Henry David Thoreau was one of the earliest North American writers to describe long distance skating. He skated long distances (up to 50 km per day) on the rivers and ponds of Concord, Mass. There are numerous observations in his journals. See: list of Thoreau's Journals in PDF files (14 Journals, divided into Chapters)

Oct. 18, 1859 (J12,C8,p400)

If you stay here awhile, I will promise you strange sights. You shall walk on water; all these brooks and rivers and ponds shall be your highway.

Dec. 29, 1858 (J11,C6,p381)

I think more of skates than of the horse or locomotive as annihilators of distance, for while I am getting along with the speed of the horse, I have at the same time the satisfaction of the horse and his rider, and far more adventure and variety than if I were riding. We never cease to be surprised when we observe how swiftly the skater glides along. Just compare him with one walking or running. The walker is but a snail in comparison, and the runner gives up the contest after a few rods. The skater can afford to follow all the windings of a stream, and yet soon leaves far behind and out of sight the walker who cuts across. Distance is hardly an obstacle for him.

I observe that my ordinary track is like this: the strokes being seven to ten feet long. The new stroke is eighteen to twenty inches one side of the old. skate trace

The briskest walkers appear to be stationary to the skater. The skater has wings, talaria, to his feet. Morever, you have such perfect control of your feet that you can take advantage of the narrowest and most winding and sloping bridge of ice in order to pass between the button-bushes and the open stream or under a bridge on a narrow shelf, where the walker cannot go at all. You glide securely within an inch of destruction on this the most slippery of surfaces, more securely than you could walk there, perhaps, on any other material. You can pursue swiftly the most intricate and winding path, even leaping obstacles which suddenly present themselves.