The Story of Hazel Eaton

Hazel on her indian motorcyle in 1927


Hazel Marion Eaton Watkins of Portland, Maine was known as the first "mile-a-minute girl" who rode an Indian motorcycle in a carnival motordrome - otherwise known as the Wall of Death.

Hazel, born on the 4th of July in 1895, joined the circus at age 15 - despite objections from her parents who wanted her to be a hat maker. Her first acts included  shallow diving from an elevated platform, hoop rolling, an Annie Oakley impressionist and working in a trained monkey act. Just two years after joining the Johnny Jones Circus, Hazel became a motorcyclist in the "Watkins's Wall of Death" owned and operated by her first husband, Ira Watkins. The "Wall of Death" refers to a barrel shaped track where motorcyclists ride the walls at speeds that reach 60 miles per hour. Hazel also performed daring tricks such as riding without hands. Although injury often resulted in death in the motordrome, Hazel survived several bad falls including the time her back brake locked causing her to fall to the bottom of the motordrome. Even after breaking her back and suffering a serious head injury, Hazel returned to the circus the same year.

After 15 years of riding in the motordrome, Hazel purchased her own show and traveled to every state in America, including some international shows. Hazel finally retired in 1942, but was known to host fabulous parties with her best friend Beatrice Houdini, Harry Houdini's wife. Hazel died in Florida in 1970, leaving a wild legacy behind. 

Hazel has been an inspiration to us, which is why we named our company after her. As co-owners, Julia and Mackenzie are following their dreams and putting it all out on the line to own their own business. Although they are not taking as big of risks as Hazel once did, they still aim to live with Hazel's zest for life and go after their dreams.


Hazel Images is a Julia Ellsworth Photography Subsidiary.