OGDEN -- The bimonthly meeting of the Utah State Railroad Museum Authority Board gave members an opportunity to address a variety of plans and pending events, but the one that might have the greatest impact on Union Station was the lending of a treasured artifact to a festival.
The museum's "Gandy Dancer" handcar -- a small, four-wheeled railroad car propelled by hand -- was displayed over the weekend at Wyoming's Evanston Roundhouse Festival, which hosted a model train show, train vendors and other events at its historic roundhouse and rail yards.
The "Gandy Dancer" is a small railcar that could hold workers and most of the smaller equipment they would use for upkeep of the railroads.
Roberta Beverly, director of the Union Station Foundation, thinks the object's history made it a worthy addition to the festival.
"It was used for 'maintenance of way,' which is railroad talk for guys who went out to maintain the railroads across the country. It got its name from the Irish, who were called gandy dancers and who worked on the railroads," she said.
The decision to lend the handcar was a move on the board's part to gain public exposure for the museum, which has plans for restoration projects and improvements, many of which are in need of funding.
The museum wants to acquire and restore an artifact that could cost up to $8,000 to move and about $17,000 to renovate for display.
Fundraisers can be held, but using the museum's collection without the complications of planning and hosting an event could be a more cost-effective way to gain funding.
"One of the things we are doing in taking the 'Gandy Dancer' to the festival is promoting Union Station. It has the potential to raise a small amount of money there to help us with restoration," said board member Steve Jones.
"We actually had it out of the museum about three weeks ago to make sure it was operable. It can be an ambassador for the museum here. It's an experiment, and depending on how it goes, it would be available for other public appearances."
The Roundhouse Festival also borrowed from Union Station's museum a game that involves participants shoveling makeshift coal into a firebox locomotive for a prize.
Now that the Evanston festival has concluded, the "Gandy Dancer" and game will be returning to Union Station.