Railroad past meets future in Draper
On a bitter Jan. 22, Draper City officials braved the cold and the inversion to watch a piece of history make some history of its own.
Crews uploaded a “reefer,” or refrigerated rail car, and placed it at the Draper Town Center TRAX station at 107 East Pioneer Road, next to IFA.
The car will anchor a pavilion dedicated to showcasing Draper’s history at the station, which will open this summer.
“The Draper community has grown quite a bit. We wanted to do something special with the station to highlight the history and keep that part of the community… add historic flair to the station. We think it’s going to be a great addition,” City Councilmember Jeff Stenquist said.
Raising chickens was historically a cottage industry in Draper, Historic Preservation Commission Chair Rob Perry said. Everyone had chicken coops to feed their families and bought their supplies and sold the extra to Draper Poultry, which later became I.F.A. Additionally, it was Draper poultry farmers who originally bred chickens to produce white eggs.
“This is just another manifestation of the rich heritage in Draper,” Perry said. “Draper was known as ‘the egg basket of America.’”
For more than 70 years, the refrigerated cars travelled across the U.S., delivering white Draper eggs from coast to coast, even to the dining tables of the New York Waldorf Astoria.
The track was in use by IFA. until recent months when UTA took it over to construct the TRAX station there. Now, the eggs are truck shipped.
To mitigate this change and to showcase this historic aspect of the community’s past, a committee made up of city officials, Historic Preservation Commission members, representatives from the Utah State Office of Historic Preservation, the Utah Heritage Foundation, the Federal Transit Administration, UTA. and IFA, along with author Jerry Borrowman, has worked on the project.
They searched the country for one of the historic reefers, finally finding one in Kanab, Utah which had been used in a former grocery store there. It was repainted in Tooele and brought to Draper on a truck.
“This exhibit will enshrine the history of the area. Having a fully restored care like this will encapsulate the history of what put Draper on the map,” Borrowman said.
With the rail car in place, a pavilion will be built around it which will have an overhead awning, a water tower and nine panels retelling the history of Draper and egg production in the area.
“It will be a history lesson for everybody,” Borrowman said.
The project, which cost nearly $1 million, was funded by Draper City, the Federal Transit Administration and UTA.
“It’s great that we were able to get state and federal government funds to have a part of our history preserved,” Perry said.
Perry hopes the project will become a meeting place in the community, along with a destination point for commuters, school groups and railroad enthusiasts.
Testing of the line, including live trains on the tracks, will begin in mid- to late-February.