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Friday, July 18, 2014

This rogue bicycle pony express delivered mail in 1894 | Grist



If any of the cyclists who participated in the great bicycle messenger mail route were still alive to tell the tale, it would make the ultimate “when I was your age story.”
Picture this: San Francisco, 1894. The Pullman rail strike in Illinois cuts off all rail service west of Detroit, leaving California train-less and thus, mail-less. One “enterprising citizen” and bicycle salesman Arthur C. Banta decides to create a fixie chain gang relay along a 210-mile stretch from San Francisco to California’s Central Valley with eight primary riders. He charges $0.25 for stamps, 10 times the price of standard mail at the time.
I can just hear the conversation now:
Old-Timer Cyclist: When I was your age, we didn’t have no Amazon delivery service or fancy-schmancy computers. We wrote letters with pens and paper and put stamps on them. And when the mail system broke down because of a rail strike, we printed up our own stamps and rode our own fixed gear bicycles on unmarked dirt roads in the dark. And if we broke our ankles, we kept going because the darn mail had to be delivered.
Disinterested Youth: What is paper? [looks at phone] Have you seen the new Iggy Azalea video? It’s awesome.
[ Read the rest on grist.org ]

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