I want to ride my bicycle

Jesse Mercer Archer, Hancock County, Georgia, between 1895 and 1900

I recently purchased a bicycle. While it lacks the nifty bell possessed by this dapper gentleman’s bike (as pictured on the left), it does otherwise appear little changed to the casual eye. The larger difference by far is found in the rider, and I will not anytime soon be seen on, or even posing by, my new bike in a suit, tie and hat.

Style is a sacrifice, particularly if you insist upon it crossing boundaries. Living in Athens, Georgia, one sees spandex clad bikers at all times and places. Below are photographs of  a time when riders eschewed hyper-specific sports wear for the dignified clothes of their daily lives.

The DLG – and more specifically the Vanishing Georgia collection – has many historical photographs of bicycles, bike riders and even bike shops. Take a look.

Cook and Gentry Bicycle Shop, Rome, Floyd County, Georgia, ca. 1897
Group on bicycles, not after 1904
Florence Timmerman with a new bicycle, Lanier County, Georgia
Man on tricycle, Cedartown, Polk County, Georgia, ca. 1895

On This Day in Georgia History

Sanborn map of Toccoa in 1908. From the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps DLG site

On this day in 1905, the Georgia state legislature established Stephens County, making it the state’s 143rd county. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the county was created out of portions of Habersham and Franklin counties in northeast Georgia. The county was named for Alexander Stephens, who served as governor of Georgia and vice president of the Confederacy. Toccoa, whose name comes from the Cherokee word for beautiful, is the county’s largest city, and serves as the county seat. Other towns in Stephens county include Avalon and Martin.

Image of Toccoa Falls, from the Sunny South, April 6, 1901 in the Atlanta Historic Newspaper Archive

The county is perhaps best known for its great natural beauty. One of the more striking features in the area is the 186 foot tall Toccoa Falls (see image below), which is located on the Toccoa Falls College campus. In 1977, a dam above the falls burst and killed 39 people. Today, a monument stands at the base of the falls to honor those who lost their lives in the flood.

Three other counties were created on the same day. To find out which ones, take a look at the “This Day in Georgia History” section of the GeorgiaInfo website. They also have information about Georgia history that occurred on every other day of the year.