Around two dozen motorcyclists will be stopping in Greenville on Friday, May 9 as part of a celebration of a similar journey made in 1914. The Cannon Ball Project will retrace the path of Erwin “Cannon Ball” Baker, a pioneering motorcycle enthusiast, who traveled from San Diego, California to New York City in a little over 11 days. Baker’s journey in May 1914 was made on a 7 horsepower Indian motorcycle on mostly dirt roads. The Cannon Ball Project, utilizing Baker’s original written account, will leave San Diego on May 3, 2014, the centennial anniversary of when he departed.
The Cannon Ball Project is led by Don Emde, an American Motorcyclist Association Hall of Famer and winner of the 1972 Daytona 200. Emde has paid two visits to Greenville since 2012 to coordinate the group’s only planned stop in Illinois. According to Emde, Baker also had an overnight stay in Greenville on his way to Columbus, OH.
Cannon Ball Project riders will have lunch in St. Louis prior to arriving in Greenville around 4:00 p.m. on May 9. A welcoming reception, open to the public, will be held at the Midland States Bank parking lot, 318 W. College Ave. After their arrival, the riders will visit the Greenville Post Office for a brief ceremony. The Greenville Tourism Office has commissioned art work for a special postmark commemorating the Cannon Ball Baker centennial. The public may request this unique postmark cancellation for up to 30 days after May 9.
John Goldsmith, Greenville Tourism director, said Greenville is fortunate being a stop. “The group is being accompanied by a film production crew and the ride is drawing interest from other journalists. We’ll be part of the story. And it’s a fantastic opportunity for area motorcyclists to come out and welcome the Cannon Ball Project and to meet Don Emde, a legendary racer.”
For more information about the Cannon Ball Project’s stop in Greenville, call Goldsmith at (618) 664-9272.