AMA Club Profile: Portsmouth Motorcycle Club
April 11, 2013
The Portsmouth Motorcycle Club: 100-Plus Years Of History
The Portsmouth Cycling Club (PCC) in Ohio was organized in 1893 and incorporated on Feb. 11, 1897, according to a newspaper article written in July 1897.
The article included a photograph of about 30 club members on a dinner cruise on the Ohio River. A copy of the article was delivered to the Portsmouth Motorcycle Club (PMC) about 10 years ago as possibly an item of interest—and it certainly was—after one of those young men’s heirs had died.
The PMC club members knew that they had evolved from the PCC, but the details were lost long ago. The only tangible item of the PMC was a wide photograph taken by the then-popular mechanical cameras that rotated at a set speed with the shutter flying to get what we now have via a wide-angle lens.
This photo had an inscription as part of the photo—“Portsmouth Motorcycle Club 1913”—and, thus, became the date of the club in modern times.
This photo is included in the PMC painting alongside those of many others that are now part of the famous Portsmouth Floodwall Murals.
The floodwall, located on Front Street, was erected after the devastating 1937 flood that has been so recently remembered.
With this newspaper article in hand, it was decided to research its authenticity. After many attempts to locate the original articles of incorporation through Ohio’s Secretary of State Office, club members finally located a staff member who was willing to go into the archives and attempt to locate the articles.
Indeed, it was confirmed that they were incorporated on Feb. 11, 1897.
And not only that, but, more importantly, the club had remained in good standing with the state until 1960 as the PCC.
Further research revealed that the Portsmouth Motorcycle Club had been renewing this charter all along until 1954 when it was decided, for legal purposes, that the club should change the incorporated name to the one they were actually using.
Thus, they reincorporated under the name of the Portsmouth Motorcycle Club, and for a couple of years the treasurer paid the bills as presented (typically), which included the renewal bill from the Secretary of State’s Office for the PCC.
However, at some point someone questioned why they were paying for two and the payment for PCC was terminated. In 1960, the Secretary of State’s Office canceled the good standing of the PCC for failure to renew.
The two clubs were one and the same, and in continuous existence, according to the Secretary of State’s Office, with a five-year overlap from 1954 to 1959.
Once this knowledge was obtained, the question was raised: “Doesn’t that make us the oldest motorcycle club in the USA, instead of the Yonkers (N.Y.) Motorcycle Club?”
The Yonkers club began life as a bicycling club but was established in 1903 as a motorcycling club.
It was decided by Portsmouth club members that it was a little late to be making this claim, even if true. Thus, the PMC opted for the title of the “Oldest Cycling Club in the USA.”
It was common knowledge that the Portsmouth Club made the transition from bicycles to motorcycles like everyone else, and even had an early Harley-Davidson dealership in town that eventually relocated. Their proof of age, however, is undeniable, and club members are very happy with being just the oldest cycling club.
Indeed, the PCC founders raced bicycles back then, and were also known for entertaining at local civic events. It turns out that being an accomplished musician was one of the requirements for membership.
The newspaper coverage of their civic entertainment activities from the late 1890s to the early 1900s are too numerous to elaborate.
Through the 1980s, the PMC was known for its very successful flat-track racing program.
Currently, the PMC is more recognized for its successful bell-ringing fund-raising program during the Christmas season. Since 1992, club members, along with helpers from time to time such as Brothers of the Wheel, Bikers for Christ, SORR, Broken Arrow, and Riders from American Legion Posts 23 and 471, operating as Bikers for Charity, have raised over a quarter million dollars for local charities. Those include the Salvation Army, Blankets for Vets, Battered Women’s Shelter, Stepping Stones Counseling and local children’s charities sponsored by the Portsmouth/New Boston Fire and Police departments.
The highest amount ever raised in one season was $42,000.
The club is located at 101 Front St. and has been there since 1954, so do not hesitate if you want to visit. There is a beautiful small park next door where you can enjoy the scenic view of the confluence of the Scioto and Ohio rivers.
The Portsmouth Murals are but 300 yards away.
Join us on any Sunday for a local ride.
The club is on track to ride its goal of 150,000 miles as a club during this year.