The Pilgrimage to Ogden

As anybody who knows me knows,  I’m a MASSIVE fan of John Moses Browning.    In fact the sheer scope of his designs, and how many of them,  like the M1911 Pistol,  and the M2 Heavy Machine Gun still see regular practical use.   The man is on par with his innovations as Thomas Edison, Nicolai Tesla, or Alexander Graham Bell, all of whom were contemporaries to each other,  along with Henry Ford,  who wasn’t quite on par with inventions,  but his innovations to make automobiles more affordable and available also changed the world we live in.

Really my reverence for Mr Browning borders on religious,  so I’d always wanted to make a “Pilgrimage” to Ogden Utah, which is the home town to several generations of the Browning Family.

Well last week the wife and I took a little vacation to Salt Lake City,  and while we were there I NEEDED to go to Ogden.

Well first up there was an Air Show in town when we arrived,  and then we learned that the Museums were only open Wednesday through Saturday,   so Wednesday,  our last day in Utah was going to be it.     We took the Scenic route there and arrived in Ogden just before eleven.

First stop, the town cemetery where much of the Browning Family is interred:

And there’s the marker for the Man himself.  I notice some visitors had left pennies on the marker to pay their respects,  It hadn’t even occurred to me,  and I didn’t have any coins.   Had I thought about it I probably would have brought some Winchester Brass in .45 ACP

Ogden Valley is REALLY Beautiful,  I took this photo to just show the majesty of John Browning’s Final Resting Place.

Next stop was the Browning Museum.   This is in Old Union Station  the best part is one admission fee gets you into ALL the museums.     So I didn’t take pictures of EVERYTHING,  but you can see quite a few in the Museum Page.

Here are some early Browning pistols as well as some experimental guns by Val A Browning Whom I hadn’t known was also a gun designer.

Some more FN pistols designed by John Browning.   Colt Pistols were not plentiful.

I took this picture just to irritate Nirvana Fans

These next three are just REALLY NEAT!

You can read the plaque,  but this was Browning attempting a proof of concept for a gas operated rifle.   There’s a washer near the muzzle that is pushed by muzzle blast to move an operating rod that works the lever action on the rifle.

He Improved on the design by putting a nipple that interfaced with a gas port in the barrel and allowed that gas pressure to operate the lever.

This is the basis for the 1895 “Potato Digger” Machine Gun  

This was in in a display on making engraved guns.   I really didn’t fit it….but while the engraved examples were very pretty,  this Browning Superposed lockwork is a wooden mockup that was carved by Browning himself as a quick and easy way to get a physical sample in his hands to manipulate.   Kinda the early 20th Century version if a 3D printed prototype!

They have several of the early prototypes that later turned into the Browning Hi Power The gun went through a LOT of changes after Browning’s Death, so much that Dieudonné Saive deserves as much credit as Browning for this iconic firearm.

And last but not least the M1911 exibit

The early guns that lead to the M1911

Above this were two early M1911 Pistols,  which you’ve probably seen before.  But here is the PROTOTYPE M1911A1.    What’s really interesting is this gun still has the flat mainspring housing of the M1911.

Also that .22 is really strange looking.  Allegedly it has a locked breech,  and the beavertail REALLY makes the grip seem short and awkward.

Again more photos on the museum page,   and FAR more guns than I wanted to take pictures of!

Last stop before leaving town was the John Browning Mansion

The house has been out of the Browning Family since the 1940s, and has fallen into disrepair.   According to the link above the new owners are attempting to convert it back to a public space that celebrates the life and Achievements of John Moses Browning.   We attempted to contact them for a tour,  but we couldn’t make it happen sadly.

It’s a historical landmark,  so it will never be torn down,  but I do hope to visit it as a historical home in the future!

This really was a religious experience,  and I greatly enjoyed my stay in Utah as a whole,  but this was clearly the highlight of my week,  and one of those memories I’ll keep for the rest of my life!

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