Baldwinsville History Mystery: May 10, 2017
Question: The diminutive size of this simple frame building belies its several chapters as part of Baldwinsville’s history. Although it has been missing from the village’s streetscape for 30 years, there are probably many who recall its presence. What do you know about this little building, its location and its purpose? And do you know the rest of its story?
Last week’s answer: The photo from last week was probably taken in 1909 or 1910. The six-man tandem bicycle was owned by Lee Mathewson of Canton Street. It was custom-made in the Stearns factory in Syracuse by a team headed by a local man, Bill Darrow, foreman of the plant.
It was designed so that all the riders contributed to the momentum giving it plenty of speed when all the seats were occupied. Eventually a seventh seat was welded on to accommodate another rider.
Several brave young men enjoyed making it a habit of riding it around town. One Sunday, a group of local boys and a Syracuse daredevil decided to hold a race against the only fast thing around — the Empire Limited on the New York Central, which went along at a mile a minute. They waited for the fast coming train from the west on the track behind the fairgrounds where it was straight and level. The space between the four tracks was smooth as a cinder path and very satisfactory for racing. When the train came into sight they started pedaling. Gradually gathering up speed, the cycle caught up to the train and passed it! It is estimated that their speed reached 75 miles per hour in order to beat the train. Much credit was given to the daredevil who was nicknamed “Cannonball Baker.”
This popular cycle now rests in the Franklin Museum in Philadelphia.
Contact Editor Sarah Hall at email@example.com or leave a message at 434-8889 ext. 310 with your guess by 5 p.m. Friday (please leave the information in the message; we are not generally able to return calls regarding History Mystery responses). If you are the first person to correctly identify an element in the photo, your name and guess will appear in next week’s Messenger, along with another History Mystery feature. History Mystery is a joint project of the Museum at the Shacksboro Schoolhouse and the Baldwinsville Public Library.