Carlisle Not Only Town With Jim Thorpe Mural

Carlisle isn’t the only town with a mural that features Jim Thorpe. Portsmouth, Ohio also has a mural that features Big Jim in his Canton Bulldogs uniform flanking the Portsmouth Shoe-Steels, a semi-pro football team on which he was player-coach in 1927. That mural, one of about 50, adorns part of the 2,090 feet long 20 feet high concrete wall that protects Portsmouth from Ohio River floodwaters. Artist Robert Dafford of Lafayette, Louisiana began painting the murals in 1993. Jim Thorpe was painted early in the project, being completed in 1994.

The Portsmouth Shoe-Steels were largely recent local high school grads who played football in their free time while working day jobs to support themselves. The Shoe-Steels played their eight home games on LeBold Field. Thorpe lead them to a 7-4 season, beating the Columbus Bobb Chevrolets and the Ironton Tanks late in the season after losing to them earlier. The other two loses were to Cincinnati National Guard and Ashland Armcos, two teams that they only played once.

The next year most of these players, with a season of experience under their belts, played for a new local semi-pro team, the Portsmouth Spartans. In 1930 the Spartans joined the NFL after being sponsored by the Green Bay Packers. Portsmouth was mired in mediocrity until 1934 when Dick Richards bought the team, moved them to Detroit, and renamed them the Lions. That team is definitely not mired in mediocrity as its current 0-16 record attests.

Jim Thorpe & Portsmouth Shoe-Steels mural

Jim Thorpe & Portsmouth Shoe-Steels mural

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One Response to “Carlisle Not Only Town With Jim Thorpe Mural”

  1. bourassa todd Says:

    Im a cousin of big jim nice pic

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