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The day of the celebration, Friday, Sept. 23, 1909, arrived along with thousands of sightseers from all over the Western Slope. Visitors came by train from outlying areas. The town of Ouray brought a pack train showing the means of transportation to and from the mines of the San Juan Mountains, and a motorcade from Delta featured occupants carrying red and white umbrellas. At approximately 2:30 p.m., President Taft arrived in Montrose aboard a special five coach train, escorted by sheriffs of western Colorado wearing their traditional ten gallon hats, bandannas, blue flannel shirts and corduroy pants, each carrying a Colt .45 in a holster. Nearly 10,000 people had gathered at the Montrose County fairgrounds to greet the President. After a welcoming address and presentation of the key to the city by the mayor, the festivities moved to the West Portal for the official dedication of the Gunnison Tunnel. On a platform 75 feet above the tunnel entrance, President Taft tapped a bell of pure gold, releasing the flow of water through the six-mile long tunnel at 4:30 p.m.
In the photo of Taft at the opening of the Gunnison tunnel, is the man walking with Taft Austin Gunnison? I know Austin and his daughter Julia were there on the platform with Taft when he rang the gold bell to open the tunnel. I was just wondering if the other man in the photo could possibly be Austin?
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