COBWEB CORNERS: A railroad pass
By Mel McFarland
No, not a pass through the mountains, but a little bit of cardboard that allowed the holder to ride on a train! In some cases, these were given to officials of friendly railroads and often allowed them to bring their family or their own private railroad car. Often they were issued to honored retirees, more valuable than a gold watch. General Palmer each year received dozens of these cards, or passes. Most he never used. These passes are collectible today because they are out of the ordinary. They exist because many clerks saved them.
This is the story of a very unique pass, because of who it was issued to. It may be in someone's collection and they do not even know it, or it may have been thrown away years ago!
The pass was issued by the Colorado Midland Railway in 1907 to Mr. William Goat. It was noted to be good for his lifetime. It actually came in a little leather carrier because Mr. Goat did not have any pockets. He lived in the mountains high above Leadville. His job in life was as a sheep herder, but he longed occasionally for the city lights. He had jumped on several trains, but the crew, when they spotted him were more concerned for his safety than his fare. They recognized him and the pass was actually more of an official recognition. He would travel into Leadville or Basalt, over near Aspen. Usually once in town he headed for the railroad's dining house for a fine meal. This usually consisted of scraps from the crew in the kitchen!
You see (and I bet you are way ahead of me), Mr. Goat was just that, a goat! Somehow he had learned to jump onto trains. In addition to that, he even learned they would take him home when he wanted to go. Nothing is said about his owner, who presumably knew of his travels. I can imagine the remarks from the train crews on this wild animal who liked the life in the city too!