The next couple of
pages describe our trip on the Heber Valley Railway, a mountain railway
that runs various routes around the Wasatch Mountains. We took
the railroad from Heber up Provo Canyon. We wanted to see the
fall colors before the trees in the mountains all dropped their
leaves. We got some great photos but there a lot of them so this
photo essay is quite a bit longer than my usual. There are 49
photos in Part 1 (below) and 63 photos in Part
We chose this fun excursion Saturday to celebrate our 3rd anniversary
the following Monday. To see what we did on our actual
anniversary Monday, click on the link
The day was cloudy and raining all morning. There wasn't enough
sun to highlight the
mountains for a long time so most of our first photos taken from a
distance were so hazy
you could hardly see the crest of the mountains. But it was a fun
day anyway. One thing
that became evident later in the day was we were seeing some of the
first snow fall on the
tops of the mountains. Even in this photo you can see tiny
patches of snow in the
extreme upper left of the mountain peak.
The ski slopes at Park City need more than tiny patches to keep them
But we weren't going to Park City. We were headed to Heber which
is also on the other
side of the Wasatch Mountains from where we live.
As you can see by the signs, the ski areas will get really popular in a
But we came to see the fall colors and ride a little historic mountain
And the fall colors were there in abundance even through the misty
The horses on the many horse ranches we passed didn't seem to mind the
weather. They probably appreciated the extra green grass which
always comes in the
desert following a good sprinkling.
And there's our destination, "Heber City."
Through the wet windshield of the car, it's hard to see the charm of
this neat little village.
Here's a large statue in a park where we had to turn. It's
reminds me of a Remington.
I had to pull over and stop the car soon as I saw this tree. It
was ablaze with orange and
gold. It almost lit up the cold morning with it's warmth.
There were lots more trees and other scenery to see soon as we reached
Heber is a bit higher than Salt Lake (which is 4,300 feet). Good
thing we arrived an hour
early. Murky as the weather was, the parking lot filled
quickly. There were enough people
to fill too coaches with passengers.
As we waited to board, I thought the lady with the blue jacket looked
familiar. I later
discoverd who she was. More about her in a moment.
We looked around as the engineer pushed the cars together to "build"
the train prior to
Then the conductor stepped off the train and made some final checks
before letting us all
know we could begin stepping on. I was kind of disappointed he
As passengers waited the final moments before boarding, Linda and I
finally got a better
look at the lady in the blue jacket. It was our friend, coworker,
and staff member from
the Joseph Smith Memorial Building on temple square where we work in
the World Wide
Support zone of the Family and Church History Department. With
her were also two other
ladies we go to church with in the Salt Lake 2nd Branch.
I found out they were "cousins", distant relatives who had "discovered"
each other through
genealogical research. I asked, "How are you related." They
said, "Jamestown." Boy, was
I getting excited!
I said, "1613?"
They said, "Richard Pace!"
We all laughed as we realized we were all cousins !!! hahaha
later found out she was also related to our coworker/cousin through her
trip was becoming very unique. We've been calling each other
cousins ever since.
We had to laugh at the odds. We probably had a greater chance of
finding distant cousins whom we already knew on a mountain railroad in
the Rocky Mountains.
We asked our cousin to take our picture so we could capture the moment.
By then, I was beginning to wonder where the warmth was comming
from. It was only
40 degrees outside but quite comfortable inside. Ahhhh, now I
see. This old 1920s style
historic railroad car is heated the old fashioned way.
The fireman/brakeman/engineer was an old railroad retiree with a great
sense of humor.
He said the stoves in the other cars could burn coal but this little
pot-belly stove only
burned, "Go Fer wood."
"What's gopher wood", I asked.
He said, "You burn one piece then you Go Fer another one." He
turned to another
passenger and said, "He's kind of slow, isn't he?"
Back at our seat, Linda was busy looking out the window at the town of
Heber City (pop.
about 10,000). A road sign blocked a letter on this school sign
that says, "Rocky Mountain
Middle School." We both thought that would be a neat school to
attend. The Wasatch
range forms part of the Western edge of the Rocky Mountains.
We could see the mountains that the railroad would pass in the distance. The train would
meander beneath these peaks on it's way up Provo Canyon.
One building that immediately caught my eye is this one. We saw
lots of these things
on the way out here. I don't know what they are. Could be
some kind of cellar. If
anyone knows, please tell me. The buildings look low and
sometimes partially buried on
As we took photos of the buildings we passed, our friends were keeping
an eye on the
scenery out the other side of the car.
These llamas caught our eye. We didn't see a lot of domestic or
wild life on this trip.
Except for fish, that is. The fish and game service says there
are thousands of fish per
mile in this rapid little river. We saw lots of fly fishermen
fishing for trout.
Curvy roads like this remind me of the switchbacks you see sometimes
zig-zagging up a
Our friends pointed out how low the water was in the reservoir.
We didn't even realize
we were looking at a reservoir until they said that. Looks more
like a field.
The flatter part of the "field" later began looking like a reservoir
but this part of it was
lined with colorful desert vegitation.
Sometimes the colors of the surroundings literally leaped out at us as
we passed by clumps
But the meandering streams remaining in the bed of the
reservoir showed us how really
dry it had been all summer.
Water for the Provo River is fed by streams like these.
As we looked more closely at the edges of the "field" we could see
how dry it had
Toward the lower, deeper end of the reservoir, it became more apparent
this truly had
been a place for holding water.
Our friends told us how the authorities had to close down boat ramps
like this one
of the drought.
Around the edges at the deepest end, you can see how the low the water
reached. It looked to us like it was a good 10 or 15 feet below
it's highest level.
Linda kept trying to take a picture of the train rounding a curve and
finally got this
great photo looking through the windows of the coach car we were in.
With still photos, it's hard to visualized how much the cars rocked
back and forth even
though we were only travelling about 20 miles per hour most of the
time. That's why
they call it the "Heber Creeper." Dating from 80 years ago, this
is no fast train.
They had to go even more slowly in places to keep us passengers from
with the rocking side-to-side as we passed places steep as this.
Linda took this photo
of the water looking straight down out of the window. The drop is
less than 30 feet but
I wouldn't want to get there in a train wreck.
I watched the cars as one would rock left while the one in front of it
rocked to the right.
Our conductor announced the dining car (or club car as I call it) was
open for business.
Other passengers got up to get lunch while Linda and I sat and looked
out the window.
Here's a photo she took of the dam at the end of the reservoir.
Across the dam we could see all the highway construction going on
around the Provo
I had waited long enough. It was time to get something to eat.
As we ate, we had to stop occasionally to capture more photos of the
There was always more color diversity along the Provo River.
The curves in the river told us we were getting closer to our half-way
point, a little park in
the mountains. You can see more of that in the next
section. Scroll down for the link.
You can click your browser's Back Button or just click on this link to
go to Heber