The 1,000-mile tree in Weber Canyon, Utah

The Lincoln Highway often followed the course of the Transcontinental Railroad out west, mostly in spirit but sometimes atop it. When the railroad was built through Weber Canyon in eastern Utah in 1868-69, workers planted a “1,000 mile tree” to mark the point 1,000 miles west of their starting point of Omaha, Nebraska. I see references occasionally to the tree, and have noticed a couple stereoview cards online. A few photos were taken too, such as this one as the rails are laid in 1869 from the U.S. Geological Survey Photographic Library:

UT_1000 mile tree

Check out the sign hanging from it!

The Lincoln Highway cut through the canyon some 45 years later, as did I-84 probably 60 years after that. I don’t remember seeing the tree or signs for it, but it is said to still be in Wilhelmina Pass, a mile east of Devils’ Slide. Click on the thumbnail below for a recent view from I-80 (and once there, click the magnifying glass to see the phhoto much larger):

1000 mile tree

That looks to be the pine tree on the right, next to the white square, which is probably a sign. Surely the tree has been written about by Utah historians or by railroad fans. Can anyone tell us more about it?

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4 Responses to “The 1,000-mile tree in Weber Canyon, Utah”

  1. Don Strack Says:

    January 15, 1869. Within a week, tracks reached the site of a large tree, 90 feet tall, that happened to be exactly 1,000 miles from Omaha, and soon a sign was hung from the tree clearly stating that fact. The tree was in the middle of a gorge between Henefer in the Upper Weber Valley and Devil’s Slide, a unique geological formation of twin limestone ridges running vertically from the canyon floor. Along with the Thousand Mile Tree, Devil’s Slide immediately became a sight to be seen by all passing trains. The gorge just east of Devil’s Slide was named Wilhemina Pass and was the subject of several views by Union Pacific’s official photographer A. J. Russell for his stereographic tour of the new line. Although the gorge was changed significantly to accommodate today’s Interstate 84, most early trains stopped to allow passengers to appreciate the landmark, and several excursion trains from Ogden were arranged to see Wilhemina Pass, the Thousand Mile Tree, and Devil’s Slide. It was a nice day trip from Ogden, and many of the city’s residents made the trip during the summer to escape the heat of the city.

    In 1900, a landmark of UP’s route in Weber Canyon was removed. By that time, the Thousand Mile Tree had died and it was removed in September 1900. Later line changes reduced the mileage at that point to 959.66, but in 1982 to commemorate the site, UP planted a new tree that has grown today to over 30 feet tall.

  2. Don Strack Says:

  3. Michael L. Freitas Says:

    Stehen Ambrose, in his book “Nothing Like it in the World” credits the photograph to Andrew Russell. Paper back edition, , pg 328.

  4. Jessica Smith Says:

    I have been reading through letters that my great great grandfather wrote to my g g grandmother and he mentions the tree and said that the sign hanging from it had bullet holes in it and he “put one there myself”.

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