A Woman Walks Across America
On the 5th of May in 1896 a Spokane woman, Helga Estby, headed eastward along the railroad tracks intending to reach the town of Mica by the end of the day. She was taking up a challenge from “the fashion industries,” who offered to pay $10,000 if she would walk from Spokane to the east coast.
Finances were tight for the Norwegian-American and her family and she saw this as the only way to save their farm. And so Helga, accompanied by her teen-aged daughter, Clara, left behind her other eight children and started walking eastward.
This astonishing story is the subject of a recent book by Linda Lawrence Hunt called Bold Spirit: Helga Estby’s Forgotten Walk Across Victorian America (2003.)
I won’t tell you any more of the details of this expedition, some exhilarating and some tragic. You must read it for yourself. It’s a laugh-and-cry sort of book, suspenseful, gratifying, heartbreaking, unputdownable.
With thanks to Vickie Munch for telling me about this first-rate book.