On April 13 in the Hunter Alumni Center’s Great Hall, environmental historian and educator Alfred Runte gave the last lecture for Southern Utah University’s premier event series, Ask. Ponder. Educate. [X]. for the 2022-2023 season.
This was Runte’s second time speaking at SUU, and he described it as a “lovely homecoming.”
Runte returned as a guest lecturer in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Cedar City train station. The centennial celebration of the Union Pacific Train Depot will happen June 19-24.
“We are the people. We are Americans,” Runte expressed. “Trains are a part of the great heritage we share.”
After giving a brief history of national parks and how the North Pacific Railroad led to their success, Runte explained that it “let Americans feel like Lewis and Clark.”
“The railroads were educators,” Runte said. “Trains were all about sharing experiences and learning about history through the window.”
Trains also allowed people to dream about destinations and see the other sides of the continent.
“Growing up, we used to wave at trains,” said Runte. It was life; it was people; it was beautiful.”
Trains haven’t been a popular form of transportation for many years. Runte explained that “we had a wonderful American experience which we need to bring back. This won’t be a nostalgia, but a reality.”
“Let’s get the trains back here to Cedar City. Let’s put the betterment of people back into our hearts,” said Runte in closing. “You have a country to rebuild.”