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Tintic Operations by UP

Memories of operating UP's Tintic Branches.

This page was last updated on March 17, 2009.

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The following was received from Max Chatwin on February 1, 2006:

A belated but warm congratulations on, and thanks for the Tintic article in the Streamliner. With a heritage of Eureka and Mammoth miners and railroaders, my interest there has always been great. One question on Little Alice. I always understood her to be a 28-ton Shay, but you listed her as 32. Can you shed any light?

Also, as a follow up to your interest in diesels on the branch, my cousin made some of, if not the very last, trips up to the Mammoth. He said any time they went up there, the road foreman and other "higher ups" would ride in the cab, concerned about the profile and condition of the line. On his last trip, they retrieved two gondolas and, if I understood correctly, spiked the Mammoth switch shut on the way down.

The weight of "Little Alice" comes from the Lima builder record.

Max wrote on February 2, 2006:

The last trips I was referring to were actually to the Mammoth Mine at the top of the New East Tintic branch. The road foreman and, I believe, trainmaster, went along due to the extreme grades and deteriorated track condition. These trips would have been made in the 50's, as my cousin didn't get out of the Navy until '46 and back to work for UP shortly thereafter. I specifically asked if he traveled up the switchback and all the way to the mine, which he did. As he spent a lot of time as a youth in Eureka and his father worked the Pedro's Tintic branches, he was very familiar with the area. I will try to confirm the actual year, but my guess is early to mid-50's.

This would coincide with when my grandfather's brother was asked to come back to the Mammoth to train a crew on how to run the big hoist. Apparently he was the last person that knew how to run the steam powered lift.

I had also asked my cousin what kind of locomotives they used on the branch and, true to most railroaders' responses concerning motive power, he wasn't sure what models. However, he did say that they sometimes used "a cow and calf" when making the branch runs to Tintic and, I believe, on his runs to Milford and Fillmore.

Max wrote on February 3, 2006:

I had a wonderful conversation with my cousin Murray this evening, and I think you will be interested in some of the things we discussed.

While he could not remember the exact model of locomotive he last took to the Mammoth Mine, he was quite sure it was a GM cow unit (I am guessing that this would be a TR5). He said that on this trip they had only the cow, with no calf, and his description of each was very detailed. He was quite familiar with the Alco's, which he described as smoky (big surprise) and very noisy. He was also well acquainted with Fairbanks Morse units.

Apparently they would work the line from Salt Lake south, switching all points as they went, usually stopping for lunch at Tintic Junction or going to Lucille's in Eureka if they worked the branch. They would then continue to Milford and tie up, working Fillmore and returning to Salt Lake directly the next day. This was repeated three times per week.

He recalled that his trip to the mine to retrieve the load(s) (one or two) of ore was not the last one, although probably the last one that generated any revenue. At some point after his last trip, apparently another crew misinterpreted some orders and took an empty gon to the Mammoth Mine for loading. The mine had never ordered the car, and it sat for quite some time until Jim Hickman, the car distributor, became aware of its presence. A crew was later called out to retrieve the car, still empty, and bring it back to the junction.

Your mention of them using only the "cow" type locomotive leads me to think that they used just the single "switcher" version, either an NW2 or an SW7 (which is the cow-only version of the TR-5). The later SW9s in the 1800 class did not arrive until 1953, but Murray may be thinking of these also, unless his memory of the last run to the Mammoth mine predates 1953.

Other information about operations on other points along UP shows that they regularly used switchers (NW2s, SW7s, and SW9s) on many local trains. The NW2s were delivered in 1940 to 1948, and the SW7s came in 1950. Murray's memory of them running along the mainline from Salt Lake City to Milford gives us one of the longest runs for these types of locomotives in local service - that is if his is certain that they always used a "cow" type of locomotive.

In 1954, UP received the first of hundreds of GP9s that radically changed motive power usage in Utah. By 1955, there were enough of the new GP9s (and slightly earlier GP7s that came late in 1953) that all of the odd types, such as all the Fairbanks Morse and Alcos, and even most of the F units and Alco FA and FB cab units, were shipped off either to the Northwestern or Eastern operating districts to displace still more steam locomotives in those regions. Everything that I have seen from the post-1954/1955 period shows that most trains between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles, including the locals, started using GP9s in 1954.

Max wrote on February 4, 2006:

With the way that Murray said "on that trip" when describing running the cow only to the mine, I got the impression that in his experiences, such a configuration was not normal, or perhaps that both configurations were used. Did UP ever run the TR-5's split, or were they drawbar linked together?  With how similar the EMD switchers were, I doubt that he would be able to pinpoint the specific model - perhaps a number series at best.

From all of the other information I have seen and heard, I would have to agree that the trip was made mid-50's at the very latest. However, I would still be curious to know about the trip to retrieve the empty.

Yes, the TR-5s were connected by a drawbar, and they never ran alone (at least that I have ever heard of, or seen photos of).