Above: Bill Koch and Will Webb of Still Serving Veterans stand with Jean van Oppen and the Alabama Bicentennial Rifle.

Recognizing History, Craftsmanship and Veterans All On One Product

The state of Alabama is celebrating 200 years of history and achievements in 2019. Throughout the state, you will find celebrations of icons, achievements and people that have bolstered the values of Alabama.  From the beginning, Alabama has marked up the history books and continues to do so. This anniversary has captured the imagination of an employee at Wellington LTD and has produced a limited edition firearm specifically for Alabama.  “Just as history gets passed on to the next generation, so will these firearms”, states Jean van Oppen who leads this project.  “This anniversary is a milestone for the state of Alabama and we want the residents to have a tangible piece of it”. The rifle is ornately engraved with key images that represent Alabama.

There will only be 67 rifles made in the entire edition, which is based on the number of counties of Alabama. But they did not stop there.  They wanted to make sure that a portion of each sale went back into Alabama.  Enter the Alabama based non-profit organization called Still Serving Veterans. This non-profit organization seeks to secure veterans, their families, members of the Guard and reserves, back into the work force.  Since 2006, they have empowered 67,000 veterans to secure meaningful employment or the Veteran benefits they have earned.

When asked why Wellington LTD chose this organization it led to a memory.  Jean van Oppen had a personal tie to a Veteran who was struggling to find work.  “This man was a Purple Heart Recipient and could not find a meaningful job.  I referred him to my boss at the time and urged them to hire him.  He now manages the entire production for that company”.  Realizing that this problem was probably occurring with other veterans, van Oppen chose to help veterans by directly donating to this Alabama based group. For every rifle sold, Wellington LTD has pledged a donation.  You too can support this group by visiting www.ssv.org and if you seek to own a piece of Alabama history, contact Wellington LTD at www.wellingtonltd.com.

In November 1868, the first tent was pitched in what is now known as Evanston.  Working their way Westward, surveying crews were clearing the path for the Union Pacific Railroad.  Today, 150 years later, this railroad town is celebrating its anniversary.  

The city’s name comes from James A. Evans. He was a surveyor working for the Union Pacific Railroad when the transcontinental railroad was being built. Due to his close relation to the chief engineer, the town was named after Evans when it was platted in 1869.  The town quickly became a major factor for the railroad.  As a result, coal mines were created to supply fuel and created jobs for the residents.  A roundhouse and machine shop were also built for railcars and locomotives to undergo repair.  Icing stations were needed to keep produce from the West chilled.  Ponds nearby Evanston were used to make ice and was stored in “ice houses”.  Needless to say, the boost of industry quickly gave way to thriving a town.

The Evanston Roundhouse and Machine Shop

The roundhouse and machine shop would become one of the major service points for the Union Pacific railroad.  The buildings were built large enough to accommodate the locomotives.  The roundhouse had 28 stalls for railcars and locomotives to pull into.   It serviced the steam locomotives running between Green River, WY and Ogden, UT.  In 1971, Union Pacific closed the complex.  In the early 2000s, plans were made to make it a public building.  Renovation work started on a few of the buildings and is now used for special events.  These pieces of history will continue the heritage and legacy of this railroad town.

An American Hero Comes to Town

On May 29th, 1903, the 26th President of the United States of America came to visit.  President Theodore Roosevelt was making a tour of the American West.  Within an 8 week period, he visited 25 states and made 263 speeches.  He stopped for 20 minutes in Evanston while he was headed East from Salt Lake City, UT.  The town of 2000 people grew to 7000 that day.  Folks from all over the West came to Evanston to hear him speak.  As a result, this is yet another example of how the transcontinental railroad united Americans.

Reflection

As the day came to a close, it was a good reminder to look at how far we have come.  The completion of the Transcontinental Railroad was monumental to the United States of America.  Furthermore, it boasted the American Dream along the way.  The countless hours of work that it took to complete eventually lead our country to success. Evanston owes its roots to the railroad but created its very own legacy.  Over the last 15o years, it has been the will of the people to keep moving forward.  Being in the town today, celebrating these accomplishments was a humbling experience.  It was a true reminder of what is possible when we come together and work together.  May we not take it for granted and continue this heritage of this unique town of Evanston, Wyoming.

May 10th, 2019 will mark the 150th Anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad.  When completed it finally connected the East coast to the West coast.  This was a major feat since it took nearly 6 years to complete. This deserves recognition and Utah is doing just that.

The “golden spike” was driven in at Promontory Summit, UT and they will be hosting the final celebration.  According to The Salt Lake Tribune, the Legislature has appropriated a million dollars to the event and Union Pacific matched a donation making it a total of $2 million to celebrate with.  See rest of article here.  This is not Utah’s first go around with hosting a big event.  In 2002 Salt Lake City hosted the Winter Olympics.

Utah is planning to host a memorable bash for the anniversary.  The purpose of this event is to promote the history. Don’t miss your chance to be part of it.  With such a budget to celebrate with, there will be tons of activities for everyone.  For a list of all events going on in Utah, make sure to visit Spike 150th Organization page.

Most importantly, we will be partaking in the celebration as well.  If you have not heard of it yet, the custom engraved Transcontinental Railroad 150th Anniversary rifle is available.  See it here.