The entire exhibit is something of a happy accident, says Maddi McGraw, curator at the Springfield History Museum. Motorcycles in Springfield, 1900 to 1939, which opened July 14 at the museum, started to gain traction a couple of years ago while McGraw and the staff were working on a historic atlas of Springfield. Photos of men in the early 20th century on their motorcycles in Springfield and east Lane County started to crop up, and everyone was taken by them. The motorcycle culture did not just happen after World War II, McGraw notes. “It happened a whole generation earlier,” she says, adding that some of the men learned to ride while in service during World War I.
Plenty of artifacts and photos are on display, including a range of photos from the delightfully named Smith Mountjoy, a photography buff who hung out with Bill Davis Sr., Springfield’s chief of police in the 1920s. There are also two largely intact bikes from the time period on loan from a local collector. Davis, McGraw explains, was the first person to scale Kelly Butte on a motorcycle, and his granddaughter, Darcy Davis, who lives in Oregon, loaned photos and other archives for the exhibit..