What happens when you put two travel writers together and they see a museum sign? Of course they stop! That’s what happened when Sara Broers of Travel With Sara and I spied the Bicycle Museum of America sign while driving through Ohio.
We had a scant half hour, really just 20 minutes to tour this world class museum. That was it if we were going to make it on time to our next destination. We parked taking in the clean, crisp, beauty of the town of New Bremen. We made our way in record time to the museum.
Plunking down the minuscule $3.00 entry fee, we gave our saga of our time crunch. The Museum Assistant Anne Vasey took it in stride. She said, “Let’s get started!”
Bicycle History in the Museum.
Anne took us to the first highlight of the bicycle museum, the 1816 Draissine the very first bike ever built. This wooden machine was built by Karl Drais. He was a German land surveyor and innovator. He created the Draissine in response to a catastrophe.
“Mount Tambora in 1816 erupted in Indonesia and spewed enough ash to cause widespread global shifts. In Germany this resulted in a grain crisis and in turn, a shortage of feed for livestock.”
Anne said that Drais looked for an alternate method of transportation rather than horse. He came up with this wooden push vehicle where he would sit on the saddle, push and then coast. We moved from a variety of interesting early bikes with cool names like the “Bone Shaker” and the “Highwheel”.
When it came to women’s bikes, the bicycle was a way that freed women, giving them freedom of movement. I loved the way the skirt catchers! Quite fascinating!
Bikes became safer and more economical during the industrial revolution. Bicycles became affordable for the working man. As they became more popular, cycling became accepted as a sport. There are medals and trophies on display in the museum!
Then there are the fun bikes like the 1869 Monocycle that is a complete circle bike. There was the Boardwalk Tricycle and the Schwann Triplet built for three!
Besides the bicycles, there is an amazing Civil War flag that Anne said was carried by Company C of Auglaize County Volunteer Infantry. This flag was carried on Sherman’s March to the Sea and was found in an area residence.
I was fascinated by the military bike section and the unusual bikes that included a bike belonging to Pee Wee Herman. There was also a very architectural, handcrafted wooden bicycle.
The collection includes several Schwinn bikes and a fun bicycle car that Sara and I drove around. We probably gave Anne a good scare with our driving ability! We also had fun posing on a highwheel bike as well.
Come see for yourself!
This was the best 15-20 minute tour I recall! If you get near the town of New Bremen, take time to get off the highway and stop. It is a travel writer’s dream!
You might enjoy reading about my own bike riding enjoyment since I have picked up the hobby as well!