The College Cart - Early use of sustainable technology on Goshen's campus

By Joe Springer
An early campus example of sustainable technology was the “college cart” – once well-known to all GC students. In this 1918 photograph taken at the south end of Eighth Street, the cart is fulfilling one of its many functions – delivery of student trunks between campus and the train station in downtown Goshen.

The two unidentified males in this picture belonged to the Young People’s Christian Association’s Membership Committee (YPCA). In those days the student-led YPCA performed some of the functions now handled by Student Life, including welcoming and orienting all new students to campus. YPCA even helped arrange student housing and employment.

This particular cart, the second of at least three such carts, had already put in a dozen years of service and retired after the September 1919 student body arrived. Ever loyal to what has been, students held a special program to eulogize the old cart, its place under the Kulp porch usurped by a shiny red cart. Two successive issues of the Record carried tributes by Josephine Lehman Meyer ’21, Alvin R. Eschliman ’20, Ernest J. Bohn ’23, Wilma Smucker Good ’21 and Harry F. Weber ’21.

Having long since lost its original rubber tires, the old cart “was always heralded by the loud clatter of its wheels” making a noise resembling “that of a worn-out mowing machine” that “could be heard several blocks before it was seen.” Called “the most democratic individual on the campus” – anyone from a first-year student to the college president could and did call on its unselfish nature.

In addition to trunks, the cart readily hauled laundry, milk cans, picnic baskets and even groups of students headed for outdoor frolics at the dam. Despite occasional misappropriation for student pranks, the cart embodied the “great life lessons” of duty and democracy. “Every scar upon this honored vehicle is a written history of its service.”