6427 Miles: A Tour of America
By Gerard Forgnone
Sunday, September 8, 2013
Ogden, Utah to Rock Springs, Wyoming
night was spent at the Ogden, Utah, KOA
Kampground. The place was pretty nice...it had
just rained the day before, so things were moist,
and the skeeters were out!
I drove up the interstate freeway, and missed
the turnoff to head to Promontory Point. It's
not well marked at all. So, here I am,
somewhat lost, seeing the Utah countryside.
In the distance are test facilities for Morton
Thiokol Rocket Engines, also known now as ATK
Aerospace. Here is where the solid rocket
boosters for the Space Shuttle were made. It's
in the middle of nowhere for good reason.
Those solid rockets are pretty dangerous!
Solid rocket fuel does not stop burning until it's
completely used up. It has its own oxygen
source built in, so you can't shut it off or
Wahoo!!!! I made it! Promontory, Utah,
the site of the joining of the two sections of
Transcontinental Railroad in 1869. This is
really in the middle of nowhere!
There were a lot of these informational displays all
over, inside and outside. Fascinating!
This one paragraph says it all: The six month
journey to California is reduced to less than a
week. The Transcontinental Railroad changed
the United States, and truthfully, changed the
world. All the riches of California could be
shipped to markets in the East. Settlers could
now get to California with relative ease, comfort,
and speed. Towns all along the rail line
sprouted up, as did more railroad lines. Once
it was possible to get supplies across the vast
distances, towns and settlers followed in great
The laying of 10 miles of railroad track has never,
NEVER, been equaled anywhere, any time since, even
with today's modern equipment. I wrote about
this at the Sacramento Museum page, and I'll repeat
it here, because the feat is so amazing, it's
placard DOESN'T tell you is that the 30-foot
rails weigh 560 pounds EACH! There were 2
teams of 4 men each carrying the rails
forward. Using tongs that weighed about 10
pounds each, this means that each man had to
lift 150 pounds for EACH rail, carry it forward,
drop it, then run back for another. The
track moved an average of 1 mile per hour.
Well, this factoid below goes to show that
incompetence in government isn't anything new!
What a sight! Both steam engines were hot, and
ready to roll. Only 119 moved, and wow, was it
amazing! I've never witnessed a full-size
steam engine move before. Having played on so
many of them over the years, it was an emotional
sight to behold. Quiet, too!
The engine on the left came from California, and
with all the wood that's available out West, it
burns wood logs. The smoke funnel is designed
to trap embers that wood produces when it
The engine on the right came from Omaha, and burns
coal, so no extra equipment is needed on the
Both locomotives are reproductions of the originals,
which had been used extensively and scrapped back in
the day, after they became inefficient.
The guy in black is reading one of the many outdoor
informational posters. The guy with the orange
shoes has no excuses!
What a beautiful piece of vintage machinery!
Here's the wood supply on Jupiter. All around
the outside is water storage for the locomotive.
Coal for the firebox, surrounded by water tanks.
After spending several hours at the museum, and
watching locomotive 119 move along the line, I set
out to drive the old rail line, which had been
pulled up during WWII for its metal content.
As you would expect, the road bed is smooth and
gentle, just what is needed for a train!
There was a nice parking area along the rail bed,
for visitors to stop. I had lunch here, and
hung out for a couple of hours, just absorbing the
experience. Not a single soul came by the
My table is a Goodwill thrift store find...the price
sticker of $12 is still on it! It folds up
completely into a small suitcase. Lunch was
crackers, sliced chicken lunchmeat, sliced cheese,
and Sun Drop and Mountain Dew. What an amazing
afternoon! The temperature was 75, there was a
very slight breeze.
Back on the Interstate freeway, headed East again!
This is I-84, East of Ogden.
A little sign said "Devil's Slide," and so I just
had to stop and check it out! It's an
interesting rock formation, right on the side of the
I-84 freeway, in Morgan, Utah. You can google
After this point, it was smooth sailing all the way
to my next stop in Rock Springs, Wyoming.
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