One of the most unique chapters in U.S. military and Black history alike reopens this summer in Idaho, Montana, across the Great Plains and on to St. Louis.
The 125th anniversary of the 25th Infantry Regiment’s great bicycle experiment that culminated in a 1,900-ride by the Buffalo Soldiers in 1897 will be recognized with gatherings, re-enactments, ceremonies, entertainment, historical displays and multiple two-wheeled expeditions to retrace the route.
American Legion member Bobby McDonald of Anaheim, Calif., a descendant of Buffalo Soldiers and president of the Orange County Black Chamber of Commerce, is helping lead commemorations and invites veterans and their families to participate. Bicycle and motorcycle rides of various lengths are now being mapped out for mid-June in Montana. Included is a recent plan for a ride all the way from Fort Missoula to St. Louis, as the Buffalo Soldiers did in the summer of 1897.
“Everybody will leave together early in the morning from Missoula,” McDonald said. “I know we have a few who are going to make the whole trip in 35 days, across five states.”
Additional rides as part of the recognition include a three-day excursion from Missoula to Helena along with “scenic ride routes established along the historic trail.” Scenic rides will also be mapped for motorcycles.
To register or learn more about 125th anniversary recognition activities, visit www.ironriders2022.org.
Events on the summer schedule include:
June 14-19, 2022/Missoula, Mont., and Wallace, Idaho
Re-enactments, tours, exhibits and children’s activities are planned June 14 – Flag Day and the U.S. Army birthday – at historic Fort Missoula’s Northern Rockies Heritage Center and the Rocky Mountain Museum of Military History. The following day, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 209 hosts a golf tournament, followed by a later gathering. Tours of the museum and Fort Missoula continue on June 16.
The commemoration crosses the mountains to Wallace, Idaho, on June 17 for more events, before returning to Missoula for another day of tours and exhibits, followed by a Sunday Juneteenth commemoration that includes a re-enactment of Gen. Gordon Granger’s issuance of Order No. 3 that officially freed the slaves on June 19, 1865; music, food and historical presentations are planned.
July 17-23, 2022/Missouri
Plans are now being made for a 35-day, 1,900-mile ride from Fort Missoula to St. Louis, Mo., beginning on June 14, 2022, closely following the route of the Buffalo Soldiers in 1897. Exact locations and events will be announced.
Meanwhile, commemoration gatherings are planned for July 17 at Big Lake State Park north of Kansas City, followed by a program and activities at the Pershing Boyhood Home State Historic Site in Laclede, Mo., on July 19, to include a bicycle safety program, bike rodeo, a community ride and more.
On July 21, commemorations are set to move to the Mark Twain Birthplace State Historic Site in Florida, Mo.
On July 23, the Soldiers Memorial and Military Museum in St. Louis will wrap up anniversary events with music, re-enactments, speeches, displays and other activities.