Columbia Bicycle Factory History

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 The following is a brief historical timeline of the company that made Columbia Bicycles.  Many histories of Colonel Albert A. Pope and the companies that he started have been written. This list is meant to put the bicycle manufacturing of the company he started into perspective.

1877   Pope Manufacturing Co. founded. Offices in Boston Mass.

1878   January. Pope starts importing bicycles from England. The first sign of advertising is in March.

1878   September. Col. Pope approaches the Weed Sewing Machine Co. in Hartford about building bicycles.

1878   November. The first bicycles are manufactured in Hartford. These are copies of an English bicycle, the Bayliss Thomas Duplex Excelsior.

1894 Main offices start to be consolidated in Hartford Ct.

1896   March 12th. A huge fire destroys the old offices, warehouses and riding school of Pope Mfg. Co. in Boston Mass. Most records and many bikes are lost. The following year new and bigger facillities are built in Boston.

1897   H.A. Lozier & Co. of Cleveland Ohio builds a new bicycle plant in Westfield Mass.

1900   Pope Manufacturing, Lozier and a host of other bicycle company’s join to form the American Bicycle Company.

1901   The American Bicycle Company fails.

1902   The American Bicycle Company is reorganized into the American Cycle Company.

1903   The American Cycle Company fails.

1904   The Pope Manufacturing Co. is reorganized and ends up owning many of the bicycle manufacturers in the previous consortiums. By 1907 the number of bicycle companies Pope owned had grown the the list below.

1905 to 1913   Pope gradually consolidates manufacturing to the Westfield Mass plant. The main offices remain in Hartford Ct.

1909  Col. Albert Augustus Pope, the founder of Pope Mfg dies at the age of 66 years old.

1914   The main offices of Pope are moved to Westfield Mass.

1915   The Pope Manufacturing Company files for bankruptcy.

1916   The company is reorganized and renamed The Westfield Manufacturing Company. The catalogs stating that they are “successors to The Pope Manufacturing Company”.

1933   Westfield Manufacturing becomes a subsidiary of The Torrington Company of Torrington Ct.

1952  Westfield Mfg. Co. starts production of a line of tubular steel school furniture in order to augment sales during the bicycle “off season”.

1960   In December and independent corporation is formed.

1961   The company is renamed Columbia Manufacturing Company.

1967   Columbia Mfg. Co. merges with MTD.

1988   Columbia is purchased from MTD by some of the local management and reorganized as Columbia Manufacturing Company.

1991 Columbia Mfg. Co. is forced into bankruptcy.

1993 Columbia Mfg. Co. emerges from bankruptcy. Bicycle production is limited after the bankruptcy. A reproduction of the 1941 Columbia Superb is made at the Westfield plant. Columbia badged imported bikes are also sold. A complete line of School and Institutional furniture is now the main business focus for Columbia Mfg.

2008   Several of the original factory buildings in Westfield were torn down including the main building on Cycle St. and the building that housed the museum.

It is important to note that through all of the bankruptcies and name changes, the company has never ceased operations for very long and the company that remains today is a direct descendant of the original Pope Manufacturing Co.