I ran across this on the Library of Congress’s Flickr Commons photostream today and got curious. Although the original caption suggests that Bryant and King’s record was set “on ice,” the wheels on the skates the men are wearing make me skeptical–as does the background material on the Frank Bryant collection at the Northeast Minnesota Historical Center.
So, here goes: From 1913-1916, Duluthian Frank Bryant was a dominant competitive roller skater, holding a world championship in speed skating. The photo here depicts the 25 year-old Michigan native with St. Paulite Kelly, with whom he set a world record distance of 348 miles for a 24-hour two-man relay event–the Minnesotan pair’s performance eclipsed the previous 203-mile mark set just two weeks earlier in New York. A knee injury in 1916 apparently ended his high-level skating career, but he continued skating competitively into the late 1920s. Bryant worked for Duluth’s Union Towing and Wrecking Company for 32 years, retiring in 1955; he died in 1961.