Ode to Utah Coal, Vol. 1
Yet, we have a remarkable inability to appreciate change except from the point of view of great distance. For example, in the year of my birth, nine railroads operated within an hour of Utah’s Wasatch front. Today, there are three. It goes without saying that there is a tremendous difference between then and today, and it is easy to point to how things are different. But, it is more difficult to point to how things are different from six months ago. It seems as though our minds are very imprecise for dealing with change in real time.
It is rare when one has the clarity to see change as it happens in the now--recognition that, at this very moment, the earth upon which you stand is shifting. This week, I had that moment when the Utah Railway operated its last coal train over Soldier Summit. This move was the end of a 105 year service record.
105 years... Let that sink in.
In 1912, the Utah Railway was chartered to carry coal from Utah mines to points of interchange with the Union Pacific and Rio Grande. For decades, the labor of moving coal over Soldier Summit was almost the railroad's exclusive task. Today, the railroad is in a state of transition. It is an emergent bridge carrier, and this is good. It will keep the railroad operating into the future.
But, it is not the same. And while I watched the crew cut-out six mid-train helpers, I knew that tomorrow was going to be different. Somehow, tomorrow already feels different.
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