26 November 2020

The Lucin Cut-off Officially Opened on Thanksgiving Day 1903

Midlake Station, Lucin Cut-off, Great Salt Lake vintage postcard

Built by the Southern Pacific Railroad between 1902-1903, the Lucin Cut-off spans the north arm of the Great Salt Lake and was one of the greatest engineering feats of its time.

On Thanksgiving Day, Nov 26 1903, Mr. E. H. Harriman (President of the Southern Pacific Railroad) led 3 special trains composed almost entirely of private cars filled with newspaper reporters and prominent railroad men from across the country.

On that day he formally inspected the cut-off and declared it open for business (although regular trains would not utilize it for several more months).

The special private trains departed Ogden in the morning and arrived at Midlake Station after a 2-hour trip, the trains at one time going as fast as 33 miles per hour.

Although much anticipation was made about the opening ceremonies, which was to including the driving of a golden spike, once Harriman and company arrived at Midlake Station only a group photograph was taken and the band played a couple of patriotic tunes but no speeches were made or other elaborate ceremonies.

The trains resumed their travel west to the Lakeside construction camp where they met with 800 railroad workers who were on their way to Thanksgiving supper. The special visitors and workers stood in a long line to the kitchen and each secured a mince pie, sandwich, and cheese. These prominent citizens and the workers then sat down upon benches, boxes, and barrels and enjoyed their food.

After the little feast at Lakeside, two of the trains continued west and a Thanksgiving dinner was served in the dining car while the party continued to Nevada.

The train containing the Utah group returned to Ogden where a Thanksgiving banquet was served by the Weber Club.

Sources: Ogden Standard, SL Herald, San Francisco Call, all from 1903-11-27


Lucin Cut-off map, 1906. From UDSH.

Thanksgiving Day 1903, Lucin Cut-off. President Harriman
is at the far right with his hand on a post. From Standard Examiner

Lucin Cut-off, September 1903. From UDSH.

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