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‘The town is on wheels’: The bicycle craze that improved Delaware roads: History

'The town is on wheels': The bicycle craze that improved Delaware roads: History

Special to Salisbury Daily Times “Nearly every man, woman and child in this town (Georgetown) has the bicycle craze,” the Wilmington Delaware Gazette and State…

Saturday, Feb 26

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Special to Salisbury Daily Times “Nearly every man, woman and child in this town (Georgetown) has the bicycle craze,” the Wilmington Delaware Gazette and State Journal reported on April 12, 1894.

“Last week 12 were ordered and this week several more have been ordered. There are now about 50 wheels (bicycles) here. The women are talking of organizing a club and riding in divided skirts the regular bicycle costume or habit.”

On the same day, the Smyrna Times noted, “The bicycle fever has struck Georgetown, and it is safe to say that during the greater part of the time the town is on wheels. It is estimated that during the past two weeks there has been spent more than $2000 for wheels in Georgetown, and the streets of the usually quiet town are full of them. Men, women and children ride wheels.”

During the 19th century, Delaware underwent a transportation revolution. At the beginning of the century, reliable steam engines were introduced, and steamboats soon were calling at towns along the Delaware River and Bay.

Eventually, steamboats connected Lewes, Wilmington and other Delaware ports to Philadelphia, New York and other distant cities.

Toward the middle of the 19th century, the first railroads were constructed in Delaware; and by the end of the Civil War, most Delaware towns had train service. A trip from Wilmington to southern Delaware that took several days before the introduction of the railroad now could be made in a matter of hours.

Although steamboats and trains provided quick, comfortable and inexpensive […]

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