Ogden Union Stockyards online exhibit features historic photos, interviews, more

Tuesday , December 22, 2015 - 5:36 PM

OGDEN — While the city prepares to breath life back into a forgotten Ogden center of commerce, Weber State University is already allowing the public to relive its past glory days.

The digital collections arm of WSU’s Stewart Library recently finished an online exhibit commemorating the storied history of the Ogden Union Stockyards.

For nearly a year, the school’s library staff worked with a class of public history students to preserve the stockyards’ unique story and make it available to the public. More than 50 years of historical material like photos, drawings and old newspaper clippings were digitally archived. The material is now available to browse online at the library’s website, library.weber.edu.

The livestock center is said to have once been the biggest such market between the Pacific Coast and Denver. In 1949, more than 2.4 million sheep, hogs, cattle and horses came through the stockyards, accounting for a haul of more than $87 million, or about $1.2 billion in today’s dollars.

After shutting down in the early 1970s, the former West Ogden economic driver has been in decay, with urban blight sapping the life out of what once served as the yard’s centerpiece — the Ogden Exchange Building.

In an effort to revive the nearly forgotten jewel, Ogden city will soon begin construction on what will ultimately become a 51-acre master planned business park, called the Ogden Business Exchange. The Exchange Building will be the main feature again, serving as an office building and public space.

Construction of the first phase of the project is expected to be complete by summer 2016, but until then, the WSU project offers lots of opportunity for nostalgia.

In addition to the artifacts — which also includes things like cow tags, receipt books, journals and scrapbooks — the exhibit also features interviews with people who lived near and worked in the stockyards.

“It was an interesting tie of big money, the railroad and people from all over, so it became a meeting ground for all different types,” said Sarah Langsdon, WSU’s associate curator of special collections. 

Residents who have other stockyard artifacts or stories can still contribute to the project by calling the library’s special collections or archives departments at 801-626-7045.

When the Exchange Building is renovated, Langsdon said many of the collected artifacts will be on display in the building’s lobby.

You can reach reporter Mitch Shaw at mishaw@standard.net or at 801-625-4233. Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23 or like him on Facebook.

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