Luther L. Atwood, the bicycle man, has been grounded. Not since last October has the octogenarian (he’s going to be 87 in July) been wheeling himself around the city because he underwent an operation at that time, but with intermittent signs of spring and warm weather, he again has the urge to take out his two-wheeled vehicle. He has ridden 35 bicycles 60,000 miles in 60 years.

However, on this question of cycling, there seems to be a difference of opinion because Mr. Atwood’s domestic nurse, Mrs. Louise Walmsley, who has been with the Atwood family for many years, has ordered that he stay off bicycles permanently.

Just 60 years ago, Mr. Atwood introduced bicycling to this city when he wheeled a new Columbia from Boston and established an agency for that firm in Pittsfield. That was when he conducted a drug store at 15 North Street where Wilkinson’s now is located. To bicycles, Mr. Atwood attributes his long life and says the vehicles not only furnished transportation but the exercise was good for him. Strangely enough, he tells the story of three doctors who told him many years ago that he had not long to live. All three physicians are buried in the Pittsfield Cemetery.

“I always preferred the bicycle to the automobile,” Mr. Atwood said today at his 31 East Mill Street home, “because of the exercise. Years ago I never regarded 75 miles a day as a hardship and I have pedaled more than 100 on some days.”

The veteran wheeler has owned four automobiles, but discarded them all for the bicycle. His only two accidents were when he broke a leg in a race against Harry Brown of Pittsfield at Queechy Lake, Canaan, N.Y., in the days of the high wheel bike, and the other was in 1930 when he was struck by an automobile and was confined to the hospital for several weeks.

Mr. Atwood was the first president of the Pittsfield Bicycle Club, organized in 1879. He was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 12, 1852, on his mother’s 20th birthday. His father, Rev. Louis P. Atwood, moved to Pittsfield when Luther was 13.

This Story in History is selected from the archives by Jeannie Maschino, The Berkshire Eagle.

Community News Editor / Librarian

Jeannie Maschino is community news editor and librarian for The Berkshire Eagle. She has worked for the newspaper in various capacities since 1982 and joined the newsroom in 1989. She can be reached at