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Findlay's Road - How One Man Rode Through 1916 To 2016

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The story of a young man on a 1400-mile solo ride struck a special place in my heart years ago. Now, 100 years later I’m working to recreate his journey, which has become an ambitious adventure of my own.



I have been able to build 90% of this ride on ONLY roads he could have ridden in 1916!


This story will speak to everyone who has ever swung a leg over any type of motorcycle and I hope will inspire all riders!



On a cold summer’s morning in 1916, Charles K. Findlay unknowingly began a journey through time. Charles was just 16 years old the morning he fired up his 1916 Indian Power Plus and headed north. He had planned the ride to the minute and raced over macadam, dirt, mud, mountains, streams and rivers to meet his goals. What he didn’t plan on was that his expedition would capture my heart and whisper to my motorcyclist-soul to tell his story to the world. As a record holding Iron Butt Rider, I relate to a well-planned and executed timed ride. Also as a rider that doesn’t hesitate to take street bikes down a muddy forest roads or to the Arctic Circle or across creeks, I feel a kindred spirit in him. His youthful swagger and humor are charming and his exuberance is contagious.




Excerpt from the diary of Charles K. Findlay:

“The story of the trip from Montgomery, Ala -to-Abington,Va. -via- Atlanta ,Ga Spartanburg, SC Charlotte, NC Winston-Salem, NC Roanoke, Va 859 miles in 43hr.35 min On a 1916 Indian motorcycle By Chas K. Findlay.
Thur. June 8th 1916 After looking over the motor, filling the tanks and strapping on the baggage the nite before.
Baggage consisted of raincoat and gal. of oil I was ready to go as soon as i was dressed. I put on my riding suit was already dirty and greasy so you can imagin what I will look like at the end of the 859 miles. I cranked off at 5:20am I was leaving Montgomery behind me. 5:45”




For the past few years I’ve been working with two of his distant relatives, a genealogist/historian, 1915, 1916 and 1919 Automobile Blue Books, countless historic topographic maps, historic soil maps, rail road maps, libraries, universities, historical societies and museums to recreate his journey on roads that he could have ridden. By connecting the places and using the descriptions he offers in his 1916 diary with roads, ferries, bridges and towns that existed in 1916 or before, I’ve created a route that will very closely mimic his. Of course there is no way of knowing the exact roads he rode, but I believe I have done all due diligence with regards to research. I’ll capture the spirit of his journey and do honor to his memory.



In 2016, I’m buying a 2016 Indian Scout and on June 8th, 2016 I’ll recreate his ride 100 years to the day on a bike 100 years newer and write his story from the saddle. It will also include recreating the ferry ride across the Savannah River via pontoon boat because his crossing is now under Lake Hartwell.



I have even found what might be the very LAST copy of the movie he watched in Chattanooga called “The Captive God” with John Hart. http://www.wikiwand.com/en/William_S._Hartat the George Eastman Museum. I’m currently working with Ashley McCue, Executive Director of the Tivoli Foundation to see if we can show it in Chattanooga, TN 100 years to the day.

Steve, my husband, and I have been carrying the financial burden of this passion to re-create the 1916 Indian ride for years. I cannot tell you how difficult it’s been at times.




No matter what, please come follow us at Findlay’s Road –


And I bet you know someone out there that might like to follow us. Pass it on.




Ride with joy,
Gwen “Shogs” Phillips



Personal Email - shoganaik11rs@gmail.com

Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/findlay_road


Twitter - https://twitter.com/FindlaysRoad

Website - https://FindlaysRoad.com(as of this post it’s not live yet)

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EVERY mile of EVERY road selected or not selected is linked to a source confirming the date that mile existed. (on or before 1916)

Also EVERY street of EVERY town and city also linked and verified.



Also EVERY church, school and every waypoint linked and verified.




I just completed a 3007 mile recon trip. I assessed road conditions, road access, met with private land owners to request permission to ride the old road beds. I found new road closures, bridges that were closed permanently, road that went through that I didn't know about, lost RR crossings and one VERY old and still ridable bridge in Alabama.



I met with Dale at Wheels through Time and gained his support and he has agreed to advise me for free.



I met Ashley, the Exe. V.P. of the Tivoli Foundation, and have begun working on getting the Eastman Museum in N.Y. to loan Tivoli the only know copy of the 100 year old silent film "Captive God" with John Hart. I want to show the exact film that Charles saw in the same City 100 years to the day.



I researched several state archives and dozens to libraries to fill in the missing map/route sections because not every thing is digitized or online.




Blue is a RR I can document in 1916.
Yellow is roadbed dating to 1914.
Red was same road that although still present I can't use because the RR cross over is gone.
Green is roadbed that didn't exist in 1916.


Here's where the recent recon has helped. The purple line was 1914 roadbed that was available in 2014 but has since been converted to a bike trail.
I hope that made sense.



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In this screen shot, all the yellow lines are roads I can 100% verify existed on or before 1916 and that fall with the diary route and his descriptions.




In 1916, this was THE major highway. (going under the RR trestle)




In 1900, this bridge was part of the most traveled between to nearby towns.




As part of the recent recon trip, I spent a LOT of time digging trough old maps that have never been digitized.





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I have spent many hundreds of hours studying with one screen looking like this.





And the other like this.





These are samples of some of the map types I've been using.











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I am DESPERATELY seeking an owner of a 1916 Indian Power Plus to ride some or all of this with me.


This might normally not be too difficult, but 2016 is the Cannonball Run in which many 1916 Indian Power Plus bike are entered.



Dale at Wheels Through Time called me and we met in Maggie Valley to talk about this project.



He gave me a personal tour of his museum and we talked for about 2 hours but he only has a 1915 Indian Power Plus. He gave me $500 and a tee shirt and he offered to advise me on all matters about the 1916 including going through all the pics of Charles on his many bikes to identify them all.



BUT I still need to find a 1916 Indian Power Plus bike and rider willing to ride with me. Steverino has agreed to bring the toy hauler / mobile bike shop to support us, so the older bike will be well cared for as well as giving the rider a free place to sleep every night.



Please, please spread the word about this, I need ALL the help I can get.



And again, please consider supporting this ONCE IN A LIFETIME ride with your financial support.



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If he tried that ride through Spartanburg, SC today, he would be dodging gunfire.

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If he tried that ride through Spartanburg, SC today, he would be dodging gunfire.


The world is a much less civil place than it was 100 years ago.

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The world is a much less civil place than it was 100 years ago.


Psychopaths of all stripes are more prevalent for sure, but by & large, good folks still out number the idiots.

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morn n Gwen “Shogs” Phillips,

looks like alot of homework, good on you for your passion. am finishing up a 17 powerplus and have done two of the three cannonballs. seeing your doing this in june would prob. be able to get a baller to do some of this with you for breaking in or just more test miles prior to the event. pretty sure if ya shared this with folks on the cannonball site or the facepage deal a 16 powerplus rider would jump in there. for the most parts there a great bunch of folks with the same passion. best to you.. gary

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