Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Joseph Schantin and His Flying Merkel

August 9, 1912 in New York City

Cooling off in a horse trough in Blue Ball, Ohio
As you all know the Cannonball is taking place as I write this, it is a most amazing feat to ride across the country on a pre-1930 motorcycle.  This story is even more amazing when you consider riding 6000 miles across 15 states in 79 days in 1912 !

Joseph Schantin decided to ride from Portland Oregon to New York city based on a dare.  He purchased a new 1912 Flying Merkel motorcycle that had two cylinders and produced 7 hp.  He then  rode down the West Coast through San Francisco and Los Angeles and then went East through Arizona, New Mexico all the way to New York City and then extended his trip ride to Portland Maine.  The roads and riding conditions were terrible at that time, there were no real roads in many places and when it rained you had to push your bike until it could be ridden again.  Oh, and by the way he had a prosthetic leg.

He started out with a friend who turned back when they got to Arizona, his friend had enough of the whole deal.  Joseph just continued on.   In many places gasoline could not be purchased or was expensive.  Can you imagine paying 50 cents for a gallon of gasoline ?  No joke, that was expensive in 1912.

After riding to Portland , Maine he stayed a few hours then headed back home by the Northern route through Canada. He covered around 10,000 miles in 4-5 months time.