The Shelby Bicycle Museum showcases Mansfield’s bicycle history

SHELBY — The town of Shelby has a new historic site.

The Shelby Bicycle Museum held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday night at the Shelby Justice Center on Mack Avenue to introduce the new museum to the public.

Members of the Shelby Cycle Historical Society, a group of people dedicated to collecting and preserving the memory of the businesses that were a vital part of Shelby’s important source of commerce in the 20th century, are charged with advancing the museum. The committee consists of 30 members who live anywhere from Shelby, Ohio, to Texas to California.

Shelby is known to have a rich history of bicycle production. The current location of the Shelby Bicycle Museum was once the grounds of the original Shelby Cycle Factory and this year marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the Shelby Cycle Frame Builders, which became the Shelby Cycle Company.

A fresco by Clarence "Whippet" Wagner and his bicycle in 1927 are on display at the Shelby Justice Center.

“I think it was about three or four years ago Stan Cain and Lance Combs started talking about putting a few bikes on the walls to honor the bike industry that was there,” said Christina Drain, president and founder of the Shelby Cycle Historical. Company.

$29,000 grant from the Humanities Council of Ohio

The Shelby Cycle Historical Society received a grant from the Humanities Council of Ohio to create the interactive museum at the Shelby Justice Center. They received a $29,000 grant that included over $10,000 of volunteer research time and $5,000 to purchase a display case, bike racks, interpretive panels and murals.

The idea came from Cain, a collector of Shelby bikes, and Combs, Shelby’s police chief, who both envisioned a bike museum that would be open at all times for families to bring children and out-of-town guests.

“It’s not just bikes, but there were several industries that were in this factory before it became the Shelby Cycle Factory,” Drain said. “So we honor those industries.”

Some of these industries were the Shelby Electric Company, which made light bulbs and was on display in the museum. Other industries that were once based in Shelby were the Shelby Steel Tube Company, the Shelby Cycle Manufacturing Company, the Chicago Handle Bar Company, and Mack Ave Industries, which was a manufacturer of corn shellers.

Tim Newmeyer stands next to the historic bicycle on which Clarence "Whippet" Wagner set a transcontinental record in 1927. Newmeyer found the bicycle in the Dallas, Texas area and repaired it for display at the new Shelby Bicycle Museum.

A unique aspect of the museum is that there is a large mural on the wall of Clarence “Whippet” Wagner, who in 1927 rode his Shelby Whippet racing bicycle 3,169 miles from Newport Beach to Atlantic City in 20 days and 17 hours, breaking his own transcontinental record. It averaged about 160 miles in 14 hours a day, with no mechanical issues along the way.

Historic bike found in the Dallas area

Tim Newmeyer found Wagner’s bike in Texas in the Dallas area. He was present at the dedication with the bike.

“I’ve owned it for 10 years now,” Newmeyer said. “I found it and fixed it.”

“There’s so much information about these murals,” Drain said. “Every time someone walks in, they’re going to see something they’ve missed before. I think that’s what’s unique about it. It’s not a traditional museum, far from it, but it tells our story. There were many companies that started in Shelby and many investors, entrepreneurs and people willing to invest money in the companies.”

The Shelby Cycle Historical Society will also be hosting an open house from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, July 9 at the museum.

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Twitter: @JamesSimpsonII

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