Monday, April 28, 2014

Ogden's Union Station celebrated 90 years in 2014

Ogden’s present day Union Station, a museum since 1978, is actually the third version train depot in town and was actually dedicated on Nov. 22, 1924.  The station’s two predecessors set the stage for today’s structure.
Why should this anniversary be important to Ogden area residents?
Ogden wouldn't be Ogden without Union Station,”  Charles Trentelman, a member of the Union Station Foundation Board of Directors and also as a volunteer archivist at the station, said.
“The railroads changed Ogden from a sleepy agricultural backwater to a bustling transportation and manufacturing hub, and the railroads funneled everything they did through this station,” he noted.
“Agriculture, business, manufacturing and tourism all flowed through Union Station and it was critical to the locals that the station reflect the aspirations of the community for growth and development.”

Trentelman marvels at Union Station today.
“My own most common thought about Union Station is just sheer amazement that it is still here and still in such good condition 90 years later,” he said. “This station jumped out of the ground in 18 months between 1923 and 1924 and, 90 years later, is still standing, much of it original, still in very good shape and still serving a very valuable role in the community.”

The first train station in Ogden was a small, two-story building on the banks of the Weber River, which opened in 1869. As Ogden beat out Corrine to become “Junction City,” that facility quickly became inadequate, let alone the swampy ground surrounding it.
So, the Union and Central Pacific combined forces in 1889 to build a much larger Union Station, of brick, with a center clock tower, at today’s Station site of 25th and Wall Avenue.
This grand station was dedicated on Dec. 31 that year and featured a city-wide holiday and attracted some 6,000 people. This second train station included 33 hotel rooms, a restaurant and even a barbershop. This station worked well for over three decades. In 1920, some $11,000 was spent repapering, painting and roofing the building. An underground walkway to separate tracks to the west was also built.

However, on Feb. 13, 1923, one of those hotel rooms caught fire and quickly spread to the rest of the station. No one was killed, or injured, but everything was gutted, with only fragile walls and a clock left standing.
Just three days later, a temporary waiting room had been constructed near the unusable station. The ticket offices moved to the nearby Healy Hotel building.
Yet, Ogden was not originally going to get a new train station after the fire.
“Old Station to be patched up in Ogden. Hopes of getting a new building dashed by Railroads” was a Feb. 14, 1923 headline in the Ogden Standard-Examiner.

Since the station’s walls had not been leveled, the Ogden Union Railway & Depot Company, which owned the building, thought they could just restore what was there before – clock tower and all.
Soon after, a stone fell off the clock tower and instantly killed a railroad clerk. This accident – as well as pleading by city officials for a new building -- prompted railroad officials to raze the shell of the old Romanesque style building and start over with a new design in Spanish Colonial Revival style.
Bids were delayed on a new building, as officials desired a double size waiting room and a larger baggage room too.

John and Donald Parkinson, principals of a Los Angeles architectural firm, designed the new depot.
Bids finally went out in the late fall of 1923 and construction began on the $450,000 structure ($6.2 million in 2014 dollars).
By April 8, 1924, the last old wall came down, revealing an intact copper cornerstone box, full of mementos from the 1880s and earlier.
Construction went into high speed in the summer of 1924 and “New station going up fast” was the July 22 headline in the Standard that year. The Grand Lobby’s soaring cathedral ceiling is one of many structure highlights.

Some trees were also removed from the frontage along Wall Avenue, to make room for more automobile parking.
According to Don Strack of, by March of 1927, the underground walkway tunnel was expanded, because of increasing passenger demand.
In 1928, 5,600 feet of sheds were built outside, next to the rails, to protect waiting passengers from the elements. (These were all removed in 1969).
For nearly 40 more years, Ogden’s third train station was a bustling, focal point of northern Utah. But by the 1960s, increasing use of the automobile, Interstate freeways and air travel had dwindled passenger service by rail nation-wide and Ogden was no exception.
It required 10 years of work for the city to obtain the historic station. Former Standard-Examiner editor Murray Moler said this was done:” To restore the pride of Ogdenites in living in ‘Junction City,’ the hub of the West's vital transportation routes since the Transcontinental Railroad was completed in 1869.”
Moler was certain the wrecker’s ball would target the historic Union Station, if it were not saved as a public structure.
By 1969, Moler and many in Ogden incorrectly believed they had the railroad’s support in giving Ogden the building. Much more work and lobbying was required for that to happen.

 Elizabeth (Teddy) Griffith, of the Junior League of Ogden, did a history of Union Station that listed the structure on the National Register of Historic Buildings.(She would later direct all the renovations.)

Next, Donna Adams, Ogden City Recorder, also found a copy of a Brigham Young-signed document, giving the railroads the land for Union Station-- with the stipulation  that it always be a depot.

In 1973, Ogden City created  the Union Station Development Corporation to manage the future property.

“Ogden officials, including the local newspaper, worked hard again between 1969 and 1978 to preserve the station, both as a representation of the city's cultural heritage and as a key builder of the future,” Trentelman said. “The station serves as a community gathering place, major tourist attraction, storage vault of historical artifacts and stories, and as a commercial and cultural focal point for the entire city.” 

The Junior League gave $15,000 to seed the project. The Ogden City Council  and Mayor A. Stephen Dirks chipped in $50,000. Another $150,000 was received in Bicentennial money. The State of Utah provided $600,000 more, a federal grant provided another $650,000 – and there were more funding sources too.
The now leaking roof was replaced and a design retrofit for a museum and convention center was underway in 1977 with architects Ronald Hales and Steven Ballard.
A pair of historic murals were created for the main lobby.

There were three major contractors -- John Wadman's Ben Lomond Construction Company, Burton Construction Company and Cornwall Construction Company.

The remodeling was finished by mid-1978. Special team locomotives were furnished by Union Pacific for the dedication.
Another key highlight came along in 1988 when Union Station was designated as the official Utah State Railroad Museum.
The last true passenger trains to actually utilize Union Station were from Amtrak in May of 1997, ending Amtrak’s solo use of the station since 1971.
Trentelman said that Union Station's role during World War II is the one story he hears the most often when folks are looking for something amazing to say about the station. Many of thousands of soldiers a day who traveled through Union Station to wars in Europe and the Pacific remember the station years later, although their time spent on 25th Street might have something to do with that.

For example, he explains:
“On a back wall -- we can show you this, it was uncovered a couple of years ago when we took down old sheetrock -- one of those soldiers scratched the date of the end of World War II in the Pacific -- a memorable date for that soldier because it meant he wouldn't be shipping out to invade Japan and, probably, get killed. Ward Armstrong, who volunteers on Thursdays in our Browning gun museum, was a kid working at the family sporting goods store on 25th Street that day and remembers the conga line all up and down the street.”
Today, the historic Union Station is also much more than a railroad depot. It has also been home for the John M. Browning Firearms Museum for 35 years and to the Browning-Kimball Classic Car Museum for more than three decades. The Utah Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum opened at Union Station in June of 2013.
The Myra Powell Gallery is also home to the Union Station’s permanent collection of art.
Wedding ceremonies and receptions of up to 500 guests can rent out Union Station. Onsite catering is also available from Union Grill.
“The museums at the station reflect wide aspects of Weber County's history -- railroad, cowboy and Browning Arms,” Trentelman stated. “The Browning-Kimball car museum hints at the leading families that led the commercial development of the area. “
 He also said Ogden's Historic 25th Street's renovation has used Union Station as a catalyst, and will continue to do so. Union Station is used in advertising by most of the businesses along 25th Street. The museums bring people from all over the world.
The visit of a C-Span news team to Ogden in April centered around Union Station. 

(-Written by Lynn Arave and originally published in the Ogden Standard-Examiner, April 27, 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:  

Friday, April 25, 2014

1891: Arrested for cutting hair on Sunday

SOME 123 years ago in Ogden it was actually a crime to have a business open on Sunday.
“The Reed hotel barber was arrested yesterday for keeping his shop open on Sunday. He will have a hearing this morning,” as quoted from the Sept. 30, 1891 Ogden Standard-Examiner.
(The Reed Hotel, 2510 Washington Boulevard, was the forerunner to today’s Bigelow-Ben Lomond Hotel.)
That Sunday closing law would vanish less than 15 years later and then only it was only the serving of alcoholic beverages that was strictly controlled on the first day of the week.
However, as recent at 62 years ago, there was a failed move to re-instate Ogden’s Sunday closing law for businesses. An August 9, 1952 headline in the Standard stated: “Ogden Council studies Sunday closing law.”
But, back to the late 19th Century, one of the most widespread of crimes in Utah and most of the nation then was pickpocketing.
“Chris Tolman, one of the most noted pickpockets in San Francisco, was arrested a few days ago but was allowed to depart if he left Ogden behind him. This he did in good shape,” a Sept. 30, 1891 Standard article stated.
Indeed, there were warning signs posted around Salt Lake’s Temple Square in the early 20th Century, warning of possible pickpockets.
-Other Ogden historical tidbits of note:
-Ogden’s first anti-spitting law was enacted in November of 1898.
-“Dead horse caused considerable uproar” was an August 14, 1909 story in the Standard. A horse, dead for a week, and left in lower Strong’s Canyon was causing residents to leave their homes and worry about drinking water contamination.
The animal had been sick and put to pasture in that area. The Health Department ordered the Call Brothers, who own a stable at 354 23rd Street, to remove the body and have it cremated.
-Although the winter of 1948-1949 was the most severe of all in Northern Utah for the 20th Century, the winter of 1898-1899 was also an awful season. “The heavy mountain snows” was a March 15, 1899 headline in the Standard. The report stated that canyons such as Waterfall, Strong’s, Coldwater, Taylor and Wheeler were filled with record icy snow, 20 to 50 feet deep. Fears of flooding in the South Fork of the Ogden River were also present.
-Wildfires are also not a modern disaster. “Birds and rabbits perish in flames sweeping hillside” was an August 27, 1926 Standard headline.  A fire then in the south slope of Strong’s Canyon was two miles wide and reaching the head of Birth Creek. The fire’s cause was unknown, but Boy Scouts armed with shovels from troop numbers 2, 16, 20 and 24  helped turn the flames away from farm and home properties in the area.

(-Written by Lynn Arave and originally published in the Ogden Standard Examiner, April 25, 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:  

Friday, April 18, 2014

Ogden Canyon’s ‘Bridal Veil Falls’

By Lynn Arave

Ogdenites were simply fascinated with waterfalls around the end of the 19th Century -- like the one in Waterfall Canyon (featured the two previous weeks in this column), so much so that they created their own water drop, near the mouth of Ogden Canyon, Utah.
Indeed the June 28, 1912 Standard referred to the Ogden Canyon waterfall as the “Bridal Veil Falls of Ogden.” That year, the Western Weekly publication had a full-page illustration of the waterfall at the mouth of Ogden Canyon. It didn’t matter that the falls were manmade, they were still a solid tourist attraction and one of the first things visitors to Ogden Canyon saw.
“For years this beautiful waterfall has arrested the attention of sojourners in Ogden Canyon and it can be said that no other bit of scenic charm in the Wasatch ranger remains longer in the memory of the visitor than does this fairy bridal veil as it leaps from a beetling cliff 800 feet above the roadway, dissipating itself into fluffy clouds of vapor ere it has fallen one-half the distance to the stream below,” the Standard story stated.
The story then explained an old, lengthy Ute Indian tale, “The Leap of Little Swan,” as the fanciful legend of how the artificial cascade “began,” that delighted thousands of summer visitors to Ogden Canyon.
The Ogden Canyon falls were created in the late 1880s when Fred Packard of Utah Power & Light conceived the idea of an artificial water cascade there. He changed a cracked tunnel to an open waterway through the rocks with a giant blast of dynamite.
The falls served two necessary purposes: they prevented a vacuum forming in the pipeline and they also managed overflow water that had to be turned back in the Ogden River above certain irrigation canals.
Long before Rainbow Gardens came along at the mouth of Ogden Canyon, “Rainbow Cataract” was what a Standard article on March 9, 1889 called the artificial falls near the mouth of the canyon.
By 1907, a November 5th Standard article called it the largest waterfall in the state and noted that water was flowing 12 months a year there, dropping some 400 feet.
However, that year-round flow soon created “a frigid threatening monster,” according to one Standard report. On Dec. 23, 1909, a huge icicle had formed around the falls, threatening travelers and spectators below. An avalanche of ice and snow destroyed the regular bridge across the Ogden River at the mouth of Ogden Canyon. Travelers and teams were having to use the separate Rapid Transit Trolley bridge to access the canyon. The waterfall flow was cut off. A temporary bridge was later made and the icicle was blasted away in small patches.
In later years, changes were made so that such ice buildup in winter was kept to a minimum.
“Waterfall is again an attraction in Canyon” was an Aug. 8, 1917 Standard headline. Broken pipeline repairs by Utah Power has halted the waterfall for several weeks, “a source of regret to many tourists who have seen photographs of the beautiful bridal veils and anticipated seeing this novelty in the canyon.”

(-Written by Lynn Arave and originally published in the Ogden Standard-Examiner on April 18, 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:  

Thursday, April 10, 2014

1922: When Ogden relocated the falls in Waterfall Canyon

                        The Waterfall in the spring of 2015.
By Lynn Arave

THE treasured and historic waterfall in Ogden's Waterfall Canyon has always been exactly where it is now, right?
It was "moved" for about six months in the 1920s, though there is no mention of that feat in any history book.
They weren't called the "roaring twenties" for nothing. Remember this was the era of national alcoholic prohibition and locally it was when Weber County vainly tried to enforce a vast outdoor game preserve in the Wasatch Mountains from Weber Canyon to the North Ogden Divide.
Well, it was also when the Ogden Kiwanis Club, in cooperation with Ogden City officials, re-routed the waterfall itself in Waterfall Canyon, for about six months, from November of 1922 to May of 1923.
Talk of rerouting the falls had originally surfaced more than a decade earlier.
"Would make beautiful falls" was a Standard-Examiner headline on June 1, 1912. H.C. Bigelow, president of the Ogden State Bank, said he would give the first $100 toward conveying the falls through a short flume, further to the northwest, so it could be visible from all points in the city. He believed this would be a one thousand percent improvement in Ogden area scenery.
Arthur Kuhn, A.F.Parker, H.J. Craven and A.P. Bigelow were all named later that month by the Ogden publicity bureau to a committee to study such a proposal, estimated to cost about $500.
"City to start work on falls, Cataract to fall over precipice in full view of Ogden" was the Standard headline on Sept. 20, 1922.
"Queer moving job in Ogden just finished" was the headline on Nov. 12, 1922, as the dream became a reality.
Why the project took more than a decade to fruition was never mentioned.
"One of the strangest moving jobs ever undertaken in the west has just been completed -- the removal of a waterfall," the story stated.
No cost was mentioned, but pipes conveyed the water from the "its old-tumbling over place" in the secluded southeast corner of Waterfall Canyon, to a new spot where "it now dashes over the rocks nearly 300 feet."
That presumably took the falls hundreds of feet to the northwest, where the vast cliffs below the south end of Malan's Peak made it much more visible from numerous vantage points -- and pretty much tripled its drop.
(Otherwise, like today, the falls are only visible in the spring, or in high water flow, ideally from the 30th-32nd Street area, and best viewed from the west side of town.
The water volume in November of 1922 was noted as low, as usual, in the late fall season and hopes of "a picturesque appearance" next spring and summer were dreamed for.
But tragedy struck.
"Vandals ruin unique falls east of city, Project for making cataract visible in Ogden defeated" was a May 13, 1923 headline in the Standard.
"The result of many days of work and expenditures of hundreds of dollars have been wiped out through the malicious mischief of unknown persons in Waterfall Canyon," the story reported.
A Boy Scout executive made a trip up the canyon and found the pipeline utterly destroyed, with many joints hurled over cliffs.
To repair the damage would cost almost as much as the original effort, with only a few sections of pipe intact.
"And now just when the falls would be most beautiful and a unique attraction the work has been undone by vandals," The Standard report concluded.
There's no more newspaper mention on repairing the damage as the project was simply abandoned and the falls were back to their original course.
However, this vandalism was reminiscent of what had also happened in nearby Malan's Basin/Heights, where vandals had burned/destroyed what remained of the former hotel there, also in about the same time period.
Weber County was simply fascinated with waterfalls in the early 20th Century. Not only were there numerous newspaper accounts of this appreciation of Waterfall Canyon (also featured in this column last Friday), but another falls -- the artificial waterfall (sometimes called "Rainbow Cataract" back then) at the mouth of Ogden Canyon was also heralded and loved by residents too.
In fact, some newspaper stories confused or interchanged the two waterfalls.

(-Originally posted by Lynn Arave in the Ogden Standard-Examiner on April 10, 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:  

Friday, April 4, 2014

Waterfall Canyon: Ogden's "Stream of sparkling Diamonds'

              Hikers at the base of Waterfall Canyon's falls, probably in the late 19th Century.

By Lynn Arave

ONE of the hiking gems  of Weber County is Waterfall Canyon.
Located approximately east of Ogden's 32nd Street, or above Mount Ogden Park, this 100-foot falls is a treasure of nature.
But, when did it first become popular and why?
Possibly the canyon's first recorded reference in the Ogden Standard-Examiner was a casual mention on Jan. 7, 1882.
The newspaper on March 9, 1885 referred to it as "a wild scene of beauty" and noted that the "Adams Brothers" took photographs of the falls in the spring of 1884 and raised "some excitement" about it by showing them around the area.
It was in the Standard-Examiner on May 28, 1887 that a reporter, referred to as "Kennox," described it as a "stream of sparkling diamonds ... misty rainbows. Something to transport the artist's soul ... the most magnificent cataract in Utah."
The writer, who had also visited Yosemite, claimed that it even rivaled Yosemite's famed Bridal Veil Falls, which had "no greater beauty than this."
Having lived in Ogden for five years, the writer said it had taken that long for him to have finally noticed the falls -- for the first time ever -- from a distance. So, he asked others about it and found that only about one in five residents knew anything about and that only one in ten locals had ever visited it.
Another article referred to it as "scenery unequaled by any other place in the country."
Hiking to the falls in the 19th Century was simply not as easy as it is today.
Some of the newspaper articles mentioned big ferns growing at the mouth of Waterfall Canyon, obscuring access.
Another stated "the journey is a difficult one, true."
In fact, in the 1880s, the only apparent access into Waterfall Canyon was from part way along the ridge between it and Strong's Canyon to the south.
"The place is well worth a visit," a report in the Standard from June 10, 1884 said. "But do not try to go up there before breakfast, nor with the idea that it is a palace car trip."
"Waterfall Canyon is impassible absolutely," the Standard-Examiner reported in 1887. "The densest, most tangled mass of thorny shrubs that ever I encountered filling up the entire ravine" was a description of the mouth of the canyon.
So, hiking a mile up thie ridge between canyons and then "carefully climbing into the amphitheater of beauty" was the best access originally.
It is likely that its later popularity and some waterline piping is what improved access and made the mouth of canyon accessible.
Also, the opening of the "Malan Heights" hotel in 1894 inside Malan's Basin (where the Waterfall Canyon stream descends from), also opened up a popular eastern access to the falls.
It wasn't long and Waterfall Canyon was a magnet -- especially for young people.
"A large party of Ogden society's young people will make the trip to the famous waterfall in Waterfall Canyon today," A Standard report from July 17, 1892 stated. "They will be provided with lunch baskets, kodaks, tourist glasses and rattle-snake antidotes and expect to have a fine time."
On Aug. 12, 1911, a group of 13 young adults had a bonfire at the base of the falls and included music and story-telling.
There were also some tragedies in the canyon.
On Aug. 6, 1883, some boys found a strange metal capsule inside the canyon. It turned out to be an explosive device and went off when one of the boys shook it. His hands were mutilated and he lost two fingers. The other boys suffered face and head wounds.
David Melvin, 16, fell 30 feet off a cliff in the canyon in April of 1895. He somehow was only bruised.
In January of 1912, a young boy wounded himself with his .22 rifle inside Waterfall Canyon.
A cloudburst on Aug. 17, 1923 sent mud and water from Waterfall Canyon as far west as Taylor Avenue. The torrent uprooted trees, moved five-ton boulders and destroyed a 14-inch pipeline in its path.
A large fire on Oct. 11, 1926 inside Waterfall Canyon scorched or burned most of its trees and greenery. The steep rock walls around the canyon apparently kept it from spreading elsewhere.
"Climber rescued after 23 hours on death perch" was an Aug. 3, 1925 newspaper headline. Louis Buswell, 28, became stranded on the cliffs near the waterfall and rescuers needed 300 feet of rope to haul him off a cliff face.
Of course, the most shocking and infamous tragedy of all in Waterfall Canyon happened much more recently. "Plunge Kills 3 Ogden Children On Hike in Waterfall Canyon, Bodies Found at Cliff Base At Climax of Tragic Hunt," was the Standard-Examiner headline.
The Youngsters, each from separate families of local medical doctors, and all neighbors, were killed in what was believed to have been a fall of at least 200 feet on Dec. 26, 1962. Bonnie Ross, 9; Shauna Southwick, 8, and Mark Way, 7, were all killed.

(-0riginally published by Lynn Arave in the Ogden Standard-Examiner on April 4, 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: