The First Bicycle Shop In Ottawa Kansas: N. H. Troutman's Bicycle Repair
Jul 01, 2021
D. B. Troutman moved to Franklin County In 1865. He opened a gunsmith shop in a small shack at 111 East First Street.
In 1897, his son, N. H. (Henry) Troutman put up new signs announcing his new venture; “N. H. Troutman Gunsmith and Bicycle Shop”. This was the first bicycle shop in the area and most likely one of the first bicycle shops in the state. The shop existed in that location until about 1909 when the shop had to be moved when the lot was acquired by the Ottawa Cement Vault Company to build a Main Street facing business in it’s place. The bicycle shop moved to several locations on Mainstreet before closing down several years later.
Henry Troutman probably decided to start the bicycle business as a response to the growing popularity of cycling near the turn of the century. The Ottawa Cycling Club, was started a few years before the shop opened. According to an1894 Ottawa Herald article the club had grown to between 60-70 riders.
Here's and excerpt from the article:
“One of the favorite means of locomotion in Ottawa is by the bicycle and riders realizing that in “Union there is strength” have organized a very strong club under the above title. The object of the club is to assert the rights of riders on the road to impart needful information to one another in regard to wheels, and for social intercourse.”
“The farmers and people who drive on the roads in this part of the state have not begun to realize that the bicycle has come to stay and is entitled to a part of the road, but this is true and the law recognized the wheel as a vehicle”.
The article goes on to describe a race that was being held in which Mr. Troutman awarded a bicycle lamp as second prize.
Henry Troutman was described in several articles as a do-it-all repairman that was always willing to help anyone in trouble. We'd love to learn more about this interesting character.
In honor of N. H. Troutman we have decided to rename one of our routes to the "Troutman Trail". This route covers many of the historic brick roads throughout Ottawa and passes by the spot where the bicycle shop stood over 100 years ago.
Our thanks to the Franklin County Historical Society for finding these pictures and backup information for us. We hope to find out more information about the Bike Shop and the Ottawa Bicycle Club. If anyone has additional information please contact us.