America's Most Famous Walker Edward Payson Weston Part 2

About America's most famous walker Edward Payson Weston who in the nineteenth century made numerous walks around and across the country.


But it was over the long haul in open country, with a fat wager as the goal, that the humble Weston was at his best. Going it alone at distances of 1,000 mi. or more, he could keep up such a relentless pace that it was necessary to provide relays of fresh horses for the referees and timekeepers. On cross-country tours he wore a short jacket, tight-fitting knee breeches, stout brogans with red tops, a silk derby and buff gloves. He always carried a light walking stick to fend off hostile dogs.

In this snappy garb Weston took off from Portland, Me., on October 29, 1867, and headed for Chicago with $10,000 riding on him. To win the bet (the stake was supplied by his backers), Weston had to cover the distance (1,237 1/2 mi.) in 26 days. Accompanied by 6 men in carriages to see that he was propelled solely by his red-topped brogans, the tireless pedestrian got so far ahead of schedule that he found time to stop and address crowds along the way, attend church services, and still finish with time to spare. The Great Pedestrian Feat, as it was called in newspapers throughout the land, made him overnight a figure of national prominence.

Weston kept on walking and walking, here and abroad, almost to the end of his long life. In 1907 at the age of 68, he repeated his Portland-Chicago performance, covering a route 19 mi. longer and bettering his record made 40 years before by 29 hours. Two years later, in celebration of his 70th birthday, he walked from New York to San Francisco in 104 days and 7 hours, a distance of 3,895 mi. The next year he walked back over a different route, covering 3,600 mi. in 76 days, 23 hours and 10 minutes. And the indefatigable Weston, still trim and wiry, was not yet through. In 1913, at the age of 74, he hiked from New York to Minneapolis, a distance of 1,546 mi. in 51 days.

That was Weston's last big walk. An ironic fate awaited the man who saw Lincoln in 1861. In 1927, while walking in a Brooklyn street, he was struck by an auto and suffered such severe injuries that he was confined to a wheelchair for the last 2 years of his life. He died, age 90, in 1929.

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