Thursday, February 19, 2015

The tale of the second “Golden Spike”

                        -From the book, History of Ogden, Utah in Old Post Cards," by D. Boyd Crawford.

EVER hear the story about the second “Golden Spike”?
Well, it is just one of those intriguing things that was proposed and “might have been,” but didn’t actually happen. It is also one of those fascinating historical footnotes, most of which are usually absent from the history books.
“Last spike will be a golden one” was a Nov. 21, 1903 headline in the Ogden Standard-Examiner.
For the landmark completion of the wooden trestle shortcut across the Great Salt Lake, the Lucin Cutoff, big plans were proposed early.
The draft plan was that after driving the Golden Spike, it would be withdrawn and given to Union Pacific railroad baron E.H. (Edward) Harriman as a souvenir.
In fact, it was speculated that Harriman himself might wield the sledge himself for the golden spike, on Thanksgiving Day, noon, on the “Midlake” point of the trestle itself.
Being Thanksgiving, it was also suggested that a traditional holiday feast be prepared at one of the railroad camps along the Lucin Cutoff.
However, six days later on Nov. 27, at the actual event: “There was no golden spike driven, or no ceremony of any kind , other than a few congratulations showered upon Mr. Harriman by many of the large number of railroad men from throughout the United States,” the Standard reported on that date.
Notwithstanding the lack of fanfare, the Lucin Cutoff was an engineering marvel for its day. It shaved 43.77 miles and 1,515 feet of climb off the original route out to Promontory.
Despite the completion observance on that Thanksgiving Day, the Lucin Cutoff didn’t actually open to passenger trains and general traffic until almost 10 months later, on Sept. 16, 1904.
-The construction of the Lucin Cutoff was said to feature a safety record superior to most other railroad projects, yet there were still some accidents.
“Engine overturns and kills a fireman” was a March 25, 1903 Standard headline. A portion of the trestle sinking was reported to have caused this accident at Lakeside, where Robert W. Watson was fatally crushed.
Some other Utah newspapers reported a “Quagmire without a bottom,” as portions of the lakebed seemed bottomless.
It was in that March of 1903 that railroad builders battled what was almost a quicksand in the Great Salt Lake. At one point in the building process, several hundred yards of earth were gulped down in the lake and caused a settling of some five feet.
-Years later after the Lucin Cutoff had been open, “Severe storm injures Cut-off” was an April 3, 1910 headline in the Standard. “Eighty-mile gale lashes waves to fury and damage done,” the subhead stated.
Fortunately, on that particular day, strangely no trains were scheduled to use the Lucin Cutoff . Still, the Southern Pacific reported that it had been strengthening the fill on the trestle for some time, anticipating possible damage such as this.
-EXTRA INFORMATION: Technically, if a golden spike had been driven on the Lucin Cutoff it would have been the second in Utah, but at least the THIRD golden spike used in the U.S.
The Northern Pacific Railway did use a golden spike on Sept. 8, 1883 to commemorate completion of railroad track in Montana that served many nearby states.
Former U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant drove in that final golden spike to mark the completion of a railroad line from the Great Lakes to the Pacific. 

 (-Originally published on-line and in print on Feb. 19-20, 2015 by Lynn Arave in the Ogden Standard-Examiner.) 

-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, February 13, 2015

Looking back at Valentines Days of old in Ogden …

Photo from "History of Ogden, Utah in Old Post Cards," by D. Boyd Crawford.

VALENTINE'S Day was a pretty big deal 115 years ago in Ogden.
“All trains sidetracked for the Conductors’ Ball at Christensen’s” was a Feb. 16, 1900 headline in the Standard-Examiner.
Some 200 couples were in attendance. Dancing continued until midnight, when the group moved to the Reed Hotel, where a special feast was held until 2:30 a.m.

Here is a look back at some other selected years of Valentine’s Day in Ogden:
-“Cupid’s Day” was a Feb. 9, 1881 headline in the Standard. This party was held at the Union Opera House. Festivities then included a strange feature: “Cupid’s Postmaster,” which John G. Chambers portrayed that year.
-St. Valentine’s Day: Schools are indulging in the fancy” was a Feb. 14, 1907 Standard headline.
“As today is St. Valentine’s Day, boxes will be opened in the schools for the amusement of the children, who enjoy the time-worn custom of sending valentines to each other,” this story stated.
Some Ogden area stores were kept open until 10 p.m. last night, so residents could purchase colorful items for celebrating Valentine’s Day.
-A Feb. 14, 1922 Standard story reported : “Today is Valentine Day – the event being celebrated in the anonymous exchange of amorous missives between the lovelorn.”
This article also included a report on the rude side of Valentine’s – when young people “send so-called ‘ugly’ valentines to persons of pronounced characteristics, not altogether pleasing. However, this practice is losing favor.”
-“Cupids active at stake dance” was a Feb. 12, 1926 Standard headline. A Valentine’s party was held at the Weber Stake Gymnasium, attended by more than 220 couples.
“A little boy, John Lindquist, son of Mr, and Mrs. C.J.A. Lindquist, impersonating Cupid, and representing a future bishop, presented President George E. Browning with a valentine box of candy, heart shaped,” the story reported.
Another 18 little children also impersonated cupid, armed with bows and arrows and adorned with hearts and ribbons on their foreheads.
These cupids circle around President Browning, who gave each child a kiss.
-Finally, in a non-Valentine’s Day historical note, “Thousand see Liberty Bell at Union Depot” was a July 12, 1915 Standard headline.
A century ago this summer, Ogden area residents didn’t need to go to Philadelphia to see the famous bell, it was on display here.
An estimated 30,000 people viewed the Liberty Bell.The Governor of Utah, William Spry, and his staff were on hand to meet the treasured feature of American history. A special parade, marching and a Pledge of Allegiance were all part of the accompanying festivities.

(-Originally published on-line and in print in the Ogden Standard-Examiner on Feb. 12-13, 2015 by Lynn Arave.)

-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, February 5, 2015

1890s: When living west of the tracks in Weber County was a pain

     Aerial photo showing the vast width of the Ogden railyards, circa 1950s, looking northward.

 “CROSSING the tracks” was a big deal in 1890 West Ogden.
“Be careful how you drive, Gentlemen from out of town,” the Standard-Examiner of Dec. 16, 1890 reported.
People from Hooper, West Weber, Kanesville and Wilson all used 24th Street to enter Ogden and the large train yard was considered a “blockade.”

The Standard reported that some 40 teams of horses and wagons had to wait for at least 30 minutes that day prior before trains moved out of the way.
“It is a common occurrence,” C.C. Wilson of Kanesville said of tracks blocking 24th Street.
An estimated population of 2,500 people lived west of Ogden in 1890 and the word “viaduct” was now viewed as the only future solution.
(However, such a viaduct on 24th Street would not open until 1910, two decades later.)
-Speaking of roads, “State aroused as ‘Death Road’ claims two more lives” was a Dec. 8, 1947 headline in the Salt Lake Telegram.
The strip of State Highway 91 in Davis County, between North Salt Lake and the north end of Farmington , had claimed 28 people that year in traffic accidents, far more fatalities than anywhere else in the state.
“Strip of Death” was another nickname for that stretch of highway, with speed limits of up to 50 mph.
Highway officials planned to study the section of busy road and make safety improvements. However, if would not be for almost 20 years, until I-15 was constructed in that area, that the road became much safer for motorists.
In other historical tidbits:
-“Gorilla at large” was a Sept. 16, 1887 headline in the Standard. A gorilla from a circus at Union Square had gotten loose just after dark and disappeared.
Men were reported running around with torches, peering into yards and over fences, trying to find the animal at a late hour.
Two days later, on Sept. 18, the Standard reported that the gorilla had eventually been found, happily eating at a bakery on the lower side of town.
-“Law may pursue the Ogden girl with the hobble skirt” was a Jan.  17, 1914 Standard headline.
An Ogden Judge, V.C. Gunnell of the juvenile court, had started a campaign against girls and young women wearing hobble skirts.
"It is a common thing " the Judge said, "to see young girls trying to get over ice or through snow and mud where so ridiculously hobbled as to make them objects of pity as well as ridiculous."
He had noticed nearly every day, while going to and from his home, school girls trying to get to the high school from Washington Avenue, with their legs dangerously and evidently painfully bound and made nearly useless by tight skirts.
The Judge favored shorter, more nicely fitting dresses.

 (-Originally published on-line and in print on Feb. 5-6, 2015 in the Ogden Standard-Examiner, by Lynn Arave.)

-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: