Spokane, WA

Spokane Washington's solution to trash in the park, the garbage goat

Lefty Graves

Riverfront ParkPhoto byTimothy EberlyonUnsplash

Many regions are seeking unique solutions to the trash in and around parks. Spokane’s Riverfront Park has the ideal solution, and it’s been in place since the Expo’74 exhibit. The late Sister Paula Mary Turnbull is also called ‘the welding nun.’ In the art world, came up with the idea.

This vacuum-powered steel goat is designed to devour trash. Originally it was only going to be the head of the goat, but Sister Paula Mary had a clever take on the design and thought that if you’re going to have the head, you should have the entire body. It turns out Sister Paula Mary was right! The garbage goat is a huge attraction for kids.

Today, the garbage goat is one of the biggest attractions for kids at Riverfront park. Kids of all ages love to pick up trash throughout the park and then pay a visit to the goat to watch the goat ‘eat’ the garbage as they hold it out to the goat's mouth.

Inside the goat is a powerful vacuum system connected to a hidden trash barrel. Kids of all ages can press a button on the rock wall near the goat and listen for the suction to begin. Trash is then held in the palm of the hand near the mouth, and the goat eats the trash.

Visitors from all over love to pose with the goat and take pictures. It wasn’t long before visitors began posing and taking pictures with the garbage goat. Today, over 40 years since it was placed in the park, the garbage goat eagerly awaits its next meal. It is somewhat picky and won’t take pop cans, glass bottles, or other larger items, but if you dangle a piece of paper, a used fry wrapper, or some other smaller tidbit, the goat will happily devour it for you and take care of it.

Crafted from bits and pieces of brass and copper, the garbage goat is nearing its 50th birthday in Spokane. This clever iconic goat has become one of the many unique landmarks that Spokane enjoys. What’s your favorite iconic landmark in Spokane?





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Lefty has been writing online since 2000 on various topics, including youth mentoring, addiction recovery, parenting, gardening, advocating for seniors, sustainability, farming, and an eclectic mix of other topics. She resides on a farm with her family in Northeastern Washington state.

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