Around the World on a Bicycle

In 1884, the 29 year old Thomas Stevens set out from San Fransisco on the 'modern mechanical invention' of the Penny Farthing to circumnavigate the globe on his 'big wheel'. His book - "Around the World on a Bicycle" - was published in 1888 and his writings are presented here in blog form. Read more in the archive.

Entering Mormon Land

Still following the shores of the lake, for several miles, my road now leads over the northern spur of the Promontory Mountains. On these hills I find a few miles of hard gravel that affords the best riding I have experienced in Utah, and I speed along as rapidly as possible, for dark, threatening clouds are gathering overhead. But ere I reach the summit of the ridge a violent thunder-storm breaks over the hills, and I seem to be verily hobnobbing with the thunder and lightning, that appears to be round about me, rather than overhead. A troop of wild bronchos, startled and stampeded by the vivid lightning and sharp peals of thunder, come wildly charging down the mountain trail, threatening to run quite over me in their mad career. Pulling my six-shooter, I fire a couple of shots in the air to attract their attention, when they rapidly swerve to the left, and go tearing frantically over the rolling hills on their wild flight to the plains below.

Most of the rain falls on the plain and in the lake, and when I arrive at the summit I pause to take a view at the lake and surrounding country. A more auspicious occasion could scarcely have been presented. The storm has subsided, and far beneath my feet a magnificent rainbow spans the plain, and dips one end of its variegated beauty in the sky-blue waters of the lake. From this point the view to the west and south is truly grand-rugged, irregular mountain-chains traverse the country at every conceivable angle, and around among them winds the lake, filling with its blue waters the intervening spaces, and reflecting, impartially alike, their grand majestic beauty and their faults. What dreams of empire and white-winged commerce on this inland sea must fill the mind and fire the imagery of the newly arrived Mormon convert who, standing on the commanding summit of these mountains, feasts his eyes on the glorious panorama of blue water and rugged mountains that is spread like a wondrous picture before him. Surely, if he be devotionally inclined, it fails not to recall to his mind another inland sea in far-off Asia Minor, on whose pebbly shores and by whose rippling waves the cradle of an older religion than Mormonism was rocked - but not rocked to sleep.

Posted in stevens blog by Thomas Stevens on Thursday 15th May 1884 (15:00 +0000) | Add a comment | Permalink

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