Midsummer Folly and a Wheelbarrow

Brownsville Herald (Brownsville, Texas) Aug 2, 1949

Midsummer Folly

This being the socalled silly season, we are moved to interest in Larry Hightower, cowboy poet, who has started to push a wheelbarrow around the world. He expects to consume the nest 12 years in this useless task. Of course everyone should have a purpose in life and if one’s purpose is to trundle a wheelbarrow 25,000 miles or more, we wish him success. To those of us who hate to push a lawnmower around a yard once a week, this man’s self-imposed stunt seems the acme of foolishness if foolishness has any acme. Yet we wonder if a lot of us aren’t just as foolish without realizing it.

Many of us are pushing wheelbarrows, figuratively speaking. We are trundling a load of unnecessary worries up hill and occasionally butting our heads against stone walls. We are loading ourselves down with self-imposed burdens and hoping someone else will lighten the load. Many of us are pursuing the wrong path, keeping the wheelbarrow wheel in a rut, so to speak, when we ought to go ahead and reconnoiter along the road and see if we shouldn’t make a turn somewhere. Oh, well, if Larry wants to push a wheelbarrow around the world for a dozen years back to where he started that’s his business. On a rough road with plenty of cream he could churn some butter while he’s a-wheeling. Maybe he isn’t much more foolish than some others. The broad highway is filled with all kinds of wheels within wheels.

Syracuse Herald Journal (Syracuse, New York) July 15, 1946

Edwardsville Intelligencer (Edwardsville, Illinois) Mar 16, 1950

Wheelbarrow Express Starts Up Pike’s Peak Despite Falling Snow

Colorado Springs, Colo., March 11 — (AP) — Larry Hightower an his “Wheelbarrow Express” began the 62 mile round trip to the summit of Pikes Peak at 8 a.m. today despite falling snow and scorning grim legends of death and disaster to winter travelers atop the peak.

Hightower is the Ellensburg, Wash., man who started pushing a wheelbarrow on July 4, 1846 and has since pushed it a total of 18,212 miles through 48 states, five Canadian provinces, Mexico and Guatemala.

“I’ve seen worse weather than this,” he commented drily abut the snow which had started falling during the night. “I’ll make it if it takes all winter.”

He carries a supply of food which includes crackers, sardines, some GI emergency rations and a thermus jug of coffee.

He has only one blanket, but wears four shirts, two pairs of trousers and four pairs of gloves.

He said he will release a red flare if he gets into danger. On reaching the summit he will set off four flares to announce his arrival.

If he gets stuck for the night in the higher altitude where there are no houses, he said, he will dig a burrow in the snow and hole up. For warmth, he said, he will depend on a flask of partly filled with sand, into which he will pour wood alcohol, making a tiny stove.

He estimated it would take him from six to eight days to make the trip.

Greeley Daily Tribune (Greeley, Colorado) Mar 11, 1950

PIKE’S PEAK SUMMIT, Colo. (UP) — Larry Hightower, the only man to push a wheelbarrow to the top of Pike’s peak, left the deserted summer house and started back to Colorado Springs Thursday.

It took him five days to reach the top of the 14,110-foot mountain. Going down, he figured it would take about two days to cover the 26 miles.

Idaho State Journal (Pocatello, Idaho) Mar 16, 1950

BOISE, (UP) — Wheelbarrow Trundler Larry Hightower headed west again Saturday after obtaining Gov. C.A. Robins’ signature on a treasured Washington state flag.

The wiry Ellensburg, Wash., World War I veteran said he would try to make Pendleton, Ore., within the next 20 days. But he won’t hurry.
After all, he said, he’s been on the road more than four years — walking every foot of the way. So a few more days, or weeks, are of little importance.

Hightower caught Gov. Robins in his office late Friday after making an unsuccessful first try at getting hte chief executive’s signature on a flag which already has the names of 13 governors on it.

Hightower and his “Irish baby buggy” arrived here Thursday night after a tough trip across the Southern Idaho desert. The wheelbarrow survived the heat well, but Hightower had several blisters atop blisters before he reached the sanctuary here.

IN HIS carefully kept log book, the deeply suntanned wheelbarrow pusher chalked up his 19,448th mile. He explained that his tour since he left Ellensburg has taken him through most states of the nation and several countries of Central America.

Hightower, who lives on a government veteran’s pension, wore out 19 pairs of shoes and 1217 pairs of socks on his trip. He wears levis and a cotton suntan shirt most of the time. A pair of gloves helps absorb some of the punishment of pushing the 120-pound ‘barrow, into which are neatly piled all of his belongings.

HE SAID the idea of setting a world record for wheelbarrow travel struck him about five years ago.

“Men have accomplished many things, but no one picked a wheelbarrow for something like this,” Hightower said. “I picked the most primitive type of travel — a one-wheeled vehicle.”

HE CALLS HIMSELF a “messenger of good will,” and has delivered 332 lectures in schools, colleges and other institutions on Americanism.

“I’ve been trying to get across the idea that the American way of life is the best in the world,” Hightower said.

When asked how he managed to live on just a pension, he replied:

“You can’t throw a whingding, but you get by  somehow.”

Hightower hasn’t made up his mind whether he’ll go back to Ellensburg and settle down or not. He thought for a while of traveling to Hawaii or perhaps the Phillippines, but the Korean was situation has soured him on making a trip across the Pacific.

“Guess I’ll just mosey along and see how things turn out,” he said.

Idaho State Journal (Pocatello, Idaho) Aug 20 1950

Long Beach Independent (Long Beach, California) Aug 27, 1947

Walla Walla Union Bulletin (Walla Walla, Washington) Sep 28, 1950

Wheelbarrow Valued Highly

MOSES LAKE (AP) — Someone else is pushing Larry Hightower’s wheelbarrow and the former Ellensburg cowboy doesn’t like it.

It’s the one he pushed up Pike’s Peak on the jaunt that took him through the western United States and into Mexico and Canada. The one-wheeler turned up missing Thursday night, he complained to police.

Police should have no trouble identifying it. It has two headlights powered by a generator, a radio aerial topped by an American flag and the base is painted red, the interior white and the outside blue.

It’s worth a lot to Hightower, too: $40,000 was the estimate he gave police.

The cowboy said he suspects two juveniles.

Tri City Herald (Pasco, Washington) Jul 23, 1954

*****

Idaho Family Girl is (at least was – searching for her great-grandfather’s log books) to put in a museum. Read more HERE.

Recent post by Idaho Family Girl with more pictures.

Footage of Larry Hightower pushing his wheelbarrow on youtube:

Larry the Wheelbarrow Pusher

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