Annual Winter Steam Festival takes place Dec. 28-30 at Golden Spike National Historic Site

Locomotive #119 takes a demonstration run during the Golden Spike National Historic Site's Annual Winter Steam Festival.

Families looking for a unique activity to enjoy between Christmas and New Year’s are invited to visit the Golden Spike National Historic Site for a close-up view of the site’s 1860’s replica steam engine, Locomotive #119. The site’s Annual Winter Steam Festival takes place Dec. 28-30, providing visitors with an excellent hands-on opportunity to explore the nation’s railroading heritage.

“Running the locomotives in the summer is lots of fun,” said David Kilton, a park ranger at Golden Spike, “But running them in the winter is awesome!”

During the summertime, he explains, the steam isn’t really visible because most of it is absorbed by the heat. When the weather is cold, however, the steam is so thick that visitors can barely see the engines.

“Imagine seeing all of that hot steam coming out of the locomotives,” said Kilton. “There’s snow on the ground, and the setting feels like a Norman Rockwell painting. It really takes you back to an old era, and it’s neat to see.”

Locomotive #119 will be on display throughout the Winter Steam Festival, with demonstration runs taking place between 10:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. each day. When the locomotive isn’t moving, guests will be invited to join the crew to tour the engine’s cab.

Also available during the 3-day event are rides on the park’s historic handcar and its 1950s “speeder.”

“The speeder is a motor car that basically represents the next stage in advancement after the handcar,” Kilton said. “As people get in and ride, staff will be on the ground to monitor safety and share historical information.”

New this year, Golden Spike will provide hot chocolate and hot apple cider inside the visitor center for guests who want to escape the cold and explore the site’s exhibit areas, bookstore and interpretive shelter. The Golden Spike Junior Rangers program will be available for children, who will be issued an “official” junior ranger badge once they complete a short workbook.

The park will also open both of its theaters, looping a History Channel documentary called <em>The Transcontinental Railroad</em> in the larger auditorium and offering a choice of history-related films in the smaller theater.

Kilton recommends that guests of the Golden Spike Annual Winter Steam Festival dress in layers and check weather and road conditions before traveling to the site. He also encourages photographers to visit the festival early.

“When they come first thing in the morning,” he said, “the lighting is perfect, and the setting is pristine. There’s often a nice, clean field of snow, and photographers can get some great images.”

The Golden Spike National Historic Site is located 32 miles west of Brigham City via highways 13 and 83. Visitors should take exit 365 from I-15 and exit 26 from I-84. The entrance fee is $5/vehicle. The visitor center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily year-round, with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. More information is available at <a href=””></a> and (435) 471-2209 x29. 

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