On June 30, 1899, Charles Murphy would set a world record bicycle ride of one mile in 57. 8 seconds while being paced by a Long Island railroad train. Before he made his famous ride, he had asked railroad companies all over the country to let him ride his bicycle behind a train. Murphy rode behind a specially built railroad car with a wooden hood added to slow down the wind pressure. Planks were laid over the ties for a distance of three miles for the event. At the start of the ride, the engine shot off by mistake, causing Murphy to expend a tremendous amount of energy trying to catch up.
He covered the first quarter mile in 15.15 seconds, and passed the half-way mark in 29.25 seconds. The three-quarter post was passed in 43.45 seconds. When the ride was ended, the engineer turned off the steam for the train, forgetting that Murphy’s great speed would keep him from stopping. Fortunately, there were several men at the rare of the train to pull him onto the coach.
In his words, he said, “I was riding against hope, and expecting the worst. As I raised my head, I could see that the earlier feeling of despair and disappointment on the faces of the officials had given way to a feeling of confidence and success.”
A plaque was unveiled at the South Farmingdale train station on October 13, 1938. That day’s festivities included contests, a parade, football game, and a dance. Led by the high school band, the parade included an official car with Mr. Murphy, Acting Mayor Fred Murray, and Judge Willis Carman.
Charles Murphy died at Queens Hospital on February 17, 1950. In addition to his famous ride, Murphy held more than 1,000 prizes in other bicycle events.
“Mile-A-Minute Murphy, Famed Cyclist, Dies at Queens Hospital.” Farmingdale Post. February 24, 1950.
Murphy, Charles. “Mile-A Minute Day – Here Next Saturday, Murphy Tells of Ride.” Farmingdale Post. September 29, 1938.
Murphy, Charles M. “Murphy Tells of First Half of Bike Ride.” Farmingdale Post. September 14, 1938.
“Plaque is Erected in Honor of Charles Murphy Saturday.” Farmingdale Post. October 13, 1938