Union Station (Ogden, Utah)
Former passenger rail depot
The main Union Station building, rebuilt in 1924 after a fire, houses the Utah State Railroad Museum.
|Address||2501 South Wall Avenue
|Platforms||1 island platform (currently unused)|
|Closed||May 1997 (for passenger rail service)|
|Owned by||Ogden City|
Ogden Union Depot
|Architect||John Parkinson and Donald B. Parkinson|
|Architectural style||Spanish Colonial Revival|
|NRHP Reference #||71000867
05000363 (boundary increase)
|Added to NRHP||11 April 1971
29 April 2005 (boundary increase)
Union Station in Ogden, Utah, United States also known as Ogden Union Station, is located at the west end of Historic 25th Street, just south of the Ogden Intermodal Transit Center. It was formerly the junction of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads. The name Union Station was commonly given to train stations where tracks and facilities were shared by two or more railway companies.
Although Union Station no longer serves as a railway hub, it is the heart of Ogden and remains a gathering place for the community. The museums housed at the Station include the Utah State Railroad Museum, the Eccles Rail Center, the John M. Browning Firearms Museum, and the Browning-Kimball Classic Car Museum. Gifts at the Station sells gifts and a variety of museum related items, books, prints, jewelry, and souvenirs. Gallery at the Station is a for sale exhibit that features local and regional artists every month. The Myra Powell Gallery features traveling exhibits and the Station's permanent art collection. Union Station Research Library has an extensive collection of historic Ogden photographs and documents available to the public. Also housed inside the building are the Union Grill Restaurant, United States Forest Service Public Lands Information Center, and Warren's Train Shop.
The last long-distance passenger trains to use Union Station were the final runs of Amtrak's Pioneer through Ogden in May 1997. The adjacent Ogden Intermodal Transit Center currently serves the Utah Transit Authority's (UTA) FrontRunner commuter rail line.
On 8 March 1869, Union Pacific came to Ogden on its way to Promontory Summit to meet the Central Pacific, thus completing the transcontinental rail line. Four cities near this location, Corinne, Promontory, Uintah, and Ogden, competed with each other for the opportunity to house the train station that would be the junction for railroad travel in the Intermountain West. Promontory and Uintah lacked the necessary resources to house the Station. Corinne and Ogden competed for many years for the "Junction City" title, until Brigham Young donated several hundred acres of land to the two railroads on the condition that they build the yards and station in west Ogden.
The first station was built in 1869. It was a two-story wooden frame building built on a mud flat on the banks of the Weber River. The building soon became inadequate, being also the facility for the narrow gauge Utah Central Railroad (later Oregon Short Line) and the narrow gauge Rio Grande Western (later Denver & Rio Grande Western). Local newspapers complained about, among other things, the quarter mile of wood boardwalk required to traverse the swampy ground to reach the station. In response to these worries the Union Pacific and Central Pacific organized the jointly-owned Ogden Union Railway & Depot Co. (OUR&D) to oversee the construction and management of a new Union Station. A new structure, considerably larger than the old and constructed of brick, was built in 1889 and served the community for several decades. It was designed in the Romanesque style, with a large clock tower in the center. This building, in addition to serving the needs of the railroad, also contained 33 hotel rooms as well as a restaurant, barbershop, and other conveniences for the enjoyment of the traveler.
In 1923, a hotel room in the depot caught fire, which quickly spread throughout the building. The blaze was unable to be controlled, and the inside of the depot was destroyed, leaving the walls and clock tower standing in a fragile state. No deaths or injuries were reported, and work continued inside the first floor to some extent, but construction on a new building did not start until a stone from the clock tower fell and struck a railroad clerk, killing him instantly. Originally, the OUR&D planned on rebuilding the station in its original design, but the accident reversed this decision and a new design was proposed by John and Donald Parkinson, architects of the Caliente Depot in Nevada and the Kelso Depot in California.
The construction of the current building was completed in 1924 in the Spanish Colonial Revival (also known as Early Christian/Byzantine) style and is built on the foundation of the earlier building. It was dedicated on 22 November of that year, with a series of publicity shots being taken. One of these shots, showing thirteen young women pulling the first train to arrive at the station by ribbons, made its way into the La Domenica del Corriere, an Italian newspaper, with the headline "Curious American Custom". The ceiling of the Grand Lobby, taking up the center portion of the building, has a height of 56 feet and extends to the roof. The trusses were originally painted in bright colors with geometric designs, but have since been painted over with a faux wood grain. Murals of the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad were painted on the north and south end of the lobby. The second floors of the north and south wing were occupied by Southern Pacific, Ogden Union Railway & Depot Co., and Union Pacific Telegraph Department offices.
Of special note are the two drinking fountains on either end of the Grand Lobby. These fountains, surrounded by colored mosaics, were the favorite resting spot of Ogden Union Railway & Depot Co. Superintendent Hubert Lloyd Bell. At Bell's passing in 1927 the OUR&D placed a bronze plaque, bearing his likeness, over the fountain on the north end. The plaque reads "In Memory of Hubert Lloyd Bell SUPT. O.U.RY. AND D. Co., 1918-1927, A Just Man, A Friend Who Will Be Remembered".
Plans to turn the station into a museum were first brought forward during the centennial celebration of the driving of the golden spike in 1969. It wasn't until 1971, when Amtrak formally took over passenger operations through Ogden, that these plans were taken seriously. The station building was turned over to Ogden City on a 50-year lease in 1977 and renovations were begun to house the planned museums. At the dedication ceremony in 1978, Union Pacific ran their famous UP 8444 (now number 844) at the head of a special passenger train from Cheyenne, Wyoming, to the new museum. They also donated a steam derrick (built by Industrial Works) and a steam rotary snow plow (built by ALCO in 1912), which were the last pieces of steam-powered equipment in use on the Union Pacific System. In 1988 the State of Utah designated the Union Station as the Utah State Railroad Museum to handle the railroad artifacts. This spurred a series of donations by the Union Pacific through the years, including UP 6916, a DD40AX "Centennial" (one of the largest locomotives ever built), and D&RGW 5371, the only SD40-T2 "Tunnel Motor" in its original Denver & Rio Grande Western paint scheme. Railroad equipment was brought in from other places, like UP 833, and FEF3 class steam locomotive and the largest to be moved by truck, which was moved from Salt Lake City's Pioneer Park.
The station building now houses the Utah State Railroad Museum, John M. Browning Firearms Museum, Warren's Train Shop, Union Grill, the US Forest Service district office, and a library and archives. It plays host to various conventions and events, including the annual Hostlers Model Railroad Festival, weddings, Ogden Marathon Expo, craft and bridal fairs.
Railway Post Office/Mail Terminal Annex
This building was constructed in 1929 to serve the needs of the United States Postal Department. It is located directly north of the Union Station building. In 1950 a flat-roofed addition was constructed on the east and was used to sort mail. The Railway Post office closed in the 1970s. Following the conversion of the station complex to a museum, an addition was constructed in between the station and the annex, connecting the two buildings and allowing year-round indoor access to the facilities in the annex. Currently the Mail Terminal Annex houses the Browning Theatre and the Browning-Kimball Classic Car Museum.
The Trainmen's Building is the northernmost structure on the Union Station grounds. It was constructed of red brick some time between 1903 and 1923 and predates the current station building. It served as the Railway Post Office (used for sorting mail) until 1929 when the Mail Terminal Annex was constructed to the south, then was used as a crew locker room for the Ogden Union Railway & Depot Co., owner of the Union Station and in turn jointly owned by Union Pacific and Southern Pacific. Space in the building was taken up with lockers, a changing room and a lunch room.
In 2006, Ogden City installed fluorescent lighting and an alarm system to the building, which up to that time had been vacant. The building is now used as a shop for the restoration of D&RGW 223, a narrow gauge steam locomotive. Restoration is being done by the Golden Spike Chapter of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society.
The passenger shelter along tracks 1 and 2 is the only remaining canopy of a series of five. The other four canopies were demolished in April 1969. It was built in 1928 to Southern Pacific plans and is similar to canopies at the Sacramento Station in California, and is 23 feet wide. During the peak of passenger train travel in 1927, a tunnel was built under the eleven tracks with stairways to the surface at each platform. Called the passenger subway, this tunnel allowed pedestrians to access all eleven tracks from the Grand Lobby, bypassing those tracks that were occupied by trains. When passenger service ended the tunnel was filled in for safety purposes, although when the platform was repaved in 2008 a portion of the tunnel was uncovered. Plans are to place a glass over the uncovered portion for visitors to see.
The Butterfly Canopy and platforms are host to Union Pacific's Steam Team during their east–west trips over the Transcontinental Railroad route and the former Rio Grande Soldier Summit route. The operating water column at the north end, which is connected to the Ogden City water line, allows the steam locomotives to be serviced conveniently.
The laundry operations at Union Station date to 1906, when they were carried out in the commissary building (now demolished, on the site of the current Eccles Rail Center). Soiled linens and cloth from sleeper and diner cars were removed from the trains and washed during their stop in Ogden. In 1951, Union Pacific constructed a 100 by 180 foot brick building for the express purpose of washing laundry; prior to this time excess laundry that was not able to be handled in the commissary building was sent out to commercial facilities.
The building was constructed to centralize the Union Pacific's laundry operations and to cut costs by an estimated fifty percent. It was the only laundry facility constructed by the Union Pacific and was expected to pay for itself within three years. Laundry was sent to Ogden from all ends of the Union Pacific Lines, and even took in laundry from Sun Valley, Idaho; West Yellowstone Lodge; Bryce Canyon National Park; Zion National Park; and Grand Canyon National Park, as well as other resorts and hotels.
The use of the latest equipment, such as nine Troy Electromatic washers; 42 individual pressers; and seven diesel powered Vapor-Clarkson steam generators, as well as 105 employees, gave the building a capacity to process 110,000 individual pieces of laundry during an eight-hour shift, or about 13,333 individual pieces per hour.
The laundry facility was closed in 1970 and was donated to the City of Ogden in 1986. It remains empty to this day.
Eccles Rail Center
The Eccles Rail Center is a collection of prototype equipment from various railroads in the west, most notably Union Pacific. It occupies the spot where the Ogden Union Railway & Depot Co. (OUR&D) Commissary Building once stood. It houses several locomotives, as well as passenger cars, freight cars, cabooses, and railroad maintenance equipment.
- Denver & Rio Grande Western 223 is a class C-16 Consolidation type steam locomotive built in 1881 by the Grant Locomotive Works. It is one of only two remaining Grant-built locomotives in the world and is currently undergoing restoration.
- D&RGW 5371
- Denver & Rio Grande Western 5371 is the last SD40T-2 "Tunnel Motor" to be in its original Rio Grande paint colors. It was retired in 2009 and moved into the Rail Center in 2010.
- SP 3769
- SP 7457
- Southern Pacific 7457 is the first SD45 to be built for that railroad in 1966. It last saw service on Donner Pass. It was donated to the Utah State Railroad Museum in 2002.
- UCRY 1237
- Utah Central Railway 1237 is a 44-ton General Electric diesel switcher, originally built for the U.S. Air Force with the same number in 1953. It was donated to the Utah State Railroad Museum, and subsequently leased to the Utah Central Railway where it got its current paint scheme. It has since been returned to the Museum.
- UP 833
- Union Pacific 833 is an FEF-2 class steam locomotive, built by the American Locomotive Company (ALCO) in 1939. It was originally donated to the Salt Lake City in 1972, and when transferred to Ogden in 1999 it obtained the distinction of being the largest locomotive in the United States to be moved by truck.
- UP 4436
- Union Pacific 4436 is an 0-6-0 steam switcher built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1918. It was last used in Cheyenne, Wyoming. It was donated to the City of Ogden in 1958, and moved to the Utah State Railroad Museum upon its establishment.
- Union Pacific 6916 is a DD40AX "Centennial" diesel locomotive built by General Motors' Electro-Motive Division (EMD) in 1969. Retired in 1985 and donated to the Utah State Railroad Museum in 1986.
- UP X-26
- Union Pacific X-26 is one of the Union Pacific GTELs built by General Electric in 1961. It was advertised as the "most powerful locomotive in the world". Popularly known as "Big Blows", it is one of only two that survived.
- U.S. Army 1216
- USAX 1216 is a 44-ton Davenport Locomotive Works switcher that was originally used at the Tooele Army Depot in Tooele, Utah.
While the future of the Union Station will mostly involve the museums contained therein, there still exists a small chance of resumed passenger rail service. As recently as 2009 Amtrak was involved in feasibility studies regarding the restoration of some of its previously discontinued routes, including the Pioneer. As part of the study, four routes for the Pioneer were considered. While two of the proposed routes would bypass Salt Lake City, all four would be routed through Ogden. However, with the development of the nearby Ogden Intermodal Transit Center, it is most likely any future Amtrak service would connect at the Transit Center instead of the Union Station.
- Strack, Don. "Ogden Rails, Ogden Union Station". Retrieved 19 Jan 2011.
- Powell, Kent (1972). "Ogden Union Depot". National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination Form. National Park Service. Retrieved 6 May 2009.
- Trentelman, Charles. "In 1925, historic Ogden touched hearts as far away as Milan, Italy". Retrieved 19 Jan 2011.
- Trentelman, Charles (13 Aug 2010). "Stories like these are why I never throw anything away". Standard-Examiner.
- Strack, Don. "Utah State Railroad Museum at Ogden Union Station". Retrieved 19 Jan 2011.
- Witten, Lee. "Golden Spike Chapter, R&LHS". Retrieved 17 Jan 2011.
- Amtrak (16 Oct 2009). "Pioneer Route Passenger Rail Study". Retrieved 18 Nov 2012.
- "Ogden studies `transportation hub' idea". Deseret News (Salt Lake City: Deseret Digital Media). Associated Press. 6 Apr 1997. Retrieved 28 Jul 2013.
Media related to Ogden Union Station at Wikimedia Commons
- Utah State Railroad Museum
- Utah State Railroad Museum prototype equipment, from the Golden Spike Chapter R&LHS website
- Historic Union Station & Ogden 25th Street at the Utah Office of Tourism's Utah.com website.
- Ogden Intermodal Tranist Center Quick Facts