BOISE, Idaho – Union Pacific Railroad celebrates 150 years in business this year. Idaho maintains its place in that long history to this day, with historic buildings, thriving railways and stories told by everyone from former switchmen to those who remember that distinctive whistle going by.
UP was founded July 1, 1862, when President Abraham Lincoln signed the Pacific Railway Act.
“We believe President Lincoln would be as proud of today's Union Pacific as we are," said Jack Koraleski, president and CEO of Union Pacific in a news release marking the occasion. "We expanded President Lincoln's vision from using the railroad to link the east and the west to using the railroad to connect the U.S. to the world.”
Over the weekend, both Canyon County and Boise celebrated their connection to the railroad.
Canyon County celebrated by rededicating Union Pacific Engine #616. The coal-powered engine originally worked for UP’s subsidiary, the Oregon Short Line. The steam engine, which weighed in at 347,850 pounds when fully stocked, now rests in Nampa’s Lakeview Park after being donated to the city in 1958.
The Nampa Train Depot, which served as offices for UP at one point, now serves as the headquarters of the Canyon County Historical Society. The museum there offers a look at the history of the railroad in Nampa.
Today, UP names Nampa and Pocatello as some of their most important terminals. As of 2011, there are over 800 miles of track threaded throughout the state of Idaho.
Boise celebrated their connection on Sunday at the site of the Boise Union Pacific Depot. The former station is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places under the moniker of the Union Pacific Mainline Depot. According to the City of Boise's history on the depot, it remained in Union Pacific's hands from the time it was built in 1925 to when they sold it to Morrison Knudsen Corporation in 1990.
Celebrations at the depot go until 4 p.m. Sunday.
The Union Pacific is also celebrating their 150th Anniversary by collecting stories from former employees, passengers, construction workers and the community on experiences with the rails. Already, people from Idaho have shared experiences about watching “The Portland Rose” go by and about being a fifth-generation railroader. If you have a story you would like to share, you can do so here.