This is my Great Granduncle George (center). For 3 weeks in the summer of 1941, he and two other men rode 2 motorcycles from WaKeeney, Kansas to Yellowstone National Park WY and back in 2 weeks. They drove almost 2000 miles on Harley Davidson motorcycles, mostly on sand or dirt roads. George was a photographer (amongst other things) and chronicled the journey in images, notes penciled notes on the back of each print, and stories told for years afterward.
CROSS COUNTRY MOTORCYCLE TRIP
PRESENT: GEORGE GALLOWAY / RAYMOND WIEDEMAN / ERNIE SCHNEIDER
DATE: 2 AUGUST – 15 AUGUST, 1941
George Nelson Galloway (1913-1999) was my grandfather’s brother. He had many professions over the course of his life. He was a pilot, rancher, farmer, milk man, photographer, and even went to cosmology school and styled women’s hair for a time. He worked for 10 years at the Kansas Division of Weights and Measures, based in Topeka. He was one of the founding members behind the Kansas Flying Farmers, and former President of that organization. He calibrated large scales that were certified by the Kansas Department of Agriculture. He had an airstrip on his farm north of WaKeeney, Kansas.
George was a great story teller. He could be found any and every day in downtown WaKeeney, usually at Gibson’s Drug Store, telling stories and making people laugh. This is one story of many that he told over the years, and it wasn’t until a couple of years ago after his passing that I was able to spend some time with these images and read about it more. The two other men with him on this journey were Raymond Wiedeman and Ernie Schneider, two WaKeeney guys about the same age as George. From stories I’ve heard from locals they were both gear heads and adventurers themselves.
They rode nearly 2000 miles in 2 weeks. They set off from Trego County KS on August 2nd and returned 2 weeks later on August 15. The images and story below are George’s, scribbled in pencil on the back. Following George’s descriptions and notes about landmarks, bars, lakes, and other roadside phenomena, and by using GoogleMaps it was easy to trace the route the men took. Their trip took them through four National Parks: The Badlands, Mt. Rushmore, Devil’s Tower, and Yellowstone National Parks. They timed the trip to arrive back in WaKeeney in time for the annual Trego County Free Fair. Having known George most of my life, I can imagine George in his element telling the story at the fairgrounds to anyone who’d listen, and my grandfather (the farmhand) grumbling about it loudly to an even wider audience of his own.
George only showed these images to me one time. His daughter Christine was gracious enough to let me borrow these images and share them here. There’s a lot more to this story and I will share some of my research as time permits. 4 months after this trip the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the US entered the war. Ernie and Raymond both enlisted in the US Army, George did not. He was the eldest son of rancher Lew Galloway and stayed in Trego County as a farmhand. George’s brother (my grandfather Bob) was enlisted into the US Army Air Corp, another possible reason for the life-long rift between the two men.
(*Notes at the bottom are transcribed directly from George’s hand on the back of each image. Images are in the order George had mounted in small leather photo album. All images property of George Galloway’s estate.)
AUGUST 2, 1941 (Day 1)
AUGUST 3, 1941 (Day 2)
AUGUST 4, 1941 (Day 3)
“First sight of Badlands at 7:00 AM. Ernie blowing out his machine.”
AUGUST 5, 1941 (Day 4)
AUGUST 6, 1941 (Day 5)
“A very pretty gal was around and we wanted to meet her.”
AUGUST 7, 1941 (Day 6)
“We climbed the 12,000 steps to the top of Mt. Rushmore.”
AUGUST 8, 1941 (Day 7)
AUGUST 9, 1941 (Day 8)
“Ernie could still feel that drink before breakfast so wasn’t hungry.”
AUGUST 10, 1941 (Day 9)
AUGUST 11, 1941 (Day 10)
“They say that this town is so wide open that all they jail you for is shooting.”
“It cost $1 to get in here.”
AUGUST 12, 1941 (Day 12)
“We did a little fooling around in Yellowstone.”
AUGUST 13, 1941 (Day 13)
“Ernie and Raymond found gals and raised Hell nearly all night.”
AUGUST 14, 1941 (Day 14)
“We all wanted our pix with Red headed Maxine Walters.”
AUGUST 15, 1941 (Day 15)
– END –