Archive for the ‘Adventure’ Category

The Migratory New Yorker And Where He Goes

From July 3, 1910


THE MIGRATORY NEW YORKER AND WHERE HE GOES: How the American Has Become a Wanderer Over the Face of the Earth and the Various Places to Which He Wanders (PDF)

Where did 1910 New Yorkers go in the summer? The New York Times Magazine researched 5,000 New Yorkers and came up with the above map and explanation of how people traveled by boat and rail.

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Written by David

July 2nd, 2010 at 9:00 am

Posted in Adventure,Life

Pot Shooting In Central Park

From June 19, 1910


POT SHOOTING IN CENTRAL PARK: Archer Hazzler, a Crack Rifle Shot, Has the Unique Privilege of Shooting When and Where He Will in the Great Pleasure Ground (PDF)

Wild animals occasionally make their way into Central Park. Just a few months ago, a coyote in the Park seemed to be the talk of the town. In modern times, these animals are taken down by NYPD sharpshooters with tranquilizer guns. But back in 1910, there was one man whose full time job was hunting animals in New York City’s parks. His name was Archer Hazzler. He had a license to kill.

Hazzler’s method of hunting is very simple. He keeps a small boat ready to be launched on the lakes and, rifle in hand, gently paddles along the shores. These expeditions are usually undertaken early in the mornings before the public is astir.

Early risers in the great buildings facing the Park have doubtless heard the persistent crack, crack of a rifle near by and wondered at it. Hazzler thinks nothing of coming in from such a hunting trip with a bag of fifty or more rats…

The Park sharpshooter must, of course, be extremely cautious in his hunting not to interfere with the safety of the general public. So well has he done his work that there has never been an accident, never a stray shot for all the thousands of birds and animals he has brought in.

He avoids the more frequented sections of the Park, and especially the walks or drives. For this reason very few people of the millions who constantly visit the parks have ever caught a glimpse of him.

But some day if you chance upon a wiry, alert little man wearing a rough rider hat with a faded gilt cord and carrying a polished rifle in his hand you will know that it is he.

Animal hunting is not allowed in Central Park today, but here’s a short list of things you can hunt for: bugs, mushrooms, and treasure.

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Written by David

June 18th, 2010 at 9:04 am

Posted in Adventure,Nature

Hudson Maxim On “A Coming War Of Aeroplanes”

From June 12, 1910


HUDSON MAXIM ON A COMING WAR OF AEROPLANES: The Famous Inventor of High Explosives Predicts a Revolution in Warfare Due to the Use of the Craft of the Air as Fighters (PDF)

Hudson Maxim was a chemist and inventor. In this article, he predicts the use of airplanes as fighters in the “next great war,” writing, “there will be new and strange guns and strange missiles in that conflict.” Sure enough, in just a few years World War I would begin, and airplanes would be used for combat — perhaps most famously by a German fighter pilot named Manfred von Ricthofen, better known as the Red Baron.

But Maxim makes other predictions about air travel, writing enthusiastically about the opportunity for inventions that the airplanes will inspire:

Could we come back in 2010, to banquet some famous Curtiss* of that time, we should think little of a flight to the function to do him honor from Chicago, from the Thousand Islands, from the Summer estate on Mount Katahdin in Maine; and the wide stretches of country rushing under as, as we came, would be a strange commingling of villas, city, and farm; while the chains of carefully prepared alighting areas, stretching in all directions, would give the landscape something of the aspect of an enormous fox-and-goose board…

We shall not have to wait a hundred years for the stanch, wind-defying machine with automatic equilibriation. Very soon, automobiling of the sky will be as safe as automobiling upon the earth is now.

*I believe Curtiss here refers to aviator Glenn Curtiss.

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Written by David

June 11th, 2010 at 9:04 am

Charles K. Hamilton Tells How To Run An Aeroplane

From June 12, 1910


CHARLES K. HAMILTON TELLS HOW TO RUN AN AEROPLANE: The Intricate Mechanism of His Biplane Explained in Detail Showing the Uses of Every Part (PDF)

It had been 7 years since the Wright Brothers flew the first plane, and Charles Hamilton was about to make the first round trip flight from New York to Philadelphia. In this article, he provides a very plain-language explanation of exactly how his plane works.

Driving an aeroplane at the speed of 120 miles an hour is not nearly as difficult a task as driving an automobile sixty miles an hour…

In running the automobile at high speed the driver must be on the job every second. There are constant opportunities of encountering obstacles. For instance, a man can never tell at what moment he is to encounter some vehicle, perhaps traveling in the opposite direction. Nothing but untiring vigilance can protect him from this danger. Then there are turns in the road, bad stretches of pavement, and other like difficulties. All these require the same attention.

But in an aeroplane it is an entirely different proposition. Once a man becomes accustomed to aeroplaning, it becomes a matter of unconscious attention. For instance, let me give you as an example the bicycle. Nearly every one has at some time or other ridden one, and these can appreciate my point. They will remember how, when they first mounted the wheel, maintaining their equilibrium was a matter of nerve-racing vigilance. In their efforts to maintain it they would invariably put the wheel too far to the falling side. Whenever they saw an approaching vehicle they felt a moral certainty that they would be run down, and in order to avoid this catastrophe would make ridiculously wide detours, but a little practice and the equilibrium was unconsciously maintained. They were soon riding without the use of the handlebars maintaining their poise simply by an unconscious shift of the body. Approaching vehicles became an equally simple problem.

Now, that is exactly the situation with an experienced aviator.

He may have been an experienced aviator, but he wasn’t a good prognosticator. He says:

For my part, I do not believe that there will ever be an automatically controlled aeroplane. Such a contrivance would tend to drive an aeroplane through counter air currents, and the machine would be hopelessly ripped to pieces. They will get an automatic control for an aeroplane when they devise a pair of eyes for an automobile that will guide it down Broadway without collision.”

It actually didn’t take very long before autopilot was in common use. In 1931, an aviator set a record for flying around the world in just 8 days. He used autopilot to steer when he needed to rest.

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Written by David

June 11th, 2010 at 9:02 am

First Account Of The Conquering Of Mt. McKinley

From June 5, 1910


FIRST ACCOUNT OF THE CONQUERING OF MT. McKINLEY: Pete Andersen, the Intrepid Swede, Is Given the Honor of Hoisting the American Flag On the Highest Peak, Where It Still Flies (PDF)

I had no idea that the first ascent of Mt. McKinley was surrounded by so much drama. Let me give you a little back story:

As you may know, Mt. McKinley is the tallest mountain in North America. It has a higher rise than Mt. Everest, although Everest’s peak is at a higher elevation. It’s located in Denali National Park in Alaska (which wasn’t a state at the time, and wouldn’t become a state for another 49 years). It has two peaks, known as the Northern peak and Southern peak. The Southern peak is the highest.

A few years before this article was written, in 1906, a guy named Frederick Cook claimed that he was the first person to summit Mt. McKinley. A couple years later, Cook also claimed that he reached the North Pole, another first. In fact, he did neither. But in 1909, a guy named Robert Peary really did reach the North Pole, and he publicly challenged Cook’s claim to have gotten there first. This put Cook and his wild claims in the spotlight.

Meanwhile, in Alaska, four local gold miners with no mountain climbing experience were sitting in a bar. They heard about Cook’s McKinley claim, and they were unconvinced that he reached the summit. They furthermore figured that an Alaskan could climb that mountain better than any outsider could. The bar owner heard their boast and bet them $500 that they couldn’t climb Mt. McKinley.

Can you guess what happened next?

And so, in mid-February, 1910, those four miners with no hiking experience set out to climb Mt McKinley. And on April 3, they made it to the top of the North peak where they planted a flag.

Or so they said.

On April 16, the New York Times ran an article (pdf) in which naturalist Charles Sheldon suggested everyone just hold off on the accolades until this story is verified. There was good reason to be skeptical. These climbers were middle aged, overweight, had no real climbing experience, and made claims of feats even experienced climbers wouldn’t attempt (for example, they said they climbed the last 8,000 feet in one day; modern McKinley hikers typically save the last 3,000 to 4,000 for one day, taking 10 to 15 hours to do it). And even though they brought a camera, none of the photos they took provided evidence of having been taken on the summit.

A couple weeks later, on June 5 the New York Times Magazine ran a story in which expedition leader Thomas Lloyd told the whole story of his climb, in his own words. It filled three pages, all of which are included in the PDF link at the top of this blog post. It included notes from his journal, and transcribed recollections, including how his party reached both of McKinley’s peaks.

But this article didn’t end the controversy. It wasn’t until 1913 that another expedition on McKinley finally was able to verify Lloyd’s story. They reached the North summit and found the flag that Lloyd’s party had planted. Vindication at last!

The strangest thing to me about this whole saga is the fact that Thomas Lloyd really did lie about one thing: he claimed that his party reached both peaks when in fact they only reached the North summit. I think that lie was completely unnecessary. His story was incredible enough as it was.

Note: This excerpt from a book about Mt. McKinley was very helpful in researching this post.

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Written by David

June 4th, 2010 at 9:09 am

Posted in Adventure

Rolling A Barrel Round The World

From June 5, 1910



Two Venetians, Zanardi Ottilio and Vianello Eugen, have undertaken a trip around the world, during which they intend to visit every country, and have pledged themselves not to enter a dwelling house during that time.

They carry a barrel containing a stove and all the implements they need. This barrel serves them as shelter, and they are, according to the terms of the wager they are said to have made, compelled to trundle this barrel before them during the whole trip.

This was written ten months into their odd trip, which was expected to take twelve years. But the only other article I could find about them is on a Norwegian website that seems to suggest (if I’m reading Google’s translation correctly) that they only lasted another month after this article was written before giving up.

But that’s not the sad part. The sad part is this quote: “As companions they took along two dogs which however succumbed to the exertions of the trip.”

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Written by David

June 4th, 2010 at 9:03 am

Posted in Adventure

Mark Twain — Philosopher Of Democracy

From April 24, 1910


MARK TWAIN — PHILOSOPHER OF DEMOCRACY: The Serious Side of the Famous Humorist Whose Dominant Note Was Love of Liberty and Hate of Shams (PDF)

Mark Twain died 100 years ago this week, on April 20, 1910. The following Sunday, the Times ran this remembrance of him on the front page of the Magazine Section.


Written by David

April 23rd, 2010 at 9:05 am

Baden Powell’s Boy Scout Plan Invades America

From April 24, 1910


BADEN POWELL’S BOY SCOUT PLAN INVADES AMERICA: W. B. Wakefield, Who Has Charge of It in England, and Ernest Thompson Seton Will Help Establish It Throughout America (PDF)

I associate the Boy Scouts of America so strongly with Americana in general that I never suspected that scouts began anywhere but in the USA. It turns out that the Scouting Movement was started in England by Baden Powell, the man depicted in the center illustration.

Today the Boy Scouts are the subject of several controversies. For example, they don’t allow atheists or homosexuals as members, and yet they receive support from the Federal Government. The BSA’s ban on gay members is more interesting considering recent speculation that Powell himself may have been a repressed homosexual.


Written by David

April 23rd, 2010 at 9:02 am

The Season of The Treasure Hunt Is On

From April 17, 1910


THE SEASON OF THE TREASURE HUNT IS ON: Searchers for Buried Loot of Pirates Follow the First Signs of Spring Weather (PDF)

Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised to find tales of pirate treasure hunters in the New York Times Magazine, with illustrations that appear to be straight out of Treasure Island, but I was. Here’s an excerpt:

An old Frenchman turned up at Eastport, Me., about thirty years ago. He set about fitting out a little Digby schooner for a mysterious trip. The Frenchman was ignorant… but he had an idea, and a paper which he carefully guarded, and this schooner and this expedition were the culmination of a life dream, and the investment of a life’s hard savings…

A few months later the old Frenchman returned to Eastport, alone and broken-hearted. His schooner had been wrecked… He survived and so did his curious map which, out of the bitterness of his heart, he showed several sympathizers.

It was the map of an island shaped like a spread eagle. Between the wings, on the back toward the neck of the bird, was a circle designating where a great treasure was supposed to be buried. The Frenchman had had this map in his possession for sixty years, and his father and grandfather had had it before him. It had been his dream to save enough to buy a schooner and search for the island that looked like a bird. Now his dream was shattered.

Of course, modern day treasure hunters use GPS, sonar, and other technology, to avoid such fates. And if you don’t happen to have a treasure map, you can always try your hand at geocaching. There’s even an app for that.

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Written by David

April 16th, 2010 at 9:01 am

Posted in Adventure