12 July 1997

Day 29 - Ravenna, NE to Aurora, NE

Distance travelled: 65.2 miles
Winds: slight head
Grades: Up and down
Weather: fair
Condition of roads: fair
Delays: Bicycles – 15m/ Tires – 0m/ Lunch –3h 45m/Other – 2h
Actual travel time: 10h
Rate per hour: 6.5 mph
- Lt. J.A. Moss Report to the Adjutant Synopsis of the Trip

Places & times mentioned: Ravenna; Grand Island [left at 5 p.m.]; Aurora [camped]

“Monday morning, July 12 found the corps on the road at an early hour and well on their way before sun up. A number of roads leading from Ravenna to Grand Island were suggested and it was decided to take the main traveled one all the way through without regard to the advices which were given to us, no two of which agreed.
The road was sandy in places and exceedingly hilly for a distance 20 miles. About 10 miles out the corps stopped for some water at a farm house beside the road. The folks were Germans and were delighted to see us and insisted that the men should stop and have some milk and bread. Accordingly the squad was halted and gathered around swo[?] large cans of milk with their tin cups while the women passed large pieces of bread around to the men, and when the bread was all gone they brought out all the cakes and cookies in the house. It was useless to remonstrate. They insisted that every man should have all he wanted and when the corps left the place I dare say that not a crust remained in the bread box of the kind housewife. It is needless to say that a lasting impression was made on the minds of the men and many thanks were expressed as the corps started on its uphill climb. Finally the last hill was climbed and away below us stretched the valley of the Platte river. Good roads were now ahead for a few miles and a regular race was run for several miles until patches of sand were struck and where it was necessary to walk in places. The sand extended for about two miles when another stretch of good road was struck and continued until Grand Island was reached. A stop of a few hours was made at Grand Island and then the corps continued on its way to Aurora, 25 miles distant. The run was made in two and three-quarter hours, being the best time we have made for that distance up to that time. It was dark when Aurora was reached and before long a blazing fire and steaming pot showed that camp was made and that supper would soon be ready. Lieut. Moss bought a lot of fresh meat and bakers’ bread and a good supper was served that night.”
- E.H. Boos, Daily Missoulian The Sand Abundant [Missoula, MT] July 31, 1897

Twenty soldiers from Fort Missoula, Montana came in this afternoon awheel making the run from Ravenna this morning. The lieutenant of the company, J. A. Most [sic], was seen by the reporter and stated that the company was en route to St. Louis. It started from the Montana fort on the 14th of last month and has made 1220 miles since that date. The men are al mounted on Spaulding’s military wheels a modification of the road wheel, the trip being a government experiment. The men made 62 miles yesterday, making the run from Broken Bow to Ravenna. This morning they made forty miles and expected to make Aurora this evening camping there for the night. The company will leave this city this evening at five o’clock.

- Grand Island Daily Independent [Grand Island, NE] July 12, 1897

A detachment of United States colored soldiers from Montana, under command of Lieut. Moss, enroute to St. Louis on bicycles, camped in this city, Monday night. The object of the trip is to test the value of a bicycle for military purposes.

- The Aurora Republican [Aurora, NE] July 16, 1897

Twenty-one colored soldiers, with two white officers, on their way from Montana to St. Louis, making a government test of bicycles in transporting troops, camped here Monday night. They were riding Spaulding wheels, furnished free of charge to the government. They carried an average of eighty pounds baggage, and are making fifty miles a day. A reporter of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat accompanied them. They carried guns, knapsacks, 50 rounds each of ammunition, and tents, blankets, extras for wheels. They used the Goodrich single-tube tandem tire. They rode in single file and make a very imposing appearance.
- The Aurora Sun [Aurora, NE] July 17, 1897

SOLDIERS ON WHEELS. – Bicycle Corps of Regulars Will Probably Reach Lincoln Today. James A. Moss, second lieutenant, Twenty-fifth United States Infantry, will probably arrive in Lincoln this evening in command of twenty-three soldiers, who are making a trip by wheel from Ft. Missoula, Mont., to St. Louis. The soldiers are known as the bicycle corps. The object of the trip is to test the wheel as a means of covering great distances. Light camping equipment is carried. The corps reached Grand Island yesterday and will probably camp on the capitol lawn tonight.
Lieutenant Moss wrote from Broken Bow to Major E.G. Fechet, Sixth U.S. cavalry, special aid to the governor, that the corps reached that place July 9 after an exceedingly hard and trying trip through the sand hills. He decided to rest one day at Broken Bow. He said in the letter that he expected to reach Lincoln Tuesday evening.
J.G. Painter, captain of the company of Nebraska national guardsmen at Broken Bow, wrote that Lieutenant Moss reached Broken Bow at 7:30 p.m. with twenty-three men after covering a distance of 1,300 miles in twenty-five days. Captain Painter says of the corps:
“In their travel of 178 miles from Alliance, Neb., a distance of fifteen miles was ridden on their wheels, the balance of the distance they walked and led their wheels through the sand hill country. The intense heat and bad water told severly on the men and many became prostrate and they longed for that Eldorado, Broken Bow. The last thirty hours before they reached Broken Bow they were drenched with rain and they wheeled into town soaking wet. In anticipation of their coming the armory was put in shape to receive them, a good fire was built and they were put through the drying process, and gasoline stoves were provided for their cooking and straw for bedding, and with a good warm supper the men retired early for a well earned rest.”
- Nebraska State Journal, Tuesday morning, July 13, 1897

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