Our primary goal traveling in the Spring 0f 2019 was to attend the 150th Anniversary Celebration of the driving of the Golden Spike May 10, 1869 in Promontory Utah. This one event did more to change the United States than arguably any other single event. It united the East with the West. It instantly opened up vast territory to settlement for good or bad. Books and books have been written of the story of the Transcontinental Railroad including “Nothing Like It In The World” by Stephen Ambrose. The whole story is fascinating to fans of history or railroads.
We arrived in Ogden to scout the area the day before Big Boy 4014 arrived in town. Seeing the newly restored Big Boy was a close second in our reasons to travel to Utah. We had visited the behemoth in static display in Pomona CA the year before Union Pacific took on the enormous job of restoring this colossal locomotive to operating status. The job was completed in UP’s Cheyenne WY shops in 5 years. The restoration of a Big Boy is a dream come true for railfans worldwide. UP sent both the Big Boy 4014 and the “Living Legend” locomotive 844 to Ogden as part of the celebration of the Golden Spike. Thousands of railfans from all over the world converged on Ogden to see these giant steam locomotives operating together.
The National Park Service commemoration of the 150th was a long planned event. Tickets to park near the site were doled out months in advance. Approximately 25,000 people attended the festivities on the May 10th anniversary. There was a highly choreographed musical play performed by mostly young people. There were speeches from 2 Cabinet Secretaries, Utah’s governor, a Congressman, the Union Pacific President, Irish Ambassador and others. The United States Postal Service issued a new stamp. The park service changed the name of the place from a “historical site” to a “Historical Park”The event was covered by newsmedia and a film crew. It was crowded but we were thrilled to witness such an historic event.
Ogden itself had a celebration at Union Station. Their annual Heritage Fest was expanded from 1 day to 3 days. Attendance was huge for all days with a big local turnout on Saturday, the final day. Locals seemed thrilled to see the steam locomotives. We also attended lectures on the Chinese workers so integral to the completion of the transcontinental railroad. The contribution of the Chinese was emphasized this year as they were totally ignored on the 100th anniversary in 1969. Speakers also addressed the Irish, African American and Mormon workers. As part of the Heritage Fest we saw excellent dance performances from Native American, Irish, Pacific Islander, India and Mexican dancers.
Our final event over the 150th celebration was a chase of the Big Boy as it headed east back to Cheyenne. Thousands of people lined the shoulder of I-84 and every side road along the route. Big Boy 4014 did not disappoint.
Last but not least we have a rare (for us) you-tube link to a video Dianne shot of the 2 giant steam locomotives on their way back to Cheyenne WY… https://youtu.be/ru6kzh058j8