Sesquicentennial railroad celebration and so much more

Sesquicentennial railroad celebration and so much more

By Robert Stephenson
February 06, 2019

Bask in the bodacious bounty of Box Elder: bowler hats, birds, basalt, bison burgers...basically, all the bells and whistles

Golden spikes, pocket watches, railroad tycoons, east meets west. It’s been 150 years (that’s right, an excuse to use the word sesquicentennial) since the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific came together at Promontory Summit, Utah to celebrate an historic transcontinental railroad. You know a milestone like this doesn’t go unnoticed. This epic ‘off-the-rails’ celebration is just the ticket to help you let off some steam, shed that day-to-day tunnel vision, continue chugging along, and start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Too many train references? Okay, from here on out, we’ll try to stay on track...

Come join the fun! Mark your calendar for May 10th, 2019. In fact, block out the weekend! The celebration peaks May 10th as the Jupiter and #119 engines steam in to replicate the historic photo of that original connection back in 1869. A keynote address will offer some historic background, while the world premiere of ‘As One’ will energize and prepare you for a weekend of music, performances, storytelling, reenactments, food, and more. You won’t want to miss this event...I mean, it’s been 150 years in the making after all. But, circumstances be what they may, don't feel bad if you miss the main event; the Golden Spike National Historic Site is open year round for your locomotive enjoyment.

In addition to planning your trip out to visit the Golden Spike National Historic Site during this monumental celebration, leave adequate buffer in that schedule to check out these other amazing features in the Box Elder neighborhood:

Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge

Sneak away from the hustle and bustle of the city and find some zen time in the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. Situated nicely at the intersection of the Pacific and Central flyways, this refuge is an important stop for resting, feeding, and nesting birds for over 250 species of birds passing through the area. The refuge plays host to the largest colony of white-faced ibis in North America, as well as cinnamon teal, American white pelican, and tundra swans. Dust off those trusty binoculars and spend some moments getting to know a few of these feathery, winged wonders.

ATK Rocket Garden

The standard layout for a rock garden consists of a pile of aesthetically arranged rocks in different sizes. So, it would stand to reason that a Rocket Garden would consist of a pile of aesthetically arranged ‘rockets’ in different sizes. Turns out ATK nailed it. This Rocket Garden features a shuttle booster and a Patriot missile among other rocket specimens. A perfect stop for those budding astronauts in the back of the minivan to stretch their legs and dream of becoming the next Neil Armstrong.

Spiral Jetty

From the ATK Rocket Garden to another man’s take on a rock garden, take a drive out to the shore of the Great Salt Lake and experience the Spiral Jetty. Perhaps the most important work of American sculptor, Robert Smithson, the 1,500-foot long, 15-foot wide counterclockwise coil is made entirely of mud, salt crystals, and basalt rocks. Channel your inner artist and be inspired by this earthwork on the shores of one of the saltiest bodies of water on planet earth.

Sun Tunnels

Now that you’ve seen Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, you’ve got to check out Nancy Holt’s large-scale environmental work, the Sun Tunnels. Located outside the ghost town of Lucin (a whole nother adventure all together), these four 18-foot long, 9-foot diameter concrete tunnels feature small holes in the top with representations of the constellations Draco, Perseus, Columba, and Capricorn. Make the drive out to this fascinating work of art and decide for yourself if it meets one of Holt’s goals of “bringing the sky down to the earth.”

Local tip:

Wind down your day of Box Elder adventures, but continue to expand your horizons at Maddox Ranch House with the bison ribeye. For the slightly less adventurous, the filet mignon is also top notch. Entrée indecision aside, the homemade rolls and raspberry butter are worth the trip all by themselves. You won’t be disappointed.