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Mark Ross U. Utah Phillips remembrance-died 23 May 2008 (11) RE: U. Utah Phillips - 10 years ago 5/23 29 May 18

Joe Offer, I was there at The Black Butte Center for RR Culture (which is in Weed, California) this weekend for the Grand Opening of the Utah Phillips Flanger Car. I was Utah's sideman for a while, and his friend for almost 40 years.

Back in the '70s when he was recording for Philo records in Vermont, the company gave him an acre of land so he would have a place to live. He bought an 1890 Canadian Pacific flanger car (used to scrape ice and snow off the tracks) for $500. He held a big party, got everyone drunk, and laid 50 feet of track. The car was brought to Monckton Ridge on 2 flat bed trucks, and there was a crane to hoist it off and place it on the tracks. The car was 48 feet long, and the track 50 feet. Utah called it The Greater Monckton Ridge, Saratoga, Salt Lake & Pacific RR.
Utah said "It can move 1 foot in either direction. You have to start somewhere."
He lived in it for a couple of years when he wasn't on the road playing. It was fixed up real nice with a dining table elevated in the cupola and a bed and a woodstove.
Utah moved to Spokane with Sheila Collins a couple of years later, had 2 children and settled down there. He and Sheila later divorced and Utah married Joanna Robinson and moved to Nevada City.
Last year someone alerted his eldest son Duncan that the car was for sale. Duncan managed to find the seller who now owned the Philo barn.
When asked for the price the owner replied, "I'm not going to sell you the car, I'm going to give it to you."
I had been talking to friends who restored old cars trying to find a place to put it. The BBRC, which is owned by a bunch of former (and current hoboes and rail roaders said they would take it. Duncan raised over 22 grand to haul the car across country (it's too old to be hauled behind a train, being wood bodied without a steel frame. It was badly in need of repair, and Duncan is in the process of restoring it (and he's doing a magnificent job!).
This weekend about a 100 people gathered for the ribbon cutting and a concert by John McCutcheon, Utah's son Brendan, Bodie Wagner, Michael Taub and Gwedolyn Hallmsith, and myself. Utah's wife Joanna Robinson, his sister Deborah Cohen, brother Stuart Cohen, grand-children, and great-grandchildren were in attendance, along with an assortment of hoboes, hoboettes, and fans and friends of Utahs'. It was a grand timeand I am exhausted.Here's a link to the web site Duncan has set up in his fathers memory;

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