|Here there was one place where the Gravity Man worked. (Drawing by William McMurtrie, March 21, 1855)|
When I was growing up in California, I once heard about a mysterious man--a "Gravity Man" that did amazing things in a "Gravity Car." I knew that there was some interesting backstory to this person, but I never quite realized how fascinating this story was.
Later I learned that a "gravity man" was really a kind of brakeman in a special kind of train, and that one of these trains used to be on a mountain not far from Palo Alto, where I now live.
Just recently, I learned that the local train was a "just for fun" version of a train that was originally built for serious work. That surprised me, maybe it will surprise you as well.
Here are the questions for today:
1. What did a gravity man do? Where did he do it in California?
2. Is there any place you can ride a gravity car now?
3. Can you find a video of people descending in a gravity car?
4. Can you find a gravity car that was used for serious work? Where were they located, and what were they used for? (Once you find the answer to one piece of this, the rest will come for free.)
This is a purely fun challenge. Not that hard, but it illuminates an interesting piece of Americana. (And maybe beyond--were there Gravity Cars elsewhere in the world?)
Remember to tell us HOW you found the answers.