Evel Knievel’s Jump in Hannibal
I don't like tooting my own horn, but I was responsible for one of Evel Knievel's greatest jumps (or attempted jumps) and it happened in Hannibal. You may not have heard of this great local event, probably because it was a stunt not technically attempted by Evel Knievel himself. It was my Evel Knievel action figure and it is there that my story begins.
If you're not familiar with the Evel Knievel action figure, you have missed out on probably the greatest toy in history.
The jump was scheduled for a humid afternoon in the summer of 1975. I had decided that the perfect location would be a creek bed at the bottom of West Ely Road in Hannibal. This place was ideal because it had a soft rock landing area on one side and a slightly elevated jump location for the ramp on the other...plus it had a creek which in miniature land looked like the Snake River.
The wind was out of the north that fateful day at a dangerous 10 to 15mph. (In Action Figure Land, that equals about 45mph) I had carefully worked out the physics of the jump. The angle of the ramp, the speed Evel would need to be traveling at the point of takeoff and also wind speed were calculated. (As much as any 9-year-old could anyway)
One of the great things about the Evel Knievel action figure was the front wheel and chassis had a heavy duty spring built into it. Unfortunately, it was the "heavy" part of the bike that this 9-year-old did not figure into the jump mechanics.
It was that fateful day that my Evel Knievel (action figure, don't call it a doll) met it's end at the bottom of the creek bed at the bottom of West Ely Road in Hannibal. The front "springy" wheel snapped in half when it landed on the rocks below and not the ramp. There was no local press standing by to publicize this daredevil event...but know today that one of Evel Knievel's greatest jump attempts happened in our own backyard. And, if by chance you find a small motorcycle wheel and helmet near that area in Hannibal, now you will know it's story.