How the West Was Won: The Impact of Railroad Tourism on Organ Culture


Tuesday, July 02, 2024
11:00 AM – 11:45 AM



Organ culture of the late 19th century played an important role in the development of cities on the American Western Frontier. When the railroads were promoting travel west in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, they used organ recitals to develop tourism and motivate people to ride the rails. Travel writers extolled the virtues of organs heard in concert. Railroad companies encouraged the development of recital series and organ demonstrations for tourists during their rail stops. Travel itineraries west to California often included a visit to the Tabernacle organ at Temple Square in Salt Lake City along with a visit to Yellowstone. A daily organ recital series at the Tabernacle was established during the golden age of rail travel and many cities followed suit with their own organ recital series. Organs became a status symbol of culture and refinement for western cities and organ recitals re-shaped the public’s perception of the “Wild West.”