Archive for February, 2012

February Announcement for the Utah Westerners






With the gleaming Front Runner trains running between Ogden and Salt Lake City, and the Utah County line slated for completion of the system within the next two years, it appears that Utah will soon enter the portal of modernity in intercity public mass transit. However, as you will see with your eyes on Tuesday, February 21, much of this was all done once before when there were no freeways and, in fact, virtually no paved roads in the rural regions of Salt Lake City and in most of Utah County.

The Salt Lake & Utah Railroad, incorporated in 1912, began running interurban trolleys betweenSalt Lake Cityand Payson, roughly along the current Union Pacific trackage, in 1914. Led by eastern businessman Walter C. Orem, what became known as the Orem Line was built to exploit the commercial possibilities ofUtahCountyfarmers as well as to move passengers. Sometimes referred to by passengers as the “Leaping Leena,” the cars swayed from side to side on the admittedly uneven track beds, but it afforded a heretofore unknown commute between the communities of Payson, Provo, American Fork, the agricultural area of the Orem bench and Salt Lake City.

The little known history of Utah’s first mass transit and commercial carrier will be unveiled Tuesday, February 21, by Utah Westerner James D’Arc, curator of BYU’s Motion Picture Archive, who discovered the sole surviving motion picture copy of “Electric Railroad Transportation in Utah” more than 30 years ago in a pile of film that was slated for disposal. In what may have been a promotional film made in 1930 for company salesmen to sell its services to commercial clients in Utah County, you will ride the trolley in downtown Provo, see the Onion Days celebration in Payson, and see the Conference Special trains arriving at the Interurban Depot in Salt Lake City where Abravanel Hall now stands as it was experienced the early years of the 20th century.

This will be an evening that you won’t forget as you travel by trolley car into Utah’s past and to the accompaniment of organist extraordinaire Blaine Gale, veteran performer who regularly accompanies silent film screenings at the Organ Loft in Salt Lake City. Jim will provide running commentary to the images shown on the screen and you will learn the fascinating history of this pioneering effort to bring Utahinto the 20th century andUtah products to the East Coast. Be sure to get your tickets early—for yourself and a guest! The trains are leaving at7:00 PM, Tuesday, February 21. Get on board and don’t be left at the station!

James D’Arc, Ph.D., is Senior Librarian at BYU’s Harold B. Lee Library where, for over 30 years, he has been curator of three specific areas at the L. Tom Perry Special Collections at Brigham Young University: the Arts & Communications Archives, for which he acquired the original collections of legendary producer-director Cecil B. DeMille, Howard Hawks, James Stewart, and many other notables from the film world; the founding curator of the BYU Film Music Archive and collections of several major film composers. In that capacity, he is also producer of 18 special edition CDs of original classic motion picture soundtracks from this rich collection; finally, he is the founding curator of the BYU Motion Picture Archive in which capacity he has been the director of the BYU Motion picture Archive Film Series. He has also taught for BYU’s Theatre & Media Arts and American Studies departments.

Dr. D’Arc is the author of When Hollywood Came to Town: A History of Moviemaking in Utah (published by Gibbs Smith and reviewed in Bench Press in September 2010). He has lectured on motion picture history internationally and has authored a number of articles on the image of Mormons in commercial motion pictures as well as on film directors Howard Hawks and Cecil B. DeMille. He also appears as an important resource inDVD documentaries that accompany classic motion pictures from several well-known entertainment companies.

Blaine Gale studied piano at age 7, but later fell in love with theater organ pipes and has thrilled audiences ever since by playing for silent films. For many years he has accompanied classic silent films on the 2400-pipe “Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ” at the Organ Loft’s annual series between September and May. Blaine is also a video producer, blending and mixing visual and music talents. He has successfully used his talents to promote and preserve live silent movie accompaniment as a true art form.


February 20, 2012 at 1:08 pm Leave a comment

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