Pedal through 200 years of Montevallo on April 29

Published 3:48 pm Thursday, April 20, 2017

By NANCY WILSTACH / Community Columnist

Bicyclists can pedal into the pages of history, as they get firsthand stories about life in Montevallo over the last 200 years — with the added bonus of a gunfight.

Montevallo’s Bicentennial Celebration continues April 29 as characters out of the city’s history make conversation with today’s bicyclists during the Bicentennial Bike-a-thon.

Bike tours begin at 9 a.m. in Orr Park where, if you don’t have your own bicycle, you may borrow one from Vallocycle. Guided tours will start every 30 minutes, according to Janice Seaman, who is coordinating the activity.

Montevallo Main Street Players sent out a casting call last week for men who want to participate as historical Montevalloans, including Robert F. McKibbon, Henry Clay Reynolds, Edmund King, Allen Mahan, Dan Walker and Dewey Lucas, as well as a campus mailman and a representative of the clergy.

Eloise Meroney, Montevallo historian, is joining the cast.

Seaman said the bicycle tour “will cover 200 years of Montevallo history.” Period costumes are being created by Emily Gill, an associate professor in the University of Montevallo’s theater department.

McKibbon will meet cyclists at the house he built for his family in 1900 at the corner of East Boundary and Shelby streets across from Shoal Creek, where he also had a mill. Seaman said that Shoal Creek was the focus of the early settlement because of the importance of water to commerce before the advent of far-reaching rail transportation.

McKibbon owned a cotton gin, a lumber mill and a grist mill, as well as rental property in several of the small towns around Montevallo.

The tour winds through town to the University of Montevallo campus where an early postal carrier will describe the founding of the women’s college in 1896.

Cyclists will meet King on the campus where the King House still stands. King bought land in Montevallo in 1817 and, in 1823, he built the house that bears his name. King House was the first brick structure in the area and had Montevallo’s first glass windows.

George Kroell also will greet the tour near downtown where the native of Tyrol, Austria, arrived with just a knapsack after the Civil War and wound up with a general store and a hotel, the St. George Hotel, that he built in 1897.

When the bicyclists arrive in the parking lot of the University of Montevallo on Main (UMOM), they just might be caught in the middle of a gunfight.

The gun battle is based on the true story of an incident at a Main Street restaurant. Naturally, adult beverages were involved in the dispute that claimed the lives of two of the combatants on Nov. 29, 1923. Mahan died in a duel with Walker; Lucas subsequently shot Walker to death.

Attendees might have only two chances to see the gunfight because of a scarcity of blank cartridges for the weaponry involved.

The casting was to be completed this week.