Could Danville have been home at one time to the world's tallest man? It's possible. In 1901 workers uncovered a stone footprint measuring 18 inches in length. Presently, the world record for the biggest feet belongs to Rodríguez Hernandez of Venezuela, who stands 7 feet 2 inches tall and has feet measuring just under 16 inches in length. The previous record holder was Sultan Kösen, who still holds the record for the tallest living man at 8 feet and 2.82 inches. His feet measured 14 inches-- 1/3 of a foot less than the Danville stone footprint.
|From the Danville Morning News, June 17, 1901|
So how tall might this ancient giant have been?
The famous American giant, Robert Wadlow of Illinois-- the tallest person who ever lived-- still holds the record for the largest feet of all time. His feet were just a tiny bit longer than that of the Danville giant, at 18 and 1/4 inches in length. Wadlow stood 8 ft 11.1 in height and weighed 439 lbs. at the time of his death at the age of 22 in 1940.
So, it would be safe to assume that the ancient giant of Danville might have been around 8'6". It would also be safe to assume that the footprint belonged to a member of the Susquehannock tribe-- a race of people who, according to legend, were all gigantic in stature.
Captain John Smith (of Jamestown fame) wrote about the unusual height of the Susquehannock people in his journal between 1607 and 1609:
"60 of those Susquehannocks came to us...such great and well proportioned men are seldome seene, for they seemed like giants."
Smith described the proportions of the chief:
"The calfe of whose leg was of a yard around and all the rest of his limbes so answerable to that proportion that he seemed the goodliest man we ever beheld!"
Even though most historians claim that the legendary height of the Susquehannocks was a myth, numerous archaeological discoveries made in Pennsylvania throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries refute this claim, with dozens of skeletons measuring in excess of 7 feet found throughout the state.
The topic of ancient giants in the United States is something I've written extensively about on Journal of the Bizarre, so if you're interested in giants, here are some articles you might find interesting:
Historical evidence for an ancient race of giants in America
Horned giants of Pennsylvania?
SOLVED! One of America's Most Famous Unexplained Mysteries Resolved