"Three thousand miles away, and a year and a half in point in time for me, was Long Island Sound. I recalled the last
glimpse of it as I looked back from Greenfield Hill in the early morning of my start . . . It was a rare moment, worth living
for, that first unexpected glimpse of the Pacific. But strangely enough the feeling which it bred was no harbinger of an
eager willingness to end my long experiment. . . . I find a strange indifference to the idea of return . . .in some degree I
recognize in it a vague unwillingness to have done with a phase of experience which for me has opened avenues of useful
The Experiment ended in January 1893 at San Francisco. Walter had completed his education of the
workingman's world, graduating cum laude in our opinion. In all, he traveled through 13 states, visited more than
100 towns and cities, climbed Pike's peak and crossed three mountain passes as well as the Continental Divide.
He lived in a time when writers were attempting to rouse the public awareness of the working mans' condition in
America's new industrial age. Some wrote fiction, some posed as a worker for a week or two, but Walter fully
immersed himself and lived in that grueling routine day and night for a year and a half.
He resumed his graduate studies at Princeton University, where he put his experiences to good use as a lecturer
and then as an assistant professor of Political Economy. He was popular with his students, who gave him the
nickname 'Weary Willie"', an epithet for tramps and hoboes of the time. He didn't relish the title, but accepted it
with grace, making the point that he worked his way cross-country and never sought handouts.
Tragically, he died in 1908, at the young age of 43. Cause of death was a heart aneurysm, whose cause some
acquaintances felt was aggravated by Walter's strenuous Experiment. When I learned of this, even though almost
100 years had passed, the news hit me with the force of losing a favorite uncle.
Our retracement covered three thousand miles and took six weeks in time, although neither were expended on a
day-by-day basis as in Walter's case. We also had "a vague unwillingness to have done with a phase of experience
which, for us, has "opened many avenues of useful knowledge." While not as cosmic an experience as Walter's,
visiting parts of America we normally would not have seen brought a renewed appreciation of the basic values of
this country. On our "scouting mission" through the MidWest in the summer of 2001 and the widespread display
of U.S. flags generated a feeling that all was still well with the U.S. despite the Enlightened Ones sneering at the
Super Patriots who lived in "Flyover Country". When we did our full-scale retracement after 9-11, the attitude,
and the scenery had changed, and we cannot remember one town we visited that wasn't awash in the National
Colors. May someone take this journey in 2102 and find the same state of affairs.