Elmer himself explained to the reporter how he backlifted huge weights, adding rocks to a platform in his backyard “until the weight is 4,200 pounds. How often do I lift that? O, sometimes three or four times a day and sometimes not for a week. It all depends; if I need exercise I try it and if visitors come along and won’t believe I can do it, I just show them.”

The final paragraph in John Fair’s article in the Journal of Physical Culture helps to provide a better perspective for understanding the real Paul Bunyan of Voluntown.

Obscurity of time (a century ago) and place (rural Connecticut) dictates that Elmer Bitgood will remain an enigma and that the search for the man behind the legend will be unending. But it is a mystique, rather than reality, and the desire of an embodiment of our childhood dreams, that provides so much appeal to the legend of Elmer Bitgood. Far more perhaps than the truth itself, it expands our appreciation of human potential. Most important, such tales are fun to contemplate and add immensely to the rich lore of the iron game.

We live in a remarkable region called The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor. So many fascinating people have gone before us that helped define what makes this region so special and unique. I hope you will join us as we care for their stories, enjoy their retelling, and pass them on to the next generation.

Bill Reid is the Chief Ranger of The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor and has lived in the region for more than 30 years. He can be reached at bill@tlgv.org.