Streamliners and Passenger Trains At Ogden
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This page was last updated on January 17, 2016.
(Updated from text originally published in 2005 as part of the book, Ogden Rails)
Ogden Rails, A History of Railroading At The Crossroads Of The West
(Union Pacific Historical Society, 2005) (Available from UPHS.)
The economic depression of the 1930s had deeply affected America's railroads. Businesses stopped shipping goods because no one was buying. Passenger traffic plummeted, especially railroad travel by businessmen, the bread and butter of intercity passenger service. Between 1920 and 1932, the number of passenger train-miles nationally fell 65 percent, from 47 billion to 16 billion. Reflecting the availability of cheap automobiles and government-funded public highways, registrations of private automobiles leaped from 8 million in 1920 to 24 million in 1930. To lure business and pleasure travelers back to the rails, and away from new commercial airline companies, and buses and automobiles, Union Pacific bought a fleet of soon-to-be-famous Streamliner passenger trains. These new distillate- and diesel-powered trains offered air conditioning, reduced noise, bright decor, modern furnishings, and a better ride than that of conventional steam-powered trains.
The first Streamliner was M-10000, nicknamed "Little Zip," which came through Ogden only during its nationwide tour in March 1934. It later entered revenue service as the City of Salina. Union Pacific's second Streamliner, M-10001 (later the City of Portland) ran through Ogden while on its historic and record-making cross-country dash from Los Angeles to New York City in October 1934. The first Streamliner to enter regularly scheduled service through Ogden was the City of Los Angeles, M-10002, in May 1936. This was Union Pacific's third Streamliner, and like the others, it was designed to operate as a single train set, each car being permanently connected to the next. The City of Los Angeles was an 11-car, 714-foot-long articulated train with two locomotives instead of the single locomotive that had been used on the previous two. The extra power was needed get the long train over some of UP's steepest grades, including the Wasatch grade up Weber Canyon east of Ogden, and Cima Hill and Cajon Pass in California.
Entering service between Chicago and Los Angeles as Union Pacific trains 103 (westbound) and 104 (eastbound), Streamliner M-10002 "sailed," rather than departed, five times per month. The schedule brought the westbound train to Ogden on the 1st, 7th, 13th, 19th, and 25th of each month, and the eastbound train on the 4th, 10th, 16th, 22nd, and 28th. This was a premium train with Pullman service and other extra-fare amenities. The next Streamliner to serve Ogden was the City of San Francisco, which entered service just a month after the City of Los Angeles, also as an extra-fare train. It, too, ran on a schedule of five round trips per month, between Chicago and San Francisco, as Union Pacific trains 101 (westbound) and 102 (eastbound). The City of San Francisco arrived in Ogden westbound on the 6th, 12th, 18th, 24th, and 30th of each month. The opposite eastbound runs were in Ogden on the 3rd, 9th, 15th, 21st, and 27th.
Over the next five years, between 1936 and 1941, the railroad responded as public acceptance of the Streamliners increased. More powerful locomotives were introduced, and larger additional cars were built. Added equipment allowed an increase in frequency from every sixth day to every third day. Because most passengers chose sleeping accommodations over regular-fare coach service, more sleeper and Pullman cars were added. As the trains got heavier and the cars became larger, the concept of permanently connected cars and locomotives fell by the wayside. The more powerful locomotives were separate from each other, and from the now-separated larger cars. All equipment used standard railroad couplers. The City of San Francisco and the City of Los Angeles each grew to 14 cars and three locomotive units.
Other trains operating through Ogden to San Francisco during these glory days of American rail passenger service included the Forty-Niner, the San Francisco Overland Limited, The Challenger, and the Pacific Limited. The Forty-Niner is remembered for its specially streamlined steam locomotives, the only two to be so modified by Union Pacific: P-13-class 4-6-2 Pacific-type number 2906, and MT-1-class 4-8-2 Mountain-type number 7002. While the Streamliners were the glamour trains, many other regular trains continued to offer both Pullman service and more economical coach service, using regular, heavyweight (as opposed to the Streamliners' lightweight) cars, behind steam locomotives. A 1937 UP Utah Division timetable shows four daily passenger trains operating north from Ogden, arriving and leaving Ogden Union Station. One daily train was train numbers 559 and 560, a local between Ogden and Brigham City, using a self-propelled motor car. (Union Pacific Utah Division Timetable No. 246, March 9, 1937, Union Pacific Railroad, Central District)
World War II
World War II brought tremendous increases in traffic to America's railroads. Passenger train-mileage alone rose sharply to a peak in 1944 of 95 billion, a six-fold increase from the bleak days of 1932's 16 billion miles. With Union Station being on the main east-west route, more and more freight and passenger trains arrived, straining the terminal and its yards to their very limit. More freight capacity came with construction of the new East (later Riverdale) Yard in mid-1942. After America entered the war in late 1941, people began traveling at a furious pace. Men and women entering military service were moved to military bases all over the nation. Executives and other business travelers took to the rails to oversee the greatly increased production of the country's factories. Wives, children, parents, and sweethearts traveled to visit with a member of the military, if only for a brief moment before that soldier went overseas. Soldiers and sailors traveled cross-country in countless troop trains, moving from inland training bases to coastal ports to be shipped out. After fighting broke out, entire trains of wounded soldiers returned home and were moved to hospitals all across the nation. It was a hectic time on the railroads, but they were up to the challenge. In Ogden, OUR&D increased the number of passenger tracks to 17, to accommodate the sharp increase in train travel. Union Station always seemed to be full of people hurrying to catch a train, at all times of the day and night. There was a train to Salt Lake City every hour, with a round-trip fare of just $1.10. (Salt Lake Tribune, June 14, 1970, p. A21)
At the peak of war traffic in 1944, 60 to 70 passenger trains in each direction passed through Ogden every day. It was good economic times for Ogden's railroaders, but they were not happy times. Almost every family, railroaders included, had someone in uniform, or knew a close friend or neighbor who was awaiting the return of a soldier.
When the war ended, the number of passenger trains through Ogden fell back to a more reasonable number, but still more than before the war, and the quality and scheduled frequency of regular service improved. All three mainline railroads - UP, SP, and Rio Grande - continued to expand their passenger-car fleets with lightweight, modern cars. The coming of the diesel locomotive made for cleaner trains, and railroads took the opportunity to make their trains brighter and more visible. UP bought more locomotives and more cars, allowing the railroad to run Streamliner trains daily instead of every three days; the City of Portland began daily operations in February 1947; the City of Los Angeles in May 1947; and the City of San Francisco in September 1947. By purchasing still more locomotives and cars, Union Pacific replaced most of the 20- to 30-year-old heavyweight fleet and all but the most modern steam locomotives. To support the new daily operations, between 1946 and 1965, Union Pacific purchased 291 sleeping cars, 196 coaches, and 112 diner and lounge cars, along with 16 Domeliner coaches, 16 Domeliner lounge cars, and 11 unique-to-UP Domeliner diners.
Art Gibson recalled his visits through Ogden during his childhood, circa 1947: "My aunt and uncle lived in Tremonton, on the Malad branch. Mom and I would ride No. 37, the Pony Express to Ogden and transfer to No. 559, which was the Ogden to Malad motor train. The consist was the M-37 and trailer T-51 (one of the very short McKeen RPO-baggage trailers). One of the interesting things in Ogden was the street running that all of the Ogden to Brigham City trains run on leaving Ogden Union Station. Another "must" for Ogden Station was that the SP 2922 (4-8-0) was the regular switch engine on the north end. I don't recall which UP engine worked the south end of the station, but the 4436 was around at that time. (Art Gibson, email to UP Modelers Yahoo discussion group, March 17, 2007)
Between September 1947 and June 1949, westbound passenger trains headed to Los Angeles did not stop at Ogden. Instead, they changed crews at Riverdale, and proceeded directly west by way of the wye and Bridge Junction, to Salt Lake City.
Instructions to make the change were issued on August 16, 1947. Instructions to un-do the change were issued on April 13, 1949.
The trains involved were Trains 1 and 2, The Los Angeles Limited, and Trains 103 and 104 The City of Los Angeles.
This change in 1947 was to prevent a backup move for Los Angeles trains as they headed west through the wye and Bridge Junction. Between Ogden Union Station, and the switch to turn onto the wye is a distance of about 1.5 miles. This backup move was done by a switch crew of Ogden Union Railway & Depot Company, jointly owned by UP and SP. The change of not having Los Angeles-bound trains enter the depot was either a move to save the costs of having a separate crew move the trains to and from the depot, or a move to save the time needed to make the backup move, or both. This would also mean that these trains did not accept either departing or arriving passengers at Ogden.
Jeff Koeller wrote the following on December 30, 2004:
On page 40 of the book, Ogden Rails, mention is made that "C&NW locomotives regularly appeared in Ogden, usually in consist with UP locomotives." Of course, the removal of UP-C&NW power from the COSF was due to SP handling that train over their own rails after 12/48, but what about the COLA? C&NW units began operating on the COLA after Daily service was inaugurated on May 14, 1947. I've seen a number of photos showing C&NW power on the UP, but never west of Ogden, which indicates they did not operate over the LA&SL, thus limiting equalization miles to UP trackage. Would C&NW engines come off the COLA at Ogden or possibly run down to Salt Lake City? Wouldn't the train crews change at the Ogden depot?
Complicating matters, from September 1, 1947, to June 11, 1949, both the COLA and the LA Limited did not enter Ogden Union Depot, instead passing through town via the wye (this shows up in the public and employee timetables). No problem with jointly owned locos which ran through until January 1949. In which case, would the crew change at the yard office? And what would've happened with C&NW power during the six month period from January 1949 to June 11, 1949, when the COLA did not go into the depot? After June 11, 1949, when COLA (and the LA Limited) again operated directly into Ogden Union Depot, would C&NW power (and UP crews) come off at the depot as with COSF operations?
An aside to all of this is that C&NW power also operated on the COP beginning with Daily service on February 14, 1947, although they do not show up on the OSL. I've never seen this discussed, but Green River is probably the most likely place to change out the locomotives. I think this was where OSL crews would take over the train which departed the mainline at Granger.
During this period of time, 1947 to 1949, engine crews would have been changed as the trains sat on the mainline, adjacent to the Riverdale yard office, on the east side of the yard on Pacific Avenue at 33rd Street. If a C&NW locomotive was part of the locomotive consist, it would have been removed while the train sat at the Riverdale yard office.
At Ogden, passenger trains bound for Los Angeles (or Salt Lake City) would have headed directly into Ogden Union Station, then upon departure, an OUR&D switcher would pull the train back east until the wye was cleared (about 1.5 miles), then the train under its own power would head on west. The move was reversed for eastbound trains, with the backup move being made to pull the arriving train into the depot, and the road power being directly used to depart from the depot.
The Union Pacific public timetable for February 14, 1947 shows both trains stopping at Ogden. Train 1 stopped at 5:45 PM and departed at 6:00 PM. Train 103 arrived at 6:25 PM and departed at 6:35 PM. Train 2 and 104 also stopped on the eastbound run. The public timetable for September 1, 1947 does not show Ogden as a stop for LA trains. Ogden was reinstated as a stop for LA trains in the public timetable for June 11, 1949. (Larry Hochhalter, emails dated December 19 and 20, 2004)
To promote the expanded services, Union Pacific in 1952 began painting all passenger equipment in its Streamliner yellow and gray colors. Up until that time, only the Streamliners had been yellow, and the older, heavyweight cars were either dark green or two-tone gray, depending on the service to which they were assigned. When Union Pacific began buying diesel road freight locomotives in quantity in 1946 and 1947, they were delivered in Streamliner colors to call attention to the railroad and its expanded, daily service. By 1948, the Streamliner colors were associated with Union Pacific, and vice versa. The railroad's switchers, including those working in Ogden, were repainted from all-black to the Streamliner colors. Cabooses also were repainted, from dark reddish-brown to yellow. Railroading in Ogden was becoming much more colorful.
Denver & Rio Grande Western never approached UP or SP in numbers of trains or passenger market share at Ogden, but soon it withdrew from the city entirely. On November 25, 1953 the company received permission from the Utah State Public Service Commission to discontinue its daily Salt Lake City to Ogden passenger train, train numbers 8 and 9. The commission said that there was sufficient other train and bus service to handle demand, and the train was terminated on Christmas Day 1953. (Deseret News, October 2, 1953; Salt Lake Tribune, November 26, 1953; Salt Lake Tribune, December 25, 1953; Deseret News, December 25, 1953.) (On October 1, 1953 D&RGW asked the Utah State Public Service Commission for permission to abandon its Salt Lake City to Ogden passenger train. The deficit from operation of the single daily train was $83,800 for 1951 and $70,056 for 1952.)
The peak year for post-war rail travel turned out to be 1952. By that time, many more families could afford cars and they drove them over a rapidly expanding network of publicly funded highways, traveling at their own convenience and on their own schedule. Business travel was growing with the economy, but it was going by air, not by train. And in 1956, the Interstate highway system was signed into law, making personal and business travel by car even easier, more convenient, and cheaper.
Union Pacific's City Streamliners were combined in September 1960. The City of San Francisco and City of Los Angeles ran as one train from Chicago to Ogden, where they were split. The City of San Francisco headed due west over Southern Pacific to Oakland, California. The City of Los Angeles continued on UP tracks south to Salt Lake City and on to Las Vegas and Los Angeles. (Kratville, The Union Pacific Streamliners, p. 517)
For many years, UP also operated seasonal trains to national parks. In 1908, UP opened a branch to serve Yellowstone National Park, created in 1872 and nestled in the northwest corner of Wyoming, and nearby Grand Teton National Park after its creation in 1929. In the 1920s, the railroad helped develop the national parks in southern Utah, building another branch to reach Bryce Canyon and Zion Canyon national parks and forming a subsidiary, Utah Parks Co., to build and operate the park lodges. UP offered summer train service to its Utah national park destinations, and Yellowstone National Park, running the Yellowstone Special with coaches and sleepers from Salt Lake City through Ogden to West Yellowstone, Montana, as part of its regular trains. At times the service was via the Butte Special and at times the Portland Rose, and later, the City of Portland. The 1960 season was the last for direct service to Yellowstone, via West Yellowstone, and 1965 was the last year for any national parks service, which offered connecting bus service to Yellowstone through a branch line to Victor, Idaho.
Beginning in January 1967, Railway Post Office cars were discontinued between Ogden and Los Angeles, bringing to an end service that began with the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railway in 1905, and which continued with the diesel Streamliner City of Los Angeles in 1936. Southern Pacific ended its Ogden-to-Oakland RPO service ten months later, in October 1967. (Kratville, The Union Pacific Streamliners, p. 518)
On November 16, 1967, SP reduced the number of its passenger trains that used Ogden Union Station from nine to seven when it eliminated its fast mail trains between Ogden and Oakland. UP was operating four trains through the station at the time. SP's action was precipitated by the U. S. Post Office terminating its Railway Post Office service. (Salt Lake Tribune, October 26, 1967)
Union Pacific's passenger revenue fell by two-thirds between 1955 and 1970. Many changes were made in passenger-train operations, including creation of the unofficially named "City of Everywhere," when UP combined all of its cross-country Streamliner trains into one train between Cheyenne and Green River, Wyoming. (Kratville, The Union Pacific Streamliners, pp. 518, 519.) (The City of St. Louis, and its replacement the City of Kansas City, and the City of Portland, both from Kansas City, were combined at Cheyenne with the City of San Francisco and City of Los Angeles, from Chicago. At Green River, the City of Portland was split off and operated as a separate train bound for the Portland, Oregon.)
Until early 1968, UP operated two local, mixed trains. One, the Malad Mixed, left Ogden at 5:30 a.m. for its nine-hour journey north up the OSL main line as far as Brigham City, then northwest via Malad Branch trackage to its southern Idaho destination (73 miles distant), and return. The Park City Mixed also took all day to travel its route up Weber Canyon to its destination at the end of the Park City Branch, 68 miles from Ogden. The Malad Mixed ended its days in April 1968.
As part of the service to its patrons, Ogden Union Station furnished both curbside and trackside help to the traveling public. These employees, here as elsewhere, were popularly known as "Red Caps," for the headgear they wore as part of their uniforms. The decline of passenger service also led to fewer station employees, and the last Red Cap was laid off in April 1969. (Salt Lake Tribune, June 14, 1970, p. A21)
Since the mid-1940s, there had been a balloon track south and east of Bridge Junction and the 30th Street wye. This track allowed the Idaho- and Montana-bound passenger trains (especially Trains 35 and 36, The Butte Special) to enter the UP main line and OUR&D trackage south (railroad direction east) of the crossovers between 29th Street and Patterson Avenue, along the east side of the 30th Street wye. This permitted passenger trains to cross over to the Union Station lead tracks adjacent to the Sperry Flour Milling Co. grain elevators and enter depot trackage directly, instead of having to be pulled into the station by a series of time-consuming and expensive OUR&D switch maneuvers. Freight trains also used the balloon track to put them onto the UP main line along the east side of the yard, making the use of the Shasta track unnecessary, with its serpentine route of crossovers to get across the SP tracks at the north end. The balloon track was removed in 1970 to make way for a new UP freight by-pass.
Many passenger trains using Ogden Union Station required the use of a switcher locomotive, leased from either UP or SP, but usually from UP, and operated by OUR&D crews. Most passenger traffic was bound for Salt Lake City and points south and west. As westbound trains passed Riverdale Yard, they headed directly into the station under their own power. Upon arrival at the station, an OUR&D switcher coupled onto the rear of the train. At departure, the switcher pulled the train south past the Bamberger overhead viaduct and uncoupled; the train would then proceed under its own power around the south leg of the 30th Street wye toward Salt Lake.
Eastbound trains required an opposite move; the train proceeded around the south leg of the wye to the UP main adjacent to Riverdale Yard. An OUR&D switcher then coupled onto the rear and pulled it back to Union Station. After its station work was completed, the train departed east, leaving under its own power. The exception to this was the City of San Francisco and other trains handed over to Southern Pacific. They usually required a change of locomotives, from UP to SP, or vice versa, but they all operated directly through Union Station trackage without the use of OUR&D switchers.
Beginning in March 1970, the Interstate Commerce Commission approved several changes in western passenger train operations that affected service at Ogden Union Station. ICC allowed the discontinuance of Western Pacific's Salt Lake City-to-Oakland portion of the California Zephyr, a Chicago-to-Oakland train with stainless steel dome cars that began running in 1949 as a joint operation of the Burlington, Denver & Rio Grande Western, and WP, in direct competition to the combined C&NW, UP, and SP City of San Francisco. Although its endpoints were the same as those of the City of San Francisco, its route was via Denver and Salt Lake City rather than Cheyenne and Ogden. The federal agency required that Rio Grande continue the operation of its Denver-Salt Lake City portion of the California Zephyr, forcing D&RGW to run what then became the Rio Grande Zephyr through the Rockies three days a week. (Kratville, The Union Pacific Streamliners, p. 523)
To provide a connection for Rio Grande Zephyr passengers headed to and from northern California, the road operated a stub train of a single locomotive and a single coach between Ogden and Salt Lake City, connecting with Southern Pacific's portion of the City of San Francisco, which was cut back to a three-times-a-week schedule at the same time that the California Zephyr was discontinued on the WP.
To make the transfer of passengers at Ogden between the new Rio Grande Zephyr and SP's City of San Francisco, SP, glad to cut back from daily to tri-weekly, let D&RGW into Ogden Union Station without extra charge. The single locomotive was usually SP FP7 6447, which was used north of Salt Lake City because D&RGW has no facilities in Ogden, and, with the resolution of the Ogden Gateway case, SP already was operating freight trains into D&RGW's Roper Yard in Salt Lake City.
From their inception in the mid- and late-1930s, the City Streamliner fleet was jointly owned and operated by Union Pacific, Southern Pacific, and Chicago & North Western Railway. The locomotives and cars were jointly owned until 1948, when that arrangement was dissolved and the equipment was split up among the three railroads. After this, C&NW locomotives regularly appeared in Ogden, usually in consist with UP locomotives. SP usually put its own locomotives on the trains for their trips farther west, and the UP power was serviced and held at Ogden for the next eastbound trip. During late 1954 and early 1955, Union Pacific became displeased with the performance of C&NW on its part of the operation. On short notice, UP dumped C&NW and on October 30, 1955, a new joint operation went into effect with the Milwaukee Road - Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad - to operate all Streamliner trains between Omaha and Chicago. These were the City of San Francisco (Trains 101-102), the City of Los Angeles (Trains 103-104), the City of Portland (Trains 105-106), and the City of Denver (Trains 111-112). (Kratville, The Union Pacific Streamliners, pp. 369-371)
Milwaukee Road purchased six sets of EMD E9 passenger locomotives in February 1956 to operate its portion of the joint service. They were painted in UP's yellow and gray Streamliner scheme, and the new partnership regularly brought these and other Milwaukee Road locomotives to Ogden.
After the 1948 split, Southern Pacific briefly continued to use the former jointly owned locomotives to pull the City of San Francisco between Ogden and Oakland, immediately repainting them from their original Union Pacific yellow and gray scheme to SP's striking red and orange "Daylight" scheme. By 1950 the three units, an E2A (nicknamed "Queen Mary") and two E7Bs, were reassigned to other SP trains in Southern California, being replaced in Overland Route service by passenger units newly delivered from American Locomotive Co. (Alco). (Strapac, Southern Pacific Historic Diesels: Volume 3, E-Units and Passenger Fs, pp. 3-11)
These 2,000 horsepower Alco units (known as models PA and PB) were purchased especially for the Overland Route Streamliner service and were also painted in the Daylight scheme. In 1959, they were repainted to the a "Lark" gray and scarlet scheme adopted by SP, and they were a daily sight on the Ogden service tracks until they were replaced by EMD 3,600-horsepower SDP45 units in July 1967. (Strapac, Southern Pacific 1967-1968 Motive Power Annual, pp. 11-14)
This situation remained until May 1, 1971 when the federally-owned National Railroad Passenger Corp., or Amtrak, began operations, taking over intercity rail passenger service from most of the nation's freight railroads. Passenger trains through Ogden then took the form of the reorganized San Francisco Zephyr, which operated from Chicago to Denver over Burlington Northern, then over UP from Denver to Ogden, and over SP from Ogden to Oakland, with a bus connection to San Francisco. With SP joining Amtrak and D&RGW not, SP was forced to charge $953 per day for use of Ogden Union Station. The Rio Grande Zephyr stub train between Salt Lake City and Ogden carried only 21 through passengers during May 1971. This impressed the ICC and D&RGW was allowed to substitute limousine service for the single unit and coach that were making the Salt Lake to Ogden connection. (Jim Davidson, "Passenger Train News", Extra 2200 South, May-June 1971, page 29)
Both UP and SP were major sources of equipment for Amtrak's initial operations. UP was always well known for the quality of its passenger-train operations, and the condition of its passenger fleet. The railroad couldn't fight the tide of passengers leaving to travel over publicly funded highways, but Union Pacific kept the cars in good shape right up to the end. UP's rolling stock was in such excellent condition that Amtrak purchased 124 cars (64 coaches and 60 sleepers) to begin its operations. (Kratville, The Union Pacific Streamliners, p. 527)
Also in excellent condition was UP's fleet of passenger diesels. Twenty-nine of these model E8 and E9 locomotives were also sold to Amtrak. The first Amtrak trains through Ogden used those former Union Pacific E8 and E9 locomotives. Then in 1973 Amtrak began to put in service its specially designed six-axle, 500-class SDP40F locomotives. In 1976 those six-axle units were replaced by the more versatile four-axle, 100-and 200-class F40PH locomotives.
Amtrak operations in Ogden remained stable between 1971 and 1983. For some time before 1983, Amtrak had been wanting to shift its Chicago to Oakland train away from UP's Wyoming main line to Rio Grande's more scenic Colorado line between Denver and Salt Lake City, and was negotiating with the two railroads to make it happen. Nature stepped in and forced a quicker start of the new service. In April 1983, a mudslide at Thistle, Utah, on D&RGW's line through Spanish Fork Canyon, southeast of Provo, closed that line. All Rio Grande trains detoured between Salt Lake City and Denver by way of Ogden and the UP main line across Wyoming, including the non-Amtrak Rio Grande Zephyr. For 10 days, D&RGW continued to detour its Rio Grande Zephyr through Wyoming. On April 25, 1983, Amtrak formally changed the routing of train numbers 5 and 6, its Chicago-to-Oakland train, to run through Colorado rather than Wyoming, christening the new operation as the California Zephyr. The train operated through Wyoming, and through Ogden, until July 16, 1983, when the Amtrak California Zephyr went east from Salt Lake City over the D&RGW and through the new Thistle tunnel for the first time. The tunnel was completed, and the first Rio Grande train ran through it, on July 4. (Sumsion, Thistle... Focus On Disaster, pp. 75-77)
On October 30, 1983, the last eastbound Amtrak California Zephyr left Ogden Union Station after having come east on SP's Great Salt Lake causeway, ending almost 115 years of continuous passenger service between Ogden and Oakland-San Francisco. After leaving Ogden, the train proceeded south to Salt Lake City and then headed east across Colorado instead of east through Wyoming. The next day, the eastbound train ran into Salt Lake City over Union Pacific's tracks (formerly Western Pacific) along the south shore of the lake, bypassing the causeway and Ogden completely. (CTC Board, Issue 102, December 1983, p. 10)
From then on the only regularly scheduled Amtrak train through Ogden was the Pioneer, Amtrak trains 25 and 26, which from 1983 to 1991 ran from Seattle to Portland, across Oregon and Idaho, to Salt Lake City, where it connected with the California Zephyr to Chicago. At this time, and throughout the 1980s, a typical consist of the California Zephyr east from Salt Lake City was two F40 locomotives, eight cars from Oakland, two cars from a connection with the Desert Wind from Los Angeles, and two more cars from the Pioneer connection, by way of Ogden.
Union Station was reinstated as a full-agency Amtrak station in March 1991. This was the first time an agent was on duty there since January 1985, when the facility was closed due to Ogden's close proximity (36 miles) to Salt Lake City. (Salt Lake Tribune, May 25, 1991, p. B-3)
This took place in preparation for the rerouting of the Pioneer from Ogden, east up Weber canyon and across Wyoming to Cheyenne and Denver, there to meet and combine with the California Zephyr as had been done previously in Salt Lake City. The rerouting of the Pioneer through Wyoming took effect in June 1991, and remained in effect into early 1997. In a round of budget cuts, Amtrak had planned to drop the Pioneer, along with the Desert Wind, in the fall of 1996. Last-minute Congressional action kept the train running - and kept Ogden from becoming a freight-only town - for six months, after which the future of these and other threatened Amtrak routes was indefinite.