Eddie Willers, special assistant to the vice president in charge of operations of Taggart Transcontinental Railroad, is accosted by a bum on the streets of New York City, who asks him, "Who is John Galt?" The question is an expression of futility — a slang phrase that indicates a hopeless situation. Eddie doesn't like the question, just as he doesn't like to see shops closing along Fifth Avenue and other previously prosperous streets. He is troubled by the steadily declining revenues of the railroad and the diminishing industrial output of the country in general.Eddie speaks to James Taggart, president of the railroad, regarding the desperate condition of the track on their Rio Norte Line that serves Colorado, the last state whose industrial production is booming. He reminds Jim that Colorado — the home of Ellis Wyatt, whose discovery of a new
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Jim, Eddie Willers, Rio Norte Line, Taggart Transcontinental Railroad