Thoreau’s Snowshoes

Penobscot, Old Town area, Maine, about 1853
Ash, maple, deer rawhide, trade cloth
Gift of Cummings E. Davis or George Tolman (before 1909) Th26ab

Henry Thoreau bought these shoes in Maine and tried them in Concord in December, 1853, in the midst of a heavy snowfall he measured with his two-foot rule. He later noted of his tracks: “Though they pressed the snow down four or five inches, they consolidated it, and it now endures and is two or three inches above the more general level.” Thoreau used the snowshoes on occasion, though he did not use them habitually.

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