Walk of Ages: Edward Payson Weston's Extraordinary 1909 Trek across America

Walk of Ages: Edward Payson Weston's Extraordinary 1909 Trek across America

Walk of Ages: Edward Payson Weston's Extraordinary 1909 Trek across America

Walk of Ages: Edward Payson Weston's Extraordinary 1909 Trek across America

Synopsis

On his seventieth birthday in 1909, a slim man with a shock of white hair, a walrus mustache, and a spring in his step faced west from Park Row in Manhattan and started walking. By the time Edward Payson Weston was finished, he was in San Francisco, having trekked 3,895 miles in 104 days.

Weston's first epic walk across America transcended sport. He was "everyman" in a stirring battle against the elements and exhaustion, tramping along at the pace of someone decades younger. Having long been America's greatest pedestrian, he was attempting the most ambitious and physically taxing walk of his career. He walked most of the way alone when the car that he hired to follow him kept breaking down, and he often had to rest without adequate food or shelter. That Weston made it is one of the truly great but forgotten sports feats of all time. Thanks in large part to his daily dispatches of his travails--from blizzards to intense heat, rutted roads, bad shoes, and illness--Weston's trek became a wonder of the ages and attracted international headlines to the sport called "pedestrianism."

Aided by long-buried archival information, colorful biographical details, and Weston's diary entries, Walk of Ages is more than a book about a man going for a walk. It is an epic tale of beating the odds and a penetrating look at a vanished time in America.

Excerpt

“Here he comes!”

The cry arose not from one or two but in concert from several of the dozens gathered in the windswept chill of the mid-March twilight on the eastern edge of Syracuse, New York. Lining a stretch of roadway at the foot of a hill where the pavement from the city turned into the dirt of the old Genesee Turnpike that went all the way to Albany, they bundled against a stiff wind. and they gazed eastward in the gathering dusk.

From the highway came the only sound that wasn’t wind. Faint, very faint at first, it grew steadily louder. a relatively new sound, it was mechanical, the thrump-thrump-thrump of an automobile slowly headed their way. Edging into view, the car looked at first like an ant on the horizon as it steadily chugged through the mud and slop of the highway—followed by the faint figure of a man trudging steadily, a bit stubbornly, and seemingly in a hurry. Breasting a hill and drawing ever closer, the man’s profile sharpened. He was clad in long pants tucked into knee-length leather boots and wore several layers of clothing. Atop his head was an oversized bushman’s hat crushed on to white, silvery hair. Most revealing was his face: thickly mustached, it showed a man elderly in years who was tramping along at the pace of someone decades younger.

He was the reason everyone was here. He was close now, and . . .

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