The Union Pacific Railroad hit Ogden, Utah, on March 8, 1869, forever altering the fate of what was until then a quiet town in the shadow of the Church of Latter-Day Saints. The influx of cross-country commerce that followed turned Ogden into a rail town in the truest sense — its Union Station dispensing traveling business people, laborers, tourists, and vagrants directly toward 25th Street, known as “two-bit” street for its reputation as a place where nearly anything could be bought for 25 cents. Running the heart of downtown, 25th Street in those days played host to numerous speakeasies, brothels, and two-bit motels.
In the near-century since a fire burned down the original Union Station in 1923, Ogden has boomed and busted, seen Amtrak move its northern Utah stop south to Salt Lake, and watched as Moab and Park City became the state’s beacons of outdoor recreation. Fragments of the 21st century were tough to swallow here, and by the time railway traffic had declined to freighters and vagabonds in the 1980s, many in Utah had written the city off.
It would be the Wasatch Mountains, rising to above 10,000 feet just east of town, and the efforts of a