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Stunt Travelers

As transportation improved at the end of the nineteenth century, a new class of "stunt travelers" emerged. Probably the best known was Nellie Bly (Elizabeth Cochrane Seaman), one of Joseph Pulitzer's best reporters at the New York World. She won international fame in 1889 and 1890 by outdoing Jules Verne's fictional hero in going around the world in 72 rather than 80 days. (She later visited Nebraska in late 1895 to document drought conditions for a series of World articles.)

Bly's feat was soon surpassed by George Francis Train, who went around the world in 67 days but received far less attention. Train, who had spent part of his early years in Nebraska helping build the Union Pacific Railroad, made his final around-the-world trip in 1892 in just 60 days.

The Nebraska State Journal of September 17, 1894, included notice of stunt travelers who had recently arrived in Lincoln, registering at a local hotel as "Pedestrians around the world in two years; started from San Francisco June 10, 1894. . . .

"Their little tramp is the result of a wager of $10,000 made between the San Francisco Examiner and some wealthy Golden Gate city people to the effect that one could not go around the world in two years, taking the longest route and not begging, borrowing or receiving money on the way. These young gentlemen expect to do it, however. . . . They make their money by selling their photographs and get lodging from hotels by the advertisement they give them."

(September 1998)



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