38.907N \ 77.037W


However superior to other animals man may be in point of intellect, it must be admitted that he is vastly inferior in his natural equipment for locomotion. Quadrupeds have twice as many legs, run faster, and stand more firmly. Birds have their two legs supplemented with wings that give a wonderfully increased speed in flight, and fish, with no legs at all, run races with the fastest steamers; but man has awkwardly toddled on two stilted supports since prehistoric time, and for the first year of his life is unable to walk at all. That he has felt his inferiority is clear, for his imagination has given wings to the angels, and has depicted Mercury, the messenger of the gods, with a similar equipment on his heels. We see the ambition for speed exemplified even in the baby, who crows in exhilaration at rapid movement, and in the boy when the ride on the flying horses, the glide on the ice, or the swift descent on the toboggan slide, brings a flash to his eye and a glow to his cheeks.

A characteristic trend of the present age is toward increased speed in everything, and the most conspicuous example of accelerated speed in late years is the bicycle. It has, with its fascination of silent motion and the exhilaration of flight, driven the younger generation wild with enthusiasm, has limbered up the muscles of old age, has revolutionized the attire of men and women, and well-nigh supplanted the old-fashioned use of legs. It is the most unique and ubiquitous piece of organized machinery ever made. The thoroughfares and highways of civilization fairly swarm with thousands of glistening and silently gliding wheels. It is to be found everywhere, even to the steppes of Asia, the plains of Australia, and the ice fields of the Arctic.

The true definition of the bicycle is a two-wheeled vehicle, with one wheel in front and the other in the rear, and both in the same vertical plane. Its life principle is the physical law that a rotating body tends to preserve its plane of rotation, and so it stands up, when it moves, on the same principle that a top does when it spins or a child’s hoop remains erect when it rolls.

FIG. 180.—THE DRAISINE, 1816.

A form of carriage adapted to be propelled by the muscular effort of the rider was constructed and exhibited in Paris by Blanchard and Magurier, and was described in the Journal de Paris as early as July 27, 1779, but the true bicycle was the product of the Nineteenth Century. It was invented by Baron von Drais, of Manheim-on-the Rhine. See Fig. 180. It consisted of two wheels, one before the other, in the same plane, and connected together by a bar bearing a saddle, the front wheel being arranged to turn about a vertical axis and provided with a handle for guiding. The rider supported his elbows on an arm rest and propelled the device by striking his toes upon the ground, and in this way thrusted himself along, while guiding his course by the handle bar and swivelling front wheel. This machine was called the “Draisine.” It was patented in France for the Baron by Louis Joseph Dineur, and was exhibited in Paris in 1816. In 1818 Denis Johnson secured an English patent for an improved form of this device, but the principle of propulsion remained the same. This device, variously known as the “Draisine,” “vélocipède,” “célérifère,” “pedestrian curricle,” “dandy horse,” and “hobby-horse,” was introduced in New York in 1819, and was greeted for a time with great enthusiasm in that and other cities.


On June 26, 1819, William K. Clarkson was granted a United States patent for a vélocipède, but the records were destroyed in the fire of 1836. In 1821 Louis Gompertz devised an improved form of “hobby-horse,” in which a vibrating handle, with segmental rack engaging with a pinion on the front wheel axle, enabled the hands to be employed as well as the feet in propelling the machine. Such devices all relied, however, upon the striking of the ground with the toes. Their fame was evanescent, however, and for forty years thereafter little or no attention was paid to this means of locomotion, except in the construction of children’s carriages and velocipedes having three or more wheels.

In 1855 Ernst Michaux, a French locksmith, applied, for the first time, the foot cranks and pedals to the axle of the drive wheel. A United States patent, No. 59,915, taken Nov. 20, 1866, in the joint names of Lallement and Carrol, represented, however, the revival of development in this field. Lallement was a Frenchman, and built a machine having the pedals on the axle of the drive wheel, and it was at one time believed that it was he who deserved the credit for this feature, but it is claimed for Michaux, and the monument erected by the French in 1894 to Ernest and Pierre Michaux at Bar le Duc gives strength to the claim. The bicycle, as represented at this stage of development, is shown in Fig. 181. In 1868-’69 machines of this type went extensively into use. Bicycle schools and riding academies appeared all through the East, and notwithstanding the excessive muscular effort required to propel the heavy and clumsy wooden wheels, the old “bone-shaker” was received with a furor of enthusiasm.


In 1869 Magee, in Paris, made the entire bicycle of iron and steel, solid rubber tires and brakes followed, and the front wheel began to grow to larger size, until in 1879 the bicycle presented the form shown in Fig. 182. This placed the weight of the rider more directly over the drive wheel, and was known as the “vertical fork.” It gave good results but for the accidents from “headers,” to which it was especially liable. Means to overcome the danger were resorted to, and the “Star” bicycle represented such a construction. In this the high wheel was behind and the small one in front, and straps and ratchet wheels connected the pedals to the axle. In 1877 Rousseau, of Marseilles, removed the pedals from the wheel axle and applied the power to the axle by a chain extending from a sprocket wheel on the pedal shaft to a sprocket wheel on the wheel axle. By gradual steps, initiated in Starley’s “Rover” in 1880, (see Fig. 183), the high front wheel was reduced in size, until the proportions of the modern “Safety” (Fig. 184) have been obtained. Strange to say, these proportions have, through nearly a century of evolution, gone back to those employed in the old “Draisine,” where the two wheels were of the same size. The modern “Safety,” however, is quite a different machine. Its diamond frame of light but strong tubular steel, its ball bearings, its suspension wheels and pneumatic tires impart to the modern bicycle strength with lightness, and beauty with efficiency, to a degree scarcely attained by any other piece of organized machinery designed for such trying work.

FIG. 183.—“ROVER,” 1880.


The most important of all modern improvements on the bicycle was perhaps the pneumatic tire. This was not originally designed for the bicycle, but was patented in England by R. W. Thompson in 1845 and in the United States May 8, 1847, No. 5,104. Its application to the bicycle was made in 1889 by Dunlop, United States patent No. 435,995, Sept. 9, 1890, and 453,550, June 2, 1891. It furnishes not only an elastic bearing which cushions the jar, but also makes a broader tread that renders cycling on the soft roads of the country at once practical and delightful. The chainless wheel, which connects the axle of the pedal crank with the axle of the rear wheel by a shaft with bevel gears, is the most recent form exploited by the manufacturers, but it is doubtful whether it presents any points of superiority over the chain type. All of the parts of the bicycle have come in for a share of attention at the hands of inventors, differential speed gears and brakes having received especial attention. The Morrow hub brake, which applies friction to the rear wheel hub by back pressure on the pedal, is a popular modern form. The first back-pedal brake is shown in United States Pat. No. 418,142, to Stover & Hance, Dec. 24, 1889.

Among the many modifications of the bicycle as used to-day may be mentioned the drop frame, which has made cycling possible for ladies, the tandem, for two riders, the sextet or octet, carrying six or eight riders and resembling a centipede in movement and an express train in speed: the ice velocipede, in which two runners are combined with a spiked driving wheel, and the hydrocycle, or water velocipede, in which the drive wheel, formed with paddles, is used to propel a buoyant hull through the water.

In point of speed there seems to be no limit to the bicycle. In a test made on the Long Island Railroad in the summer of 1899 between a wheel and an express train, the bicyclist, riding on a plank road between the rails and protected behind the train by a wind break, covered a mile in 5745 seconds, and while going at top speed of more than a mile a minute, overtook the train, was caught by his friends on a rear platform and pulled on board, bicycle and all. This is the first instance on record of overtaking and boarding an express train going at the rate of sixty-four miles an hour, and yet it is said that the rider (Murphy) was not doing his best.

Nearly 5,000 patents have been granted on velocipedes and bicycles. Most of them were for bicycles which, as improved to-day, are not only as fleet as the birds, but almost as countless in numbers. It is estimated that in 1889 the total product of bicycles in this country reached 200,000 machines annually. In 1892, after the general adoption of the pneumatic tire, a great increase followed, which has grown from year to year until in the year 1899 a conservative estimate for the output in the United States is 1,000,000 wheels annually, worth from thirty to fifty million dollars. Each bicycle tire takes about two pounds of pure rubber, or four pounds to the wheel. The annual output in wheels consequently consumes about 4,000,000 pounds, or 2,000 tons of rubber. Ten years ago there were not more than twenty-five legitimate manufacturers of bicycles in the United States. In 1897 there were over 200 concerns in the business. It is estimated that there are to-day between 150 and 155 regular manufacturers, exclusive of the mere assemblers of parts. The Pope Manufacturing Company, which occupies the leading place, employed in 1888 about 500 hands. To-day their shops give employment to 3,800 workmen, which furnishes a significant object lesson as to the importance and growth of the industry.

The Automobile.—Gliding silently along our city streets without the customary accompaniment of the clatter of the horse’s hoofs, the automobile suggests to the average observer a very recent invention. This is, however, not the case. The automobile is older even than the locomotive, and is, in fact, the early model from which the rail locomotive was evolved. As early as 1680 Sir Isaac Newton proposed a steam carriage in which the propelling power was the reactionary discharge of a rearwardly directed jet of steam. Cugnot, in 1769, built a steam carriage, which is still preserved in the museum of the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers in Paris. Hornblower also in the same year devised a steam carriage. Watt’s patents of 1769 and 1784 contemplated the application of his steam engines to carriages running on land. Symington in 1770, and Murdoch in 1784, built experimental models. In 1787 Oliver Evans obtained a patent in Maryland for the exclusive right to make steam road wagons. Nathan Read in 1790 also patented and built a steam carriage.

Of these, Cugnot represents the pioneer in the heavier forms of self-propelled vehicles, but the steam carriage which best deserves to be regarded as the prototype of the modern passenger automobile is that of Trevithick, in England, who may also be considered as the father of the locomotive. On Christmas eve, 1801, this steam carriage made its experimental trip along the high road carrying seven or eight passengers. The next day the party, with Trevithick in charge of the engine, visited Tehidy House, the home of Lord Dunstanville. They met with an accident, however, and the carriage turned over. It was placed under shelter, and while the party were at the hotel regaling themselves with roast goose and popular drinks, the water in the engine boiled away, the iron became red hot, and nothing combustible was left either of the carriage or the building in which it was sheltered. On March 24, 1802, Trevithick and Vivian obtained a British patent, No. 2,599, on this device, and another carriage was built, and in the spring of 1803 started a run from Camborne to Redruth, but it stuck in the mud. It was popularly known as Capt. Trevithick’s “Puffing Devil.” It was subsequently reconstructed in London and run upon the streets of that city. Fig. 185 presents an illustration of the first steam automobile. The cylinders and pistons were enclosed within the fire box in the rear. Clutches (called striking boxes) on the axle of the front gear wheel allowed either running wheel to move independently of the other in turning. A pair of small front steering wheels was arranged to turn about a vertical axis and was manipulated by a handle bar. A brake was provided for in the specification, as were also variable gears for changing speed, and an automatic blower for the fire. The carriage had an elevated coach body mounted on springs, and the running wheels were of large size, adapted to the higher speed and lighter uses of passenger traffic.


It is not possible to trace the succeeding steps in steam carriage development by James and Anderson, by Gurney, in 1822, by Marcerone and Squire in 1833, by Russel in 1846, and many others; it is sufficient to know that bad roads and the success attending the steam locomotive on rails diverted attention from the steam road carriage, and not until the latter part of the Nineteenth Century was there any marked revival of interest in this field. Then came first the ponderous road engine, known as a traction engine, and used for heavy hauling; and this in the last decade has been followed by the modern steam motor carriage, an example of which is seen in Figs. 186 and 186A, which represent the “Locomobile” and its actuating mechanism. The fuel used is gasoline, stored in a three-gallon tank under the footboard. The boiler, which is arranged under the seat, is a vertical cylinder wrapped with piano wire for greater tensile strength, and contains 298 copper tubes. The engine, which is seen in Fig. 186A, is arranged in upright position under the seat, in front of the boiler, has two cylinders, 212-inch diameter and 4-inch stroke, a Stephenson link-motion and an ordinary D-valve. Sprocket wheels and a chain connect the engine shaft to the rear axle. The engine runs from 300 to 400 revolutions per minute and develops from four to five horse power. It has a muffle for the steam exhaust and the whole weight is 550 pounds. It is one of the lightest and cheapest of automobiles, runs easily at ten to twelve miles an hour, and is an efficient hill-climber. Although naming the steam automobile first because of its earlier genesis, it is not to be understood as representing at present the most popular type of motor carriage, although it bids fair to become so.



In France and the continent of Europe the type employing an explosive mixture of gasoline and air is most frequently found, and in England and the United States the electric motor with the storage battery is chiefly used.

In automobiles of the explosive gas type probably the earliest example is found in the British patent to Pinkus, No. 8,207, of 1839. In France Lenoir, in 1860, is credited with being the pioneer. Among modern applications the patent to George B. Selden, No. 549,160, occupies a prominent place. This was only granted Nov. 5, 1895, but the application for the patent was filed in the Patent Office May 8, 1879 so that the invention described has quite an early date, and some broad claims have been allowed to the inventor. In the last decade many applications of the explosive gas engine to road carriages and tricycles have been made, especially in France. Representative motor carriages of this type are to be found in the United States in the Duryea and the Winton. An illustration of the latter is given in Fig. 187. The form shown represents a phaeton weighing 1,400 pounds; the motor is of the single hydrocarbon type, and is simple, powerful and compact. It is also free from noise and vibration, and is under control at all times. The maximum speed is eighteen miles an hour.


Probably the most popular type of the automobile in the United States is the “electric.” The application of the electric motor to the propulsion of vehicles dates back to quite an early period. It is said that as far back as 1835 Stratingh and Becker, of Groeningen, and in 1836 Botto, of Turin, constructed crude electric carriages. Davenport, in 1835, Davidson, in 1838, and Dr. Page, in 1851, built electric locomotives which ran on rails. The prototype of the electric automobile, however, is best represented in the French patent to M. Grounelle, No. 7,728, Feb. 7, 1852 (2 Ser., Vol. 25, p. 220, pl. 46.) This shows a perfectly equipped electric automobile. It did not have a practical electric generator, however, for the storage battery was not then known. A large sulphate of copper battery was employed, which could through the agency of a train of gears give only a very slow speed. This road carriage, however, only needed a storage battery to make it a well organized and efficient electric automobile. It is believed by many that electricity fulfills more of the necessary conditions of a successful motive power for motor carriages than any other power. It is clean, compact, noiseless, free from vibration, heat, dirt and gases, and is under perfect control. Its chief objection is that it is only possible to recharge it where electric power is available, and in this respect it is inferior to the gasoline motor, whose supply may be conveniently obtained at every city, village, and country store. The Columbia two-seated Dos-a-Dos (Fig. 188), Woods’ Victoria Hansom Cab, and the Riker Electric Delivery Wagon are representative types of the modern electric automobile.


All of the motor carriages illustrated are of American make, and for lightness, grace, and efficiency they have no superiors. A peculiar and recent type which attracted much attention and took the gold medal at the Motor Carriage Exposition at Berlin, held in September, 1899, is the Pieper double motor carriage. It has both a benzine motor and an electric motor, which can be worked separately or together, and yet is said to be lighter than most electric carriages. On a long journey, remote from electrical supply, the benzine motor is used not only to propel the carriage, but by running the electric motor as a dynamo or generator, recharges the storage battery. On level, easy roads, where the power required falls below the maximum power exerted by the benzine motor, the electric motor changes automatically to a dynamo and the surplus force of the benzine motor is converted into current and stored. In running down hill or stopping the carriage, the momentum of the vehicle is also received by the electric motor acting as a dynamo and brake, and is stored as electricity in the battery, which is thus in an ordinary journey kept constantly charged.

It is not probable that man will ever be able to get along without the horse, but the release of the noble animal from the bondage of city traffic, which was begun only a few years ago with mechanical street car propulsion, promises now to be extensively advanced by the substitution of the motor carriage and the auto-truck for team-drawn vehicles. The rapidity with which this industry has grown, and its promise for the future may be realized when it is remembered that so far as practical results are concerned it has all grown up in the last decade of the Nineteenth Century, and yet to-day it is said that there are already in the United States about 200 incorporated concerns with an aggregate capitalization of some $500,000,000, organized to build automobiles, to say nothing of the vast number of individuals who are experimenting in this field. The greatest activity, however, is to be found in France, which claims over 600 manufacturers and has in use 6,000 automobiles out of a total of 11,000 in all of Europe.

The most significant suggestion for the future of the automobile is that the cost of maintenance and all things considered, it is in some applications cheaper than the horse-drawn vehicles of the same efficiency. In a consular report of Oct. 16, 1899, forwarded to the State Department by Mr. Marshal Halsted, consul at Birmingham, Mr. E. H. Bayley, an English authority, is quoted as saying that in operating heavy motor vehicles for hauling, the cost is three half-pence (three cents) per net ton per mile, as compared with 18 to 24 cents per net ton per mile by horse-drawn vehicles. In England much attention is being given to this subject.

As before stated, the modern automobile cannot be considered as a new invention so far as fundamental principles are concerned. Its success, in late years, is to be credited to the perfection of the arts in general, and as essential factors contributing to this may be named the refinement of steel, giving increased strength with lightness, the increased efficiency of motive power, the vulcanization of rubber, the mathematical nicety of mechanical adjustment, the reduction of friction by ball bearings, the wonderful developments in electricity and improvement in roads.