Georgia Motorcycle History started as a simple curiosity about my local history and how one of my main passions, motorcycles, factored into it. I first came across a few old articles about racing. Then, I found a handful of images showing an old farmer from Athens and a line up of Atlanta's first motorcycle patrol. Soon, I found myself digging up telephone books from the 1920's and old maps just to see where the dealerships used to be. Before I knew it, piles of notes were scattered about my desk and my hard drive was quickly filling with images.
I discovered that my native state of Georgia has a long and diverse history filled with motorcycles and that the state's evolution of motorcycling culture mirrored that of the rest of the nation. Unlike the history of the major motorcycle manufacturing hubs or the major racing cities of the early 20th century, Georgia's motorcycling heritage has been lost.
At this point, I decided to collect all the photographs that I could--no thought yet of a book, I had to see it all for myself. Along the way, remarkable stories of innovators and pioneers, of legends and heroes began to take shape. I could no longer neglect the fact that these stories needed to be shared, that this history was worthy of a proper exhibition. This book has been waiting all along... waiting in the archives, in the newspaper clippings, and in the dusty scrapbooks of families and collectors for decades, waiting for someone to come along and pull it all together.
Georgia Motorcycle History: The First 60 Years is a beautiful hardcover, cloth-bound book with dust jacket containing over 200 archival photographs brought together to tell the story of the motorcycle in the early 20th century. Each high resolution image has been meticulously researched and captioned in detail, describing the people, places, events, and, especially, the machines. Not only does the book illustrate Georgia's rich history, but it along with every pledge reward is printed in Georgia from local printers, using American materials.
The book is divided into five basic sections or chapters, the first focusing on the earliest years of motorcycling when the machines were still being developed and the first brands were born. The chapter begins with a rather odd machine known as the Orient Tandem Pacer, a two person bicycle that had been fitted with an engine to be used for creating drafts in bicycle races. Released in 1899, this machine is one of the earliest examples of what we know today as a motorcycle. Its first appearance in Georgia was the same year it was introduced to the world.
The second chapter takes a look into the rich history of motorcycle racing in Georgia. Atlanta was the motorcycle's gateway to the region. As such, the city was home to several national racetracks. Board track Motordromes, dirt track speedways, hill climb courses, and country road endurance tracks popped up all over the state providing a springboard for dealerships and garages. By 1910, business was booming and the motorcycle industry had even spawned a statewide road building campaign. As the racing hub of the south, the state played host to legends of the sport and gave rise to some of the country's most daring and well known racers.
The third chapter examines the role of motorcycles in law enforcement agencies and the military. By the nineteen teens, the motorcycle had proven itself to be a rugged, reliable, and economical means of transportation. No one benefited from this more than law enforcement agencies. State and local police departments quickly adopted the new machines into their arsenal, allowing patrolmen to more skillfully navigate city streets and venture farther into rural areas, a strength which was invaluable during the prohibition years. Taking note, the U.S. military had motorcycle units coming out of Georgia in both WWI and WWII.
The fourth chapter brings us back around to where we began, to the civilian enthusiasts who made the motorcycle a part of their family and a part of American culture. The chapter picks up in the late 1920's, once the major brands and been established and the motorcycle was being welcomed into homes. Adventurers, daredevils, dealers, enthusiasts, mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters... the people of this country are what made the motorcycle what it is today, for no other reason than the fact that motorcycles moved them. Everyone who has ridden a motorcycle has shared that feeling.
The final chapter is called the Time Machine. The concept brings the reader back by superimposing select photographs onto new images of the same location in 2014. It is a wonderful glimpse into how much things have changed over the last 100 years in Georgia and an unintentional illustration of how this rich history of ours has been so easily lost to progress.
In the end, Georgia Motorcycle History is about our connection to the past. This book isn't just for those of us who are into old motorcycles, or just us folks from Georgia. This book is for anyone who has ever looked at an old photograph and wondered, looked into the eyes of a stranger frozen in time and understood their story even if only a moment of it. Using the photographs from Georgia's past, Georgia Motorcycle History tells the story of how the motorcycle helped shape American culture.
Risks and challenges
When deciding to publish historical photographs, the issue of ownership and copyright presents the biggest challenge. Many of the photographs in this book are well over 100 years old, and as a result tracking down the original photographer and/or copyright holder is an immense part of the project.
Once you have successfully identified the source, acquiring the right to publish the images quickly turns into an avalanche of fees and paperwork. In total, the fees for publishing rights add up to more than the production cost of the book itself.
I have spent months painstakingly researching the guardians of these photographs so that I can present this forgotten history in a single collection. My hope is to uncover these stories and this heritage, preserving it here for future generations.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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