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UTAH’S FILM INDUSTRY AND RAILROAD HISTORY

The history of Utah’s railroad spans over one hundred years and sprawls to each corner of the state. Utah’s locomotive heritage is especially significant this month being that it is the 150th anniversary of Promontory Point’s historic Golden Spike – which ceremonially joined the First Transcontinental Railroad in 1869. This significant event would itself be depicted in various films and television series including John Ford’s, The Iron Horse (1924), Cecil B. De Mille’s  Union Pacific (1939), Disney’s The Lone Ranger (2013), and featured within a multi-season arc of AMC’s Hell on Wheels. To further honor Utah’s railroad legacy we’ve compiled a short list of some of our favorite locomotive centered locations within the state.

Ogden’s Union Station

Located at the top of Ogden’s Historic 25th StreetUnion Station is not only spacious but architecturally impressive. Within the grand lobby, beautiful exposed wooden trusses, arched windows, pendant lighting, and an expansive alternating tile pattern can be found – making this location both visually pleasing and completely unique. Additionally, a series of dining halls, museums, and the Union Grill restaurant can be enjoyed while touring the facility. Union Station has been home to several film productions which notably includes ABC’s Blood & Oil and Jackie & Ryan (2014).

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Heber Valley Railroad

Offering 16 miles of track which follows ‘the twists and turns of the Provo River,’ the Heber Valley Railroad (also nicknamed the Heber Creeper) is undoubtedly one of the most popular attractions in Wasatch County. Utilizing train cars which date back to the early 1900s, it’s not uncommon to see vintage steam locomotives chug their way through the scenic mountainous terrain. Excursions on the trains can include scenic tours of both Deer Creek and Provo Canyon, as well as themed events featuring murder mysteries and wild west era adventures. The railroad also has a history with Utah film – being featured in Deidra and Laney Rob a Train (2017) and the series, Touched by an Angel

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Union Pacific Depot (Salt Lake City)

Now part of Downtown Salt Lake City’s Gateway Mall, the Union Pacific Depot is a portal back to a simpler time. It’s wide open lobby features arched ceilings, ambient lighting, and painstakingly detailed murals which feature Utah’s deep history with the railroad. The brick exterior is just as marvelous and still sports the Union Pacific insignia which erects from the rooftop. Located at the foot of South Temple, the Depot is an architectural staple of downtown Salt Lake and a potential film location which boasts a realm of possibilities.

Visit Spike150.org to learn more about Utah’s railroad history and to participate in the events taking place throughout the state this month in celebration of the Golden Spike’s 150-year anniversary.

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John Holliday is the Utah Film Commission’s Office Assistant and an avid cinephile. He currently studies Digital Cinema at Utah Valley University and aspires to continue in his filmmaking endeavors. For any press and media inquiries, contact the Utah Film Commission at filmpress@utah.gov.

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