Springfield Massachusetts August 1999

In August 1999 I traveled to Springfield Massachusetts, birthplace of the Indian Motorcycle. While out there I went to several of the historic sites in Springfield and visited with several people in the area who were associated with the Indian Factory


One of my first stops was the site of the early factory at 837 State Sreet. The front one third of the original facility was damaged in a fire years ago and was torn down in 1985. Most of the remaining building has been converted into apartment housing. The rail spur has been recently removed in order to give access to the parking lot. The front left section in the photo is owned by another party and is currently vacant. Here is the monument erected in front of the apartment complex. This photo is a detail of the plaque on that monument. The main entrance is in the coutyard. In the lobby of the building an artist is currently working on a wall mural depicting an Indian Motorcycle. Evidently the entire area had deteriorated years ago, but it seems in the last few years, things have improved quite dramatically. The epilogue of "Indian Motorcycle Illustrated" by Jerry Hatfield has some photos of the State Street Wigwam taken in 1981. The contrast between then and now is striking.


Another stop was out to Hendee Street where the Titeflex complex is located. In the late 1940s Indian moved it's manufacturing to this site. One of the old buildings still stands and houses the Indian Motorcycle Museum. This is a private enterprise, which houses a nice collection of bikes reflecting Indian's development and alot of memorabilia. No photographs are allowed. The museum's curator is an elderly woman named Estha, who can only be described as "different".


The site where the last Chiefs were built is out on Worthington Street. The downtown Myrick building is gone now and Interstate Highway 91 is built over the location.


I stayed at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Springfield. In the lobby of the hotel are three huge murals depicting the history of the city. In this mural the Indian Motocycle is prominently featured. 


The late Fritz Baer was the Indian dealer in Springfield, and his family still operates a motorcycle dealership in the city selling Kawasaki and Yamaha. I went over to Munson to visit his son Butch , who is now in his 70s. Butch Baer raced Indians during the 1940s and also worked at the factory. Butch telephoned Whitey Anderson and Jack Armstrong, who were also Indian racers and factory employees, and they came over to visit too. These guys have some great storys to tell. Here is a photo, from left to right, of Gary Smalz (me), Whitey Anderson, Butch Baer, and Jack Armstrong. If the name Armstrong rings a bell, look it up, his dad was Earl "Pop" Armstrong.


I left Springfield and flew back to California, landing in San Jose. To return to the Yosemite area where I live, I have to drive through Gilroy, which is home to the new Indian manufacturing facility. Here's a photo of some of the offices and here is the machine shop and part of the factory.


Lastly, this is a 6 pack of ale I bought out in Massachusetts, bottled by the Paper City Brewery, 108 Cabot Street, Holyoke, MA tel. 413-535-1588


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