Columbia High-Wheel Bicycle, 1886

High-wheel bicycles were the first common type of personal, mechanized transportation. Equipped with pedals but no chain, the diameter of the front wheel and the rider’s strength provided rapid speed for the first time in cycling history. The Pope Manufacturing Company dominated the bicycle market in the 1880s with its Columbia brand of high-wheel bicycles, and later with Columbia safety bicycles in the 1890s. Albert A. Pope, the nation’s leading mass producer of bicycles, introduced thousands of Americans to the benefits and pleasures of personal mobility. His factories in Hartford, Connecticut excelled at producing lightweight tubular steel frames, pneumatic tires, and other bicycle parts in vast quantities. Pope also was adept at influencing the social and political landscape; he was instrumental in promoting bicycle touring, starting the good roads movement, and defining the concept of personal mobility independent of trains.
Object Name
date made
Pope Manufacturing Company
overall: 148 cm x 67 cm x 167 cm; 58 1/4 in x 26 3/8 in x 65 3/4 in
front wheel: 52 in; 132.08 cm
ID Number
accession number
serial number
catalog number
See more items in
Work and Industry: Transportation, Road
Road Transportation
Places of Invention
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Margaret Alduk in memory of Frank P. Alduk

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