On May 3, 1914, Erwin Baker, a motorcycle racer and enthusiast from Indianapolis, Indiana, left downtown San Diego, California on a twin-cylinder, 7 horsepower Indian motorcycle en route to New York City. Baker’s goal was to break the existing cross-country record of 20 days that was held at the time. The plan was to beat the record by three days. Amazingly, not only did Baker break the record, but he did it in even less time that he had envisioned. He arrived in New York City just 11 1/2 days later on May 14th! A New York journalist obviously impressed by his adventure tagged Baker with a nickname of “Cannon Ball,” which stuck with him the rest of his life.
The Cannon Ball Project will retrace the route taken by Baker in 1914. Working from Baker’s actual written accounts, our plan is to retell his story of his ride on a day-by-day basis, and to research what roads and routes existed at the time and match them to what exists currently.
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