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D&RGW Tintic Branches

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This page was last updated on November 27, 2018.

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Tintic Branch

(View a map of the D&RGW Tintic Branch)

Maximum grade: 3 percent (4 percent after 1940)

Maximum curvature: 12 degrees

D&RGW's Tintic Branch was cut back from Silver City to Eureka in 1943.

September 1961
The agent was removed from the Eureka depot in September 1961, but the agency had been closed by special permission since January 1961, after the last shipping mine was closed in December 1960. Although other mines may have begun shipping ore at some later time, the 1961 application showed that the last train operated out of Eureka on December 29, 1960.

1966-1967
At some time between May 1966 and June 1967, the time period between D&RGW Utah Division timetables No. 6 and No. 7, Rio Grande's Tintic Branch was changed from ending at Eureka, to end at the Iron King mine on the former Goshen Valley Railroad. The Goshen Valley Branch had originally consisted of two lines; one from its connection to the Tintic Branch at Pearl Junction to the Iron King mine, and another from Dividend Junction on the line to Iron King, to the Dividend mine.

This change in 1966-1967 eliminated the line to Dividend (the Dividend mine had closed in 1949), and changed the Tintic Branch to end at the Iron King mine (new mile post 33.8), instead of extending all the way to Eureka (old mile post 39.1). In 1958, Kennecott Copper opened a lead-zinc-silver mine at Burgin, very near the old Iron King mine, making this the end of the branch, at mile post 32.4. Kennecott continued to work the Burgin mine, along with adding the Trixie mine in 1969, until both were closed in mid 1978 due to high costs, including pumping to fight the increasing water levels in the mines. In November 1982, Kennecott leased the Burgin mine to the Sunshine Mining Co., which continued to sell ores to Kennecott as smelter flux for its large smelter at Garfield on the south shore of Great Salt Lake. A heap leach gold mine was also opened at Burgin, but the entire mine has been closed since 1985. After Sunshine closed the Burgin mine, Kennecott sold its interest to Tintic Utah Metals, a jointly held subsidiary of the still existing Chief Consolidated Mining Co., and Young Poong Corp., of Korea, and as late as 2000, Tintic Utah Metals continued to process the dumps from the Trixie mine in its refurbished Burgin mill.

August 1972
The federal Interstate Commerce Commission approved D&RGW's request to abandon the Tintic Branch from Pearl Junction to Eureka, 13.13 miles, along with the Goshen Valley Branch from Flora to Dividend, 2.70 miles. (Railroad magazine, December 1972, page 66)

1980
A large potential shipper was established in about 1980 at Elberta on D&RGW's Tintic Branch, with the opening of a large grain storage facility. Built and owned by Elberta Utah Grain Storage, a unit of the LDS Church, the facility has sixteen concrete bins that hold up to 93,250 bushels each. Hard red wheat is stored on a four-year rotation, depleting and replenishing 25 percent each year. Corn is stored for one year or less. The facility remains in place as of May 2015, but without rail service.

1986
The last train to the Burgin mine was in 1986 when D&RGW ran a box car of equipment to the mine. Train 664 with two GP30s ran the entire 32.5 mile distance from Springville up the branch to the Burgin mine. The crew waited for it to be unloaded and returned. Conductor Neal Thorpe passed this news on to James Belmont during an interview in 1992. (James Belmont, email dated December 10, 2011)

After 1986, D&RGW (and later Union Pacific) only operated trains as far as the limestone quarry at Keigley (mile post 16.0), until Geneva Steel closed in 2001, taking away the need for limestone. Occasional traffic is still generated by the LDS Church's grain elevator at Elberta, at mile post 25.1.

Lat 1987
In the late 1987 timeframe, D&RGW continued to provide service along its Tintic Branch, using Train 665 to designate the train itself. The dolomite mine at Keigley was dormant after U.S. Steel's closing of its Geneva Works, but would soon reopen to supply material after the steel mill reopened under new management.

1991
Nine miles of the former D&RGW Tintic Branch, between Keigley and Elberta, were rehabilitated to accept inbound shipments of pipe for the Kern River pipeline. The pipe was stockpiled at Elberta. (James Belmont, Rails Through The Wasatch group on Facebook, November 29, 2015)

September 1998
Union Pacific continued to serve the limestone quarry at Keigley as late as September 1998, with service continuing until the closure of the Geneva steel mill in 2001.

February 2002
The last train operated on the branch in February 2002. (James Belmont, Rails Through The Wasatch group on Facebook, November 29, 2015)

May 2002
As part of a larger purchase of 62.77 miles of Union Pacific trackage in Utah, the 13 miles of the Tintic Industrial Lead (D&RGW's Tintic Branch, also known as The Elberta Line) was sold to Utah Transit Authority for future light rail construction. UP retained surface operation rights to continue common carrier service.

UTA bought the 13 miles of line from Springville to a point west of Payson and the bridge over the UP tracks in May 2002. The line west from there (mile post 13.06) to Elberta was what UP formally abandoned in January 2008, along with its common carrier rights on the UTA portion.

UTA purchased the Tintic Industrial Lead in September 2002, from MP 0 to MP 13.06 (Payson). UP continued to operate to Elberta, at MP 26, a bit beyond Elberta to provide car storage for the Deseret Grain Storage. UP ended rail service in 2002, but compensated Deseret Grain for its use of trucks after UP ended service.

December 2005
Deseret Grain informed UP that they were about to start a dairy operation at Elberta, and wanted UP to restart rail service. Deseret projected 300 carloads of grain through 2007. UP declined to provide rail service on the grounds it was not profitable.

November 2006
UP applied to abandon rail service west of the UTA end of track at Payson, and STB approved the application in January 2008. With the formal abandonment, UP was no longer obligated to compensate Deseret Grain for its use of trucks. UP agreed to leave the rail in place, in case someone else wanted to operate the line.

January 2, 2008
The federal Surface Transportation Board approved Union Pacific's application to abandon railroad operations on what the railroad called its "Tintic Industrial Lead." Union Pacific had submitted its application on September 14, 2007, as successor to D&RGW. (Surface Transportation Board, Docket No. AB-33, Sub No. 209)

As late as February 2009, the line was still being used to store surplus rail cars.

March 2009
Tintic Southern Railroad, as a subsidiary of Ophir Mineral and Aggregate Group, usually known as Omag, began planning for a new railroad that would operate the former D&RGW Tintic Branch. Omag was already shipping limestone and other minerals from the quarry at Keigley, but was using trucks. Omag planned on rebuilding and renovating the tracks all the way west to the Burgin and Trixie mines on the east slope of the Tintic mining district. Omag began working with Utah Transit Authority, which owned the tracks as far as Payson, as well as with Union Pacific, which owned the tracks west of Payson, all the way to the Burgin and Trixie mines.

Tintic Southern Railroad (2009-2015)

In March 2009, a new railroad was reported as being organized in Utah. Known as the ParsonMcKee & Tintic Southern Rail Road, the new planned shortline railroad was moving forward with plans to operate over the former D&RGW Tintic Branch (later known as UP's Tintic Industrial Lead).

Since May 2002, the roadbed and track of the former D&RGW Tintic Branch (which later became Union Pacific's Tintic Industrial Lead) had been owned by Utah Transit Authority, with Union Pacific retaining operating rights to provide limited common carrier access.

The new Tintic Southern railroad was to be affiliated with Ophir Mineral and Aggregate Group, usually known as Omag, with Al McKee (Alan Dean McKee) as the new company's president. The formal name was Ophir Minerals and Aggregate LLC.

During 2009, McKee reported that Omag mined, loaded, and shipped by truck, commodities such as salt, food-grade calcium carbonate, flux-grade silica, high-grade silica, Gilsonite, Halloysite, Perlite, Dolomite, gypsum, and all types of concrete aggregates. McKee planned to increase operations and ship the increased production by rail.

McKee stated that Omag was part of the rapidly expanding McFarland & Hullinger/Broken Arrow, a trucking, construction, and mining company headquartered in Tooele, Utah. Although later found to be wrong, the reports sparked a research interest in McFarland & Hullinger, which started out in the construction business about 70 years ago. They grew beyond their construction and excavating roots in 1972 when they organized Broken Arrow , Inc., to expand into the environmental disposal business just getting started in western Tooele County, centered around Clive, a rail station on Western Pacific. During the mid 1950s, McFarland & Hullinger was involved in the movement of tailings from the mine dumps of the Ontario mine above Park City, down to a truck dump for transloading into Union Pacific rail cars, at the rate of about 30 carloads per week. The material was used by Kennecott as flux ore at its Garfield smelter.

In addition to increased quarry production, McKee stated that Tintic Southern was organized in anticipation of rejuvinated rail traffic at mines in the Tintic district, at the Burgin mine being developed by the Chief Consolidated mining company. But the new mining traffic never did materialize.

(Read more about the Burgin mine)

May 2007
McKee purchased two Alco switching locomotives, stored at the former U. S. Steel coal wasing plant east of Price, Utah. The two locomotives were moved in September and October 2007 to McKee's shop at Flux, on the west side of Tooele Valley, west of Grantsville.

March 2009
The new Tintic Southern Railroad was organized. The signs placed at several road crossings showed the company as Omag Mining/ParsonMcKee & Tintic Southern Rail Road.

July 2011
Many observers noticed new signs that appeared at points where the tracks crossed local highways and roads, announcing, "Please Be Aware. This Rail Line Is Subject To Reopen."

2011-2012
Andover removed the rail from Burgin and sold it before they declared bankruptcy in 2012.

February 2014
Omag and Tintic Southern's plans for renewed operation of the Tintic Branch depended on the success of renewed mining operations by Chief Consolidated Mining Company, at its Burgin and Trixie mines, and surrounding area. Those plans disappeared with the bankruptcy and liquidation in February 2014 of Andover Mining Corp., a Canadian company that held 65 percent ownership of Chief Consolidated.

March 2014
Plans were in place as late as March 2014 to operate trains hauling stone from the Keigley quarry and other sites, as well as whatever Tintic ore traffic might develop.

May 2014
Pete Maxfield wrote on May 10, 2014:

The Burgin mine owners already pulled the rail on their property and the EPA told UP if they pull the rail in the Goshen Valley it will get real expensive because of the environmental damage, so let's hope that Al McKee will make good on the signs he keeps posting along the right of way that the railroad will reopen. Joel Thompson would argue that the UTA probably owns the rail all the way to Elberta, since the UTA 2030 plan shows a Front Runner line from Elberta to Eagle Montain.

May 2015
Pete Maxfield wrote on May 23, 2015:

Omag had a dream to start the line back up again. In 2009 they actually hired a company to start rehabilitating the line, the equipment sat for a few days on the Muir-Roberts siding until UTA and UP told them to remove the equipment. They kept their signs up until about a year ago [2014]. When Andover Mining declared bankruptcy Omag was caught in that business as they had formed a partnership with Andover on the Chief Consolidated properties. Omag broke their relationship with Andover during the bankruptcy and dropped the idea of re-opening the Tintic as they wanted to ship minerals (Halloysite) from Burgin and from Kiegley. Since the Andover bankruptcy Omag seems to be in disarray. Recently there were UTA people out in the Goshen Valley looking at the rail.

The Tintic Southern is pretty much a dead project. Andover removed the rail at the Burgin mine and sold it before they declared bankruptcy (2012). Then the Federal government pulled up a bunch of rail while chaining the ground (2015).

(As a final note about the two Alco locomotives, after being moved from the US Steel Wellington coal wash plant in 2007, the two locomotives were stored at Flux, on the UP (former WP) Ellerbeck Branch near Grantsville. During summer 2015, following the failure of the Tintic Southern, copper thieves stole the external copper cabling, making the locomotivres unserviceable, and not economically repairable.)

(Read more about the two Alco former USS locomotives, stored at Flux from 2007 to 2016.)

After 2015

May 2015
Portions of the western end of Tintic Branch, where the spurs crossed U.S. Highway 6 on the western edge of Goshen Valley, were destroyed by contractors working for the federal Bureau of Land Management, in a project to remove unwanted plant species. The work is known as "chaining" and involves a large chain connected between two bulldozers as they move across the land being "restored." The chain rips out native juniper trees and shallow-rooted plants, such as sage brush, for the purposes of encouraging the growth of grasses for the benefit of cattle grazing. It also destroys abandoned railroad tracks.

During May 2015, UTA people were seen inspecting the line near the LDS elevator looking at the rail. The UTA has their 2040 plan that implies a Front Runner line all the way to Elberta.

November 2015
A large portion of the Tintic Branch was dismantled west of Keigley. The potential still exists for rail service to Keigley, over UTA-owned track from Springville to Payson, then over UP-owned track to Keigley. (Information and photos from Pete Maxfield, courtesy of James Belmont, by way of postings to Facebook "Rails Through The Wasatch" group, January 6, 2016.)

February 2016
Indictments for fraud were issued for the principle owner of the proposed Tintic Southern rail line, and an associated proposed industrial development at Elberta.

May 2016
Union Pacific discovered that seven miles of its (abandoned) Tintic Industrial Lead that had been removed. The removed track was valued at $175,000. Charges of theft and trespass were filed against the owner of the proposed Tintic Southern Railroad.

Newspaper articles:

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