Vintage Kansas Cyclists: Kansas Sisters on a Bicycle Jaunt

In 1942, two adventurous young women from rural Kansas took off on a 1,500-mile summer bicycle vacation, riding from their home near Burns to Kentucky and Illinois, via southern Missouri, and returning through St. Louis and Kansas City:

Kansas Sisters Nearing End of Bicycle Vacation

Kansas City, July 21 — The sisters Franklin of Burns, Kan., paused today on the last few laps of a 1,500-mile bicycle trip to say it was all pleasant but “fun coasting downhill.”

The sisters left their farm home June 4 to try foot-power transportation. They traveled the south route thru Joplin and Springfield, Mo., to Kentucky where they visited Mammoth Cave, Paducah and Lincoln’s home at Hodgenville. They returned by way of St. Louis and Kansas City.

“We had a most pleasant trip,” related Miss Laura, a teacher in the Gridley, Kan., high school. “We’d average about 50 miles a day.”

Miss Emma, a student in the Kansas State College at Emporia, agreed, adding “it’s fun coasting downhill.”

The sisters, planning to stop at Emporia, figured it would take them about three days to reach Burns, 19 miles north of El Dorado.

Miss Emma Franklin, 22 and her sister, Miss Laura Franklin, 29, of Burns, Kansas

Miss Emma Franklin, 22 and her sister, Miss Laura Franklin, 29, of Burns, Kansas

I wonder if the sister kept a journal? That would be an interesting historical time capsule. It would be interesting to learn about what equipment they used, how they navigated, where they slept, their impressions of the roads and traffic, mechanical challenges, and so on.

50 miles a day, through the Ozarks and hills of Kentucky, on heavy balloon-tire cruiser bicycles with coaster brakes, seems like quite an accomplishment. And what an adventure!

Laura went on to become a doctor, served in the US Navy during World War II, and died in 1999 at the age of 86. She is buried in Ebenezer Cemetery in Butler County. No information on what became of Emma, but hopefully this bicycle tour is something she remembered fondly the rest of her life.

Information courtesy of the July 21, 1942 edition of the Lawrence Journal-World, Kansas Sisters Nearing End of Bicycle Vacation.

About The Author

By Randy Rasa, editor/webmaster at Kansas Cyclist, the web's premier Kansas cycling information site, featuring authoritative guides to Kansas cycling clubs, bike shops, organized bike rides, touring, trails, and much more. [learn more]

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