For those interested in vintage motorcycles, the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum
in Hammondsport New York is having a vintage motorcycle exhibit through Labor Day Weekend. My family has been patrons of the museum for many years due to our common love of aircraft and motorcycles.
The Transportation Exhibit features Vintage Motorcycles in honor of Glenn Curtiss's record-setting run on Ormond Beach, Florida on January 24,1907. Antique and vintage Motorcycles of all types arel on display from June 29 to September 2, 2007.
Born in Hammondsport, NY, in 1878, his insatiable curiosity, mechanical ability and ambition soon became evident. By the time he reached his teens, bicycles and speed had become a near-obsession with the young Curtiss. He was a champion bicycle racer for years and naturally progressed to designing and building his own machines. By 1902, Curtiss, with three employees, was manufacturing his own motorcycles under the trade name, "Hercules". In a measured-mile run at Ormond Beach, Florida, on Jan. 23, 1907, Curtiss's V8 powered motorcycle was officially clocked at 136.3 mph. On that day, and for years afterward, Glenn Curtiss carried the title, "Fastest Man on Earth".
Curtiss's first experience with aviation came when famed balloonist, Thomas Scott Baldwin, ordered a V-twin motorcycle engine to power a lighter-than-air ship. Curtiss's engine was a success. In 1904, using this early engine, Baldwin's "California Arrow" became the first successful American dirigible. In 1907, Glenn Curtiss began his aviation career in earnest as a member of the Aerial Experiment Association, a group of men focused on getting a man into the air. In addition to Curtiss, this group included famous inventor, Alexander Graham Bell, F.W. "Casey" Baldwin, J.A.D. McCurdy and U.S. Army Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge.
By this time, the Wright Brothers had already made the first successful controlled flight of a manned aircraft. The Wright Brothers, however, had not allowed public viewing of the flight, and their tendency toward secrecy and continued distrust of the press had resulted in little public notice of the event. It was a mistake that would cost them dearly. On March 12, 1908, the A.E.A. "Red Wing" made the first public flight in America of a heavier-than-air machine with Casey Baldwin at the controls. The craft took off from the frozen surface of Keuka Lake and remained aloft for 20 seconds, covering a distance of 318 feet, 11 inches, before it went down on one wing and crashed. Two months later, the "White Wing" with Curtiss flying it, covered a distance of 1,017 feet in controlled flight. This success was made possible by the addition of "horizontal rudders" (Bell's term) to the wingtips, a precursor of the aileron.
The museum itself is nestled in the heart of the Finger Lakes in Western New York, on the south end of Keuka Lake. The area is a treasure trove of bed & breakfasts, dozens of amazing wineries, the Watkins Glen race track and State Park, and some of the prettiest and oldest natural lakes in the United States.
Anyone interested or fascinated with vintage bikes will not find or see a collection as fine as this one. It's worth the ride for anyone in the Northeast, or beyond. It's a great ride to the area and, once here, there are fantastic riding roads all around. If you're looking for a great Summertime riding journey, this should be on the list!