Joe Knowles—“Nature Man” (1913) from 12 Adventure Hoaxes

12 Adventure Hoaxes

Joe Knowles via
Slide 1 of 12
Joe Knowles—“Nature Man” (1913)

One hundred years ago, Joe Knowles, a 44-year-old illustrator from Boston, conducted one of the great survival experiments of the day as a publicity stunt for the Boston Post. With great fanfare, he journeyed into the Maine woods without clothes or tools, and vowed to live for two months like a Robinson Crusoe of the North, according to an April story in Boston Magazine. Upon his return, grizzled and wearing a bearskin robe, he was celebrated the nation over as the “Nature Man,” even penning a bestselling memoir and going on the vaudeville circuit. The truth, however, stunk worse than Knowles did. As was revealed by a rival newspaper, he had, in fact, squirreled himself away in the cabin of his friend, Michael McKeogh, who had dreamed up the stunt to begin with. His bearskin clothes had been purchased from a hunter and he lived on canned food and beer that McKeogh brought back to the cabin.


Thanks! You've signed up to The Active Times alerts.