When Utah’s Spike 150 celebration comes to a high point next week, the biggest event in Summit County will be in Echo. It’s a fairly brief whistle-stop for a big steam engine.
Summit County Fair Director Travis English said that on Wednesday morning, May 8th, at about 9:20 am, Echo will be visited by the Big Boy.
“Its the largest locomotive, one of the largest locomotives to ever be on the rails,” English explained. “Union Pacific’s been rebuilding this train for several years at the tune of several million dollars and this will be the first time it's entered the state of Utah and stopped in Utah.”
English said the event will be hosted by County Council members Chris Robinson and Roger Armstrong.
“We’ll have food trucks, we’ll have live music with a drum line,” English continued. “Roger and Chris will be doing a program and introducing some history behind the rail and Summit County. Then ‘Big Boy’ arrives at 20 after 9:00 and it's a whistle stop. So, it is there for 15 minutes and then it's off to Ogden.”
He said it’s a good idea to show up early, since the event could draw some large crowds. English said they’re already expecting 1,000 students.
Chris Robinson said to get to the quiet little town of Echo, you take Exit 169 off the Interstate. The town, now at the junction of Interstate 80 and I-84, played an important role in the railroad’s entry into Utah.
“It was a big deal when the railroad was the main means of getting in and out of here,” Robinson said. “Of course, it's now just a quaint little village, but it's the first stop in Utah of these trains coming. There's actually a second one is the 844. Two steam locomotives that will then have a great meet up in Ogden on the 9th, on Thursday.”
Events on Thursday the 9th will be centered in Ogden. Of course, on May 10th—the 150th anniversary of the joining of the transcontinental railroad—a huge gathering will be held at Promontory Summit in Box Elder County and broadcast live on KSL.
Robinson said the driving of the Golden Spike was a monumental event for the country, the equivalent of the Internet today.
“What occurred at Promontory Summit 150 years ago really was a game changer,” Robinson explained. “In terms of communication it had the Telegraph that could be maintained. You know Telegraph out through no man's land without a railroad next to it is a hard thread to maintain. It turned travel from one coast to the other into a matter of days instead of months. The cost went down by orders of magnitude. I mean it just opened up the whole country and united the whole country. Demonstrated what people can do when they when they work together. Public/private partnerships and immigrants and a lot of the same issues that we face today. With the Chinese, with the Irish in those days, with immigrant issues today. There's a lot of lessons to be learned.”