Greetings, Team Seagal loyalists. If you've ridden westward in the last...90 years or so, you might have found yourself asking yo'self, "What's going on with those cuh-razy tombstone-like monuments roadside out in West County?" I, along with seemingly lots of people recently, found myself wondering that as well. Just look at our recent Death By Hills ride, or recent discussions over on StLBiking.
So after gathering one of my favorite 2-liters and having a fairly lengthy conversation with Energor, he revealed many truths to me. One of those truths being the reason behind the stone at Pond Rd. and Old Manchester engraved with name of William Butler. And by revealed, I mean I looked into, among other things, some old StLCC archives from the Missouri History Museum, and got copies of some important stuff.
These are photographs of photo copies, and I've left them in their high-res state, so you can read them more easily. The first one essentially is a memorial statement for Mr. William M. Butler, who had recently passed away, and had been a long-time member. In reading this, you understand how important he had been to the club, and why they erected a monument to him at a spot to where the club made regular weekend runs.
This document, minutes from a meeting on November 10 1921, mentions their discussion about the placement of the monument at "County Line Hill" also acting as a "suitable momento for our friend Victor Smith." Whereas I know that William Butler was a Club member and i saw his name on most of the rosters for the weekly club runs and rides, it is unclear to me as to whether Victor Smith was actually a Club member or not. They also discuss a "suitable resolution to be written and presented to the Smith Family." Read the paragraph 3rd from the bottom.
These are minutes from a meeting on April 12, 1923 where they discuss dedicating the "next stone monument" to Mr. Butler, and a further suggestion to erect another monument in Forest Park near some old "pump" that was apparently at the time, a significant feature of the park. I read in later meetings that the cost of this monument was to expensive to make it with a bronze plate attached to it, but I would like to know more about whether that monument was ever put there. I suppose I first need to know what old pump they are referring to. It was in the meeting that the decide to write the resolution in the first photograph above.
This document shows the minutes from a meeting on Nov. 9, 1922 and about halfway down, they discuss the objects that were supposed to have been put in a "steel vault" below the monument at Hill Town which out *near* the current intersection of Chesterfield Parkway and Olive. (Although for the *precise* location, contact Diogenes on the StlBiking message board.) I've hear that nothing was actually found below that monument when it was moved from that spot.
Apparently it was quite a big deal when they erected these monuments, with an actual ceremony, with cyclists coming in fairly large numbers to come out and spend the day. There is a handwritten account of the ceremonies for the Setting of the monument placed on "Frisco Hill" down in Jefferson County. It was "one of the most notable events in cycling for a number of years, (and) caused real enthusiasm to prevail."
These dudes were the real deal. They would ride out to these points (among many others) from downtown, usually leaving from the Blair Monument in Forest Park, or from Tower Grove Park. Riding all day on dirt roads with no services, they would often times arrange to eat and stay overnight at an Inn such as the old Wildwood Inn next to the Butler monument on Old Manchester Rd, and then return on Sunday. 60-90 miles in a trip. House Springs, Cedar Hill, Desoto, Kimmswick, Ellisville, Alton, St. Charles, even Farmington were all accessible to these dudes.
There's more to come, because there is a lot of stuff share. St. Louis, while not a haven for cyclists like Portland or California, has a history with bicycles going back as long as the bicycle itself. The first bicycle *race* in St. Louis was held back in the 1870's, by the turn of the century the Forest Park Bicycle Race would literally gather crowds by the 10's of thousands, and cyclists/cycling groups had a very real impact on getting streets paved and improved.
Oh, and 5 more people have been infected with the Team Seagal virus. There is no known cure, however symptoms may include wearing team race kits and being extra jerky.
Thanks to Jim Murray, StLCC Prez for his help and info!
-Casey F. Ryback