A vintage photograph showing a man sitting in a wagon with a large team of dogs in front

Photo courtesy John B. McDonald

Texas has always attracted its share of odd people, and Bill Brown was no exception. Brown, shown here with his team of “sled dogs” in Tulia on July 22, 1913, told reporters he was a noted sled-dog driver who had bet a group of wealthy miners in Nome, Alaska, $10,000 that he could drive his dog sled from Nome to all 48 state capitals within six years. Newspaper accounts of Brown span from Pennsylvania through Kansas and New Mexico and into Texas, where his route took him from the Panhandle to San Marcos. Brown walked alongside the sled while the dogs pulled. He supported himself by selling souvenir photos like this one, taken by an unknown photographer, and by speaking about the places he’d been. Whether or not his tale was true, Brown was in Maine—his 48th state—by early January 1915. The Bangor Daily News reported that he expected to reach Washington, D.C., in May, having allegedly traveled 26,000 miles in roughly three years. Interestingly, there doesn’t appear to be any record of Brown making it to Washington, D.C., or collecting his money.

Know of any fascinating vintage Texas photographs? Send copies or ideas to [email protected].

From the November 2023 issue

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