Washington Bicycle Ride – Day 1

Maura, our activities and historian spoke is busy! Her job (which we think is pretty cool) is to provide our riders and guest with historic tidbits and interesting stories about the places we ride through and stay in. She also helps set up special sightseeing opportunities and tours for our riders to enjoy when they are off the bike.

She’s hard at work learning about some fun stuff on the Washington Bicycle Ride, our bike tour in Washington in 2016. Here’s what we know for Day 1 – check it out!

We still have spots open for this ride. Come join us!


Our ride this year, starts in Goldendale, Washington. The remote location and rural aspect of Goldendale provided the perfect setting for the 1918 total eclipse. Goldendale still offers amazing stargazing and the Goldendale Observatory, dedicated in 1973, is still open to the public.

Goldendale is also home to the Maryhill Festival of Speed on a segment of the historic Maryhill highway. This annual late June festival is North America’s largest gravity sports festival and is known as one of the best race courses/venues for downhill skateboarders and street lugers. They battle it out on the 2.2 mile, 22 corner historic Maryhill Loops Road. Long board riders can achieve speeds of over 50mph and are known to tape sections of cutting boards to their gloves to protect their hands!

maryhill festival of speed


We will also be riding through the little berg of Bickleton on Day 1

The surprising little community of Bickleton, elevation 3,004 feet, is located at the 46th parallel! It is known as the Bluebird Capital of the World because of the thousands of bluebirds that spend most of the year in the area. The majority are Mountain Bluebirds with a few Western Bluebirds in or near the forest.

Established in 1879, the tiny town, current population 90, also houses Washington state’s oldest tavern, appropriately named “The Bluebird”.


Bickleton is also the home of the Carousel Museum. The 24 horse, four chariot track carousel opened at “The Oaks” Amusement Park in Portland, Oregon, in May 1905. This very rare piece was an early style manufactured in North Tonawanda, New York sometime between 1890 and 1907. The original cost – $500 – was quite a bit of dough at the time!

Extensive restoration work began in the 1980’s on four horses. The 1990’s brought many talented carvers, painters, to finish restoring the next 20 horses. Originally the Carousel was operated by a steam engine. It was a five-horse power engine that operated at 120 pounds of steam pressure with a water temperature of 356F. The boiler held 90 gallons of water and used 5-10 gallons per hour. With its 176 foot long steel cable, it took one and a half to two hours to develop enough steam pressure to give rides. Through the years the steam engine was abandoned for the use of a belt driven tractor, then much later a belt driven electric motor.


Early in 2004 the original steam engine was found and purchased on the internet for $3,240 from Windward Center in Wahkiacus, Wa. The Band Organ (music box) is a Wurlitzer Model 3534 and is original to the carousel. Imported from Germany in the late 1890’s, it is a 31 key, hand cranked organ and is beyond being restored.

According to the Historian at the Herschell Factory Museum in New York, the Carousel is one of fewer than ten still operational in the United States

How’s that for some unique history?

Stay tuned for what’s in store for more of the Washington Bicycle Ride!