Images from the Past: Harry 'Pop' Kramer cycles on Main Street

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Harry 'Pop' Kramer, Travelers Rest, SC

Many area residents who were around at the time can still recall watching Harry “Pop” Kramer, a world-famous trick cyclist, perform on Main Street in the mid 1900s in Travelers Rest, several pictures of which are included in the slideshow above.

Born in Alexandria, VA, on January 1, 1875, Kramer took up trick cycling at the age of 12. In 1892, he set out on his own, traveling from town to town performing his routine for circuses, theaters and carnivals as well as street and county fairs. By the time he was married and had his first child, he had thrilled audiences in every state east of the Mississippi River.

After his first wife died, Kramer moved to Asheville, N.C., then on to Hendersonville, N.C. and Chick Springs, S.C. before settling down in Travelers Rest.

Kramer, who designed and fabricated his own unicycles and trick bicycles, was always eager to please the crowd. As shown in the pictures above, he could ride a bike while standing on his head and jump rope while riding on a buggy wheel.

According to "Images of America: Travelers Rest", one of Kramer's most amazing tricks was when he jumped his wagon wheel up the steps of the U.S. Capitol and rode back down the steps with his hands outstretched. It is said that he descended the steps so fast that cameras couldn't capture a clear image, earning him the moniker of “Ghost Rider”.

In 1959, Kramer was involved in an accident while riding his bicycle just outside of Travelers Rest. He never fully regained his health and died later in the same year of pneumonia.

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Related on the Tribune:

Then and Now: Travelers Rest's State Park Road post office

Then and Now: 27 S. Main Street, Travelers Rest

Then and Now: S. Main Street, Travelers Rest

(Article adapted from a presentation to the Travelers Rest Historical Society by Joshua Salmans. Images appear courtesy of Debra Kramer, whose collection she allowed us to reproduce.)