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Hitchhiker DeVon Smith - New Beaver Boro PA

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DeVon Smith, a lover of science and sci-fi movies, was born in April 1926 in Ellwood City, the son of Mulford (“Smitty”) and Helen Smith. His father was a foreman at the National Tube works. Smith later dropped out of high school and found work in a steel mill in Pittsburgh. He then joined the U.S. Army and saw action in Europe during World War II. After the war concluded he returned home and in 1947 he began a career as a “professional” hitchhiker. He began hitchhiking and traveling throughout the United States, South America, and Europe. In 1957 he hitchhiked through all 48 contiguous states in a record 33 days, a feat which made him quite famous. He was featured in many major newspapers and on television shows hosted by Groucho Marx, Art Linkletter, Joe Pyne and Joey Bishop. He was was listed in the Guinness Book of Records for hitchhiking a record 290,988 miles across the United States, South America, and Europe during a 24-year span from 1947-1971. This record was not broken until 1985. In the early 1970’s he retired and opened a scrap yard near Wampum. He later began fabricating life-size robots out of metal scrap and some of his famous collection is still featured in a museum in Baltimore and the Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh. Smith, who lived quite the unusual life, passed away in May 2003 at the age of 76. (1957) Full Size

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Comment

  1. I picked this man up hitching home on rte 18 from Beaver Falls sometime in the 90’s. I’d never heard of him,but his stories earned him a ride to his door.He was very proud to have met the Queen of England,I think not too long before that time. I believe it was the space art that allowed that meeting. I was surprised not to see mention of this and just wanted to share.

    Gary Finch · 12/23/2015 01:33 AM · #

  2. I grew up in a small farm and ranch community in west Texas. In 1958 my senior graduating class, all eight of us, took a trip to the Texas coast and up through the hill country and Austin. On the way we saw this person hitch hiking, he was wearing a red suit and carrying a sign. We asked our teacher/bus driver to stop and pick him up. It was DeVon Smith, and he was on his way to Venus, Texas (he was attempting to travel to towns that had astronomical names). I gave him my red hat to go with his red suit. Some time later he appeared on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and he was wearing his red suit and my hat.I have a picture of us beside our school bus with Smith.

    Bill Harris · 06/27/2016 11:56 PM · #