“Pitching horseshoes seems to be very popular in Newton Falls. How did the game begin?” Knowing the popularity of the game in the community made this an interesting question for the Newton Falls Public Library staff. Rules of the Game: the complete illustrated encyclopedia of all the sports of the world by the Diagram Group has the rules and set up for horseshoe pitching. 2009 ESPN Sports Almanac: the definitive sports reference book has information about many sports, including chess, eating, and fishing but nothing about horseshoes. Facts & Dates of American Sports by Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich had some historical information about horseshoes. The first known clubs were in 1892 in Meadville, Pa. and East Liverpool, Oh. Kansas State College (now Kansas State University) held the first pitching tournament in 1905 [p.50].
An online search resulted in some surprises. The 2009 Ohio Senior Olympics Games Regional Horseshoe Tournament was held on Thursday, July 9 at the Newton Falls VFW Post
We also discovered a local question at the website of the professional bowler Walter Ray [www.walterray.com/answers2/horseshoes6.shtml]. Before taking up bowling as a teen, Mr. Ray was a child prodigy horseshoe pitcher [www.imdb.com/name/nm0931908/bio]. A fan from Warren was looking to see if he was going to again attend a Newton Falls horseshoe tournament.
The most detailed information was found at the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association’s website [www.horseshoepitching.com/gameinfo/history.html]. The Association feels that the game has its origins in Ancient Greece. “There is a tradition that the camp followers of the Grecian armies, who could not afford the discus, took discarded horseshoes, set up a stake and began throwing horseshoes at it . . .Following the Revolutionary War, it was said by England's Duke of Wellington that “the War was won by pitchers of horse hardware." The game was very popular with soldiers. “The impetus for the NHPA as we know it today grew out of the throwing of mule shoes in the Union Camps during the Civil War. Courts sprang up in the backyards of Union states.” Rules for the game were established in 1869 in England, but no tournaments held nor records kept until 1909. The first Horseshoe World Championship was held in 1910 in Bronson, Kansas. The championship belt won by W. Frank Jackson had horseshoes attached to it.