|ON THE TRAIL OF WALTER A. WYCKOFF
|A Geographical Detective Story
|By Albert and Phyllis Krause
|Courtesy the Comtois Collection
|IN MEMORY OF
WALTER AUGUSTUS WYCKOFF
1888 - 1908
A Christian scholar * A lover of mankind *An adventurous traveler who wrote out of his
own experience * Taught for thirteen years in Princeton University with his heart in
his message and died in peace and welldoing. * His classmates and friends make this
record of honour and affection.
Plaque raised in the eastern archway of Pyne Hall, Princeton, N.J. 1921
|"He was going forth to eat as the wanderer may eat, and sleep as the homeless sleep."
|--Stephen Crane, "An Experiment in Misery"
On a pleasant July morning in 1891, Walter Augustus Wyckoff (Princeton '88) left his comfortable upper
class surroundings in Black Rock, Connecticut, walked across America and began earning his living as an
unskilled laborer. Eighteen months later in San Francisco, California he concluded his "Experiment in
In the following years, in between other adventures, he taught Political Economics at Princeton
University, wrote of his Experiment in Scribner's Magazine (which became three best selling books)
and gave numerous well-received lectures describing his experiences.
I felt like I had lost favorite uncle when I learned that he died of a heart aneurysm in 1908 at the
young age of 44 and was buried in Princeton, New Jersey. He crammed more adventure and travel
into his short life than a dozen men would have in their allotted time. (We are dealing with only his
best known venture.) His light faded in the 1930s and his work, except for an occasional quote, has
remained in the shadows since then. This website is an attempt to shine a little light in that neglected
Between July and September 2003, my wife and I retraced Walter's trail from beginning to end as my
personal tribute to him. Read why we made this pilgrimage, by reading the full-blown introduction and
then join us as we retrace that adventure 110 years later. We don't believe anyone has the stamina to
go through this entire website at one sitting, therefore navigation is by maps and we've tried to make it
intuitive and easy. Forward or backward movement is controlled by the respective arrows at the foot of
the page, "HOME" will take you from a town to the respective state page, "HOME" from the state will
take you to the Eastern or Western trails and from there "HOME" will take you back here. When at the
National, Eastern, or Western maps, click on a state for a short cut. At the state level, click on the town.
If you've been here before, click any of the below to quickly pick up where you left off.
About every other upgrade to a browser skews the narrative to the point that it overlays in some parts. I have
gone through five permutations trying to keep things readable, but it sometimes takes a while to catch up.