Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

May 14, 2019
Tooele City celebrates its own railroad history with Spike150

The corner of Maple and Broadway Streets in Tooele City swarmed with children on Saturday afternoon.

The children were there with their families to participate in Tooele City’s own Spike150 event held at the Tooele Valley Museum and Historic Park on Broadway Street from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m..

Tooele City held a pre-event to showcase its historic park on Friday night.

“We know the golden spike wasn’t struck here at this site,” said Tooele City Mayor Debbie Winn. “But like the Transcontinental Railroad brought together our country, the railroad has been an important part of bringing together not just Tooele City but the entire county as well.”

Tooele Army Depot Commander Col. Todd W. Burnley presented Tooele City with a three foot section of the original rail that connected Tooele Army Depot — or what was then known as the Tooele Ordnance Depot — with the Union Pacific Railroad.

“The rail tied the Tooele Army Depot with the Union Pacific since the first spike was driven in 1942,” he said.

Kay Rigby, a local artist, presented Tooele City with a wooden artwork piece he created to commemorate the driving of the final spike that joined the Transcontinental Railway at Promontory Summit.

On Saturday children at the city park participated in a variety of activities including miniature railroad rides, sensory experiences, railroad games, a bounce house and cotton candy.

Inside the station house, a museum exhibit includes a display of tools and spikes similar to the ones used to build the Transcontinental Railroad.  

The museum also displays a variety of artifacts related to Tooele’s mining, railroad, and smelter industries and the multiple ethnic groups that gathered in Tooele City to work in those industries, according to Stephanie Statz, Tooele Valley Museum and Historic Park coordinator.

The Tooele Valley Railroad Complex was built in 1909 as part of the Tooele Valley Railway that connected the Los Angeles to Salt Lake City rail line with the International Smelter on the bench of the Oquirrh Mountains east of Tooele City.

The Tooele Valley Railway ran east from Tooele Station on the west side of town up Vine Street to the train complex on Broadway where the rail line continued east traversing a trestle across a ravine in Middle Canyon before reaching the smelter.

Tooele Station was later renamed Warner Station in honor of John Warner, Tooele Valley Railroad’s first section foreman.

The Tooele Valley Railroad Complex was donated to Tooele City in 1983 for use as a museum after the railroad closed. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, according to Statz.

On the north side of the station house sits two World War II era railroad cars. In one car, which was a first aid car, the museum screens “Promontory,” the 2002 documentary produced by PBS affiliate KUED that tells the story of the building of the Transcontinental Railway.

In the other car, which was a diner car, the museum has a military history display.

On the south side of the station house sits an engine and caboose that were part of the Tooele Valley Railway.

During Saturday’s Spike150 event, there was a “selfie station” for photographs with a life-size cut out of the Tooele City parks’ mascot, Danny the Digger — a rodent-like cartoon character wearing a hard hat and carrying a pick axe over his shoulder — with the trains in the background.

The Tooele Valley Museum and Historic Park, at 35 Broadway Street in Tooele City, is open from Memorial Day until Labor Day. Hours are Wednesdays and Fridays from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m., Thursdays from 1 p.m. – 7 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

 

Tim Gillie

Staff Writer at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Tim covers education, Tooele City government, business, real estate, politics and the state Legislature. He became a journalist after a long career as an executive with the Boy Scouts of America. Tim is a native of Washington state and a graduate of Central Washington University.

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