Winner of a 2004 PNBA Book Award
Synopses & Reviews
Helga Estby and her daughter Clara left Spokane, Washington, in April 1896 to walk to New York City on a $10,000 challenge. The money was needed to prevent foreclosure of their mortgage, hopefully saving the family homestead.
Helga was a Norwegian immigrant who married young, bore nine children, and endured fruitless years on the harsh Minnesota prairie before moving West. She and her husband Ole settled in the little Washington farm town of Rockford, only to be wiped out by the nationwide depression of 1893.
Lured by an offer from a mysterious sponsor, Helga was promised funds if she and her daughter walked unaided and unfinanced all the way to New York City. The women "tramped" the railroad lines through Boise, Salt Lake City, Denver, and Omaha before reaching roads and "civilization" in the Midwest. They walked on through Chicago, Pennsylvania, and finally reached New York. On the arduous journey they faced extreme cold and heat, hunger and exposure, and even shot a man in the leg in self-defense. They met with mayors, governors, and other notables, such as, President-elect McKinley on his porch in Ohio.
On Christmas Eve, 1896, the New York World reported their arrival in New York City. What followed was an American tragedy.
"Linda Hunt's compelling story of one woman's walk across America to save the family farm is a wondrously powerful saga....[she] weaves together from historical remnants and family discards the courageous drama of Helga Estby's walk." Ronald C. White Jr., Author of Lincoln's Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural
Helga Estby left Spokane Washington and walked to NYC on a $10,000 challenge. This remarkable story of hardship and suffering was long lost and only recently discovered by the author. On Christmas Eve, 1896, the New York World reported her arrival. What followed was an American tragedy.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 285-298) and index.