Union Station - Ogden

Image Credit: "Ogden Train Station" by agcaddesigns.com is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Ogden is located thirty-five miles north of Salt Lake City on the banks of the Weber River. It is a city that is somewhat different than other towns in Utah. Mormon pioneers originally settled most Utah communities. Ogden, however, has a distinct origin. It began as Fort Buenaventura. In 1844, a fur trapper named Miles Goodyear established Fort Buenaventura along the banks of the Weber River.

Fort Buenaventura was the first permanent Anglo settlement in this region of Utah, but many people were already familiar with the area. White explorers had been frequenting the area for years. The Weber River runs through a valley known as Ogden Valley. The valley had been given its name much earlier in honor of a famous Canadian explorer named Peter Skeen Ogden. The Mormon pioneers did not enter the area until 1847. In that year, Mormon settlers purchased Fort Buenaventura and, in 1850, they founded a city that they named Ogden after the valley in which it is found. Fort Buenaventura still stands in the city of Ogden and is a state park.

In the early twentieth century, Twenty-fifth Street was the center of activity in Ogden. Perhaps the most important part of this section was the Union Station Depot at the junction of Twenty-fifth Street and Wall Avenue. In 1869, the transcontinental railroad was completed near Promontory, Utah. Four cities near this location competed with each other for the opportunity to house the train station that would be the junction for railroad travel in the Intermountain West. Such a station would be an economic gold mine for the city in which it was located. The four cities that competed for this honor were Corinne, Promontory, Uintah, and Ogden.

Promontory and Uintah were quickly eliminated from the competition, as they lacked the resources necessary to house the station. This left just Corinne and Ogden. Both cities built train station depots in anticipation that their city would house the station. Brigham Young, President of the Mormon Church, donated land in Ogden for the erection of a train station, and the Ogden City Council appropriated money for its construction. With this money and donated land, Ogden was able to build a fine train station depot at the corner of Wall Avenue and Twenty-fifth Street. Corinne was a new city. It was founded in 1869 with hopes of holding the train station. Ogden, on the other hand, had been founded in 1850 and was already a well-established city. Because Ogden was a well-established center of businesses and Corinne was basically unknown, Ogden was adopted as the official station of the transcontinental railway. Nothing became of the depot constructed in Corinne. Corinne became a ghost town.

At this same time a new line of rails was built from Franklin, Idaho to Ogden. This new train line was called the Utah Northern Railroad. The Ogden Union Station Depot became the station for both the Utah Northern Railroad and the transcontinental railway that had just been completed near Promontory. As the junction of railroad travel in the Intermountain West, the Union Station Depot was an economic gold mine to the community of Ogden.

Image Credit: "Ogden Utah Union Station, summer 1976. Scanned from 35mm slide" by Bruce Fingerhood is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Although Ogden began in 1850 as a religious Mormon community, with the completion of the Union Station the world came into Ogden. On 25th Street, near the train station, one could witness gambling, prostitution, narcotics sales, robbery, rape, and even murder. Ogden grew and became a rough city. Crime boss Al Capone commented in the 1920s that Ogden was too wild a town for him. In 1954, the city effected a clean up of both the streets and the local government. Lorin Farr was mayor of Ogden at the time. He advised his police force in the following way: "Use kindness, be ready for emergencies, and see that guns and pistols are always loaded and powder dry." Such tough love cleaned up the streets of Ogden. Today Ogden is a beautiful, friendly city. It is a wonderful place to visit.

Now Ogden is a great location for tourists of Utah to visit. The city has several fine attractions. Union Station on 25th Street is a wonderful stop for Ogden visitors. The original structure of the Union Station Depot burned in 1923. Today, however, the rebuilt Union Station houses several fine museums. While there, visitors should remember the rough history of the area and enjoy what Ogden has become. Another attraction is the Peery's Egyptian Theater on 2415 Washington Blvd. This structure was built in the 1920s and has become an excellent location for theater lovers to visit.

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