Gary Gardner (grgardner) wrote,
Gary Gardner

Atlas Shrugged in Real Life

"Who Is John Galt?"  That is the central question that drives Ayn Rand's epic novel, Atlas Shrugged. You'll have to read the book, if you haven't already, to figure that out, I'm not giving it away. But at the end of Part One her main character, Dagny Taggart, Vice President of Taggart Transcontinental Railroad, has just finished building the "John Galt Line" to serve the oil fields of Colorado.  She’s looking for the inventor of a revolutionary new motor. Her quest takes her to a mysterious diner high in the Rockies way off the beaten path, where she finds the most amazing food she's ever eaten. As it turns out, the cook one of the people who are leading the effort to “stop the motor of the world” by having the men of intellect and ability go on strike.

“The diner stood on the summit of a long, hard climb. It’s glass walls spread a coat of polish over the view or rocks and pines descending in broken ledges to the sunset. It was dark below, but an even glowing slight still remained in the diner, as in a small pool left behind by a receding tide. Dagny sat at the end of the counter, eating a hamburger sandwich. It was the best-cooked food she had ever tasted, the product of simple ingredients, and of unusual skill…”

I have found that diner.  And ironically it’s called Taggart’s Grill.
Last fall my best friend Dave Harmer and I were out prowling about in the mountains East of Salt Lake City.  We had read a review of a hole-in-the wall hamburger joint in the lower reaches of Weber Canyon, up against the original Transcontinental Railroad of the Union Pacific.  The review said it was supposed to be quite good, so while we were out and about we decided to try it. The place wasn’t exactly obvious to passers by, but I had spotted this sign high on the hill above the place on the opposite side of the exit off I-84.
What we found was nothing short of remarkable. There is nothing else at this exit except for a couple of houses, and this tiny grill. Walking up to it a sign warned us to watch out for rattlesnakes if sitting on the patio. We opted to sit inside.

The food was, without a doubt, one of the best meals either of us have ever eaten. Just like Dagny said of the diner she found, high in the mountains along the railroad line. I don’t say that lightly either, being a connoisseur of roadside eateries. It was so good that Dave and I went back for dinner that day as well.

Coming back for my annual Christmas visit I thought it might be fun to treat Mom and Ron to lunch there, so on a nice sunny afternoon we drove the 50 miles up from their home in Holiday, going through Park City, Coalville, and Echo and enjoying the scenery and talking.  When we got there they were amazed at this lonely little diner, and they had the same reaction that Dave and I did: how did such fine food get tucked away here in the middle of nowhere?

Unfortunately Taggart's Grill is not named as a tribute to the character in Atlas. Taggart’s Grill comes from the original name of an old fishing camp and gas station along the Weber River that was located just up the road called Taggart’s Service. But in this day and age, where Atlas Shrugged is becoming less and less a fictionalized novel and more like real life, it’s kinda cool to think that a diner with fantastic food, made by people of ability and competence – something Rand greatly admired and wrote about in the book – would exist high in the mountains of Utah along the original transcontinental railroad, and be coincidentally with the same name as the leading character of the novel.  I have a “Who is John Galt?” bumper sticker on my Hummer.  It seems appropriate today right here in the heart of Weber canyon, at a fantastic diner called Taggart's Grill.

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