There is a real transportation dichotomy in the Box Elder County desert west of Brigham City. The Transcontinental Railroad steam locomotives motored along at a top speed of 60 miles per hour, but most of the time they cruised at speeds closer to 30 miles per hour. Their big claim to fame was they could transport people across the country in less than a week.
Just two miles past the turn-off of to the Golden Spike National Historic Park on Highway 83, is the Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems (formerly known as ATK Thiokol) Rocket Garden.
The garden has displays of rockets and missiles built from the 1950’s to the 2000’s. One of the rockets is a shuttle booster that took the spaceship with its astronauts to a speed of 17,400 miles per hour.
Visitors have a chance to see up close a Minuteman (a U.S. land-based intercontinental ballistic missile), a Maverick (air-to-ground missile designed to be launched from Black Hawk helicopters), an Atlas rocket motor and more.
Kay Anderson, senior professional support staff at Northrop Grumman, said the outdoor museum was originally built in 1986.
“The original site was only about 1/3 the size it is now,” she said. “In 1992, the big (shuttle rocket booster) was added.”
She said in 1995 the garden was expanded to the north to include the full area we see now.
“It is a popular attraction – we have a sign-in book and people visit here from all over the country … and the world!” she exclaimed. “We don’t have a good way to estimate the number of visitors. I just know there is a somewhat ‘constant’ stream of visitors that we see throughout the day.”
The graveled garden has a walkway with small signs that tell about each of the 39 pieces, which range from patriot missiles to booster engines to shuttle rocket boosters. Visiting the park is free to the public.
To get to the Rocket Garden, take Exit 365 on Interstate 15 to Corinne and travel west about 34 miles. Pass the turnoff for the Golden Spike National Historic Site and go about another two miles.