July 21, 1914: Chimney climber lands in hospital, wins bet

  • Blog Post by: Ben Welter
  • August 15, 2015 - 6:35 PM
On a friendly wager, a Minneapolis man set a blistering pace in the vertical portion of an unusual duathlon: an 8-mile run followed by a 75-foot chimney climb. From the Tribune:

Chimney Climber Wins
a Marathon-Like Race

Runs From St. Paul; Scales Chimney; Wins Bet; Faints

Albert Williams, Blistered by Hot Stack, Falls to Ground – In Hospital
A photo illustration accompanied the story.

Albert Williams, 3805 Thirtieth avenue south, is just as good a long distance runner and high climber as he said he was. He proved it yesterday.

Williams and his friend, Lewis Otterman, Tenth avenue and Third street north, were discussing various feats of strength and endurance. Williams told him of some of the things he had done. Otterman was inclined to scoff.

“I'll tell you what I'll do,” said Williams, “if you want to risk any money, I'll bet you $50 I can run from the St. Paul courthouse to the Milwaukee shops at Twenty-second street and Minnehaha avenue, climb that 75-foot smokestack there, walk twice around the top of it, and then come down.”

He Takes the Bet.

“It can't be done,” said Otterman, “but I'll take that fifty away from you. It will be easy money.”

Williams went to St. Paul yesterday. With him he took a professional running suit. He started from the courthouse with plenty of witnesses and he dog-trotted to Minneapolis with friends in an automobile seeing that he didn't do any backsliding.

He was pretty tired and hot when he got to the Milwaukee shops, but he shinnied right up that chimney. Near the top of the chimney it was tremendously hot, Williams found out. He walked around the top twice, but his legs and arms were badly blistered.

He got only about half-way down the chimney on the last and final feat when he fell, dazed by the heat. No bones were broken, shop employes and Williams' friends found, and he said himself he wasn't hurt.

Collapsed in Stationhouse.

To get his blistered legs and arms treated, he walked to Dr. J.K. Moen's office, 2620 East Lake street. His burns were attended, and then the doctor took him to the Sixth precinct police station. Williams collapsed there, and he was taken to the City hospital.

He is said to be suffering from shock and heat. But he collected the money.

Milwaukee Road shops
The Milwaukee Road rail yard in south Minneapolis in February 1951. The shop smokestack is at left. (Minneapolis Tribune photo)

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