Friday, March 14, 2014

Ogden’s first two viaducts

WHEN did the 24th Street Viaduct across the railroad yard originate in Ogden?
It was rebuilt in more modern times, but here’s the scoop on the original trestle-like viaduct:
“Iron workers start on the railroad viaduct” was a January 24, 1909 headline in the Standard-Examiner.
“Contractor E.H. Dundas and a force of men are placing derricks and making other preparations for an active campaign – temporary western approach is to be torn down at a later date,” the story continued.
As early as February of 1902, the Ogden City Council had mentioned the need for such a viaduct, because of safety reasons, as well as traffic congestion and even more for tourism.
Crossing dozens of train tracks was bumpy, time consuming and downright dangerous in such a busy railroad area.
Eleven cars of iron and steel arrived from the east to begin the project. The viaduct was open in the summer of that same year, as the rush project enhanced downtown access from West Ogden.
Some two years later, in 1911, special and serious problems on the new viaduct were being wrestled with. The Southern Pacific Railway Company asked Ogden City in September of that year to begin sprinkling the viaduct with water twice a day.
Refuse accumulated on the viaduct and sparks from locomotives passing underneath the structure had caused many fires to date.
Such fires have burned holes in the wood planking of the viaduct. An average of one fire response call a day was the average.
By December 24, 1924, the Standard reported a plan by Ogden City and the Weber Club to light up the viaduct at night, as well as the area around the Union Passenger Station. This was to hopefully make Ogden one of the most brilliantly lighted cities in the west.
“The fact that the viaduct has been the scene of many crimes recently has suggested to the Weber Club that this long bridge over the yards would be much more safe at night if brilliantly lighted,” the Standard article reported.
How about the railroad/river viaduct in Riverdale, when did that initial project take place?
The area where this southern viaduct approach to Ogden would go was called “Death Curve” in a Dec. 31, 1922 Standard article.
Apparently, the original road in the area not only had a sharp curve by the river, but was also narrow and simply inadequate.
Financing and proper planning had delayed this project for years.  It was finally built in 1923, a concrete structure with dirt fill.
Of course, that viaduct has also been totally rebuilt in recent years. It is also certain that no one ever dreamed 90 years ago that the later viaduct – the Riverdale one – would eventually become far busier and more crucial to Ogden City than the original 24th Street Viaduct would.

(-Originally published in the Ogden Standard-Examiner on March 14, 2014.)

-NOTE: The author, Lynn Arave, is available to speak to groups, clubs, classes or other organizations about Utah history at no charge. He can be contacted by email at:  

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