THE 1904 OLYMPICS
The first modern Olympics was held in Athens,
Greece in 1896, and was so  successful that
organizers suggested to permanently hold the 
Games  there.  But after  some debate, it was
planned to hold the competition every four years
in a different  city.

Paris  was the host for the second Olympiad in 1900,
but it was a  considered a failure. France  deemed
athletics a frivolous compared to more academic
concerns such as art and literature.  Hence, badly
needed sports facility updates did not happen.

Olympic  officials wanted to  make  sure than  the
1904 Olympic Games would be a success.  Early on,
New York, Berlin,  and Stockholm  were the
possible cities  to  host the Third Olympiad, but in
1900, London  was considered the forerunner.  During the IOC meetings in 1990, the first American city mentioned was Philadelphia.  Frank Ellis  was  selected to promote the city on the committee. Months later the rumors started to mention Buffalo  as a 1904 Olympic host.

Baron Pierre de Courbetin (the man responsible for  the revival of the modern Olympic Games), announced in November 1900, that the 1904 Games would be either in New York or Chicago. Since New York City did nothing to promote their  city, Chicago easy  became the new forerunner. 

The city of Chicago had won the original bid to host the 1904 Summer Olympics, but Fair president- David Rowland Francis wanted the St. Louis to host  the Olympics. With  a new state of the art facility, he and the  exposition organization lobbied that if St. Louis didn't host the Olympics, they  would put on  a huge show of  sports activities, that  would eclipse the Chicago Olympic Games.

Pierre de Coubertin was put in a difficult position, he preferred the games in Chicago away  from the attention of Francis' World's Fair, but the  founder of the modern Olympic movement, gave in fearing  that the St. Louis Exposition would draw visitors away from the Chicago Games. He was forced to  award the games to St. Louis.  Francis' brilliant maneuvers   wrestled the Olympics from St. Louis'  rival city.

Unfortunately, St. Louis organizers used  the 1900 Summer Olympics in Paris as a template for the 1904 Games.  Competitions were  lost in the chaos of other, more popular cultural exhibits. Fair President David Francis,  opened the Games and, on July 1  himself in a short, scaled-down ceremony.

The Olympics were included under the umbrella of the Fair’s Department of Physical Culture.

Though the Games organizers planned to have an event a  day, the bulk of the athletics events  of the recognized Olympic sports were held from on the six days from, Monday, August 29th to Saturday, September 3rd.  The Olympics were held at  the state of the art Francis  Gym and Francis  Field,  which was the  first concrete stadium in the U. S. (seat capacity- 35,000 spectators).   Swimming events were held at the U. S. Lifesaving Lake located near the corner of Skinker and Forsyth. The  gymnasium equipment was donated by sporting goods magnate Albert Spalding.


Though the St. Louis 1904 Olympics was the third `modern' Olympics held, they were a far  cry  from the slick political Olympics of today.

Most of the classic Olympic events were held (track, wrestling, weightlifting, swimming boxing, etc.), but there were other events such as  tug-of-war, golf, bowling, cricket, and  lawn tennis.

The St. Louis Olympics was the last Olympic Games where the competition centered more on individuals than on nations.


This was the first Olympics where Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals were awarded.


On a few nations outside the United States   entered. American athletes  comprised  500 of the  651 athletes - 645 men and 6 women representing 12 countries.

European participants had  to make a transatlantic voyage plus a long train ride to Missouri to get there, and while  many Europeans envisioned St. Louis as small town on the wilderness frontier, it wasn't difficult to guess that  international participation was slight.

Because of the expense, many of the top atheletes (many from Euope), could not attend the 1904 Olympics.

With little poor international competition, the U.S. took most of the events including 21 of the 22 track and field events.  Second-place Germany won 5 gold medals, while the U.S. won 80. However, only 42 events of the 94  included athletes who were not from the United States.

One of the most bizarre races in the history of the Olympics was the 1904 24-mile marathon that ran through St. Louis County. Despite the 90 plus degree weather, only one water stop was allowed along the way, and only 14 runners finished the race.  Around the nine mile mark in the race,  Fred Lorz  seized up with cramps. He  was picked up by a car, which  broke down after traveling 11 miles.   After his cramps loosened up,  Lorz jogged into the stadium and, to his surprise, was hailed as the winner of the marathon.  Before he was crowned with the olive wreath, the  truth was discovered and the officials awarded  British-born American-  Thomas Hicks the victory in 3:28:53.  During the race,  his trainers gave him several oral  doses of strychnine sulfate mixed into raw egg white (with some brandy as well),  to keep him going.  After the race, it took  four doctor's to get Hick's  into good enough shape just to leave the grounds, before he fell  asleep on a trolley.

Lorz claimed that he It took four doctor's to get him in good enough shape just to leave the grounds, eventually falling asleep on a trolley.
never meant to fool anyone- he just couldn't resist the praise and adulation of the roaring crowd. Banned for life by the AAU, Lorz was reinstated a year later and won the 1905 Boston Marathon.

The marathon included the first two  Africans to compete in the Olympics-
two sideshow Zulu tribesmen named Lentauw and Yamasani (who finished
twelfth).  Lentauw finished ninth  despite being chased nearly a mile
off course by a large aggressive dog.

During the marathon, an accident happened when  two of the patrolling
officials driving in a brand-new automobile was forced to swerve to avoid
hitting one of the runners,  they slid down an embankment and were
severely injured.

George Coleman Poage, running for the Milwaukee Athletic Club became the
first African-American athlete to win medals in a modern Olympics. He won
bronze medals in the 200 and 400-meter hurdles. After the Fair,  games,
Poage settled in St. Louis to teach at Sumner High School.

One of the most remarkable athletes was the American gymnast George
Eyser, who won six medals even though his left leg was made of wood.

At the 1904 Olympics, track competitor Martin Sheridan threw the discus
a record 133 feet and 6.5 inches. The regulation discus at the time weighted 4.5 pounds and was made of wood ringed with steel and weighted in the center with brass-covered lead.

The lowest point to the Game included- "Anthropology Days" which was held on August 12 and 13, 1904.  "Costumed members of the uncivilized tribes" would compete against one another in:  mud fighting, rock throwing, pole climbing, spear throwing, etc. It was nothing more than a sideshow.

In all, the 1894 Olympic Games saw 13 Olympic records and four world records broken.
Lee  Gaskins'   AT THE FAIR  The 1904 St. Louis World's   Fair 
                   Web  Design and Art/Illustration   copyrighted  2008
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Misc.
Archie Hahn winning 60-meter race
Lentauw and Yamasani