History of the Union Station

Using the guidelines recommended by national, state and local agencies/authorities, the Museums at Union Station now plans to re-open on June 17th. We will carefully and continually monitor the efficacy of these guidelines in real time and make further adjustments as needed. You can read the latest updates from MUS here.

The Ogden Union Station, a museum since 1978, is actually the third version train depot in town and was dedicated on November 22, 1924.  The stations two predecessors set the stage for today's structure.  Charles Trentelman, a member of the Union Station Foundation Board of Directors said. "The railroads changed Ogden from a sleepy agricultural backwater to a bustling transportation and manufacturing hub, the railroads funneled everything they did through this station," he noted.  "Agriculture, business, manufacturing, and tourism all flowed through the Union Station and it was critical to the locals that the station reflect the aspiration of the community for growth and development".

The first train station in Ogden was a small, two-story building on the banks of the Weber River, which opened in 1860.  The facility quickly became inadequate so the Union and the Central Pacific combined forces in 1889 to build a much larger Union Station, of brick and a center clock tower.  The grand station was dedicated on December 31 in 1889 and attracted around 6,000 people.  This station included 33 hotel rooms, a restaurant and even a barbershop.  This station worked well for over three decades.  In 1920, some $11,000 was spent re-papering, painting, and roofing the building.  An underground walkway to separate the tracks to the west was also built.  On February 13, 1923, one of the hotel rooms caught fire and quickly spread to the rest of the station.  No one was killed, or injured, but the Station had to be gutted, with only fragile walls and the clock left standing.  Since the station walls had not been leveled, the Ogden Union Railway & Depot Company, which owned the building, thought they could just restore what was there before including the clock tower.  But soon after a stone fell off the clock tower and instantly killed a railroad clerk.  This accident, as well as pleading from City officials for a new building prompted railroad officials to start over with a new deign.

John and Donald Parkinson, principals of a Los Angeles architectural firm, designed the new depot.  Bids went out in the late fall of 1923 and construction began on the $450,000 structure.  By April 8, 1924, the last old wall came down, revealing an intact copper cornerstone box, full of mementos from the 1880s and earlier.  

Construction went into high speed in 1924 and the Grand Lobby's soaring cathedral ceiling one of the many structure highlights.  Some trees were removed from the frontage along Wall Avenue, to make more room for parking.  By March of 1927, the underground walkway tunnel was expanded, because of increasing passenger demand.  

In 1928, 5,600 feet of sheds were built outside, next to the rails, to protect waiting passengers from the elements.  (These were all removed in 1969).  For nearly 40 more years, Ogden's third train station was a bustling, focal point of northern Utah.  But by the 1960's, increasing use of the automobile, interstate freeways and air travel had dwindled passenger service by rail nation-wide and Ogden was no exception.

It required 10 years of work for the city to obtain the historic station.  In 1973, Ogden City created the Union Station Development Corporation to manage the future property.  "Ogden officials, including the local newspaper, worked hard again between 1969 and 1978 top preserve the station, both as a representation of the city's cultural heritage and as a key to builder of the future," 

The Junior League gave $15,000 to seed the project.  The Ogden City Council and Mayor A, Stephen Dirks chipped in $50,000.  Another $150,000 was received in Bicentennial money.  The State of Utah provided $600,000 more, a federal grant provided another $650,000 - and there was other funding sources as well.

The now leaking roof was replaced and a design for a museum and convention center was under way in 1977 with architects Ronald Hales and Steven Ballard. 

There were three major contractors - John Wadman's Ben Lomond Construction Company, Burton Construction Company, and Cornwall Construction Company.  

The remodeling was finished by mid-978, Special team locomotives were furnished by Union Pacific for the dedication.  Another key highlight came along in 1988, when the Union Station was designated as the official Utah State Railroad Museum.  

Today, the historic Union Station is much more than a railroad depot.  It has also been home for the John M. Browning Firearms Museum for 35 years and to the Browning-Kimball Classic Car Museum for more than three decades.  The Utah Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum opened at the Union Station in June of 2013.  The Myra Powell Gallery is also home to the Union Station's permanent collection of art.