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Wheels of the Past

Antique Bicycle Museum

Thomas Stevens Ride Across America 1884

Thomas Steven was born in Berhamsted, England on December 24, 1854, and died in London, England on January 24, 1935. Thomas moved to America in 1871.


In 1884, he acquired a black Columbia 50” Standard Bicycle. He packed a handlebar bag with socks, a spare shirt a raincoat that could also be used as a tent/bedroll and a revolver. At 8:00 am on April 22, 1884 he left San Francisco by ferry to Oakland where he started a cross country ride to Boston. He would arrive on August 4, 1884 after riding approximately 3,700 miles.


In 1884, there were not paved roads, or any roads in some locations. Mr. Stevens used roads where possible, but also had to ride on wagon trails, railroads and canal towpaths to travel the 3,700 miles.

Thomas Stevens Ride Around the World 1885 - 1986

Spending the winter of 1884-1885 in New York planning a trip across Europe, he was ready to leave Edge Hill Church in Liverpool on May 4, 1885, to cycle across England and then to France.

He then rode through Germany, Austria, Hungary, Slavonia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Turkey. After some time for a rest, he traveled through Anatolia, Armenia, Kurdistan, Iraq and Iran.


In March of 1886. Mr. Stevens was refused permission to cycle across Siberia, and had to re-route through Afghanistan, but he was promptly ejected from the country. He would have to travel through Asia.


From Calcutta he boarded a steamboat to Hong Kong and rode through southern China. His trip ended in Yokohama, Japan on December 17, 1886. Mr. Stevens then took a Steamship to San Francisco. Thomas Stevens had ridden a Highwheel Bicycle approximately 13,500 miles. He became the first person to cycle around the world.


Sadly, Mr. Steven’s 50” Columbia was donated for scrap during World War II.