Galt residents celebrate 150-year milestone
Residents of Galt filled the downtown promenade Saturday afternoon to celebrate 150 years of city status during the town’s Sesquicentennial celebration.
Members of the Galt City Council were joined by county and state officials in celebration of the city’s historical milestone.
Founded in 1869, the city of Galt was a product of the Central Pacific Railroad Company expansion, which was spurred by the gold rush of 1849.
“On May 10th of 1869 the famous golden spike was driven in the Utah territories connecting the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific rails, and completing the first transcontinental railway across the United States,” Galt Vice Mayor Shawn Farmer told those in attendance.
As a result of the railroad’s extension, landowner and rancher Obed Harvey convinced the president of the Central Pacific railway to lay tracks on his property, bringing the railway out to the town of Galt, which was named by rancher John McFarland in honor of his hometown in Canada.
“As a result of the expansion, the town’s first train depot was established. When the first visitors came to the town, they brought with them a demand for goods, and a need for hotels, saloons, restaurants and local shops,” Farmer said.
The railway offered an opportunity for farmers throughout the Central Valley to sell their products in other parts of the state.
“The depot remained the center of commerce for decades until the advent of the automobile and the Lincoln Highway came through Galt,” Farmer said.
As the use of automobiles became the primary method of transporting goods, the Southern Pacific railway was forced to close the depot in September of 1958.
To honor the city’s inauguration Farmer unveiled a commemorative railway kiosk that recognized the town’s history and its founders.
“It’s ironic that we became a town because of the railroad, but throughout the city, there isn’t anything that touches on that,” Farmer said. “That’s why it is significant that we can dedicate the train kiosk. It acknowledges that history.”
As Galtonians surveyed the kiosk, and residents dressed in period clothing walked through the promenade, a sense of camaraderie emanated, bringing forth a sincere sense of community, Mayor Paige Lampson stated.
“I am so impressed by how the town has come out to this event. There are hundreds of people here, which is a testament to that small-town feel,” Lampson said. “Even though we are growing, you can see people reconnecting and greeting people they haven’t seen in a while.”
Lampson also expressed how proud she was of the Galt District Chamber of Commerce and the many volunteers that dedicated their time to transform the city’s downtown, which offered the 19th century western feel to it.
Ford Model T’s lined Fourth Street, along with other antiquated cars from the past. Shootout reenactments led by members of the Blue Canyon Gang took place in the streets, as old-fashioned saloons dotted C Street, and Sesquicentennial banners hung from the sides of buildings.
“I like the shootout show, it was loud but it felt real,” Galt resident Angelina Martin said.
Martin also enjoyed the banjo music that filled the streets as she walked through downtown.
“The founder’s play was nice to watch because it told the history of the town, and how it all came together,” Martin said.
Rosemary Maynard, whose husband owns Old Town Barbershop, was impressed by how much historic detail was emphasized throughout the city streets.
“They did so much to make it feel like you had traveled through time,” Maynard said.
Galt District Chamber of Commerce President Bonnie Rodriguez credited much of the work and passion for the Sesquicentennial celebration to Farmer, who she said spearheaded the event.
“Throughout the planning process, he has been very dedicated and present. He really took the initiative and brought his sense of passion to this project, and it shows,” Rodriguez said.
Farmer and his children created some of the photo cutouts and stand-ins for people to take pictures in front of, as well as the hayride guardrails that adorned the trucks.
“I was really in the neck of it,” Farmer said.
Farmer said he was motivated to lead the planning process for the celebration to strengthen Galt’s cultural identity and increase public awareness of the city’s heritage.
“This is really about giving back to the people in the community,” Farmer said. “Without them and the donors for the celebration, none of this would have been possible.”