Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Recollections about Horse Racing at Fair Recall Bike Racing as Well

Watt Shipp and the Giant Quad
Oregonian, April 9th, 1934
There's not much going on at the moment, so here's another baggy flashback.

Watt Shipp, circa 1913
With the 150th anniversary of the State Fair this year, there's been lots of talk about horse racing there.

For a few years in the 1890s, we also had a thriving bike racing scene. And it also used the track.

At top is a 1934 reprint of an image at the fairgrounds from 1898 - itself a "did you remember?" kind of flashback.

That's a quad. I remain amazed as the size of the last chainring for the stoker and the gradual diminution towards the front! I'm not sure how that gearing actually works. (Anyone know?)

Watt Shipp, whom you might remember (More on Watt Shipp, and here), was one of the racers.

Now that Willamette University has digitized large parts of their archives, it's possible to learn a little more about Shipp's activities in 1898.

Willamette Collegian, June 1st, 1898, p. 13
"[S]everal protests were lodged against Willamette's team and Watt Shipp was thrown out because he had ridden in races not sanctioned by the L. A. W."

The League of American Wheelmen tried to control all bike racing at this time and there were some groups that tried to break-away with an independent racing circuit and organization, especially on the West Coast, where the East Coast dominance of the LAW wasn't always welcome.

Shipp was a strong racer, and raced all over the Pacific Northwest - and maybe farther away even. He was good. But he may also have been used as a ringer at Willamette. Obituaries say he was born in 1875, so he'd be a little old in 1898 to be an undergraduate. One of these days we'll have to track down his actual dates of enrollment!

Victoria Colonist, Sept 4th, 1897
You might remember that a former area of Willson Park, where the old Post Office and now Executive building is today, had a track in the 1890s for a few years.

Bike races were popular.

Historic Landmarks Commission Newsletter, Spring 2011
(You can see slightly larger images of the park, track, and Court Street here and here.)

The 1890s are a fascinating period.

Another local angle on them is the cartooning of Silvertonian Homer Davenport. Again with Denali in the news, here's one about the McKinley campaign and Dollar Mark Hanna.

Dollar Mark Hanna and William McKinley
by Homer Davenport
It's not at all difficult to see parallels today!

(And - "President McKinley's policies were garbage and he doesn't deserve an awesome mountain." Gus Frederick has also edited a reissue of many of the Davenport cartoons if you're interested in more.)

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