1904 Summer Olympics

The 1904 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the III Olympiad, was an international multi-sport event which was celebrated in St. Louis, Missouri, United States from August 29 until September 3, 1904, as part of an extended sports program lasting from July 1 to November 23, 1904,located at what is now known as Francis Field on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis. It was the first time that the Olympic Games were held outside Europe. Boxing, the oldest combat sport, was introduced.[2]

Games of the III Olympiad
Advertisement for the 1904 Summer Olympics and the Louisiana Purchase Exposition
Host citySt. Louis, Missouri, United States
Athletes651 (645 men, 6 women)
Events95 in 16 sports (17 disciplines)
OpeningJuly 1
ClosingNovember 23
Opened by
StadiumWashington University in St. Louis Francis Field
Paris 1900 London 1908

Tensions caused by the Russo–Japanese War and the difficulty of getting to St. Louis in 1904 may have contributed to the fact that very few top ranked athletes from outside the US and Canada took part in these Games. Only 62 of the 651 athletes who competed came from outside North America, and only 12–15 nations were represented in all. Some events combined the U.S. national championship with the Olympic championship.[3]

The current three-medal (gold, silver, and bronze for first, second, and third places) format was introduced at the 1904 Olympics.


Chicago won the bid to host the 1904 Summer Olympics,[4] but the organizers of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis would not accept another international event in the same timeframe.

The exposition organization began to plan for its own sports activities, informing the Chicago OCOG that its own international sports events intended to eclipse the Olympic Games unless they were moved to St. Louis. Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic movement, stepped in and awarded the Games to St. Louis.

The Games


Boxing, dumbbells, freestyle wrestling and the decathlon made their debuts. The swimming events were held in a temporary pond near Skinker and Wydown Boulevards, where "lifesaving demonstrations" of unsinkable lifeboats for ocean liners took place. The organizers of the World's Fair held "Anthropology Days" on August 12 and 13.

One of the most remarkable athletes was the American gymnast George Eyser, who won six medals even though his left leg was made of wood, and Frank Kugler won four medals in freestyle wrestling, weightlifting and tug of war, making him the only competitor to win a medal in three different sports at the same Olympic Games.

Chicago runner James Lightbody won the steeplechase and the 800 m and then set a world record in the 1500 m. Harry Hillman won both the 200 m and 400 m hurdles and also the flat 400 m. Sprinter Archie Hahn was champion in the 60 m, 100 m and 200 m. In this last race, he set an Olympic record in 21.6, a record that stood for 28 years. In the discus, after American Martin Sheridan had thrown exactly the same distance as his compatriot, Ralph Rose (39.28 m), the judges gave them both an extra throw to decide the winner. Sheridan won the decider and claimed the gold medal. Ray Ewry again won all three standing jumps.

The team representing Great Britain was awarded a total of two medals, both won by Irish athletes. The top non-USA athlete was Emil Rausch of Germany, who won three swimming events. Zoltan Halmay of Hungary and Charles Daniels of the United States each won two swimming gold medals. Galt Football Club from Canada won the gold medal in football.


94 events[5] in 17 disciplines, comprising 16 sports, were part of the Olympic program in 1904. Swimming and diving are considered two disciplines of the same sport, aquatics. The number of events in each discipline is noted in parentheses.

Demonstration sports

Basketball, hurling, American football and baseball were featured as demonstration sports. Gaelic football was also an unofficial demonstration sport at the 1904 Olympics.

Water polo is also mentioned in the games reports for the 1904 Summer Olympics. However, it was not considered at the time to be a demonstration sport and, even though it has since been classified as such, it has not been included retrospectively in the IOC's official medal database.


Map of St. Louis with Olympic venues marked. Creve Coeur Lake is located further west.

Five sports venues were used for the 1904 Summer Olympics. The venues included the first golf course constructed west of the Mississippi River. Three of the sports venues were on the site for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition which was being held concurrently with the Olympics. Glen Echo Country Club became the first golf course west of the Mississippi River when it opened in 1901.[6] It is still in use as of 2017. Forest Park was where the Louisiana Purchase Exhibition took place, and it hosted the diving, swimming, and water polo events on the Life Saving Exhibition Lake.[7][8][9] During the water polo events, several of the cattle from a World's Fair livestock exhibit were allowed to enter the lake, on the opposite side from the swimming and water polo events. Within one year, four of those athletes died of typhus.[10]

Creve Coeur Lake became the first park of St. Louis County in 1945.[11] The Lake has hosted rowing regattas since 1882 and still hosts them as of 2010.[12][13] Francis Field and Gymnasium are still in use on the Washington University in St. Louis campus as of 2019.[14][15] An ornamental gate commemorating the 1904 Games was constructed outside the stadium immediately after the Exposition.[14] A swimming pool was added to the gymnasium in 1985.[15] Forest Park, constructed in 1876, is still in use as of 2018 and attracts over 12 million visitors annually.[16] Glen Echo Country Club remains in use as a golf course today as of 2018.[6]

Venue Sports Capacity Ref.
Creve Coeur LakeRowingNot listed. [17]
Francis FieldArchery, Athletics, Cycling, Football, Gymnastics, Lacrosse, Roque, Tennis, Tug of war, Weightlifting, Wrestling19,000 [18]
Francis GymnasiumBoxing, FencingNot listed. [19]
Forest ParkDiving, Swimming, Water PoloNot listed. [20]
Glen Echo Country ClubGolfNot listed. [6]

Participating nations

Athletes from twelve nations competed in St. Louis. Numbers in parentheses indicate the number of known competitors for each nation.[21] Due to the difficulty of getting to St. Louis in 1904, and European tensions caused by the Russo-Japanese War, only 62 athletes from outside North America came to the Olympics.

Participating National Olympic Committees


Some sources also list athletes from the following nations as having competed at these Games.

Number of athletes by National Olympic Committees

Medal count

These are the top ten nations to win medals at the 1904 Games.

1 United States*788279239
2 Germany44513
3 Cuba4239
4 Canada4116
5 Hungary2114
6 Great Britain1102
 Mixed team1102
8 Greece1012
10 Austria0011
Totals (10 nations)969292280

The nationalities of some medalists are disputed, as many American competitors were recent immigrants to the United States who had not yet been granted US citizenship.

In 2009, historians from the International Society of Olympic Historians discovered that cyclist Frank Bizzoni, formerly thought to be an American, was still an Italian citizen when he competed in 1904, being granted US citizenship in 1917.[25]

The International Olympic Committee considers Norwegian-American wrestlers Charles Ericksen and Bernhoff Hansen to have competed for the United States; each man won a gold medal. In 2012, Norwegian historians however found documentation showing that Ericksen did not receive American citizenship until March 22, 1905, and that Hansen probably never received American citizenship. The historians have therefore petitioned the IOC to have the athletes registered as Norwegians.[26][27] In May 2013, it was reported that the Norwegian Olympic Committee had filed a formal application for changing the nationality of the wrestlers in the IOC's medal database;[28] as of April 2019, no decision has yet been made.

Francis Gailey competed in 1904 as an Australian, and immigrated to America in 1906, sailing to San Francisco in the SS Sonoma. He worked as a banker in California, lived for a time in Ontario, Canada, where he married Mary Adams, and finally settled in 1918 in southern California, managing orange-grove plantations.[29]

Multi-medalist Frank Kugler of Germany was a member of the St. Louis Southwest Turnverein team, being granted US citizenship in 1913.[30]

Gustav Thiefenthaler was born in Switzerland, but the family moved to the United States when he was young. He represented the South Broadway AC in St. Louis. At the Olympics, Tiefenthaler wrestled one bout and lost, but earned a bronze medal for his efforts.[31]

The IOC also lists French-American Albert Corey as a United States competitor for his marathon silver medal, but (together with four undisputed Americans) as part of a mixed team for the team race silver medal.

The IOC counts one gold, one silver, and two bronze medals won by the American fencer Van Zo Post for Cuba instead of the United States. The IOC also shows Charles Tatham as Cuban for individual fencing events and American for the team event, but he was an American.

See also


  1. "Factsheet - Opening Ceremony of the Games f the Olympiad" (PDF) (Press release). International Olympic Committee. September 13, 2013. Archived (PDF) from the original on August 14, 2016. Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  2. Christen, Barbara S.; Steven Flanders (November 2001). Cass Gilbert, Life and Work: Architect of the Public Domain. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 257. ISBN 978-0-393-73065-4. Retrieved June 8, 2008.
  3. "The Olympic Summer Games Factsheet" (PDF). International Olympic Committee. Retrieved August 5, 2012.
  4. Stead, W. T. (1901). The Americanization of the World. Horace Markley. p. 341.
  5. The IOC site for the 1904 Olympic Games gives the figure of 91 events, while the IOC database lists 94. Probably this discrepancy in IOC data is consequence that the figure 91 just derived from the "1904 Olympic Games — Analysis and Summaries" Archived July 8, 2011, at the Wayback Machine publication of Bill Mallon, who used his own determination of which sports and events should be considered as Olympic.
  6. Healey, Jim. "Glen Echo County Club". golfclubatlas.com. Accessed November 23, 2018.
  7. 1904 Summer Olympics men's springboard diving results. – Sports-reference.com. Accessed November 23, 2018
  8. 1904 Summer Olympics swimming results. – Sports-reference.com. Accessed November 23, 2018.
  9. 1904 Summer Olympics water polo results. Sports-reference.com. Accessed November 23, 2018.
  10. https://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/summer/1904/WAP/mens-water-polo.html
  11. St. Louis County, Missouri 2002 Department of Parks and Recreation report. Archived June 25, 2006, at the Wayback Machine p. 103. Accessed October 4, 2010.
  12. "CONTESTS AT THE OARS; THE MISSISSIPPI VALLEY REGATTA—ROWING AT PAWTUCKET" (PDF). The New York Times. June 25, 1882. Retrieved January 2, 2010.
  13. "SPORTING AFFAIRS". Chicago Daily Tribune. May 11, 1885. Retrieved January 2, 2010.
  14. Washington University in St. Louis profile of Francis Field. – accessed November 23, 2018.
  15. Washington University in St. Louis profile of Francis Gymnasium. – accessed November 23, 2018.
  16. St. Louis, Missouri city profile of Forest Park. – accessed November 23, 2018.
  17. Spalding's report of the 1904 Summer Olympics. Archived August 29, 2011, at the Wayback Machine p. 213. Accessed October 4, 2010.
  18. Spalding's report of the 1904 Summer Olympics. Archived August 29, 2011, at the Wayback Machine pp. 222–9, 233–47. Accessed October 4, 2010.
  19. Spalding's report of the 1904 Summer Olympics. Archived August 29, 2011, at the Wayback Machine pp. 231, 245. Accessed November 23, 2018.
  20. Spalding's report of the 1904 Summer Olympics. Archived August 29, 2011, at the Wayback Machine pp. 229, 231. Accessed October 4, 2010.
  21. Mallon, Bill (1998). "1904 Olympic Games – Analysis and Summaries" (PDF). LA84 Foundation. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 8, 2011. Retrieved August 8, 2011.
  22. "Italy at the 1904 St. Louis Summer Games". Sports Reference.
  23. "Norway at the 1904 St. Louis Summer Games". Sports Reference.
  24. "Newfoundland at the 1904 St. Louis Summer Games". Sports Reference.
  25. Historical Dictionary of the Olympic Movement – Italy. books.google.com. Retrieved July 31, 2014.
  26. "Her er beviset som endrer norsk idrettshistorie". NRK. August 14, 2012.
  27. "USA-guld 1904 var Norges". Svenska Dagbladet. August 14, 2012.
  28. "Norges OL-historie skrives på nytt". Nettavisen. May 3, 2013. Archived from the original on December 12, 2013. Retrieved May 4, 2013.
  29. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on August 16, 2012. Retrieved August 15, 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  30. https://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/athletes/ku/frank-kugler-1.html
  31. https://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/athletes/ti/gustav-tiefenthaler-1.html
Preceded by
Summer Olympics
St. Louis

III Olympiad (1904)
Succeeded by
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