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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

What sport did George Washington and Abraham Lincoln play?

What sport did George Washington and Abraham Lincoln play?

For nearly 300 years, horseshoe pitching has been one of our most popular backyard games.

Up until the early 1900s, all you ever needed to play were four shoes, which you could buy or borrow from any barn or blacksmith shop, two iron stakes, and a willing opponent.

Today, you can buy the whole setup from many retail stores. Almost everyone has played the game at some time in his or her life. Daniel Webster was a famous horseshoe pitcher, as was Abraham Lincoln, while George Washington excelled at quoits.

The origin of horseshoe pitching is somewhat obscure, but the game began in Rome as quoits, with flattened iron rings which were tossed at two stakes projecting one inch from the ground and located eighteen feet apart. Quoits was very popular in the 17th century in England, and in this country during Colonial times. In time, horseshoe pitching became the more popular of the two games.

If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1910, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.