State-Of-The-Art Traveling Museum to Be Part of Many Union Pacific Railroad 150th Anniversary Celebrations

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa — The Union Pacific Railroad Museum is taking its Building America exhibit on the road, or at least out on the rails.

The Promontory, a Union Pacific Railroad 1962-vintage baggage car, has been transformed into a state-of-the-art traveling museum. Complete with 13 large, dramatic graphics and the latest in interactive touch video screen technology, the Promontory will immerse visitors in Union Pacific’s 150-year history.

The traveling exhibit is a smaller version of the Building America exhibit that will open at the Union Pacific Railroad Museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on May 12, 2012.

Traveling exhibit visitors will have an opportunity to interact with history via a 65-inch touch video screen highlighting many of the 27 communities the car will be visiting in 2012. The video screen features an interactive map showing the Union Pacific system from 1869 to the present.  The 150-year railroad timeline, from 1862 to present, also is available in a touch screen kiosk.

Several artifacts from the Union Pacific Railroad Museum will be on display, including:

  • Archaeological finds from Ft. McPherson, Neb., which was built to protect construction crews from attacks by Great Plains tribal bands;
  • Replicas of the Golden and Arizona spikes, presented at Promontory Summit, Utah, in 1869;
  • Several railroad construction tools and remnants from 1862-1869; and
  • Stereo cards from Union Pacific’s collection that when viewed through a special device renders them in 19th Century 3-D.

About the Promontory baggage car

The Promontory was built in 1962 by the St. Louis Car Company as postal storage car No. 5779. It is the newest car in Union Pacific’s Heritage Passenger Fleet and was renamed the Promontory in 1993. The car has carpeted walls that have enabled it to be used for displays on various special trains and at community celebrations.  When not in use for displays, it is often equipped as an exercise car for long trips.

This car is named for Promontory Summit, Utah, just north of Great Salt Lake and the site selected for the joining of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads. Completion of the railroad–the greatest engineering feat of the 19th century–culminated in a celebration there on May 10, 1869. Promontory Point, often erroneously referred to as the location for the ceremony, juts out into the lake itself. It was the location of a saltworks for many years.

When Edward Harriman began the great rebuilding of the Harriman lines just after the turn of the century, the Lucin Cutoff was built across the Great Salt Lake, bypassing the original line through Promontory Summit. This was designed to move trains across Utah much faster and eliminate the old line around the northern edge of the lake. Promontory Point touches the Lucin Cutoff, and one of the steamboats used during its construction was named Promontory. The original transcontinental line through Promontory was taken up for scrap in 1942.