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.

The First Homestead

A fleet of prairie schooners is anchored in the South Platte bottom, waiting for it to dry up, as I trundle down that stream - every mile made interesting by reminiscences of Indian fights and massacres - next day, toward Ogallala; and one of the "Pilgrims" looks wise as I approach, and propounds the query, "Does it hev ter git very muddy afore yer kin ride yer verlocify, mister?" "Ya-as, purty dog-goned muddy," I drawl out in reply; for, although comprehending his meaning, I don't care to venture into an explanatory lecture of uncertain length. Seven weeks' travel through bicycleless territory would undoubtedly convert an angel into a hardened prevaricator, so far as answering questions is concerned. This afternoon is passed the first homestead, as distinguished from a ranch-consisting of a small tent pitched near a few acres of newly upturned prairie - in the picket-line of the great agricultural empire that is gradually creeping westward over the plains, crowding the autocratic cattle-kings and their herds farther west, even as the Indians and their still greater herds - buffaloes - have been crowded out by the latter.

At Ogallala - which but a few years ago was par excellence the cow-boys' rallying point - "homesteads," "timber claims," and "pre-emption" now form the all-absorbing topic. "The Platte's 'petered' since the hoosiers have begun to settle it up," deprecatingly reflects a bronzed cow-boy at the hotel supper-table; and, from his standpoint, he is correct.

Posted in stevens blog by Thomas Stevens on Saturday 07th Jun 1884 (20:00 +0000) | Add a comment | Permalink

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