For those of you who have never been to Ogden, Utah it is hard to describe to you the beauty of
setting for the Union Station downtown. You have the beautiful downtown scene beneath the
snowcapped mountains (at least there was snow when I was there). I can only image what it
was like when the train station was pushing trains through the area.
Union Station in Ogden, Utah, 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 Union Station include the Utah State Railroad Museum with the Wattis-Dumke Model Train Exhibit, the Eccles Rail Center, the John M. Browning Firearms Museum, and the Browning-Kimball Classic Car Museum.
The gift shop, 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 (a fantastic model train show that I thought was the actual museum).
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.
Wattis-Dumke Model Train Exhibit
Scale model scenes of local topography have been painstakingly created to depict the local terrain. A model of the early era Union Station and historic 25th street are a highlight. If you look closely at each of the landscapes you will see many have amusing tiny additions, such as a man floating in a barrel into the great salt lake, fisherman, a bat, birds, elk, a bald eagle. There are four operating model trains which start their runs as you enter the exhibit with a motion activated sensor.
John M. Browning Firearms Museum
Original models of firearms designed by John M. Browning are displayed in the museum. These include rifles, shotguns, pistols, machine guns, and cannons. Most familiar firearms, both sporting and military, are included in these inventions. The basic mechanisms of many modern firearms were first invented by John M. Browning, America's Gunmaker.
Browning-Kimball Classic Car Museum
If you enjoy classic cars, you should love the Browning-Kimball Classic Car. The automobiles on display are examples of the Golden Age of motorcar history. Museum vehicles range from a 1901 single cylinder Oldsmobile to a 1930 16 cylinder Cadillac. Running boards, huge fenders, oversize matchlit headlights and rumble seats are reminders of an extravagant era.
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. Commissary Building once stood. It houses several locomotives, as well as passenger cars, freight cars, cabooses, and railroad maintenance equipment.
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.
Monday - Saturday 10am - 5pm
Closed: New Year's Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day
2501 Wall Avenue