The experts predicted that the man vs. horse tug-of-war organized in Waterloo, Oregon back in 1947 would be no contest at all. The man, 225-pound Chester Fitzwater, was lying on the ground, his feet braced against a wood block. To win, he simply had to remain in place for three minutes. The horse, Big Baldy, was said not to have a chance.
Scientists Favor Man
Dr. Raymond T. Ellickson, physics professor at Reed College in Portland, estimated 1900-pound Baldy would have to exert about 16,000 pounds worth of effort to up-end Fitzwater.
Ellickson figured it would take a 3000-pound pull just to get the long rope taut, and then Baldy would have only an angle of 1 degree from the horizontal to pull against.
Other scientists advised about the same, and an even more discouraging report—for old Baldy—came from rope dealers. They said the one-inch rope would break at approximately 9000 pounds of pull—far short of the 16,000 Dr. Ellickson believes necessary.
It took about a second for Big Baldy to prove the experts wrong. As soon as the rope tightened, "Fitzwater lurched into the air, knocked over a photographer and some spectators, and crashed into the mud."
Several other brawny men subsequently challenged the horse to the same contest, believing they would last longer. They didn't.
The News-Review (Roseburg, Oregon) - Dec 12, 1947
The News-Review (Roseburg, Oregon) - Dec 15, 1947