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Utah: Trains don’t come to Ogden’s Union Station anymore, but museum lovers do

Union Station in Ogden, Utah
The ornate Union Station in Ogden, Utah. Trains no longer come here, but visitors do to see the building and four museums inside.
(Union Station Foundation)

Angelenos who travel to Ogden, Utah, may do a double take when they see this city’s Spanish Colonial Revival-style Union Station.

That’s because the train depots in both cities were designed by John B. Parkinson, who lived from 1861 to 1935 and often worked with his son and fellow architect, Donald D. Parkinson.

Both stations are on the National Register of Historic Places

What makes the 1924 Ogden depot special, however, is that it is home to four museums that deal with Western heritage, as well as two art galleries.

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The interior of the station also has two huge murals painted by Edward Laning that show the building of the Transcontinental Railroad.

Admission to all four museums costs $5 for adults 18 to 61. A $15 family pass admits up to two adults and eight dependent children. 

Ogden is about 38 miles north of Salt Lake City and was a major railroad center in the past. Ogden’s Union Station is at the west end of the historic 25th Street in the heart of downtown Ogden, just a long stone’s throw from the Roosters microbrewery. 

Once the junction of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads, Union Station no longer serves as a railroad hub. (L.A.'s station remains an Amtrak-serviced train destination.)

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In 1997, Amtrak’s Pioneer became the last long-distance passenger train to stop at the station. You can still get to Ogden by train from Salt Lake City, where Amtrak stops. The FrontRunner commuter rail line uses the nearby Ogden Intermodal Transit Center.

Here’s a rundown on its museums and galleries:

—Utah State Railroad Museum has a number of pictorial and interactive artifacts and displays, including a collection of huge locomotives and other rolling stock, as well as the safe that once held the Golden Spike used to join the rails of the Transcontinental Railroad at Promontory Summit, which is about 50 miles from Ogden. The actual spike is in the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University. 

—John M. Browning Firearms Museum has many original models of firearms designed by Browning, including rifles, shotguns, pistols, machine guns and cannons. Browning designs serve as the basis for many models made by Winchester, Colt, Remington and other companies.

One of the cars on display at the Kimball Classic Car Museum at Ogden’s Union Station.
One of the cars on display at the Kimball Classic Car Museum at Ogden’s Union Station.
(Union Station Foundation )

—Kimball Classic Car Museum houses vehicles that are examples of the Golden Age of motorcar history. They range from a 1901 single-cylinder Oldsmobile to a 1930 16-cylinder Cadillac. Many have running boards, huge fenders, oversized headlights and rumble seats.

Utah State Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum is the newest addition to the Union Station museums. It has displays that tell the story of artists, champions, entertainers, musicians, ranchers, writers and people past and present who have promoted the western way of life. The Utah Cowboy Hall of Fame is part of the museum.

Myra Powell Gallery, home to the station’s permanent art collection, features Utah artists and has monthly photography exhibits. The Gallery at the Station has for-sale works by contemporary artists.

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Info: Union Station Museums, (801) 393-9890

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