JEFFERSON CITY, MO, OCT. 19, 2022 – To commemorate the 125th anniversary of the 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps, Nathan and Olive Boone Homestead State Historic Site is hosting an event recounting the little-known story of the Bicycle Corps and its amazing accomplishments.
The family-friendly, free event will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 5, at 7850 N. State Highway V in Ash Grove. Activities will take place at the picnic shelter and include an encampment reenactment, booths from local community organizations, exhibits about the soldiers and their historic ride, as well as a model bike and replica of a soldier’s uniform.
In June of 1897, the 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps, an all-Black army regiment known as the “Buffalo Soldiers,” embarked on a 1,900-mile, 41-day bicycle ride from Fort Missoula in Montana to Forest Park in St. Louis. The excursion was part of a U.S. Army experiment to test the effectiveness of using bicycles for troop movement. The selected route closely followed the Northern Pacific and Burlington railroads through Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska and Missouri.
This special unit was nicknamed the Iron Riders, because of the heavy one-speed bicycles they rode and for their iron-hard constitutions. During their trip, the soldiers experienced conditions that would have daunted even the most avid of modern-day cyclists, including severe weather and extreme heat, food and water shortages, illness from contaminated water. They also faced racism and hostility from residents along the route. In spite of these challenges, the Iron Riders successfully reached Forest Park on July 24, 1897, and were welcomed by a cheering crowd.
Information about the historic ride and the anniversary event can be found at mostateparks.com/ironriders. For more information about this event, contact 417-751-3266.
For more information on Missouri state parks and historic sites, visit mostateparks.com. Missouri State Parks is a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.