The people in Landes, France in the pre-1900s, had a problem. Their land was swampy and uneven, and they were too poor and too remote for anyone to bother putting in roads. Horses were impractical, wheeled vehicles nearly impossible, and shoes were kept soaking until they rotted.
The practical workaround for this problem started with shepherds, but gradually spread to anyone, including postal carriers and law enforcers, who needed to move vast distances quickly. They wore stilts. And not small ones, either. Any stilt-walker perched about three and a half feet up, and some had stilts that were much higher. They carried a long cane that reached to the ground which they would lean on whenever they were still, or even sit on to rest. With practice they became agile – dancing, running, and even lowering themselves so close to the ground that they could pick flowers.
They also got fast. One stiltwalker, Sylvain Dornon, walked all the way from Paris to Moscow in fifty-eight days. He also climbed the Eiffel Tower in stilts. Stilt-walkers were once sent as part of the retinue that accompanied the Empress Josephine, and the stilt-walkers easily kept up with the trotting horses. Today, as less people have needed stilts to get around, the practice has fallen out of favor. Only a few street performers still get around in stilts. Edited from An ancient mode of transportation that could work on other planets.