle S. There was a stock yard, a depot and an elevator. The few people who lived in this area could flag the trains for rides to Helena or Logan. South of here was a railroad flag stop called ‘Rekap'. The Clarkston school operated from 1920-1939. Other early day schools in this area were Pole Gulch (Evergreen), Harrison (Prather) and Garden Gulch…..

Montana Cultural Trust and