For fun and profit



About: A fictional story with some truths about true events with some fiction. An epic film treatment of some epic history that follows an ensemble of characters from around the world to and through the St. Louis Louisiana Purchase Exposition (World’s Fair) and the infamous marathon race of the simultaneously held 3rd modern Olympic Games of 1904.

The night before the olympic marathon, characters from the fair and the race collide at a real shooting on the Pike (the entertainment district of the fair). After a false accusation and a night on the lam, we follow one of our protagonists through the fair’s elaborate city by way of a police chase. Running and jumping through the temples of industry and culture, scale model recreations of cities, mountains and villages from around the world, cutting back and forth to the marathon runners literally running for their lives through heat, hills, dogs, dust and an intentional lack of water. There’s cheating and underdogs and underdog performances in both races.

The scene of the crime.
The fairgrounds of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition — the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair — are open for business as visitors approach Festival Hall.
Downtown Saint Louis, Missouri around the time of the Fair.
The Pike was the main thoroughfare of amusement concessions at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition.


While all this is going on we get a different perspective following our other protagonist as she accompanies presidential daughter and trouble-maker Alice Roosevelt through the fair. We see the cultural exhibits of the fair and the history, present, and future of our country the fair organizers were purporting at the turn of the century. America was trying to reinvent and reunite itself after the civil war, and the popular world fairs at the time were a good way to do it. The fair organizers had brought people and cultures from around the world and literally put them on display for the the fairgoers to point and laugh and feel bolstered and a common pride in feeling superior than the “savages.” What brings people together better than a little Imperialism?

That caption, ugh.
Celebrity daughter and troublemaker Alice Roosevelt’s visit to the Fair was an attraction of its own.

Wrap it up

The characters all convene at the finish line of the Marathon. Cheats are revealed for who they are. White supremacists are taken down a peg. The poor inherit the earth. Love prevails. We’ve laughed. We’ve cried. We’ve been able to see the incredible world of wonders the Fair built. The cities, people, clothing, and technology of 1904 brought to life in living color on the big (or little, I’m not picky) screen.

This is a work in progress. It was conceived and attempted to be compressed down to a movie. But the quantity of stories that could be told about the Fair and the Olympics might better be told serialized over many installments.

Historic Background: The Marathon & Olympics

Marathon competitors at the starting line.

Fred Lorz

Fred was the first to enter the arena at the end of the race, the crowd cheered. He almost accepted the victory wreath before someone pointed out that he rode half the course in a car and just ran in after hopping out at the end. He said it was just a prank.

Thomas Hicks

Hicks’ trainers were kind enough to carry him over the finish line in 1st place. Also nice enough to give him booze, raw eggs, and strychnine. Would have been even nicer if they gave him water.
(see Sullivan below)

Felix Carvajal

Cuban Carvajal raised his own money to get to St. Louis. He got to New Orleans and lost it all in a craps game. He hoofed and hitchhiked and got to the starting line just in time, albeit in plainclothes. Someone cut his shirt and pants and he was off. Considering the conditions, and how few people finished the race, Carvajal did well finishing fourth. Amazing to think how he would have done if he hadn’t fallen ill and slept in an orchard for hours.

Jan & Len

Len Tau and Jan Mashiani are Tswana tribesmen from the Republic of South Africa who fought along with the Boers in the Boer War and then, surprisingly soon after, came to St. Louis to re-enact battles with other soldiers as part of the Boer War attraction in the fair. Len came in 9th place, he probably would have dome much better had wild dogs not chased him a mile off-course.

James Sullivan

Director of Physiology at the Fair, Organizer of the Olympic Games, and amateur sociopath. He used the games to conduct experiments of his pseudo-science physiologic beliefs like “purposeful dehydration”. Which is why there was on one watering station on the entire Marathon route.

Frederick Winters

Weightlifters helped Felix and gave him a place to stay. But honestly, I’m including this just because I love that picture.
(Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)

Anthropology Days

Anthropology Days at the Olympics = real racism + pseudo science

Historic Background: The fair

Nationwide billboards not underselling it.
The temporary palaces, lagoons, and waterfalls built for the Fair.
The sunken gardens. This shot gives a good sense of the scale of these structures.
Jessie Tarbox-Beals was a badass. A female photographer when there were zero. She wasn’t allowed a press pass, but she persisted and was quite prolific and daring in her work.
I get it. With the St. Louis summer heat and those clothes, just wheel me around.
Bust of Teddy Roosevelt, made of butter.
The ferris wheel at the Saint Louis World’s Fair turns as the largest wheel in 1904. (Photo by H.C. White/Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)
At the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in Saint Louis, Missouri, a view of the Natural History Fossil Exhibit with the model of a whale and skeletons of several dinosaurs. The Smithsonian coordinated all of the United States Government exhibits and prepared a display on its activities and collections for the exposition.(Smithsonian Institution)
Exhibit of historic locomotive engines in the Palace of Transportation A number of locomotives from nineteenth century England and America were on display in the Palace of Transportation at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. 1904
An Exciting skirmish in the Battle of Colenso, Boer War, World’s Fair, St. Louis, 1904. Underwood & Underwood / Library of Congress
South Lagoon from Grand Basin Westward © 2006, Missouri Historical Society.
Wedding photograph at the top of the DeForest Wireless Telegraph Tower The bride and groom pose for their wedding photograph at the top of the DeForest Wireless Telegraph Tower at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition — the 1904 World’s Fair. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Violet E. Ingle and Alfred M. Landers, both from Worden, Illinois, were married on June 12, 1904 at the highest platform of the tower by the Rev. Dr. B.C. Palmer, pastor of Lafayette Presbyterian Church in St. Louis. The top of the 300 foot tower was a popular attraction at the fair. 1904-06
Group of Bontoc-Igorrotes “Head-Hunters”. [Louisiana Purchase Exposition]. World’s Fair Presentation Album 9, plate 641a. Photograph by Jessie Tarbox Beals, 1904. Missouri Historical Society Photographs and Prints Collections. NS 34126. Scan © 2006, Missouri Historical Society.
An Arctic Village – Eskimos among their topeks (tents) and snow-igloo (right), World’s Fair, St. Louis, U.S.A. (LOC)
Palace of Transportation. [Louisiana Purchase Exposition]. LPE 1617. Photograph by the Official Photographic Company, 1904. Missouri Historical Society Photographs and Prints Collections. WF 1279. Scan (c) 2004, Missouri Historical Society.

On the Pike

The Pike. The entertainment and amusement district of the fair
1904 World’s Fair On the Pike at East Entrance Mysterious Asia and Under and Over the Sea Attractions. The east entrance of the Pike with the statue Cowboys Shooting Up a Western Town by Frederick Remington at left center, Akoun’s Mysterious Asia attraction in the left background and the Under and Over the Sea attraction on the right. Mysterious Asia was a representation of life in India, Burma, Persia and Ceylon and required a 15 cent admission. Under and Over the Sea represented a trip to Paris in a submarine, a return in an airship and required a 50 cent admission. – Missouri Historical Society

Mysterious Asia attraction
(Photo by: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Hagenbeck’s trained elephant “shooting the chutes,” the Pike, World’s Fair, St. Louis, MO – New York Public Library
Naval battle reenactments
Sinhalese dancers pose with elephants at the Mysterious Asia concession on the Pike
Tyrolean Alps on the Pike. Bonkers.
Baby incubator concession open to the public on the Pike. Dear god.