In 1891, William L. Sachtleben and Thomas G. Allen Jr. graduated from Washington University and set off to travel around the world
. But their adventure was unusual for that time, in that they would travel on bicycle, following in the tire tracks of the Englishman Thomas Stevens
. The two young lads returned safely to the US after three years, after traveling some 15,044 miles on wheel. Sachtleben was then asked to find another young traveling bicyclist (and photographer), Frank G. Lenz, whose goal was to surpass Stevens' journey "in both distance and daring."
Lenz had disappeared in Turkey, where Sachtleben learned of Frank Lenz's untimely demise
Thomas Stevens differed from the later cyclists in that he traveled on a penny-farthing
, while the later travelers utilized the "safety" bicycle design
that was becoming a popular replacement for the old high-wheeler. Stevens documented his travels in Around the World on a Bicycle - Volume I
and Volume II
(Project Gutenberg; Volume II is also on Google Books
Sachtleben and Allen had hoped to secure a sponsorship for their journey, but ended up traveling on their own. They returned with nitrate negatives
and documented what they considered the most interesting part of their journey across Asia in Across Asia on a Bicycle: The Journey of Two American Students from Constantinople to Peking
(on Archive.org). The book was re-printed in 2003, with additional notes
(Google books preview). And for another modern look back on this trip, Adventure Cycling has stories and images from the winter Sachtleben and Allen spent in Athens
Frank Lenz had started to take photographs on his bicycle tours around the US, which helped him get sponsorship from Outing magazine. He sent back written reports with photographs, which were published along with illustrations based on his photos. His journey was first published in December 1892 under the title Around the World with Wheel and Camera
, then continued in January 1893 as Lenz's World Tour Awheel
. And then, there were no more communications received from Lenz
. William Sachtleben was selected to assist the expedition in search of Lenz
. Lenz's World Tour Awheel was completed by "a Special Correspondent"
More than 100 years after Frank Lenz's disappearance and death, the story of Sachtleben's attempt to find Lenz was documented in full
, portraying not just the circuitous routes but also the experiences of two Americans outside their element. And joining historian and author David V. Herlihy
on his book tour was an example of the type of bike that Lenz rode during his trip
. Last year, marking 120 years to the day that Lenz departed from Pittsburgh, the city officially commemorated "Frank Lenz Day."