1911: A Motorcycle Club in the Keystone State is “Born and Christened”

July 15, 1911

In southeastern Pennsylvania, a motorcycle club that is still around today was established in the city of Reading. The organizational meeting for this club took place at the American House Hotel at Fourth and Penn Streets in Reading. Motorcycling and Bicycling magazine recounted a dozen years later, “Several names [for the club] were suggested, but the name Reading was adopted and the Reading Motorcycle Club was born and christened.”

A total of 30 motorcycle riders were on hand for that inaugural 1911 meeting, with John Hartman elected the club’s first president. The other club officers selected that day included Robert Haenchon, vice-president; Paul Eisenhower, recording secretary; Arthur Broderick, financial secretary; and Charles Hart, Treasurer. (The above photo taken in 1920 features Alfred “Bud” Eisenberg, another one of the club’s early members.)  

The Reading Motorcycle Club (RMC) made its debut at a time when motorcycles were hugely popular not only for recreational rides and racing competitions but also for such practical everyday purposes as getting to work. This was because many people during the era found motorcycles a far more affordable alternative to automobiles when it came to motorized means of transportation. 

Motorcycles were an especially sought-after commodity in Reading and other communities in that region of Pennsylvania during the early years of the 20th century. By the time RMC was established, there were already a variety of motorcycle dealerships throughout the area. In addition, the local company Reading Standard began manufacturing a popular brand of motorcycles in 1903.  (The company, which promoted its motorcycles with the slogan “Tested in the Hills,” remained in business until 1924.)

RMC did not waste any time getting immersed in the local motorcycle culture. Just over two weeks after being established, for example, the club’s members held a motorcycle round-trip run of 132 miles (212.4 kilometers) between Reading and York, Pennsylvania. In 1914, the club was incorporated under the laws of the Keystone State.

RMC now has the distinction of being one of the longest-existing motorcycle clubs in the United States. As a matter of fact, it is widely believed to rank second only to a club founded in Yonkers, New York, in 1903 as the oldest group of its kind in the nation.

Photo Credit: Motorcycle and Bicycle Illustrated (16 September 1920)

For more information on the history of the Reading Motorcycle Club, please check out Reading Motorcycle Club (readingmc.com)

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