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100 Years Ago the Van Buren Sisters Made History!

Van Buren Sisters Motorcycle Ride History

Learn about how the brave and bold Van Buren sisters became the first women to ride a motorcycle across the country!

In 1916, Augusta and Adeline Van Buren were the first women to each ride her own motorcycle across the continental United States. On July 4th, 1916, the two sisters set off on their journey from Sheepshead Bay, New York.  After enduring unpaved roads, perilous conditions, and nearly running out of water in the desert near Salt Lake, the sisters finally arrived in San Francisco on September 2nd. They also became the first women to reach the 14,115 f00t summit of PIKES PEAK by any motorcycle vehicle.

Both Augusta and Adeline were born before the turn of the 20th century.  Augusta was born in March of 1884, while Adeline was born in July of 1889. The sisters were raised in New York City with their brother Albert.  When the sisters made their journey, women did not have the right to vote yet as Victorian society had then placed extreme limitations on women.  The sisters were active members in the National Preparedness Movement preceding the US entry into World War I. They were inspired to complete an adventure across the nation and prove that women could be excellent dispatch riders in the war effort. Their journey on 1000 cc Indian motorcycles was extremely difficult at times, requiring riding on unpaved, rutted and muddy roads. They overcame several obstacles including mechanical difficulties, fatigue and discrimination along the way.

After their amazing journey, the Van Buren sisters eventually settled down and married, but never stopped achieving. Adeline earned her law degree from NYU, and Augusta became a pilot, flying with the 99s, a distinguished women’s flying group founded by Amelia Earhart. In 2002 the sisters were inducted into the AMA’s Motorcycle Hall of Fame and into the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame in 2003.

Augusta and Adeline Van Buren broke the stereotypes of their time, proving women could do anything. In the words of Augusta, “Woman can if she will.”

Learn more about the Van Buren sisters here!

Tune into The Maria Sanchez Show, and don’t forget to check out our latest program, Shadow Politics with Senator Michael D. Brown, on Sundays at 4:00 p.m. PDT/7:00 p.m. EDT.

Information from Sisters’ Centennial Motorcycle Ride
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