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.
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.
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.
H.A. Lozier & Co. of Cleveland Ohio builds a new bicycle plant in Westfield Mass.
Pope Manufacturing, Lozier and a host of other bicycle company’s join to form
the American Bicycle Company.
The American Bicycle Company fails.
1902 The American Bicycle Company is
reorganized into the American Cycle Company.
1903 The American Cycle Company fails.
The Pope Manufacturing Co. is reorganized and ends up owning many of the bicycle manufacturers in
the previous consortiums.
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.
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".
In December and independent corporation is formed.
1961 The company is renamed Columbia Manufacturing
1967 Columbia Mfg. Co. merges with MTD.
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.
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.