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May 7, 2013

Historical cycling tour to cover southeastern Cass

LOGANSPORT — Cass County’s small burghs and old roads are in the spotlight this year for the local historical society’s Countywide Bike Tour.

In its third annual iteration, the tour includes four routes taking in towns like Deacon, Young America and Onward in southern Cass County. Society board members expect upwards of 70 bicycle riders to show up for the fundraiser.

In the two years before, society board members said, the bike tour has focused more on the northern half of the county. Last year’s tour highlighted the county’s history of bank robberies with routes through Lucerne and Royal Center.

This year, said board member Mike Shannon, the routes will follow some of Cass County’s oldest roads, like Kokomo Pike, officially labeled 50 East. The pike was established in 1854.

“You go back to maps in the 1870s, the roads we’re on were still there,” said Paul Ulerick, co-chairman with Shannon of the society’s bike tour committee.

The routes start at Little Turtle Waterway in Logansport and cover circuits of 11, 28, 45 and 62 miles through southeastern Cass County. Two of the routes cross briefly into Miami County for a supply-and-gear stop at the Grissom Air Museum. The 11-mile route has very few hills, said Shannon. However, board members have noted that most participants opt for one of the longer routes.

The 62-mile route takes bikers past several historical sites, including the town of Deacon, now little more than an intersection but once the site of a dozen residences, a schoolhouse, a general store and a blacksmith’s shop. One supply-and-gear stop is at the Deacon Grange.

That route continues through Young America, the area where Tom Fouts, formerly comedian “Captain Stubby” on national radio, grew up. Bikers also skirt Galveston, named after its original surveyor’s Virginia hometown, and pass the Galveston airport for radio-controlled aircraft. That was formerly an alternative runway for Bunker Hill Naval Station, as Grissom Air Reserve Base was formerly called.

“They used to do their touch-and-go’s there when it was the Navy training facility,” Shannon said.

Bikers will later pass by McWilliams Cemetery, one of the oldest in Cass County. It’s said there are Confederate soldiers buried there, Shannon added.

After heading into Miami County for the stop at Grissom Air Museum, the route takes bikers back into Cass County and through the town of Onward, where a riot broke out in 1950 over the consolidation of southern Cass County’s small schools.

“The kids were chained to the desks by the parents and the made a human chain around the school,” recounted Shannon. “Time magazine actually covered that. In the article it said there were more law enforcement officers than townspeople in Onward that day.”

As the route winds back toward Logansport, it passes Council Rock on Country Club Road.

“There’s a rock formation that looks like a turtle,” explained Shannon, where American Indian chiefs met for important negotiations.

Society board members are making sure a few historical pieces pop up at the tour’s start and endpoint at Little Turtle Waterway, too. Ulerick said the historical society’s 1920 Revere touring car and several other antique automobiles would be on display along with a few other artifacts, like an early wooden bicycle.

Shannon added that local history buffs could notice other historical sites that aren’t marked.

“You could sit there and put signs everywhere but it would take months and months,” said Shannon. “We’re just hitting the hot spots.”

The ride begins with a mass start at 8:30 a.m. Saturday. Registration is $30, including a year’s membership in the historical society, an event T-shirt for the first 70 to register, and lunch. Registration on the day of the ride begins at 7 a.m. Individual route maps and details are available online at www.mapmyride.com by searching for routes in Logansport. For more information or to register in advance, call the historical society at 574-753-3866.

Sarah Einselen is news editor for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at sarah.einselen@pharostribune.com or 574-732-5151.

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