The Galloping Goose

Thursday, July 12, 2007

In my last posting, I ended by rushing off to catch the gondola to an 8:30 session of C. Bradley Thompson's superb course "American Slavery, American Freedom", on the struggle for the abolition of slavery -- an episode of American history with particular relevance to Objectivists. I got to the class only 30 minutes of time left because the free gondola lived up to that saying about getting what you pay for -- as well as my dimmest views on public transportation.

I was running a little as it was, and got to the station to see a huge line of people. The gondola would move intermittently (without taking passengers) for about twenty minutes as new people joined the line and others gave up. Nobody offered an explanation of what was going on to the crowd.

I finally realized that if I were to get to Mountain Village in time to hear any of the concluding lecture, or at least to be in time for the next lecture of Leonard Peikoff's course on the DIM Hypothesis, I would have to find other means of transport. I knew of a shuttle bus that ran a circuit between Telluride and Mountain View, so I looked for it.

I did eventually find the right bus, but not before learning from its driver that the Galloping Goose -- which unfortunately dilutes the heritage of rugged individualism of the town it serves by touting that it runs on biodiesel -- does not go to Mountain Village.

At the time, I felt the perverse urge to find a nearby hippie and ask whether the name of the Galloping Goose was due to the manufacture of its fuel from goose entrails, but resigned myself to an inward chuckle instead. And I did wonder: "Where, exactly, did that name come from, anyway?"

The answer came in the form of a curious sight I encountered on an early morning tour of Telluride.

Ever since attending a scientific conference in the beautiful city of Brugge (Bruges), Belgium in 2000, I have made it a practice to take my sight-seeing photos early in the morning to avoid the hassle of crowds and traffic, and to enjoy the magnificent feeling of having a whole town to myself. And so, that's what I did yesterday morning after answering some comments here, and before assuaging my new-found "gondola anxiety" by heading up the mountain an hour early to make sure I wouldn't miss the tour bus to Ouray, which I'll blog later.

But back to the Galloping Goose. No, today's politically correct affronts to Telluride's proud heritage of mineral exploitation are not named for the goose entrails which may or may not fuel them. They are named after the curious vehicle I found displayed in a cramped courtyard near a large public building (the Town Hall if I remember correctly).

It was not possible to get the whole thing in one shot, so here's the best I could do for a side view:

Click the image to see it full-sized.

And here is a front view. The full-sized image will be a little blurry. If I have time to shoot it again, I'll replace it.

A plaque next to the Galloping Goose reads:

In 1930, the Rio Grande Southern Railroad went into receivership for the second time. The railroad's chief mechanic, Jack Odenpaugh, tried to make the line profitable again by designing the unique Galloping Goose hybrid vehicle. A combination of truck and train, these "geese" were powered by a truck engine and rode on rails, complete with cow catchers wired across the front. The "geese" ran on gasoline, and carried both freight and passengers. the system ended service in 1951.
This is just one of the sights in Telluride, whose history offers more than initially meets the eye. The town receives a quarter of its electricity from the nation's second-oldest hydroelectric generator, located above some falls and beneath a private residence. And then, of course, is its long history of mining, to which I hope the museum up the street from where I am staying does justice.

For more, mainly photos, on the (real) Galloping Goose -- or Geese -- visit this site.

And as for the mostly-missed lecture by Dr. Thompson, although I wondered whether walking in so late would be worthwhile, what I saw of it was, which should tell you how good the course was. Fortunately, the course seems to be drawn heavily from Thompson's anthology of Antislavery Political Writings, 1833-1860: A Reader, which I bought and eagerly look forward to reading.

-- CAV


SecFox HQ said...

I'm so glad you are in Telludride! Good for you. I met Diana and Paul, Brad Thompson, and others in Boston, last year. Please say hello to Paul and Diana for me ;-) and have a great time.

Gus Van Horn said...

Thanks, Blair. Will do.

Matt F. said...

I was there around the same time. They eventually sent a shuttle for us. If you'd stuck around you may not have missed so much.

Oh well.

Matt F.

Gus Van Horn said...

I might have missed that shuttle by virtue of running slightly late myself, and then waiting in line.

Had the gondola been working, I would have been about 10 minutes late anyway....