Ray Burns Summer 2002 Rail Travelogues - Part 6
Click Here for a 360x360 Immersion Photos Virtual Tour
Touring Salt Lake City
of Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah!
Wednesday, July 10, 2002
Robert and I checked into the Best Western Salt Lake Plaza Hotel, which is basically
across the street from Temple Square.
When I talk about “Temple Square” I am talking about the Temple grounds of “The
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints,” commonly known as “Mormons.”
Mormon, by the way, was an ancient Prophet here in the Americas that lived
approximately 300 AD to 385 AD. He abridged over 100 sets of records, or metal
plates, regarding the history of his people from 600 BC to approximately 400 AD, which
is about 1,000 years of history. Because he abridged this record, the record bears his
name. Thus the abridged record is called “The Book of Mormon.” Consequently, the
people who accept this book as a religious record are called “Mormons” (preferably
called “Latter Day Saints” (LDS)).
Bob and I dropped off everything in our room and took what we needed for Temple
Square. We went into Temple Square South and talked to one of the information hosts.
We were allowed to take regular as well as virtual pictures around the compound. Folks,
I took a lot of pictures of these grounds, so I have a special treat for you. I also took a
number of virtual pictures that will allow you to take a virtual tour through temple square
as well. More virtual pictures are needed to be taken, but my time was at a premium at
The first place that I went to was “Assembly Hall” and I took a number of pictures. In
this 1882 meeting hall, concerts by international and local artists are presented here. It’s
a beautiful church structure with impressive organ and design features. The hall is still
used when there is an overflow of “saints” for conference services.
You know, these structures remind me of children. They are all beautiful, look different,
have their own personalities, but each one is part of the whole, and you love them all
I now went to the “Tabernacle” in time to listen to a free ½ hr. concert given there. The
demonstration given on acoustics was quite dramatic, and the organ performance was
very “impressive.” The tabernacle was totally built with wooden pegs. Not one nail was
used other than a pin and a nail for the demonstration of its’ acoustical capabilities. The
building was built in the 1860s so there was no CAD to assist the designers. The
structure resembles the form of half an egg, and the seating capacity is over 7,000 people.
Not bad for a bunch of farmers!
This structure is the home of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Orchestra at Temple
Square. The public is invited to choir rehearsals, so that must be a real treat. When the
organ recital was finished, most of the people left, so that gave me the opportunity to take
photographs of the building’s interior.
I had then gone out and taken a number of pictures on the walkways between the
beautiful trees and bouquets of flowers. My goodness, even the gardener was smiling.
That is one of the great things about this place; everyone is smiling and saying “hi.” I am
not just talking about the pretty missionaries that greet everyone to the area, but also the
visitors themselves. It is like “goodness” is a prerequisite when they come to the area.
Wouldn’t it be something if everyone in the world was continually like that!
Bob and I had pretty well had it for the day. The hot sun had drained us pretty bad. In
fact, we had stopped just in time as he had a touch of heat stroke. Fortunately, our hotel
was very close and the air conditioner in our room worked well. We both cooled off
drinking cold water and Robert went immediately to bed with a headache.
I then walked five blocks in the blistering heat to the Indian restaurant, not knowing that
the streetcars are free if you use them within the downtown area of the city. The food
was good and generous. I did ask about the streetcar when at the restaurant so with that
knowledge in check, I took the streetcar back to my hotel.
Robert was in a sound sleep and I knew that it would do him good. We would have
Indian leftovers for breakfast. A good cool shower for me and then off to bed for
tomorrow’s continuation of my picture taking at Temple Square.
Thursday, July 11, 2002
I got up at 6:00 AM, cleaned up, and had my Indian food. Next in line was the North
Visitors’ Center, with its majestic 11 foot marble statue of Jesus Christ, called the
Christus Statue. The back and side walls and ceiling are elaborately painted so I think
that the virtual pictures of this area will be quite impressive. I am looking forward to
There are two art galleries, an interactive map of Jerusalem, interactive exhibits on
scriptures and revelation, and the Love Thy Neighbor exhibit. If you want to see an
exceptional movie, and free at that, view “Legacy,” a 53 minute film on a huge wide
screen in the comfort of spacious seats and clear view with extraordinary sound quality.
This movie is about the westward trek of the Mormon pioneers. For all you macho guys
out there, let me give you a little tip: Bring a hanky!
The Conference Center is an impressive structure that really arouses your curiosity as to
what’s inside. Not to worry, just go in the front door and a guide will show you around.
You better have a guide or else you’ll get lost!
This building features a 21,000-seat auditorium and a 900-seat theater. This is a very
modern and elegant structure with high tech swirls of flowing lines elaborating
everywhere. Very elegant with absolutely stunning designs that bring beauty to one’s
sight. The sound effects must be extremely impressive!
Also included in this building is a large amount of original artwork that is actually printed
in the Book of Mormon. That’s like seeing pictures of “Mona Lisa” and “Blue Boy” in a
magazine and then seeing the original paintings. I did take quite a few pictures of these
paintings, so please take the time to view them and blow them up to a larger size so you
can really appreciate high quality artwork that can be seen here.
My guide brought me up to the roof of the structure, and yes, there are trees and plants
covering about 3 ½ acres of landscaping and gardening all over the roof. These signify
the trees and plants that the Mormon pioneers traveled through on their tortuous trek
westward. If you think that my verbiage of “tortuous” is too strong, then read the records
of their accounts prior, during, and after their tumultuous ordeal and judge for yourself.
I also took a virtual picture on the roof where the water starts its long drop down to the
street, cascading into wider sections as it tumbles lower and lower, glistening silver
flashes of light to admiring onlookers. Looking at this virtual picture, one will also be
able to view part of the roof, as well as a bird eye view of some of Temple Square and
Salt Lake City.
Now my greatest worry occurred. My camera computer chip had filled up. I managed
to find a kind soul who watched my heavy 30 lb. camera case so I wouldn’t have to lug it
to the mall to purchase another camera computer chip. What a blessing that was. The
temperature was pretty hot and other than my overweight carcass, the less I had to lug
around, the better. The manager in the camera shop was quite knowledgeable and gave
me excellent service, so it was back to Temple Square and a new start.
Next in line was picture-taking in front of the temple beside the glass like pool. I took
another picture near the spectacular fountain (which reminds me of “Old Faithful” in
Yellowstone Park), and then down to the Joseph Smith Memorial Building for a take.
This large structure, spotlessly clean (like everything else around the area) houses a 70-
mm theater that shows an hour-long film about the mission of Jesus Christ. Of course it’s
free. What did you expect?
Give yourself more time when you come to this place as it will “knock your socks off”
once you see the grand entrance. Have a seat, relax and listen to the music coming from
the grand piano. Admire the woodwork, the stunning chandeliers, the glasswork, the
colors, the statues, the flowers, the……….. Just relax and enjoy! It was a great place
for me to escape the sweltering bite of the sun. It was almost surrealistic. Disneyland,
eat your heart out! I took my pictures, so I pray that they came out, as I leave later on
I would have loved to have gone through this building as well as the Relief Society
Building (you didn’t think that the women didn’t have anything to do here, did you?), the
Church Office Building, the Church Administration Building, the “Lion House,” the
“Beehive House,” and Brigham Young Historic Park. But I was just out of time, plus I
was physically exhausted! That kind of heat does a number on overweight people
lugging around heavy camera cases. One thing that I really wanted to do was to view the
different movies that are shown. I felt bad that I did not have the time to see them.
I managed to go to the Church Administration Building and take a picture of the foyer. If
the picture comes out, you will have a look at an area very few people get to see. Now I
was on my way back. I had to leave! Down the block through that awful heat I was
thinking how easy I had it compared to the pioneers that made the harrowing trek across
the country to find refuge, and then from there, began to hack out of the mosquito
infested wilderness a livable place to survive. No, I wasn’t going to complain and
grumble to myself. I actually felt quite good, happy in fact, as I knew that I, and my
associates, will put together a grand virtual tour of Temple Square for the world to see on
our website. I believe that nothing like this has ever been done yet. There are different
interpretations of “virtual” and “virtual tour,” so please do check out our “Virtual Tour”
button on the main page of www.TrainWeb.com and see what I mean by this word!
I stopped into the South Visitors’ Center and gulped large amounts of cool water from
their water dispenser. That should get me to the West Visitors’ Center to turn in my
Media pass. Just prior to dragging myself to the office I looked up and saw the Family
History Library and the Museum of Church History and Art. I looked at my watch and
then looked back at the buildings and then I heard the “chirp” of the “little bird” (the
pedestrian signal) and said to myself, “GO FOR IT!!” I ran as fast as my little fat legs
would carry me, holding my heavy camera case high in one hand and my hand held
camera in the other, I gasped for hot air every few paces, but made it to the other side
with 0 seconds to spare. Now to hold my composure and not melt on the sidewalk! I
walked the few feet more to the entrance of the Family History Building taking gulps of
air for my bursting lungs and knowing that I would soon gain entrance to a peaceful, air-
conditioned office, where cool water would be close by.
Sure enough, I was saved, and my body temperature started to slowly cool down to a safe
level. I was allowed to take a picture of the reception area (that is ALL the time that I
had) and then one of the senior people here offered to guide me through the Museum of
Church History and Art. This would save me time so I graciously accepted. Like every
place here, there is so much to see let alone read. Temple Square is truly a museum of
museums. Suffice it to say, I did take one virtual picture in the building, for times sake,
but if it comes out, it should be a “doozer,” so hopefully you’ll be curious enough to go
check it out.
I thanked the gentleman for his hospitality and went back to the West Visitors’ Center
and turned in my Media pass. It bothered me that I did not have the time to take any more
pictures as I surely needed more. I did get a lot of them, but there is so much to see that
much more is needed if you want to get a grasp of how grandiose this place really is.
However, considering the time given, working alone, the heat, no lunch, and just being
“dogged beat,” I was satisfied for what I did accomplish.
Through all my train journeys on this trip, VIA Rail across Canada, from Montreal to
Prince Rupert and then to Prince John, BC, the Whistler Northwind of BC Rail through
British Columbia, north to south, the BC Rail Pacific Starlight Dinner Train in BC, the
Amtrak Cascades (Talgo train) from Vancouver to Seattle, and the American Orient
Express Great Northwest & Rockies Tour from Seattle to Salt Lake City, Utah (8 days),
the service and attention has been phenomenal. The total dedication, service, and
genuine friendliness of the volunteers and missionaries here at Temple Square have made
this journey grand beyond expectations. That extra comfort and assistance that I received
because of the gentleness and effort of these people helped me to accomplish my mission
at hand. To all the good people who came through my life on this journey, I salute you,
and I love you! There truly is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!
I walked as fast as I could back to my hotel on my shaky, tired legs. Fortunately, it was
just around the corner. My poor crumpled body was in dire need of rest and I at last
knew that my physical ordeal was over. The sun and the heavy equipment was what
made things difficult. The rest was a joy! I drank a lot of ice water in my air conditioned
room and said a “prayer of thanks” for living in a modern world where ice water and air
conditioning were at my disposal.
I want to make special mention of “thanks” to the Best Western Salt Lake Plaza Hotel for
letting me stay in my room until 3:00 PM. My brother Robert truly needed that extra
time to recuperate from yesterday’s heat, and I needed it at this time! That ½ hour was
just the time I needed to get back on my feet. Check out time is normally at 12:00 noon.
We were very thankful for their consideration. It’s an excellent place to stay for a great
price, and is so close to Temple Square.
The company’s airport shuttle is complimentary as well! I left a tip for the poor driver
that had to manhandle my heavy luggage. Security at the airport is, well, you don’t want
to know my thoughts of this kind of security and what I think it does to our personal
freedoms, so let’s not get into that issue. My plane left at 6:45 PM to Los Angeles and
Robert’s plane took off at 11:00 PM for New York. My Southwest Airlines flight went
without a hitch and the stewardess was great. We landed at LAX at 7:30 PM Pacific
Daylight Time and I was picked up by family as I went out to the sidewalk. This is it!
I cannot elaborate how enjoyable train travel is. I cannot say enough that to travel first
class is well worth the difference in cost from coach fare. I cannot emphasize how much
more you will enjoy luxury on a first class train, and I cannot wait until I can do this
again someday. I have never met someone on a train that never enjoyed their ride and
experience, and I have never met someone that never wanted to go on another train ride.
Surely a picture is forming here.
There are many adventures going out in every direction around the US and Canada. Each
of those rail companies, be it a private railcar, or a nationwide passenger rail company,
especially ones that have banner advertisements rotating throughout www.TrainWeb.com
and www.TrainWeb.org , will certainly offer you an adventure passing through many
different scenic areas of natural wonders. To what level of luxury? Well you must make
that choice. Why should you drive and put up with road problems when you can leave
the driving to the engineer?
Each of my travels is unique to themselves. They are different adventures that I cannot
forget. You have a choice: You can read the travelogues (and hopefully enjoy them), or
you can grab your own adventure by the horns and “go for it.” I could have written a
book about this trip, but travelogues are what TrainWeb offer. Happy rails to you, until
we meet again.
Click Here for a 360x360 Immersion Photos Virtual Tour
of Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah!
- Set #01: Jul 10, 2002 - Salt Lake City and Temple Square
- Set #02: Jul 10, 2002
- Set #03: Jul 10, 2002
- Set #04: Jul 10, 2002
- Set #05: Jul 10, 2002
- Set #06: Jul 10, 2002
- Set #07: Jul 10, 2002
- Set #08: Jul 10, 2002
- Set #09: Jul 11, 2002
- Set #10: Jul 11, 2002
- Set #11: Jul 11, 2002
- Set #12: Jul 11, 2002
- Set #13: Jul 11, 2002
- Set #14: Jul 11, 2002
- Set #15: Jul 11, 2002
- Set #16: Jul 11, 2002
- Set #17: Jul 11, 2002
- Set #18: Jul 11, 2002
- Set #19: Jul 11, 2002
Ray Burns and the TrainWeb field crew did quite a bit of rail travel from June 9, 2002 to July 11, 2002, especially in Canada.
Click on each link below to read the travelogues and view the photos and virtual tours:
To Read More Rail Travelogues
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