What do we do May 10, 2019 if the federal government is still shut down?

Posted by Jim Wrinn
on Friday, January 25, 2019

As the federal government shutdown rolls on, a few people are asking an important question about May 10, 2019: What will the thousands of people who want to celebrate the event do if the National Park Service site at Promontory Summit is still closed that day? What happens if we’re not all gathered around two gleaming 4-4-0 replicas and impersonators of Durant and Stanford? What will happen to the party that was planned for the 150th anniversary of the first transcontinental railroad? Where will we go?


Among the National Railway Historical Society, the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society, the Union Pacific Historical Society, and the Southern Pacific Historical & Technical Society there are a few thousand people coming. Add in the big steam fans out to see Big Boy, thousands of fans there on their own, and a few thousand civilians (public) who just think it might be cool to stand with the sagebrush at Promontory at 12:47 p.m., and it will be quite a mob.


I’ve been thinking about what we’d all do with ourselves. Based on several visits to the area, here are my best recommendations:


• Corrine or Bringham City

Pros: Two small towns that are closest to Promontory. Both on active rail lines. Corrine was a big Hell on Wheels town.

Cons: Golden Spike Burgers in Corrine could be swamped with long lines. Fried chicken at Maddox Ranch house in Bringham City could run out.


• Ogden

Pros: UP’s 844 and Big Boy 4014 will be simmering anyway. Ogden Union Station. Commuter trains. Plenty of food and drink on 25th street right out the front door of the station. Hotels within walking distance.

Cons: UP will have already done its pantomime of the Golden Spike ceremony with the two big engines the day before. A very un-Promontory urban place.


• Salt Lake City

Pros: NRHS’s convention is already there. Lots of amenities. Easy access.

Cons: Like Ogden, it’s a far cry from the wilderness.


• Heber

Pros: Heber Valley tourist railroad could re-enact the ceremony with diesels or at least one steam locomotive, 2-8-0 No. 618 if its restoration is finished.

Cons: An hour and 15 minutes from Ogden where most of the party would be. Steam might not be ready. NRHS and R&LHS are visiting there on May 11, anyway.  


• Echo

Pro: Largely abandoned but charming village. Scenic, spectacular location on the original UP transcontinental main line.

Con: Two SD70Aces nose-to-nose on the main line would probably mess up new PSR protocols. Probably hard to get everyone squeezed in between the mountain and the river. Also, too far to hit one of the best hidden eateries around, Taggart’s Grill in Morgan, Utah.


Bottom line: There’s no good alternative. Let’s hope the feds figure out something soon. History, like a lot of folks, is waiting for this feud to be over, too.






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