The Games at a Glance
*Participants, who at the time were considered ‘US athletes’, but were not US citizens.
Track & Field
Tug of war
Creve Coeur Lake
Francis Field House
Glen Echo Country Club
July 29-30, 1904
September 19-21, 1904
August 29-September 3, 1904
August 2-5, 1904
November 16-23, 1904
July 1-2, 1904
July 2-7, 1904
August 3-8, 1904
August 29-September 3, 1904
August 31-September 1, 1904
September 1-3, 1904
October 14-15, 1904
September 21-22, 1904
September 7, 1904
September 7, 1904
September 5, 1904
September 5-6, 1904
September 17-24, 1904
St. Louis introduced diving as an Olympic event. Pictured is German diver Alfred Braunschweiger, whose diving style resulted in a controversy over third place. He refused a dive-off and came in fourth place. After further review, the IOC awarded him the bronze medal in 1905. Boxing, freestyle wrestling and decathlon also made their Olympic debut in St. Louis. Basketball was a demonstration sport. Image courtesy Missouri History Museum.
St. Louis was the first Olympic Games to award the gold medal. The Olympic dream of 'Going for the Gold' originated in St. Louis. The St. Louis gold medals are the only ones made of 100% gold.
Etiénne Desmarteau won the gold in the 56 pound weight throw, beating James Flannigan by less than two inches. A Montreal policeman, he was fired after taking a leave of absence to compete in St. Louis. After news hit Canada of his gold medal, Desmarteau came home to a hero's welcome…and his job restored. The Ettiénne Desmarteau Center in Montreal, built for the 1976 Montreal Olympics, is named in his honor. Image courtesy Missouri History Museum.
George Poage was the first African-American to compete and medal in the Olympics. He took Bronze in the 200 and 400 meter hurdles. After the Games, George remained in St. Louis, becoming head of the English Literature department at Sumner High School. Image courtesy Missouri History Museum.
Considered the best athlete in the word, Irishman Tom Kiely refused offers from British athletic clubs, traveling to St. Louis at his own expense. Upon arrival in the U.S., Kiely further refused offers from the New York Irish Athletic Club. Kiely wanted to compete for Ireland. A monument stands today in his hometown of Ballyneale, Tipperary. Image source unknown
The feel-good story of the 1904 Games. Confined to a wheelchair at age seven with polio, Ray tried a new treatment called plyometrics (physical therapy). Ray exercised for ten hours a day until he could walk, run and finally jump. In 1904, Ray won three gold medals. In his Olympic career, Ray won a total of eight gold medals in eight attempts. Image courtesy Missouri History Museum.
This Cuban marathon runner charmed spectators and fellow athletes, and became a media darling. Felix proved that America would embrace and support foreign competitors. Image courtesy Missouri History Museum.
The 19,000-seat Olympic stadium at Francis Field was one of the first and largest reinforced concrete structures in the world. The method was the latest construction technology. The 1/3 mile track was level, broad and covered in cinders. It was considered the finest running track in the world. Image courtesy Missouri History Museum.
When the Buffalo Inquirer photographer came to St. Louis, she found herself without proper press credentials. Unable to get access, Jessie made use of candid photography, shot from atop ladders and hot air balloons, capturing the most imaginative and striking images of the World’s Fair. Jessie is credited with most of the photographs of the Olympic Games. In doing so, she was an early pioneer in documentary and action photography. Image source unknown
At the 1904 Games, Charles M. Daniels became America’s first swimmer to win an Olympic medal. He invented the “American crawl” stroke, which became the modern-day freestyle. At the time he retired in 1911, he had won 8 Olympic medals and set just about every swimming record from 100-yards to the mile.
Tsuana tribesmen Len Tau (left) and Jan Mashiani (right) were the first Olympic athletes from the African continent. Image courtesy Missouri History Museum.
Runners leaving Francis Field at the start of the Marathon. Frank Pierce #9, far left, is from the Nez Perce tribe in Seneca, NY. Image courtesy Missouri History Museum.
Matilda Howell of Cincinnati, Ohio was the first US woman awarded a gold medal, winning three in St. Louis. She won two individual and a team gold. In her career, Matilda had won seventeen national titles. Her scores in the 1895 championship set records which were not broke until 36 years later in 1931.
The rowing events at Creve Coeur Lake were a thrilling event for the 5,000 spectators who made the journey from the city. The gold medal race for the mens' eight saw three lead changes, with an exhausted Canadian team edged at the last minute by the U.S. Image courtesy Missouri History Museum.
Gold-medalist Charles Dvorak, USA. In 1904 he set an Olympic record of 3.50 meters. Charles was the first pole-vaulter to use more flexible bamboo poles in the Paris Olympics. Image courtesy Missouri History Museum.
Tennis player and St. Louis resident Dwight Davis (right) took fourth place in the Olympic Games. He helped found the International Tennis Competition—the Davis Cup. Image source unknown
Hungary sent an official commendation to the St. Louis organizers, praising the U.S. athletes' treatment of Hungarian runner Belo De Mezo. Belo, not understanding English, jumped to a false start during a heat and was disqualified. Realizing the language barrier, U.S. athletes pleaded with the official to rerun the race. Image courtesy Missouri History Museum.
“Winning by 49 and one-fifth seconds! An Olympic record!” is the famous call by Charles Harvey. St. Louis was the first Olympic Games to use an announcer to call the events and broadcast results to the crowd. Harvey was instrumental in helping the crowd understand the events. Image courtesy Missouri History Museum.
Lambert played on the US Golf team in the 1900 Paris and 1904 St. Louis Olympics where he won a silver medal. Lambert was a co-founder of Glen Echo Country Club in 1901. He was also an aviation pioneer, establishing the first airfield in the St. Louis area. St. Louis-Lambert Int'l is the only major international airport named after an Olympian. Image source unknown
Gymnast George Eyser earned six medals in one day, including three gold and two silver medals. Eyser competed with a wooden prosthesis for a left leg, having lost his real leg after being run over by a train. Despite his disability, he won gold in the vault, an event which did not include a springboard. Eyser, a gymnast with Concordia Turnerverein, helped the club win the 1908 international meet in Frankfurt, Germany, and the 1909 national meet in Cincinnati, Ohio.