Man vs. Horse, 1947

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

     Posted By: Alex - Tue Jul 28, 2015
     Category: Sports | 1940s

Smart. If I was going to bet, I would have bet on the horse, and I would have advised everyone else DON'T bet on the horse. That should boost the odds in my favor. 😉
Posted by tadchem on 07/28/15 at 01:01 PM
Apparently the ordeal made Mr. Fitzwater lose 5 pounds in 3 days.
Posted by tadchem on 07/28/15 at 01:05 PM
Remind me not to take Ellickson's physics course at Reed College.
Posted by KDP on 07/28/15 at 02:05 PM
A 1" manila rope has a minimum breaking strength of 8,100 LBf and 300' weighs about 77 LB. (In case someone wants to do the math.) Even if the horse was just leaning his full weight into it, the man would be holding back 1,900 LB with his legs. Some plow horses can pull three times their weight.
Posted by BMN on 07/28/15 at 05:52 PM
Even in this day and age where draft horses & pulling are just a hobby I've seen two horses outpull a seriously large John Deere. Think Clydesdale and if you've never been up close to one go do some Googling and look at the pictures.
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 07/28/15 at 11:31 PM
Another fine example of if an engineer can put it on paper, it must be so.
Oh, how many times has a new design failed miserably.
Posted by GFnKS on 08/03/15 at 03:41 PM
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