Saturday, October 4, 2008

Loonfoot Falls Cleaned Up Taft Campaign, 100 Years Ago Today

William Howard Taft's said his presidential campaign was "one of the most uncomfortable four months of my life."

I think his campaign train's stop in Loonfoot Falls may have been part of the reason.

On a Saturday morning, a century ago, Taft's campaign train, the Presidential Special, arrived in Loonfoot Falls. A large crowd, Loonfoot Falls' mayor, the town band, and a driving rain were there to greet him.

While Mr. Taft was addressing the people of Loonfoot Falls from the limited shelter of his observation car's overhang, the fireman was filling the locomotive tender's water tank from the water plug: a tank and spout contraption near the coaling tower.

The Loonfoot Chronicle, as the town's paper was called then, records that the rain was coming down even harder when Mr. Taft wound up his speech. As the Presidential Special began pulling out of the station, the band struck up "Anchors Aweigh." As the crowd cheered, Mr. Taft waved his hat in farewell. Ironically, he was wearing a straw boater.

As the observation car, with Mr. Taft inside, was passing the water plug, the plug swung free from it's mooring and struck the car's roof. At that point, hundreds of gallons of water from in the water plug's tank began pouring onto the observation car roof.

The Loonfoot Chronicle records that, after assuring everyone from the mayor to the band director that no one had been hurt, Mr. Taft thanked Loonfoot Falls for giving his car such a thorough washing.

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