Saturday, June 16, 2012

Mr. Carl Burgwardt (1931-2012)

I was saddened to learn recently of the passing of Mr. Carl Burgwardt, whom I met at his marvellous bicycle museum in Orchard Park, New York in December 2008.  My report on that visit, which remains one of the most popular postings I have ever included here at Tin Donkey, can be found here.

As it was a snowy day when I was there, Mr. Burgwardt was generous with his time and we had a very illuminating discussion about early cycling history and bicycle manufacture.  He and Mrs. Burgwardt had a great interest in Western New York State history and the cycling end was only part of that, although the museum was exceptional for a private collection.  The collection, with a strong emphasis on the once-vibrant marques of Buffalo and region, was sold within a year of my visit and the museum closed in November 2009.  This was most unfortunate as Mr. Burgwardt had once hoped to house the museum in a striking  new building on the site of the old Pierce bicycle factory in Buffalo but this did not come to pass, although it would have been a fine attraction for the city.

The Western New York Heritage Press published Mr. Burgwardt's 2001 book "Buffalo's Bicycles," which is not only a fine example of a regional history but also a valuable survey of the growth of the American bicycle industry.  WNYHP has also posted an obituary here today.

My impression of Mr. Burgwardt was of a warm and hospitable man who enjoyed sharing his impressive knowledge of bicycles.  Through him I became aware of the International Cycling History Conferences and have made contact with other historians.  I am glad that I had the opportunity to see the Pedaling History Museum and my meeting with Mr. Burgwardt remains one of my best memories connected to my cycling hobby.    

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