THE FAMOUS RACE

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Box 2175, Wenatchee, Washington 98801

In August 1931 the Highway Department decided to celebrate the completion of concrete paving across Langlade County, Wisconsin with a 'wheelbarrow race', and to advertise State Hiway # 26 (now U.S. 45) as a North-South arterial across Wisconsin.

The race was over a 200 mile course from Waupum to Eagle River, Wisconsin, and taking ten days, starting Friday, August 27,1931. The contestants were paid $5.00 per day, and official checker accompanied them all the way and each one represented a town along the highway. The starters were W. L. Crosse for Antigo; Erwin Wahlers for Birnawood; Victor Gunderson for Wittenberg; Paul Calum for Three Lakes; Marcus Dammeier for Ligerton; August Westphal for Marion; Elmer McQueer for Clintonville; Maynard Service for Hortonville; Herbert Anklam for Rosendale; Earl Petts for Eagle River and Erwin Kloen for Picketts, Wisconsin.

By the time the contestants had reached New London, three of them had dropped out, finding it too exhausting. Dammeier led, coming from Waupum in 13 hours and 1 minute. Erwin Wahlers was 2nd and Herbert Anklam of Rosendale was 3rd. Last to arrive was Erwin Kloehn of Picketts, Wisconsin. Earl Petts of Eagle River was the first drop-out and Elmer McQueer of Clintonville, who, was next at Marion; Dammeier was still in the lead, Wahlers was 2nd and Anklam, 3rd. Wahlers led into Birnamwood. When the racers arrived in Antigo, on September 2nd, Wahlers and Anklam still held the lead.

That night the contestants were entertained at the Home Theatre, where all were introduced.

There was a 4-way tie at Three Lakes and the race ended at Eagle River on September 16th. Wahlers won with an average pace of 5.2 miles per hour, with Anklam 2nd, and Calum 3rd place.

The racers found the gravel roads hardest for pushing and the concrete paving hardest on the feet. All wheelbarrows were the old type 'steel wheel' which was common at that time, and rubber-tired ones were almost unknown.

I lived on a farm about three miles North of Wittenberg and saw the wheelbarrow racers go by on the gravel road. Some were going at a fast walk or almost a trot; while others just trudged along on tired feet. The only living members (and that was July 1960) was Erwin Wahlers of Birnamwood, Wisconsin.