As the Heber Valley Historic train headed down the tracks, 3-year-old Sammy Hunt leaned his head out the window and cheered.
“Choo choo!” he shouted, pumping his arm as the tracks passed.
His parents held tightly to make sure their son and daughter didn’t lean too far out the open window.
“This is their first time and they love trains,” Wendy Hunt said. “I’ve been wanting to take them on the train and I thought it would be cool to come on the anniversary.”
Hundreds of passengers crowded into eight train cars at the 150th Golden Spike celebration at the Heber Valley Historic Railroad on Friday night.
Darel and Rebecca Boyer, of Saratoga Springs, and their 2-year-old daughter took pictures as they climbed around one of the stationary black engines at the station.
They have plans to travel across the state throughout the weekend to celebrate the commemorative railroad completion date in 1869.
“My family has been riding the Heber Creeper for years so it’s a longtime family tradition for us,” Darel Boyer said. “I’m a huge train nerd and so the opportunity to come out tonight for the 150th is kind of natural.”
The Heber Valley Historic Railroad was organized in 1992 and operates 15.5 miles of track from Heber City to Vivian Park in Provo Canyon.
The orange, red and green train cars were built anywhere from the 1920s to the 1950s, said conductor Mike Edwards. He has worked at the historic railroad for 21 years and never gets tired of caring for the train.
“Everything we have is old. In some ways, that’s what makes us unique and that’s what makes us special,” he said. “However because of their age and historical significance, it also brings additional problems.”
Finding the right parts and tools to upkeep the 12 train cars can be a challenge, Edwards explained. Since he also works as an engineer maintaining modern trains, he has seen how the old and new engines are similar and different.
Although the modern engines had air conditioning and smoother rides, both cars have diesel locomotives and the older cars have decades of stories.
“There’s an endless book of stories in this very car and every single seat that you see,” Edwards said. “Every time this car goes out, every time there is a human being on it, there is a story being written in these seats.”
Before the train ride, attendees learned historic dances