“Not Grant nor Sherman, nor any of our country’s heroes, were ever made the subject of more ardent curiosity on the part of our citizens than the hero of a thousand-mile walk.
The excitement at times reached almost to the point of
frenzy and in their eagerness to gain a standing point right
in front of the window at which the beaming countenance
of the great man was seen, the crowd came in sharp
collision with the police.” — Chicago Tribune — November, 1867
“He moved through a greater mass of people than was on the streets when William H. Taft, as President of the United States was here, or when Theodore Roosevelt came the day after. Crowds that blocked all traffic in the neighborhood greeted the veteran pedestrian. The side streets were choked and every roof had a fringe of humanity.” — New York’s The Sun — August, 1913
In a professional career spanning just over 60 years, one man would capture the imagination and the hearts of the people of the sporting world. Born in 1839, the enigmatic and eccentric American from Providence, Rhode Island, would become the “walking sensation” of both Britain and the USA, where he would “wow” the enormous crowds that filled the arenas and lined the roadsides with his performances on the tracks and highways.
Handsome, immaculately dressed, well-spoken and intelligent, the “Wily Wobbler” would be watched by hoards of adoring fans throughout his career, which would see him compete against “time” and other athletes in the most amazing competitions.
Everyone wanted to see him in action. Whenever he was pacing around a sawdust track, or scurrying along a dirt road, they clapped him, they cheered him, they loved him – and he loved them!
Without them, he was a nobody, but with their support and his gutsy determination to succeed against all the odds, he became the…