April 25, 2014

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Muscle beats steam PDF Print E-mail

The train was hailed as the speediest means of transportation available in the 1880’s. The slowest was an oxcart. But that wasn’t always so.
The coming of the railroad was considered one of the greatest things to happen in the Old West. It made possible the transportation of goods and people from the industrialized east to the frontier west. The train also was able to cut that travel time down considerably.
But, there was one occasion on December 2, 1880 that a lowly oxcart beat a train in a race that quite possible only the oxcart occupants were aware.
Just as the eastbound fast mail train was steaming out of town a hack containing three gentlemen drove up to the depot, only to be told the train they wanted had just rounded the bend. The hack they had rented had left the station, and the only transportation was a wagon and four-ox team.
The men walked up to the owner of the rig. “Five dollars if you take us up the rail thirty miles,” said one man. “Another five if you get us there before 8 o’clock,” said the second. “Five dollars more if you get us there ahead of the train,” said the third.
The driver looked at the team, thought about the fifteen dollars to be made in two and a half hours, and said “I’m your man.”
The wagon road lay alongside the tracks. The first mile was slow, but soon the oxen warmed up. In an hour they had caught up with the train. In the darkness of the evening they could see the trains red light and fire from the smoke stack in the distance behind them.
The men arrived at their destination safely. After they had domiciled at the hotel, one of the men said, “Boys, we have beaten the train by twenty minutes; let us go to the depot and see it creep in.”