Saturday, May 11, 2019

Transcontinental Train Celebration ... 150 Years

It's been a crazy few days and I'm exhausted.  It doesn't help that we have been at elevations from 4500 to 8000 for the last week.  I think I need to go back to running.

There has been celebration after celebration around the northern Salt Lake area and it's not done yet.  The first big one we attended was in Ogden at Union Station.
It hasn't changed much in the last 150 years.  There were four towns here, Corrinne, Promontory, Unitah and Ogden that fought for the privilege of building the Union Station, meaning the joining of two railroads, the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific.
They fought over it for some time before Brigham Young donated the property in Ogden, which instantly settled the debate.  Here's a large portion of our group.  It's like herding cats, so not all were present.  We were lucky enough to be recognized by the Museum, which is now housed in the station, and allowed a personal tour while the building was closed.  
The Merci Train, also known as the French Gratitude Train, consisting of 49 train cars filled with items of appreciation, stands proudly outside the Museum.  Many states seem to have either lost their cars or let them be destroyed.
This is such a big deal here in Ogden that even the electrical boxes were painted for the celebration.  Some by well known artists, some by school children.  Sometimes I had a hard time telling the difference!!
Here is the amazing 844 engine.  She was rebuilt even before the 4014 Big Boy, just for this celebration.  I was lucky enough to get close for a picture without 3,000 heads in the way.  Just a big sign.
The inside of the museum was gorgeous with murals across both ends.  The workmanship on the water fountain was none less impressive.  
Even Abe Lincoln came for a visit with our Rally Captain Barbara Westerfield.  It's if you are interested in a visit for yourself.  How do I know that?  Because we followed his car for quite a ways.  It's not only on the windshield, but his license plate is AbeLive.
As part of our museum tour, we were taken out back to see these engines, all amazing pieces of workmanship.  The engine on the far left has a mail car attached.  Back in the day when there was REAL mail service, it was all done in one of these cars.
Yes, they really did snag the mail bag while on the move through the town, tossing the bag back on the dock before pulling out for the next pick up.  It was all sorted by hand into these bins.
Here's a weird piece of trivia.  The floors of those cars were made from 3" pieces of 2 x 4's, stood on end.  They moved just enough to keep the mail sorter's feet from screaming in pain.
At the far end was room for packages, which back in the day, were all delivered by the railroad express agents.  That's when you actually RECEIVED your mail.
Inside the museum, you follow a wandering route through the building, following the trail of the transcontinental railroad.  Patti tried to get lunch served, but she had a very long wait.
This is one of the original Railroad Dispatcher's Control Panels.  This was all there was to keeping those trains from running into each other.
There are an amazing number of artifacts in the museum, including this speeder made mostly of wood.  How crazy is it that THIS is still around.
Here's a terrible picture of the transcontinental railroad.  Coming from Council Bluffs Iowa to Sacramento.  What an amazing feat.  Imagine trying to keep the grades somewhat level and not so steep as to keep the train from climbing the hill.

Another interesting fact ... they made extra road beds here and there in order to get more money from the government to line their already full pockets.  When it came time to meet up, they were off by quite of bit, and so made MORE grades (which can still be seen today) to get paid even more.
At the big ceremony in Ogden, the Big Boy was brought in to meet up with the 844.  You cannot imagine the amount of people present.  I took this picture after all the hullabaloo was over.
Here's the thing ... lucky for all of us ... just as the music started up after a few of the big wig speeches, the speakers blew up.  So much for ceremony!!  The rest of the program was called off as everyone fought to the rail to take pictures.  
A very nice gentleman from England let me crowd through for just one picture.  I then squished Patti in front of me before making sure the gentleman got my spot.  It's amazing that people came from England, Australia and even China for this momentous occasion.  

That's Ed Dickens with the oil can, head of the crew that refurbished Big Boy, switching him from a coal burner to an oil burning piece of history.
If you're going to be here for this tribute to the men of history that built such an amazing railroad, changing the world as they knew it, you MUST have souvenirs.  I really try not to buy a lot of stuff.  First, I have to carry it around, then SOMEONE will probably just throw it away when I'm gone.  The coasters read Hell on Wheels, which is the name we have given our large group of RV's setting up camp around the country.
It's hard to go to any RV rally and eat according to my new diet.  Without exception, they do not know what Keto is, so I finally gave up and blew it all on a burger and fries.  Utah knows how to do fries .... they have FRY sauce.  YUM YUM!!!  No, that's NOT a milkshake ... it's just a figment of your imagination.  A chocolate marshmallow figment!!!
That was it for the Ogden celebration.  Yesterday we hit the big time as we carpooled out to Promontory Point for the BIG celebration.  What a madhouse!!  I'll post pictures of that tomorrow, once I rest up!


  1. Wow what an amazing celebration, love your pictures and so much interesting history. Now rest up and have more fun.

    1. It's amazing what those men were able to do in this desolate country. And the train engines ... so very cool!!

  2. Lots of amazing pictures and history.
    After missing your Blog yesterday we're glad to read you're only tired from everything that's happening and not sick.
    Be Safe and Enjoy the rest of the celebration.

    It's about time.

    1. I sure hope I'm not sick ... I've got a long drive home!! LOL
      The celebration was definitely worth the trip.

  3. Enjoyed your "weird piece of Trivia" about the floor of the mail cars on the trains. My dad never talked about it but he worked in the mail car of trains for a period of time. He was born in 1885 and married my mother in 1925, so some time before that.

    1. Wow ... that's fascinating Joyce. How cool your dad worked in the mail car!! They said the crew rarely slept and if they did, it was on the mail bags since there were no beds. They just kept going for 4-5 days, then got a day off.