Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Great Northern Insignia

The white silhouette of a Rocky Mountain goat on red background was the majestic insignia for the Great Northern Railway. How this famous symbol came to be is a long forgotten tale.  William P. Kenney, who served as Great Northern president in the 1930s, grew up in south Minneapolis. As a boy he sold newspapers. His business was so lucrative that he established a corner newsstand, but carrying newspapers to stock his stand became a problem. So Kenney acquired a billy goat and cart.  But neighbors complained about the billy goat.  Kenney searched the want ads and found a rancher in Midvale, Montana who wanted domestic goats. This rancher was experimenting with breeding domestic goats with some Rocky Mountain goats he had captured.  Kenney made the sale. Many years later, Kenney was the traffic vice president for the Great Northern Railway. He and board chairman Louis W. Hill were traveling across the country and stopped at Glacier Park Station. Kenney recalled that the station had changed its name from Midvale, where he has so long ago sent that billy goat. Making inquiries, he discovered that the rancher and his herd were long gone. The next day Kenney and other officials went out to take in the sights. High on a mountain ledge they spied a magnificent Rocky Mountain goat. From his lofty vantage point, the goat surveyed the party below. Kenney remarked that the goat must be the great-great grandson of the billy goat that pulled his wagon. Everyone laughed, but Hill had an idea. It wasn’t long before Glacier Park artist John L. Clarke had designed the famous logo. And among railway men, it was always known as Kenney’s goat.

This brochure printed by the Great Northern Railway shows the famous mountain goat insignia.
Montana Historical Society Research Center, PAM 4256

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