Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

Long Weekend Getaway, Day 2: To The Trains!

Today was the nominal climax of our trip and reason for coming out to Layton, and that was to visit the Utah State Railroad Museum, which is housed in Ogden Union Station along with several other museums, displays, exhibits, and event spaces. After breakfast, we made our way up to Ogden over surface streets from Layton on account of medium-heavy fog; it seemed safer to do it that way.

Challenger at Ogden Union Station

When we got to this place, we knew it must be where we were heading.

Ogden Union Station

The station is no longer active. Passenger trains returned to Ogden when the FrontRunner commuter rail station was built just north of Union Station. However, the former station here was adapted to multiple uses, especially museums.

Salt Lake Trestle

A single $7 fee gives admission to all of the museums housed at Union Station. The largest is the Utah State Railroad Museum. Just inside the main entrance is a section of the trestle that once spanned the Great Salt Lake as part of the original Lucin-Ogden cutoff that cut off the original circuitous route through Promontory. The trestle was replaced with an earth fill and the thousands of saltwater-soaked timbers salvaged.

Golden Spike Safe

This safe once housed the original golden spike driven at Promontory to ceremonially complete the original transcontinental railroad. When the spike was rehoused at Stanford University, this safe (with a replica golden spike) was donated to the Utah State Railroad Museum.

Utah State Railroad Museum

There are numerous historical displays, not all of which I photographed. There is also an impressive multi-chambered model railroad that reproduces elements of the Southern Pacific/Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads that connected Ogden to the rest of the nation.

Dining Car Bear

@TravelsWithKuma sat at the dining car table, but nobody came to take his order for the fish dinner.

Dispatcher Bear

Then he sat here at a Centralized Traffic Control (CTC) board making sure that the Salmon Express wasn't delayed.

Ogden Union Station

This display, including an unfortunately not-well-focused arrival-departure board, shows how busy Ogden once was when it hosted trains going in all directions.

Cab View

In the interactive displays, Kuma Bear sat in the locomotive cab as a rolling display of the railroad unfolded behind him.

Engineer Bear

Then he sat at the controls of the locomotive, but it's hard for him to operate the levers.

There's more to this building that just trains.

John M. Browning Firearms Museum

The John M. Browning Firearms Museum is upstairs above the Railroad Museum, with a huge display of the Browning family's contributions to firearms.

B.A.R. and Others

That includes the B.A.R. (Browning Automatic Rifle). This display includes an oversize version cut away to show detail.

Browning - Kimball Classic Car Museum

There is also a classic car museum...

Utah State Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum

...and a Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, whose photo I messed up and did not realize at the time was fuzzy.

That was just the museums inside. Outside there was even more on display, although before that I got distracted by an anime costumer.

Costume Shoot

As we walked out to look at the outdoor displays, I spotted this woman in costume doing a photo shoot. Lisa and I walked over and introduced ourselves and expressed our admiration for her work. (We showed we weren't exactly random people by showing her Lisa's Robotech and Sailor Jupiter costumes — I'm so glad I posted them recently!) I kicked myself for not getting an up-close shot of her costume, which was really nice. They seemed to appreciate us saying how much we liked her look.

After the anime side-track (ahem), we returned to train-spotting.

Ogden Union Station Locomotive Lineup

There's an impressive display here, including the UP "northern" (whose sister unit 844 is the only UP steam locomotive that never left active service and that still operates today), a UP "Centennial" DDA40X, the last Denver & Rio Grande locomotive to operate in DRGW paint,...

Ogden Union Station Locomotive Lineup

A Southern Pacific "tunnel motor" locomotive (designed so that operations in the railroad's many tunnels wouldn't cause the motors to overheat), and one of the few remaining UP "Big Blows."

Big Blow

UP 26 is a gas-turbine locomotive, and it is huge. I could not figure out any way to get the whole three-unit consist into a shot. These turbine units were called "Big Blows" because of the sound they made (somewhat like a jet plane) as they pulled heavy UP freight trains through the Wasatch Mountains and beyond.

Cauldron Car

Also on display is the one-of-a-kind "Cauldron Car" built to house the Olympic Flame during the run-up to the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.

Cauldron Car

Unfortunately, and while it may not be obvious from these pictures, even stored partially under cover, the elements have taken their toll on this car, whose paint is cracking and whose metal-work is rusting in places. It needs a restoration effort, less than 20 years after it traveled the rails carrying the flame across the country to the Olympics.

Utah Central

A Utah Central center-cab locomotive and caboose now sit at Platform 2. (The station platforms are fenced off from the main line. I do not know if there is still a connection that would allow equipment to be brought in to the museum by rail.)

Rotary at Ogden

A Union Pacific (Oregon-Washington Railroad and Navigation Co) steam rotary snowplow sits next to the boiler from a narrow-gauge Denver & Rio Grande Western locomotive that is part of a long-term restoration project.

Merci Utah

Out front is Utah's "Merci Car," one of 49 "40/8" French boxcars decorated and gifted to the 48 states (the 49th was "shared" between the District of Columbia and the Hawaii Territory) by the people of France after World War II. We think this is the fourth such Merci Car we've seen. Nevada's is at the Nevada State Railroad Museum.

Off the Rails

This sad little steam switch engine and its cars appear to be sitting on gravel with no rails under them.

After spending most of the day exploring the museum, we concluded that we had certainly gotten our money's worth, but that our legs and feet had had enough. We made a brief stop at a nearby model train store where Lisa found a few bits and pieces, and then it was time for an early dinner.

Brown Bear, Black Bear

Lisa shared some of her pancakes with Kuma Bear as we ticked off our 44th Black Bear Diner that we've visited. Remember, that's 44 separate locations, not the total number of visits, which is higher (particularly considering how many times we've had the all-you-can-eat Friday Fish at Fernley or the number of BASFA meetings I've attended in Milpitas).

While the fog had lifted, the freeway was still showing slow due to construction, so we made our way back to the hotel by surface streets again. This wasn't a bad thing, as it allowed us to have a look around, which we appreciated. Back at the hotel, we put on our swimsuits and took advantage of the hot tub. Unfortunately, Lisa's tinnitus is kicking back up again, but she was able to sit in the hot tub with her white-noise-masking radio wrapped in a towel. After about fifteen minutes, however, a group of children appeared, and between the screaming and the splashing (for which their mother apologized but was not quite able to corral), we decided that we were done.

We're still considering our travel plans for tomorrow as we head for home. It will depend upon the weather.
Tags: kuma bear, lisa, museum, ogden, trains, utah

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