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Volume 1276
Remarkable Summer of '93

Chicago World's Fair of 1893
Ch. 2: Boys from Orchard Lake
The Columbian Exposition
June 1893 
Notes & Photos
The Adventures of 
Edgar Rice Burroughs
As Interpreted by
Bill Hillman

Part of a series inspired by the ERB Library Project
The introduction to this series appeared at ERBzine 1275

MMA 1892 School Catalog
Invasion of the Boys from Orchard Lake

Tuesday Evening, June 14, 1893

This has been such a momentous day that I just have to transcribe some of my impressions of the incredible events that have led up to it. I am experiencing what must be the most exciting and rewarding time of my life. The whirlwind we have been riding seemed to start in the first week of April. 

Edgar Rice Burroughs (Circa 1892)
Our Academy cavalry troop was invited by the Detroit Riding Club to put on an exhibition at the Columbian Saddle Horse Show -- April 4-6. Under the instruction of Captain King and his staff of army officers we trained for hours each day for months preparing for this. I rode my fool head off and nearly killed myself a couple of times in my anxiety to live up to what Captain King expected of me as a horseman. Anyone who survives this ordeal has to become a good horseman. My experience with horses and range work on George and Harry's ranch in Idaho has served me well. Most people are surprised to learn that military riding makes up only a small part of our training. During our "monkey drills" we do a great deal of trick riding:  bareback, Cossack, Graeco-Roman and all the rest of it. We used all these styles in our exhibition. 
The Detroit audience was extremely enthusiastic. I brought back a clipping from a Detroit newspaper for my scrapbook:
"The exhibition drill by the Orchard Lake cadets, with saddles and full equipment, was one of the features of the evening. More daring, dashing troopers never lived than are these young men and boys, and their drilling was good…  The drill wound up in the manner of the wild west show. Drawing their revolvers the cadets dashed madly around the ring, firing in all directions, and then rallied in the center, after which they left the ring.”
I thought nothing could surpass the thrill of the Detroit riding exhibition but our experience at the Columbian Exposition has been beyond belief. Exposition Director, General George R. Davis was so impressed with our last year's precision drill performances that he arranged with Colonel Rogers for us to work through spring break to finish school in time to participate in the fair. The workload was extremely heavy but we crammed and were able to write our final examinations in time to make the trip. 

On June 2nd, 140 of us came up by train from the Academy and we marched onto the Exposition grounds through the Sixty-Fourth street gates. We swung on through throngs of curious onlookers to set up camp near the Kilaueau volcano in the midway section of the grounds.

For the next week we held a dress parade at the camp every afternoon to prepare for our formal ceremonial appearance in the June 9th parade for the visiting Infanta Eulalie of Spain. I have come to love everything military. The United States Infantry Drill Regulations book has become my bible and I take great pride in the military correctness and precision of my every act and word when on duty. Thanks to Commandant Charles King, I believe that I've put my rebellious attitude toward discipline behind me. I almost certainly will choose the military for a lifelong career. Looking back over my last few years I realize now what an embarrassment I must have been to father and mother.

Despite our formal commitments we have had much time throughout the day to explore the Fair where we have been given the VIP treatment. Our professors have taken us on many supervised learning tours and we have also been given much time to visit the exhibits on our own. 

Michigan Military Cadets Camp

On the morning of the 9th we fell in for inspection on our improvised camp drill square before taking our position at the head of the parade. Mother sent over one of the newspaper clippings on the event.

“Down the Plaisance rode Commander Rice in full dress uniform with his aides beside him. Behind him thundered the band of the Michigan Military Academy leading the Orchard Lake Cadets, as trim a body of young fellows as has been seen here in many a year.”

“Marching in gray blouses and white trousers, the young soldiers kept a perfect step and alignment, eliciting rounds of applause as they marched by. Behind them galloped the Chicago Hussars, escort of honor, and then came the carriages, the committee on ceremonies leading. Behind them was the carriage of state, drawn by four horses, in which rode the Infanta, the prince and Mayor Harrison.”

Bert and I have spent much of our time and money (50 cents for two revolutions) for the privilege of riding Mr. Ferris's Great Wheel. The ride doesn't officially open until next week but workers associated with the fair have been given the privilege of making test rides. If man ever masters the skies and learns to fly like the birds, surely it will feel like this. The program says the Wheel is only 836 feet high but I'm sure we soared almost to the clouds from where we could see all of the Exposition sprawling below us . . . and the great city of Chicago beyond. 
Colour Ferris WheelThe best time to ride the Wheel, though, is after dark, when it is lit with thousands of electric lights. The view of the fairgrounds is dazzling -- never have I seen so many brilliant lights in one place. But even more thrilling is the ride to the stars. Fixing my gaze on the brightest "stars" in the night sky and holding my arms outstretched I can imagine myself travelling through the great void and experience the thrill of travelling to Mars and Venus and beyond. Bert thinks me a bit daft, but I'm sure Emma will understand when we can share the experience in a few days. I'm looking forward to returning to the fair as a civilian . . .  with my princess.

The other midway attraction that lured me in every few days was the Hagenbeck's Wild Animal Arena and Museum. Carl Hagenbeck claims to have domesticated and trained more wild animals than any living man and his menagerie included elephants, lions, tigers, leopards, bears, dogs, pigs, goats, sheep, horses, ponies, zebras, and boars. The whole arena was adorned with countless monkeys and exotic birds such as storks and parrots. The animals were displayed in such a way that it was hard to believe they were in captivity and their interactions provided infinite combinations and forms of entertainment. 

Prince, the equestrian lion, rode on horseback and leaped over banners with the grace and agility of a circus girl. A second lion rode in a chariot, drawn by a pair of Bengal tigers, while another tiger balanced himself on a revolving globe. Polar bears walked a tight rope, and black bears rolled down a toboggan slide. White goats frolicked around the ring in company with spotted leopards, and a tiny poodle held a hoop for a great black panther. So tame were the beasts that at times the chief keeper regularly took groups of them for an airing past our camp and around the Plaisance, despite the protests of Columbian guards and special police. Bert and I each swore that we would visit the jungles of Africa sometime in our lives.

Hagenbeck's Animals

Most of my free time at the Exposition, however, was spent just outside the gates at the encampment of the "Wild Bill" Cody Wild West Show. The master showman had assembled an extraordinary show for the Exposition that he called "A Congress of the Rough Riders of the World." To his usual cast of cowboys and indians he added Mexicans, Cossacks, and South Americans, with regular trained cavalry from Germany, France, England, and the United States.

Visits to this attraction turned out to be much more economical than those to the Midway attractions. After the first few days I volunteered to help out with grooming the riding horses and the gate keeper soon started to wave me through without charging admission. 

When Mr. Cody learned that I could ride bareback, as well as military style he offered me a job as a standby rider. So far I've had a chance to ride as an Indian and as a Cavalry officer -- both in full costume -- even with feathers and war paint. All of the performances were sell-outs and the excitement of the show and the response from the crowd was exhilarating. I've saved a clipping from one of the programs for my scrapbook:
"Morse made the two worlds touch the tips of their fingers together. Cody has made the warriors of all nations join hands. 
"In one act we see the Indian, with his origin shrouded in history’s mysterious fog; the cowboy—nerve-strung product of the New World; the American soldier, the dark Mexican, the glittering soldier of Germany, the dashing cavalryman of France, the impulsive Irish dragoon, and that strange, swift spirit from the plains of Russia, the Cossack. 

"Marvelous theatric display, a drama with scarcely a word— Europe, Asia, Africa, America in panoramic whirl, and yet as individualized as if they had never left their own country." 

Administration BuildingAs we cadets patrolled the grounds in our new grey and blue dress uniforms, with their rows of polished brass buttons, we seemed to draw the attention of everyone who saw us -- especially the young ladies.  Over the last few weeks we participated in numerous marches down the Midway to the Administration Building where Lieutenant Strong led us through our precision drill displays. The noise from the enthusiastic crowds was incredible. And we barely had room to go through our maneuvers as the more excited onlookers pushed into the square to get a better view. 

Most of my leftover allowance funds went to the purchase of stereo view cards for mother's stereoscope and I'm building up quite a collection. I'm especially proud of the one I bought yesterday: The Orchard Lake cadets marching down the Midway toward Mr. Ferris' Great Wheel. I've added this one to the top of my collection. I've just filled a second box of stereo view cards.

Marching through the Midway Plaisance
This evening's ceremony was a fitting climax to our wonderful two-week stay here.  After our last special drill display in front of thousands of people from all over the world at the Administration Building, we were thrilled by a performance from John Philip Sousa's band. He used the occasion to debut a special march he had written in honor of the Exposition.

Captain Charles King
We then filed into the Music Hall where the 24 graduates, family members and all the rest of us, awaited the opening valedictory address from the Fair president, Thomas W. Palmer. While we were waiting, Captain King made his appearance. As might be expected the cheers from the boys almost raised the roof. I can't think of anyone who has had a greater influence on me than Commander King. His fair discipline and high moral principals inspired us all; and his true life adventure experiences as an Indian fighter and soldier made for some of the most exciting reading that any of us had ever experienced. His decision to leave the Academy saddened us deeply and the boys -- especially those 24 of the graduating class -- were tremendously pleased that he could make it to the ceremony. I'm also glad that father, mother, and Emma were able to attend as they seemed tremendously impressed by our performance.

Edgar Rice Burroughs (Circa 1892)
Tonight was the first I had seen of Emma for many weeks and we celebrated the occasion by having a photograph taken together as well as one with her sister Jessie.

We're both looking forward to taking in the Fair over the coming weeks now that my military duties are over. Before I return to the Exposition, however, I'm looking forward to a few days of relaxing in my old room and putting on a few pounds from good home-cooked meals. 

Father wants me to go to the factory with him tomorrow so that I can practice steering the new battery carriage before we move it over to our exhibit in the Electricity Building. I expect that the machine will be much harder to drive than a team -- getting used to steering with a stick rather than reins might be somewhat of a challenge. It has been a year of challenges.

I have much to show and tell Emma.

Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As ev'ry fairy tale comes real
I've looked at love that way

"Both Sides Now" by Joni Mitchell
Listen to 
The Columbian Exposition March 
by the 
Edison Grand Concert Band

Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project
Department of Special Collections
Donald C. Davidson Library
University of California, Santa Barbara 

Edgar Rice Burroughs' 
Remarkable Summer of '93
Chapter 3: The Magic City
Strange New Worlds
A Docu-Fiction Series by Bill Hillman
See Ed's Stereoviews of the Exposition Grounds & Buildings
Stereoview Album No. 2
ERBzine 1276s

Remarkable Summer of '93
A Docu-Novel by Bill Hillman
Ch. I: Welcome to Chicago's
Columbian Exposition
Ch. 2: Invasion of the 
Boys from Orchard Lake
Ch. 3: Grand Adventure
Strange New Worlds
Ch. 4: Magic City
The White City
StereoViews: Chicago
StereoViews: Buildings
StereoViews: Exhibits I
StereoViews: Exhibits II
Ch. 5: Midway Adventure I
The Great Wheel
Ch. 6: Midway Adventure II
Exotic Lands
Ch. 7; Master Mind of 
The World of Tomorrow
Ch. 8
Ed and His Electric Flyer
StereoViews: Midway
StereoViews: Peep Shows
StereoViews: Ed's Tour I
StereoViews: Ed's Tour II
. . . .
Ch. 9
Complete All-Text Version
Ch. 10
Sister Jessie's Notebook
.Ch. 11
Web Refs & Appendix
PART II: Time Shift Adventure
Back to ERB's Tarzana Ranch
Ed's Tour III
StereoViews from ERB Library
Souvenirs | Tours: IV | V | VI
Back To Tarzana: All Text

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