I was going through old newspapers from my hometown when I ran across this little gem. This article is from the March 18, 1904 Wishek News (North Dakota).
I was immediately intrigued. What in the world was a railway velocipede?
The original velocipede was defined as a human-powered land vehicle with one or more wheels. It was basically the bicycle with a variety of weird wheel sizes.
To adopt this for use on railroad tracks, adjustments had to be made. The original patent for this that I found was 1881. The purpose of a railway velocipede was to allow them to check for track maintenance needs and to do surveying.
By 1904, the design had advanced somewhat. It still appears to only have seating for one person in this design.
This version from 1902 seems to have adequate seating for the second person as well as being ‘hand powered’ (now called a handcar) rather than pedal powered.
While there is no way to know what model these gentlemen were riding on, here’s what a version might have looked like with the sail attachment.
By car, the road from Wishek to Ashley is about 25 miles. On a southeast angle, which I’m imagining the railway track to lay, is about 17 miles. One could imagine that they had a fine sail to Ashley, but had to hand pump the car all the way back to Wishek.
What a great story to enrich your family history! What stories are enriching your family history?