Thursday, January 19, 2017

Snow Shoes

Living in Florida we don't have any need for snowshoes. However, the temps this past week have been low enough that if there were rain we might just have snow. Which led me to this post this little tidbit about snowshows, enjoy. Below is an excerpt from "The Tribune Book of Open Air Sports" by Henry Hall ©1887

The snowshoe and toboggan might readily be called twins of the snow. The snowshoe is the only contrivance ever invented to facilitate walking on soft snow, and probably never will bo surpassed. It was formerly in universal use among the American Indians, and the Esquimaux and Laplanders still use the shoe to-day. Some of the tribes in Central Asia also employ it. Travellers have found the snowshoc all through the North of Europe and in Siberia and Tartary.
The American shoe is made of a piece of light ash, about half an inch thick, bent to a long oval, and fastened closely with cat-gut where the two ends meet. A strip of flat wood is fitted across the the frame about four inches from the large end, and other pieces about two feet from the ends, to give it spring and strength. The interior of this framework is woven with cat-gut, which allows the shoe to press on the snow without sinking. A hole about four inches square is left behind the centre of the front cross-bar for the partial protrusion of the toes in lifting the heel. The centre bears the weight of the body. The Indian shoe measures from two to six feet in length, and from thirteen to twenty inches in width ; but for club races it has been reduced to the regulation measurement of not less than ten inches in width, without limitation as to length. A short, broad shoe is preferable for the forest or long tramps on soft snow. The Indian's shoo was always broad, adapted for the chase. Some of the tribes turned up the shoe at the toe.
A member of the Montreal Snowshoe Club applied the shape of the poinied turned-up too of thei shoe used by the Sioux to that made tand used by the Iroquois; and this modification is now the shoe in general use. Moccasins are worn on the feet, and by means of an ingenious tie, also introdued by the Montreal Club, the snowshoes can be slipped on and off with greatest case.
To the accomplished snowshoer walking is a delightful pastime. He tramps over fields and buried fences unmindful of drifts or obstructions. In all Canadian cities there are numerous snowshoe clubs that take weekly tramps in costume. Baces and sports are also carried on on these shoes. In the Western parts of our own country the snowshoe is much used. It is said that the most expert runner, "Snowshoc Thompson,'' once made 1,600 feet in 22 seconds, and he is also said to have jumped into a snow-drift from a height of 180 feet.

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