Ever notice the resemblance between the Telluride Pickaxe and the Tesla logo? Time and time again, visitors in our small mountain town point out their similar appearance. While each logo has its own unique history and meaning, Tesla and Telluride do go back in ways one might not expect!
Nikola Tesla’s time in Telluride began when a local resident L.L. Nunn, the manager of Gold King mine, was struggling to bring in the resources necessary to produce fuel for mining efforts. They had cleared all the trees in the area, forcing them to then burn coal, which was costly and challenging to transport into the mines.
Nunn had heard of Nikola Tesla’s recent discovery of alternating currents of electricity (AC) and its potential applications for transporting energy further than direct currents. He reached out to Tesla and his partner, George Westinghouse, and convinced them to work with him. Together they built the Ames Power Plant in Telluride, CO, opening it in 1891. This would become the first commercial AC powerplant in history and down the line, Telluride would be the first town in the United States to be powered by AC electric power.
Ultimately, Nunn succeeded in powering the Gold King Mine by running a two-and-a-half-mile long power line between the mine and Ames power plant. Tesla and Westinghouse eventually gained widespread recognition for their success in transmitting AC electricity miles away and running heavy equipment off of it. They were then granted the authority to plan and execute the Niagra Falls Power Project. The two were actually favored to lead this project over the Edison Electric company!
Fast forward over 100 years and the company Tesla Motors (later renamed Tesla Inc.) was founded in 2003. Tesla is a U.S. based manufacturer that produces electric cars, solar panels and electric batteries. While Nikola Tesla was no longer around when this company began, the founders chose its name in honor of the remarkable contributions Nikola Tesla made to science and the practical applications of AC energy.
Tesla’s company logo was inspired by the cross-section of an electric motor, which is depicted below.
Although the Telluride logo poses a similar curved T-shape, it was actually inspired by the pickaxe, the primary tool of the Gold Miners who occupied this town before its ski-era. The Town of Telluride takes great pride in its humble beginnings, honoring the structural integrity of historic buildings by preserving their exteriors. There’s also a historical museum where you can go to learn more about the evolution of Telluride from a mining town, to the ski town it is today.
Although it is a pretty remarkable coincidence that Nikola Tesla made major career strides here in our very own ski town, he isn’t truly related to Tesla Inc. The Telluride logo and Tesla’s logo do bear a vague resemblance but, when it comes down to it, they don’t share any meaning. Ultimately, Telluride and Tesla Inc. couldn’t be more removed from one another.