Skip Navigation
Falvey Library
You are exploring: Home > Blogs

Not Your Typical River Crossing

Wire-Rope Walker

National Defender, v. VI, no. 2, Tuesday, August 27, 1861, Whole Number: 262, p.[2], col. 4.

Annotated and transcribed text from the digitized copy in the Historical Society of Montgomery County Collection.

The Wire-Rope Performance At Fairmount.

The thousand of curious citizens who visited Fairmount [1] on the last Wednesday afternoon, for the purposes of witnessing the feat of walking a rope stretched across the river Schuylkill, [2] at an elevation of one hundred feet from the surface of the water, were doomed to disappointment. Every preparation appeared to have been made for the performance, but it was finally discovered that the riggers had not fulfilled their part of the contract, and the crowd returned home without having their curiosity gratified. Yesterday afternoon a large number of people again visited the spot and waited patiently until nearly six o’clock, when Mr. John Deiner the performer was enthusiastically cheered.

He was dressed in a flesh-colored suit, fitting him closely, and carried a balancing pole, about twenty feet in length. He started off slowly, and after proceeding a few steps sat down while the side ropes were being properly adjusted. — After some little delay he again took his position, and walked half way across [3] . . . our rope dancers celebrated. He then passed on to the western side of the river and, after reaching a point about one hundred feet from the derrick, [4] retreated backwards to the centre. He here again went through sundry evolutions, and then continued his journey to the eastern side. The performance was highly successful, and seemed to afford great pleasure to the numerous spectators.


[1] “The park grew out of the Lemon Hill estate of Henry Pratt, whose land was originally owned by Robert Morris, signer of the Declaration of Independence. Purchased by the city in 1844, the estate was dedicated to the public by city council’s ordinance on September 15, 1855.” Fairmount Park. Wikipedia. 10 March 2017. <>
[2] “The Schuylkill River got its name, meaning “hidden river,” from Dutch settlers who discovered its mouth sequestered behind the Delaware River’s League Island. ” “Along the Schuylkill River” Schuylkill River National & State Heritage Area. Pottstown, PA. 10 March 2017. <>
[3] A crease in the newspaper page obscured the text.
[4] “a type of crane (= machine with a part like a long arm) used for moving heavy things esp. on ships” derrick n. Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press. 10 March 2017. <>





No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment


Last Modified: March 15, 2017

Ask Us: Live Chat
Back to Top