Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Toot, Toot, Chug, Chug

We're in a nice little RV Park in Ogden, UT at the moment which is a main street town with several fairly challenging ski areas, two of them helicopter available so some die-hards are still skiing! Ogden's big draw is the Union Pacific train station, now a museum, and all of the train read on, if you wish.....Sybil's version!

About 1862 President Grant offered bonds and land/mile to any entity that would lay train tracks from the east coast to Nevada, and the same for any other entity that would finish from the west coast. So the Central Pacific RR Co. headed west and the Union Pacific RR Co. headed east. Now the UP (that would be the Big Four RR Barons and Brigham Young) had the crappy job of getting over Donner Pass. Thrown into the mix were 1,000's of European immigrants who were hired on by CP to lay track who then discovered that once they got their first pay check they could get drunk and go look for gold so the more reliable Chinese were's that for a short summary of RR labor? Anyway, the CP and UP were in heavy competition, moving everyday at lightening speed to lay the track, taking bets with each other, etc. Since there was bond money and land involved and these guys weren't stupid, instead of stopping where they would meet, they just kept going, bypassing each other for around 100 miles each way! Now President Grant and his boys in Washington, not having thought this out too well, had to freeze the ante until they agreed on a location to meet and join tracks.........and that, you all, is how Ogden, UT (or then known as Junction City) was put on the map and we got to spend the day at the museum! The actually joining occurred 50 miles NW of Ogden where the gold spike was driven to celebrate the completion of the transcontinental RR. Eventually, Rio Grande RR purchased CP, then UP bought it all out and the gold spike lies in the UP Museum somewhere.

We saw some super old trains (see pix); #833 is a steam engine (complete with "elephant ears" to keep the fumes blowing upwards over the train rather than aphixiate the crew!) built around 1880 and retired from service in 1961. She (trains are always "she's" I guess?!) weighed 225 tons and carried over 24,000 gallons of water plus all that coal. #26 is a yellow Union Pacific diesel engine built in 1961 and retired in 1984 after over one million miles of service. She weighed about the same, held around 24,000 gallons of diesel fuel and so powerful (actually the most powerful locomotive ever built) she could pull 7 miles of cars....yikes!

The museum also houses a classic American car display of about 30 cars 1925-35 vintage, and a antique gun/ammunition display.

More later......we're having a good ol' time!

Sybil & Peter

PS: Wasn't able to download pics, hopefully, they will follow.

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