Record editorial: Bygone era returns when Big Boy rumbles through Summit County as part of Spike 150
On Wednesday, the last functioning member of the famed steam locomotive class manufactured in the early 1940s — one of the largest ever built, each weighing approximately 1.2 million pounds — is on track to barrell into Echo as part of Spike 150, a statewide commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad.
The one-time opportunity to experience a majestic relic in celebration of such an important moment in our state’s history is something Summit County residents shouldn’t pass up. The festivities, which include live music and food trucks, are scheduled to begin at 8 a.m., with the locomotive arriving at 9:20 a.m. before continuing to Morgan.
Though the Golden Spike was driven into the earth in Promontory, Echo played an important role in the history of the Transcontinental Railroad. According to Sandra Morrison, executive director of the Park City Museum, the railroad reached Echo in January of 1869, just months before its completion, and transformed the town into a critical hub that supplied Summit County with goods and refueled locomotives headed in either direction.
The importance of trains has waned over time, of course, but the image of a locomotive chugging along the track, whistle screaming, steam billowing from the chimney, remains iconic. The era of the steam engine continues to fascinate Americans and evoke a sense of grandeur, and the event in Echo allows us to tap into that history and wander, if only for a few hours, into a part of our county’s past.
The celebration is one of a handful of Spike 150 events that have taken place in Summit County ahead of a May 10 bash in Promontory on the exact anniversary of the railroad’s completion. Notably, residents have had the opportunity to educate themselves about the role Chinese workers played in building the railroad, an oft-overlooked element vital to understanding the true history of the feat, with a pair of ongoing exhibits at the Park City Library and Kimball Art Center.
Checking out one or both is a great way to prepare for Wednesday’s event, a celebration a century and a half in the making that residents won’t want to miss.
For more information on Wednesday’s event in Echo, visit summitcounty.org. Information about Spike 150, including a schedule of statewide events, is available at spike150.org.