OGDEN — Nearly 150 years ago, the first transcontinental railroad across the United States was completed in Northern Utah.
Built between 1863 and 1869, the transcontinental line connected the Pacific Coast at San Francisco Bay with the existing Eastern U.S. railway. The railroad revolutionized the American West with a dependable transportation system that brought Western states economic prosperity through the relatively inexpensive and speedy movement of both goods and people.
Naturally, it was not only a seminal moment for Utah, but for the entire country.
This weekend, a similar (albeit much smaller scale) meeting will take place about 100 miles to the south.
On Saturday, Gov. Gary Herbert and a group of local officials will officially recognize the completion of the Golden Spoke trail network — more than 100 miles of separated, connected and paved multi-use trails that stretch from Ogden to Provo.
The system was created over the past 30 years through the collaborative effort of several of municipal, county and state agencies and private entities. It includes the Ogden River Parkway, Denver & Rio Grande Western Rail Trail, Legacy Trail, Jordan River Trail, Murdock Canal Trail and Provo River Parkway.
According to a press release from the Wasatch Front Regional Council, the trail system will be the longest continuous, multi-use urban trail network west of the Mississippi River.
Several remaining gaps in the system were finished and connected in 2017, including a $6.5 million bridge that was built on the Jordan River trail.
As part of Saturday’s celebration, two groups of cyclists — one beginning their trek in Ogden and the other in Provo — will ride the trail and meet at Jordan River Bridge. Both the “Golden Spoke” name and Saturday’s ceremonial meeting in the middle are a nod to the railroad connection 149 years ago.
The Ogden group will take off at about 6:45 a.m. from Rainbow Gardens, 1851 Valley Drive. At 2 p.m. a recognition ceremony will be held at the Fisher Mansion, 1206 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City. The Wasatch Front Regional Council says the celebration and bike ride are free and open to the public, but those wishing to participate should register at goldenspokeutah.org.
Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell will speak at the event and said the trail furthers the state’s reputation as a leader in outdoor recreation and active transportation. Caldwell chairs the regional council and has long been a proponent of developing a system of transportation options that move Utahns away from cars.
In 2014, as a way to publicize the effort, he rode his bike to work every day.
Caldwell said the collective federal, state and local active transportation projects planned for the next five years total over $200 million.