Columbia Bicycles was, we believe, the first bicycle factory established in America, in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1977. Albert Pope, the founder, was of the particular stripes type that flourished in the late 19th century. He had been a lieutenant colonel in the Union Army and then set his sights on business and industry after the war.
Pope saw his first bicycle at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Sensing a business opportunity, he forwarded it to Europe to learn how the bikes were made, then returned home and soon after opened Columbia Bicycles.
“A horse always saddled that eats nothing”, he was to exclaim when he realized the transport potential of the bicycle. Pope was huge in spreading the appeal of bikes by making them lighter and easier to pedal, and marketing them to women and children, not just mustachioed guys sitting high on their ears.
Anyway, how awesome is this ad? And 1,404 miles in 6 days? In the 1870s? Holy smokes.