Union Pacific Rails Come to Ogden
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This page was last updated on February 5, 2010.
(Updated from text originally published in 2005 as part of the book, Ogden Rails)
Ogden Rails, A History of Railroading At The Crossroads Of The West
(Union Pacific Historical Society, 2005) (Available from UPHS.)
On March 8, 1869, railroad rails came to Ogden for the first time. The celebration of the first rails was reported in the Ogden and Salt Lake City newspapers, speculating as to the significance of the event. While it was big news locally, it was just one chapter in an unfolding drama of national significance, the construction of the transcontinental line that would help unify a recently divided nation and become part of the healing from the wounds of the bloody Civil War that had ended just four years before. The building of the transcontinental Pacific Railroad during the 1860s would be a public works project so massive that it would not be matched for another 40 years, with the completion of the Panama Canal.
UP Before Ogden
The story of the building of the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific has been told many times, and by many people. However, a brief review of Union Pacific's start is in order here. Chartered by the Pacific Railway Act of 1862, the Union Pacific Rail Road was organized in Boston on October 29, 1863. (Athearn, Union Pacific Country, p. 30)
Track laying began at Omaha during July 1865 and was completed to Fremont, Nebraska Territory, by January 1866. A year later, in January 1867, tracks had been completed to North Platte, Nebraska, and 11 months later, trains were running into Cheyenne, Wyoming. UP track-laying crews pushed the tracks across Wyoming rapidly after reaching Cheyenne during mid-November 1867. By December 4, 1868, the crews reached across the new Wyoming Territory to Evanston. (Athearn, Union Pacific Country, pp. 55, 65)
During the last week of December 1868, tracks formally entered Utah Territory at Echo Summit near present-day Wahsatch, at the head of Echo Canyon. A tunnel was still under construction that would take the trains under the summit, but until it was finished, the summit was crossed using a pair of temporary switch-back tracks. Within two weeks, on January 15, 1869, the line was completed down Echo Canyon to the settlement of Echo City, where Echo Creek joined the Weber River. (Klein, Union Pacific, Volume I, p. 193; Athearn, Union Pacific Country, p. 67; Griswold, A Work of Giants, p. 278; Reeder, The History of Utah's Railroads, 1869-1883, p. 42)
Seven days later, on January 22nd, the rails were laid to a point that was 1,000 miles from the starting point at Omaha. A 90-foot-high pine tree was well established within about 30 feet of that point and it immediately became known as "Thousand Mile Tree," which remained as a landmark to passing trains until its removal in September 1900. That same point today is actually 960 railroad miles from Omaha, due to many right-of-way realignments carried out over the years. To commemorate the Thousand Mile Tree, in 1982 Union Pacific planted a new tree and erected a commemorative sign at the original 1,000 mile point. It has grown to about 15 feet high and is visible from Interstate Highway 84 near Union Pacific's tracks, between Devils Slide and Henefer. (Reeder, The History of Utah's Railroads, 1869-1883, p. 42, citing Deseret Evening News, January 25, 1869; Salt Lake Daily Telegraph, January 25, 1869; Salt Lake Daily Tribune, September 16, 1900) (Klein, Union Pacific, Volume I, p. 194, says that Union Pacific reached milepost 1,000 on January 9, 1869. That date is apparently based on information in Dodge's autobiography.)
As the company's track-laying crews were speeding across Wyoming, Union Pacific in May 1868 contracted with Brigham Young, as president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons), to build the roadbed and grade from the top of Echo Summit to Great Salt Lake. The scope of construction was later extended 80 miles west to the top of Promontory Summit. As part of the contract, UP agreed to provide free transportation from Omaha for the contractor's men, tools, and teams, and to provide, at cost, all tools and materials necessary for the construction. Subcontractors for Brigham Young included his sons Joseph A. Young, Brigham Young Jr., and John W. Young, along with John Sharp, Brigham Young's close friend, business associate, and personal attorney. The $2,125,000 grading contract was signed on May 21, 1868 at the Continental Hotel in Salt Lake City, between Brigham Young, and, for Union Pacific, Samuel Reed. (Athearn, Union Pacific Country, p. 90 and p. 94; Arrington, Great Basin Kingdom, p. 261)
UP completed construction to the mouth of Weber Canyon by February 28, 1869, laying ties and rails on the grade completed by the Mormons. The tent town that sprang up at the end of track was called Uintah, which became the stage stop for Salt Lake City and points south. Uintah was closer to Salt Lake City than Ogden and remained the principle stop for Salt Lake City-bound passengers, at least until the Utah Central was completed in January 1870. (Reeder, The History of Utah's Railroads, 1869-1883, p. 42; Athearn, Union Pacific Country, p. 97)
UP Comes To Ogden
Within a week of reaching Uintah, the graders had completed the seven miles of line into Ogden, and on March 8, 1869, Union Pacific operated the first train into the city. In anticipation, a week before, on February 27, 1869, the Ogden City Council had voted, "that a public demonstration be made on the arrival of the U. P. R. R. cars at Ogden City. That the Marshal request Brother Pugh and the band turn out the flags to be hoisted. The artillery to fire a salute. The schools to march in procession, and the citizens to assemble and welcome it." The total cost of the March 8th celebration was later pegged at $66.45. (Minutes Of City Council, Ogden City, 1869-1872, p. 12 and p. 21)
Author Wesley Griswold, in his book, A Work Of Giants, described Ogden at the time: ". . .Ogden was growing up. There was no longer a local bounty on wolves, and for two years now, farmers had been forbidden to let their livestock roam at will among the populace. Ogden had 1,500 citizens, and most of them turned out to welcome the first locomotive, which puffed into their midst at 11:20 a.m." Meanwhile, the track layers kept pressing west, and a month later, on April 8, 1869, the tracks were completed another 27 miles to Corinne. (Griswold, A Work Of Giants, p. 305; Reeder, The History of Utah's Railroads, 1869-1883, p. 44)
With the completion of Union Pacific west through Ogden to Corinne, a problem of duplicate rights-of-way became apparent. UP had pushed work as far west as Monument Point, at the far north end of Great Salt Lake, while Central Pacific, building east from its California terminus at Sacramento, had completed work in Weber Canyon. The amount of government land turned over to the two companies through the land grants from the Pacific Railway Act of 1862, and its amendment of 1864, depended on the distance that each company completed, so they were each building partial, parallel grades in hopes of snaring as much land-grant property as possible, together with the very lucrative government bonds. (Read more about Land Grants, below)
The parallel grades, at times only 100 feet apart, were not continuous, but were instead situated at many of the strategic points along the surveyed routes. The two companies soon realized that a meeting point must be designated to avoid additional expenditures on unneeded right-of-way. In early March 1869, newly inaugurated U. S. President Ulysses S. Grant told his friend, UP Chief Engineer Grenville M. Dodge, that if the two companies couldn't agree on a meeting point, Congress would do it for them. (Ames, Pioneering the Union Pacific, p. 316.)
On April 8, 1869, Central Pacific president Collis P. Huntington and UP's Dodge met at Samuel Hooper's house in Washington, D.C., where negotiations between the arch rivals lasted well into the night. In the April 9 compromise agreement known as the Treaty of Hooper's House, the companies agreed to meet at "the summit of Promontory Point," at the crest of the Promontory Mountains. The summit was roughly equidistant between opposing track-laying crews who were rushing headlong toward each other in what has been called "the race to Promontory." As historian Wallace Farnham states in his essay, Shadows From The Gilded Age, "The race to Promontory, it turns out, was really a race to Ogden, and it ended at neither Promontory nor Ogden but in Sam Hooper's parlor in Washington." (Farnham, Shadows From The Gilded Age, p. 20)
In addition to fixing the meeting point at Promontory, the agreement stated that a permanent junction between the two roads would be "within eight miles of Ogden." Union Pacific was to complete its line from the new junction west to Promontory, with Central Pacific reimbursing UP the cost of construction. CP would receive the government bonds for the tracks completed by Union Pacific. The junction, originally called "City of Bear River," was named Bonneville by Union Pacific upon construction, and the name remained when Central Pacific purchased the line six months later. Utah Northern (today's UP) later completed its parallel narrow-gauge line in 1874 and called the same point Hot Springs. The town of Bonneville was laid out by J. D. Eddy, agent for Union Pacific, on what was known as Broom's Bench. An auction was held on March 18, 1869, but few lots were sold, and within a week the town was considered to be defunct. (Madsen, Corinne, p. 6; Ames, Pioneering the Union Pacific, pp. 317, 318, which also contains the full text of the agreement.)
On the next day, April 10, Congress passed a non-binding joint resolution that accepted the previous day's agreed-to terminus. Congress also accepted that the two roads would actually meet at Promontory. According to the San Francisco Bulletin of April 29, the Congressional resolution read, "Resolved, that the common terminal of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific shall be at or near Ogden; and the Union Pacific Railroad Company shall build, and the Central Pacific Railroad Company shall pay for and own, the railroad from the terminus aforesaid to Promontory Summit, at which point the rails shall meet and connect and form one continuous line." (San Francisco Bulletin, April 29, 1869, cited in Griswold, The Work Of Giants, p. 293; see also "Statutes at Large", xvi, p. 56; Reeder, The History of Utah's Railroads, 1869-1883, pp. 46,58; see also Athearn, Union Pacific Country, p. 98)
With the meeting point finally decided on, CP halted construction at Blue Cut, at the eastern slope of the Promontory Mountains (near today's Thiokol facility), and UP halted construction at Monument Point, at the far north end of Great Salt Lake. Central Pacific actually reached Promontory on April 30, 1869, then transferred its construction forces back along the line to improve some of the stretches of track that had been rushed into operation. Union Pacific was still six miles away awaiting completion of a large trestle and rock cut. To save time, UP crews began laying track on both sides of the trestle and rock cut, including installing a siding and a wye turning track at Promontory. UP track was completed to Promontory on May 8. On May 9, Dodge telegraphed the railroad's directors in Boston that the road was completed to Promontory Summit, "1,085 miles and 4,680 feet from the initial point" at Omaha. (Ames, Pioneering The Union Pacific, p. 335 and p. 337)
The ceremony for the completion of the transcontinental railroad at Promontory was set to take place on May 8, 1869, but the UP party was delayed in its arrival until the morning of May 10. In the 100 days between the end of the previous December and the first week in April, UP crews had completed the 91 miles of railroad from the head of Echo Canyon at Wahsatch, to Corinne, passing through Ogden in early March - a furious pace, especially if one considers the ruggedness of Echo and Weber canyons, and the fierce Utah winters.
Since the "Great Event," much has been made by various writers about Brigham Young not attending the Golden Spike ceremony at Promontory. Many have speculated that he felt snubbed by the railroads' decision to build the transcontinental line around the northern end of Great Salt Lake instead of through Salt Lake City, and around the southern end of the lake. Union Pacific's chief engineer, Dodge, explained it in August 1868, saying, "The northern route was shorter by 76 miles, had less ascent and descent, less elevation to overcome, less curvature, and the total cost was $2,500,000 less. There was more running water, more timber, and better land for agriculture for grazing." In an effort to placate Young, Dodge promised to build a branch to Salt Lake City. (Ames, Pioneering The Union Pacific, p. 267)
Dodge himself stated that he had originally intended to head due west from Ogden across the Bear River Bay arm of the lake, to Promontory Point, then north along the west slope of the Promontory Mountains to Monument Point at the north end, then west from there. The lake proved to be deeper than first thought, and Dodge was forced to build north around Bear River Bay, through Corinne, and over Promontory Summit, 700 feet above the level of the lake. (Dodge, How We Built The Union Pacific Railway, p. 35; Mann, The Undriving of the Golden Spike, p. 129)
Research has shown that the Mormon leader understood both the engineering and cost-of-construction for the final route. But he still favored the southern route, wanting the railroad to go through Salt Lake City, the largest city between Denver and San Francisco. Brigham Young was disappointed and dissatisfied that UP's main line would bypass Salt Lake City, but when Central Pacific informed him that it too would take the northern route, Young acceded and offered all the help that he could. In addition to surveying the southern route, CP even considered building a bridge across the lake. In June 1868, a party of surveyors took depth soundings and found that the lake at its deepest was 38 feet rather than the previously estimated 11 feet. (Morgan, The Great Salt Lake, p. 292)
A route across the lake would have to wait for another 30 years and the construction of the Lucin Cutoff. In the meantime, CP chose the northern route, which actually extends not just from the northern shore of Great Salt Lake, but 219 miles west from Ogden to [Humboldt] Wells, Nevada, with its gateway to the westward flowing Humboldt River. Central Pacific's decision to take the northern route came as early as fall 1866, after Butler Ives, an engineer on Chief Engineer Montague's staff, made a detailed survey of the two routes. The northern route was the easier one, a choice that was confirmed for Central Pacific in August 1867 after more surveys. (Griswold, A Work Of Giants, pp. 149, 199)
The August 16, 1868, issue of Salt Lake City's Deseret Evening News reported Brigham Young's acceptance of the final route, quoting him: "The railroad might or might not come through Salt Lake City, but either way, it's all right because God rules and He will have things as he pleases; we can act, but He will over-rule." (Deseret Evening News, August 16, 1868, cited in Richard L. Austin, The Union Pacific Railroad: A Study Of Its First Entrance Into Utah With An Emphasis On Weber Canyon, p. 3.)
Brigham Young may have been willing to accept the change in route as an unimportant point. While the last-spike event was important to the nation, it was UP's connection to the east that was most important to Young and the residents of Utah Territory, and that connection was made on March 8, 1869 when Union Pacific rails reached Ogden. Although he did not participate in the last-spike ceremony at Promontory, Brigham Young later attended the ground breaking of three local roads (Utah Central, Utah Southern, and Utah Northern) that all connected with the transcontinental line.
Young grasped the importance of a railroad to the East as early as 1852 when a resolution or "memorial" was passed by the first session of the Utah Territorial Legislature, asking for a railroad between the Mississippi or Missouri Rivers and the Pacific Coast. Another memorial was voted in a mass meeting held in Salt Lake City on January 3, 1854, and passed by the third session of the same legislature, asking that the Pacific Railway pass through Salt Lake City. (Reeder, History of Utah's Railroads, pp. 18-20)
Brigham Young felt so strongly about the need for a railroad that he was among the first subscribers of Union Pacific stock after the company's organization in 1863, and when he was asked to be a director of the new company in 1865, he immediately accepted. As will be discussed later, within a week of the last-spike ceremony at Promontory, Young broke ground for a rail connection between Ogden and Salt Lake City, thereby giving the territory's largest city and economic center the low-cost railroad transportation it so badly needed. (Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah, p. 1315; Arrington, Brigham Young, American Moses, p. 348; Arrington, Great Basin Kingdom, pp. 236,237)
The completion of the transcontinental railroad allowed immigrants to travel to Utah, the new "Zion," more quickly and more cheaply than before. Previously, new Mormon church members bound for Utah from places as distant as Great Britain and Europe came by way of seaports along the East and Gulf coasts, traveling by eastern railroads, riverboats, and wagons to Independence and other points on the Missouri River, then by wagon and handcart to Utah. As railroad construction progressed across the prairie during 1867 and 1868, immigrants began their wagon journeys to Salt Lake City from each successive end of track. The completed transcontinental railroad shortened the trip across the prairie from months to just days. The first company of new members of the LDS Church to come to Utah completely by rail, a group of 300 from Wales, arrived in Omaha on June 23, 1869. The party boarded UP cars, arriving in Ogden four days later on the evening of Sunday, June 27. Their arrival brought to a close the era of difficult wagon and hand cart crossings of the plains required of earlier travelers to Utah. Historians have designated the coming of the railroad as the end of Utah's pioneer era. ("The Year Of 1869," Our Pioneer Heritage, Volume 13, 1970, pp. 12-13)
Some of the first items shipped into Utah from the East by rail were pieces of manufactured furniture that arrived in mid-June 1869 at Ogden, where they moved by ox team to Salt Lake City. The shipment was sponsored by Henry Dinwoodey, who later imported machinery to make furniture from native woods, with his newly established Dinwoodey Furniture Manufacturing Co. (Deseret News, June 23, 1869, cited in Arrington, "The Transcontinental Railroad and Mormon Economic Policy," p. 151)
The earliest locally generated freight for the railroad was mining traffic. Uintah, the tent town located at the mouth of Weber Canyon, was closer to Salt Lake City than was Ogden, and became the trans-shipment point for 100-pound sacks of galena (a combined silver and lead ore), shipped to San Francisco by the Walker brothers, local store and mine owners, and later, bankers. Much of this ore came from their silver mines in the Cottonwood canyons in the Wasatch range, and in Ophir Canyon on the western side of the Oquirrh range, and was carried to Uintah by wagon. During just one month in 1869, the Walker brothers shipped 4,000 tons of ore over the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads, or 400 carloads of the then-current 10-ton capacity rail cars, the equivalent of 16 full trains, considering the average train length of 25 cars. (Bliss, Merchants and Miners in Utah: The Walker Brothers, p. 169.) (The average railroad car capacity during 1871 was 10 tons -- White, The American Railroad Freight Car, p. 136.)
The large initial tonnage was likely due to stockpiling in anticipation of the coming of low-cost railroad transportation. As active as the Walker Brothers were, the distinction of making the first rail shipment of ore from Utah mines went to the Woodhull brothers when they loaded, also at Uintah, a shipment of Utah ore onto rail cars bound for California, on June 25, 1869. In that first shipment, they sent 10 tons of ore from the Monitor and Magnet Mine (later known as the Emma Mine) in Little Cottonwood Canyon, consigned to Thomas H. Selby Reduction Works in San Francisco. This first shipment was followed in the fall of 1869 by others from the same mine, bound for the same destination. Later shipments from the Emma Mine went to James Lewis & Co. of Liverpool, England, and were smelted at Swansea, Wales. ("The Year Of 1869" in "Our Pioneer Heritage", Volume 13, 1970, pp. 4, 38)
The completion of the Utah Central between Ogden and Salt Lake City in early January 1870 allowed the Woodhull interests to ship their mined galena ore from Salt Lake City. The first such through shipment left Salt Lake City on January 12, 1870, just two days after the Utah Central's completion ceremony. This shipment consisted of an entire carload of ore, about 10 tons. The rising star of the Woodhull brothers becoming Utah's first mining magnates abruptly fell when S. D. Woodhull, one of the brothers, was shot on August 13, 1870, in Little Cottonwood Canyon in a dispute over a mining claim. He died the next day. ("The Year Of 1870" in Our Pioneer Heritage, Volume 14, 1971, pp. 14, 17)
With the completion of the transcontinental line in May 1869, Union Pacific and Central Pacific began negotiations over ownership of the trackage between Ogden and Promontory. While neither road wanted the "middle of nowhere" junction just completed at Promontory, UP favored a point as far west as possible in order to control the traffic of Utah and the Great Basin region, and therefore the freight rates. A junction at Corinne would be the ideal place to transfer wagon-load shipments of supplies bound for, and ores coming from the rapidly expanding Idaho and Montana mining districts.
Central Pacific favored Ogden as the junction point, and could see that if the junction was at Corinne, it would suffer from lack of access to Ogden and the lucrative Utah traffic that an interchange with the new Utah Central line to Salt Lake City would provide. If CP did not reach Ogden, UP would control the freight traffic between Utah and San Francisco.
Forgetting, or ignoring, that the two companies had already agreed to a terminus "eight miles west of Ogden," the local press made much of the "battle" between Ogden and Corinne for designation as the final junction point, and the economic gain that would follow. Published barbs in the press aside, it was the projected construction of the Utah Central between Ogden and Salt Lake City, and the influence of Brigham Young in the form of his designating land in Ogden for specific use as railroad yards, at no apparent cost to the two companies, that eventually led to Ogden becoming the actual point of interchange.
Finally, in September 1869, an agreement was reached, clarifying the junction "eight miles west of Ogden," agreed to in April. In March 1869, Union Pacific had surveyed the site, named it Bonneville, and attempted to sell building lots. Response was mediocre at best, and the effort was abandoned. For reasons unknown today, the intended junction at Bonneville (today known as Hot Springs) was bypassed. Instead, a point just five miles west of Ogden was chosen and in November 1869, CP purchased from UP the track between Promontory and the new point of compromise, near present-day Harrisville, where the two companies planned to build a junction and terminal, called, appropriately, Junction City. This location was more closely defined as a point "five miles west of Utah Central crossing." (Roberts, Ogden Union Station, p. 6) (Railroad directions are always east, for eastbound, or west, for westbound, regardless of the actual compass direction.)
This site was within the limits set by the April 1869 agreement, and was likely chosen due to its flatness and the availability of water from wells. Union Pacific retained ownership of the five miles of tracks from Ogden to the new junction for the purposes of the government bonds, again in accordance with the April agreement. Central Pacific paid $2.8 million for the 47.5 miles of UP tracks in the form of CP first mortgage bonds and government securities, and leased the final five miles into Ogden from UP for a period of 999 years. (Griswold, A Work of Giants, Building the First Transcontinental Railroad, p. 293; Corporate History of the Oregon Short Line Railroad, 1916)
The two railroads continued to exchange freight and passengers at Promontory from May to December 1869. At that time, with the completion of the Utah Central, together with the sale of UP's line to CP the previous month, they agreed to temporarily move the exchange point to Ogden, pending completion of the terminal at Junction City. (Roberts, Ogden Union Station, p. 7)
On September 22, 1869, Union Pacific's Superintendent Hammond stated that he would move the existing siding at Taylor's Mills (today's Riverdale) to Ogden, giving Ogden its first permanent location on the route of the transcontinental railroad.
THE JUNCTION OF THE ROADS.-- We have been informed on good authority that notwithstanding the meeting of the officers of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific roads nothing has been definitely decided with regard to the junction of the roads. Both parties are anxious to move it from the Promontory before winter. The Western company are determined to have the junction at such a point as will ensure them a portion of the Utah trade, and it is said, that if they cannot do it any other way, they will build their own road to Ogden. We understand Superintendent Hammond contemplates removing the siding from Taylor's Mills to Ogden, and that he intends to have the company of immigrants now on the road brought to the new siding there. (Deseret News, September 22, 1869)
On November 22, 1869, Union Pacific and Central Pacific agreed that Ogden would be their temporary terminal until the new terminal could be completed. (Deseret News, January 5, 1870, page 6, Summary of Events)
The agreement of September 1869 was confirmed on May 6, 1870, when a Joint Resolution of the U. S. Congress fixed the junction at the same point, five miles west of Ogden as that already agreed to by the railroads. Between 1870 and 1874, work progressed on plans for a common terminal at Junction City. (Reeder, The History of Utah's Railroads, 1869-1883, p. 63)
The completion of the narrow-gauge Utah Northern between Logan and Ogden in February 1874, however, forced the two roads to reconsider, and in May 1874, five years after the completion of the transcontinental railroad, the two railroads agreed to Ogden as the junction point and they each commenced construction of significant improvements in the new terminal. (Reeder, The History of Utah's Railroads, 1869-1883, p. 64)
A map of Ogden dated 1874 shows a combination of both Union Pacific and Central Pacific facilities. When the Utah Central was completed in 1870, it crossed the transcontinental line at a point midway between Fourth and Fifth streets, about 1,000 feet west of Wall Avenue (about midway along today's 24th Street Viaduct, about even with the old Southern Pacific shops). The Utah Central crossing became the point of division between Central Pacific and Union Pacific. CP's freight yard was located north of the Utah Central crossing, and the UP freight yard was on the south side. The common passenger depot and a common small turntable serving separate, single-stall enginehouses, were also located on the south side. Both companies had car shops and enginehouses located off the original turntable; Central Pacific's enginehouse included an interior water tank. That original turntable, which appears to be only 40 feet in diameter, was located between Fifth and Sixth streets (25th and 26th streets today), about midway between the west side of the tracks and the Weber River. That same 1874 map also shows a Utah Central depot and enginehouse adjacent to Wall Street, at Fifth Street, along with a separate Utah Northern narrow-gauge depot and stub-ended yard located on Wall Street between Fourth and Fifth streets.
Despite this change in plans, the five miles of tracks from Ogden along the original Central Pacific route remained in UP ownership, with CP leasing the line. When CP's successor, Southern Pacific, abandoned its original route around the north side of the Great Salt Lake, known as its Promontory Branch, in 1942, the road also officially abandoned its line north from Ogden to Corinne, although SP trains had been using Union Pacific's tracks between Ogden and Corinne since 1903. This move in 1903 had allowed SP to operate its Promontory trains over UP's Oregon Short Line mainline between Ogden and Brigham City, then over a four mile connector UP had completed, also in 1903, between Brigham City and a small 1-1/2 mile portion of SP's Promontory Branch into Corinne. UP's new-in-1903 Malad Branch then proceeded north from Corinne to its terminus at Malad, Idaho. After the abandonment of SP's portion, Union Pacific retained its original five mile segment of the original 1869 line north from Ogden, and the trackage was later used as a spur for the War Department's Utah General Depot (today known as Defense Depot Ogden), built during World War II.
For each 40 miles of track "completed", each company received title to 400 square miles of free government land -- land that could be used almost solely as collateral for bonds, which in turn would furnish cash to pay for building the railroad. The land grant came as blocks of land in the form of the odd-numbered parcels one-section (one mile square) long and ten sections wide, extending ten miles (increased from five miles in 1864) away from the track centerline. The government retained the other alternating, even-numbered one-mile by ten-mile blocks. The actual railroad right of way extended 200 feet on each side of the tracks.
(The complete text for both the 1862 Act Chartering The Union Pacific Railway, and the 1864 amendment to the Act, are found in White, History Of the Union Pacific Railway, Appendix I, pp. 101-115.)
(See also United States 12th Statutes At Large, p. 489 (12 Stat. L. 489) and United States 13th Statutes At Large, p. 356 (13 Stat. L. 356), and Trottman, History Of The Union Pacific, 1923, pp. 12-14, 18, 19.)
"Congress offered the Union Pacific a land grant of ten sections (6,400 acres) for every mile of road built, and a 30-year loan of government bonds that were scaled at $16,000, $32,000, and $48,000 per mile, depending upon the difficulty of the terrain through which the road passed." (Athearn, Union Pacific Country, p. 30)
"The Union Pacific received its right-of-way through the public domain and an outright grant of half the land on a strip ten miles wide on both sides of the track for each mile of road built. This amounted to ten square miles or 6,400 acres per mile of track. The government gave the Union Pacific the odd-numbered sections and kept the even-numbered sections for itself." (Klein, Union Pacific, Volume I, pp. 14, 15)