This enjoyable story has been provided by 91-year-old Orval Madden, now residing in Springfield, MO. We now know that horseshoe pitching existed, if only for a while, at Yankton College in South Dakota, in the mid 1930's.


Presented by Orval James Madden

I read your article in the Newsline pertaining to "Horseshoe in College." You may be interested in the following.

My home was at a little town, Worthing, South Dakota, population 200. We had two horseshoe pitchers in town who have been state champions and watching them play got me interested in pitching horseshoes. Those days, the players did not give out much information, as to how to hold the shoe, what turn to make, etc. I took up the ¾ turn which limited me in how far I could improve.

I went to Yankton College which was the oldest college in South Dakota. We had a fellow who had played Horseshoes in the World Tournament by the name of Giovanvi Colao and he organized a tournament made up of college players. Calao and I laid out two courts under the football stadium; nothing fancy. We had no sand, so we used dirt, slightly moistened. The first tournament was in 1934; won by Colao. Then in 1935, the second tournament was held with 32 players signing up. Calao and I set it up with only Yankton students eligible. In the pairings, you had to win two out of three games. The tournament was much talked of on campus. A faculty member donated a gold medal. I won the tournament and was presented the medal in front of the entire student body.

yankton Horseshoes was becoming popular and Colao and I tried to play other schools but they were not interested. For the year 1936, we were going to make up several teams and play horseshoe clubs in the near by towns, but Calao and I left school. I transferred to Morningside College in Sioux City and so for a lack of leadership, there was no more horseshoes at Yankton.

I have been a member of the NHPA for over 20 years and have won my class in the World Tournament two times and finished 3rd in the 40-foot championship of age 70 and over.

We moved from Iowa to California and last year moved to Springfield, Missouri. I am now 90 years old.

I am enclosing the tournament pairing for 1935. The medallion was purchased in 1934 and dated as such, but I won it in 1935.
Yankton bracket
This tournament meant a lot to Mr. Madden. He still has that medallion also. Thank you Orval, for this interesting story; and to the rest of you readers, there are many other stories like this one from our yesterday. If you have one, mail it to Bob Dunn, 6417 Georgia Ave No, Brooklyn Park, MN 55428.


There are a few history buffs scattered around the country, probably more than we realize. These individuals crave the time spent in libraries and history centers reeling through miles of micro-film of old newspapers articles, looking for bits and pieces of our sports history and the now and then finding of a lost tournament.

A major problem is that the researcher is limited to the area around where the individual lives. I am trying to expand research capabilities by developing a history researcher roster; a network where one person can contact others and request some support on specific research tasks.

If you are interested and willing to help out other history researchers, please get in touch and provide your address, phone number, and e-mail address if you have one.