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San Pete Valley Railway (1874-1908)

This page was last updated on March 3, 2005.

By George E. Pitchard

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The San Pete Valley Railway Company was incorporated June 29, 1874, somewhat before the standard-gauge Utah Southern Railroad, which was to be the S.P.V.'s connection to the outside world, arrived at Nephi, the S.P.V. 's intended western terminus and connection with the Utah Southern. Notwithstanding, grading appears to have been undertaken anyhow (Salt Lake Herald, February 7 and 14, 1875), but evidently this work ended rather soon. Grading recommenced in late 1879 (Salt Lake Herald, November 4, 1879), and was completed from Nephi to Wales (and its coal mines) by mid-1880 (Salt Lake Herald, July 2, 1880). And although ties were apparently set on some of this 30-odd miles of grade, no rail was immediately laid; indeed, it seems that rail was not acquired in any quantity until mid-1881. Tracklaying finally began in September of 1881 (Salt Lake Tribune, September 21 and 25, 1881), and seems to have proceeded rather slowly, there being no motive power yet on hand, and probably not yet any cars, either, until the S.P.V. acquired nine flat cars and one box car ($2,500 the lot) from the Utah & Northern in October of 1881, which stock was apparently delivered in late November (Salt Lake Tribune, November 2, 1881).

The Salt Lake Tribune of January 1, 1882, has the earliest useful information yet seen regarding the acquisition of a locomotive; in an item sub-headed "The Progress of the San Pete Valley Railway," it is said that the railway at that time is the property of the Central Pacific Coal & Coke Company (an English company, with no known connection to the Central Pacific Railroad), which had coal mines near Wales, and in commenting on the railway, says "Much delay has been experienced during the past three months, through the impossibility of procuring the necessary cars and locomotives... At length, last month, a sufficient supply of flat and box cars for construction, about thirty coal cars, and a new Baldwin locomotive of the Mogul pattern, weighing 48,000 pounds (sic), were procured and delivered; and another locomotive, together with a full supply of passenger and mail coaches, as well as additional box and flat cars, is expected daily."

In Poor's Manual of the Railroads of the U.S., for 1883, pages 897-898, the San Pete Valley Railway is shown as having been completed as of April 1, 1882, for some 30 miles from Nephi to Wales, with a three-mile extension from Wales to the coal mines in Big Canyon, which were the mines of the Central Pacific Coal & Coke Co. The earliest known timetable for the S.P.V. is dated June 1, 1882, and shows the one scheduled train daily from Wales to Nephi and return, leaving Wales at 9:05am, laying over in Nephi from 11:20am to 2:05pm, and on return arriving in Wales at 4:20pm. This schedule appears in the Salt Lake Herald of May 30, 1882, over the name of F. S. Cahill, Superintendent, and continued in the paper for some weeks; the indicated two hours and fifteen minutes for a thirty-mile run, even with a few stops, does not exactly bespeak a blistering pace, and the time arrangement quite clearly shows that one locomotive could easily handle the traffic - if any. Nevertheless, in addition to the "48,000 pound" Baldwin Mogul received in December of 1881, the S.P.V. had acquired a second engine, another Baldwin Mogul, this one of 39,000 pounds, formerly Cairo & St. Louis Railroad No. 13, "Alexander." In the Annual Report of the Receiver, C. & St. L. RR., to the U.S. Circuit Court, Springfield (Illinois), for the year ending December 31, 1881, there appears a list of equipment sold in the year, and it shows "Engine No. 13, sold to Bamberger & Co." for $7,500.00; Simon Bamberger (later of Bamberger Railroad, and Utah governor) was at that time the Superintendent (and, de facto, builder) of the San Pete Valley Railway; the note showing C&StL No. 13 as sold to 'Bamberger & Co.' indicates the engine was sold directly to Bamberger, without the usual nicety of going through a dealer. The No. 13 was, as noted, a Baldwin engine, c/n 3178, March 17, 1873, class 8/18D-1, a 2-6-0, obviously, with 12x16-inch cylinders, 36-inch drivers, and an engine weight of 39,000 lbs. The builder's photograph of sister engine No. 15 can be found at page 383 of Hilton's "American Narrow Gauge Railroads."

Cairo & St. Louis Railroad No. 13 became San Pete Valley No. 2, as is attested by several photographs, one of which is nice enough to include the "2" on the sand box and the builder's plate clearly enough to see the "No. 3178" on it, which ought to pretty well settle the matter.

It would be wonderful if the problem of the origin of the other engine, presumeably the S.P.V.'s No. 1 at this time, were so easily resolved. There are no records of the San Pete Valley Railway Company for this time period known to exist at present, and about all the 'documentary' evidence known (at present) appears in the above-mentioned newspaper bit of January 1, 1882, which says that the engine was a Baldwin Mogul of 48,000 pounds. This, however, is not believed to be entirely correct; photographs do show it to be a Baldwin, and a Mogul, but the stated weight of 48,000 lbs. would make it a class 8/22D engine, none of which (of an appropriate gauge) appear to be unaccounted for at the time S.P.V. No. 1 must appear in Utah, which from the foregoing we take to be December 1881. The aforesaid photographs show an engine of a 'stubby' appearance, short-boilered, drivers bunched rather closely, and with a somewhat distinctive 'bell-on-sandbox' arrangement made necesary by the short boiler.

This identity crisis, however, cannot now be resolved with what information survives from 1881-1882; so, for the nonce, we will put the problem on the back burner, and move on, and return to the issue in the future.

From the outset, it was intended to extend the railroad on to Manti, some twenty miles or so from Wales; to build this extension, the California Short Line Railway Company was incorporated on June 12, 1882, but work does not appear to have been undertaken in earnest until sometime in 1884, and then it was not from Wales, but from a point about seven miles above Wales, which point became known as Draper Junction, from which the branch (as it then was) headed southeasterly, and was in service to Moroni by December 8, 1884. In 1885, to continue the extension Manti-wards, rail was being taken up from 'the old track' between Draper Junction and Wales, to be relaid on the extension beyond Moroni, now the main line. Chester was reached by August 17, 1885 (the new timetable effective that day), which place remained the end of the line until 1893; Manti was still quite a few miles away.

The motive power situation did not remain entirely static during this period; an item in the Nephi Ensign of August 31, 1888 notes that the S.P.V. had received an engine from the Utah & Northern the day before, undoubtedly on loan, as all Utah & Northern motive power can be fully accounted for into the 1890s. The earliest available Teritorial Board of Equalization report, 'for the year 1892,' shows the S.P.V. to have just one locomotive, at an assessment valuation of $1,500 - subsequent events clearly show that No. 1 was the lone engine, therefore No. 2 is by 1892 the dearly departed. Possibly, repeat possibly, the No. 2 was gone by August 1888, so that when the No. 1 needed work, the S.P.V. needed the loan of an engine - possibly.

In April of 1890, the Union Pacific gave the S.P.V. $5,000.00 for an 'option' on the entire property, likely to prevent the Rio Grande Western from getting their hands on the line, as it was just about this time that the R.G.W. began to build their line south from Thistle towards the same area the S.P.V. was invading - and beyond, but one suspects the U.P. wanted to keep a toe in the area. The U.P. would never actually buy the S.P.V., but U.P. influence would be felt for some time in the area and on the S.P.V., of course; and at times the S.P.V. became a minor 'front' in the ongoing U.P. - Rio Grande confrontation.

June 22, 1893, again a U.P. narrow-gauge engine was sent down to the San Pete Valley line (Salt Lake Tribune, June 23, 1893), this time almost certainly to relieve the No. 1 during an overhaul, as 'an S.P.V. engine' (they had only the No. 1 at this time) was turned out of the U.P. shops on August 13, 1893, "entirely overhauled," and it was tested on the Utah & Nevada district line out to Garfield Beach (Salt Lake Tribune, August 14, 1893).

During this time, and beyond, the S.P.V. is finally being extended again, towards Manti, which plan had been 'on hold' for some eight years; grading had been done (at least partially) those eight years earlier, and it was now repaired and completed, the track laid and service to Ephraim begun on September 11, 1893, per timetable No. 11 of that date (Salt Lake Tribune, September 13, 1893). Ephraim was only briefly the end of the line, as work continued on towards Manti - temporarily interrupted by the Rio Grande Western, which suddenly found it necessary to put a hasty spur across the S.P.V.'s surveyed line below Ephraim, and park several box cars and an engine thereupon. One assumes the difficulty was speedily resolved, as the S.P.V. reached Manti (finally!) on November 29, 1893, to which point regular service began on December 14, 1893, per Timetable No. 12 of that date (Manti Messenger, December 15, 1893).

This burst of activity was made possible by the voluntary reorganisation of the railroad company in 1893, under the same charter/incorporation of 1874, and the attendant refinancing of the company, which provided the necessary thousands of dollars for the extension from Chester, as well as additional equipment, much needed on a railroad of some 40-odd miles, one locomotive, and a mere handful of cars - and no gauge-compatible connection from whom one could readily borrow equipment.

At the annual meeting, on January 9th, 1894, Theodore Bruback, then President and General Manager of the San Pete Valley Railway, announced that he had acquired for the road a 'new' locomotive, a coach, ten box, four flat and six stock cars, all narrow-gauge, of course; the engine in question was tested on the Garfield Beach line on January 15, 1894 and sent down to Nephi on January 18, 1894, the rest of the stuff following along shortly. It seems it was all sent down somewhat 'as is,' as a letter from Manti, January 25, 1894, noted the 'new' equipment was there being painted and lettered. (Salt Lake Tribune, January 11, January 16, January 19, and January 26, 1894; Manti Messenger, January 12, and January 19, 1894; Ephraim Enterprise, January 10, 1894.)

The origin of the engine acquired in January 1894 turns out to be a simple matter - the Union Pacific system annual reports for the years ending December 31, 1894, and December 31, 1895, on page 28 in both, showing the system's "Locomotive Equipment" as of the dates given, and both showing the same note under the tables: "The total Locomotive equipment of the above-mentioned roads, when taken over by the Receivers on October 13, 1893, was 741 Engines, since which date there has occurred one vacancy through the sale of a Kansas Central Narrow Gauge Engine to the San Pete Valley Railway Co." Seems clear enough, for that part of it. So, checking in the journal of the Kansas Central, one finds a couple of entries, under date of August 31, 1894, one of which says: "For an amount representing the estimated cost of replacing the equipment (one Narrow-Gauge Locomotive No. 106) sold by the Receivers September 14, 1894, now credited to [New Equipment] account and charged to Profit & Loss," the amount being $6,738.40; the other entry covers "...the proceeds ($2,000.00) received from the sale of one Kansas Central Railroad Co. narrow gauge locomotive No. 106." (The reason for the January-to-September delay is not given.)

Kansas Central No. 106 had been No. 13, renumbered in the 1885 system rearrangement, and was one of two engines acquired from the Denver, South Park & Pacific in October 1883, per entries in the DSP&P, K.C. and U.P. Boston and Omaha journals; DSP&P Nos. 39 and 40 were sold to the K.C., as numbers 12 and 13, respectively, in October 1883 for $12,872.50, plus $280.24 for "refitting, painting and lettering." An additional $21.60 as 'freight on engines' appears in December of 1883. The arrival of the two engines was noticed in the Leavenworth 'standard' of October 6th, 1883: "The Kansas Central has bought two new Mogul engines, which are numbered 12 and 13. They have three drive wheels on each side and are beauties. Prior to their purchase they were run on the Rio Grande [sic] railroad." Obviously, that last bit was incorrect, but at least it shows an awareness that the engines came from Colorado, and that they weren't quite new, actually. The two had cost the South Park $21,000.00 (plus $203.72 freight, etc.) in December of 1882.

Kansas Central Nos. 12 and 13 (later 105 and 106) were Brooks Moguls, much the same as K.C. numbers 7, 8 and 11 (later 102, 103 and 104, respectively), and like Utah & Northern engines 23-45 (later 80-101); both commonly-available Brooks builder's lists do not correctly identify these engines, as they were Brooks c/n 800 and 801, October 27, 1882, as DSP&P Nos. 39 and 40, respectively. In the June 1, 1889 Union Pacific system roster, K.C. numbers 105 and 106 are shown with 14x18-inch cylinders, 43-inch drivers, and an engine weight of 47,800 lbs.

Perhaps the most curious thing about the S.P.V.'s treatment of the No. 106 on their road was its number - which the S.P.V. kept, as No. 106, and in consequence renumbered their No. 1 to 107, as is shown in a clear and photographer-dated picture of the 107 on "the first train to Morrison" on November 7, 1894. One must wonder why this curiosity occurred, but no answer is known - 'there it is,' as 'tis said.

The Board of Equalization report 'for the year 1894' shows the S.P.V. with two engines, at $1,000 each; one passenger coach, 2nd class; one baggage and express car; and 15 box, six stock and 17 flat cars. Later in 1894, the S.P.V. completed (on November 3, 1894) the last of its narrow-gauge line, being an extension mostly east of Manti, up Six-Mile Canyon, to coal mines at a point named Morrison, some 7.6 miles from Manti. From the fact that standard-gauge ties were largely used in this extension (as they had been in the line from Chester to Manti), one is likely to conclude that the widening of the line was already in the planning stages.

The widening of the line did occur in 1896, the work being done within a few days of the arrival of two new Baldwin 'broad-gauge' 2-8-0 locomotives at Nephi on July 1, 1896; widening began on July 7th and was completed to Manti on the 9th, after which some time was spent on lining and surfacing before the Morrison branch was widened.

The two standard-gauge engines had been ordered April 22, 1896 and were assigned Baldwin class 10/26E-252 and -253, had 16x20-inch cylinders, 38-inch drivers, and an engine weight of 'about' 80,000 lbs. They were to cost $8,170.00 each, plus $25.00 each for Leach patent sanders, less a credit of $340.00 each because the Westinghouse air brakes, schedule XN, had been in error ommitted from the engine drivers. They were built under construction numbers 14875 and 14876, June 5, 1896, and shipped June 18, 1896, as S.P.V. numbers 50 and 52. Among the lightest of standard-gauge 2-8-0 engines, they were of the same Baldwin class, 10/26E, as the D&RG's 400-411 (1924 numbers 340-349) narrow-gauge 2-8-0 engines, and that road's first standard-gauge 2-8-0 engines, Nos. 412-416, of 1881.

The report of the Board of Equalization 'for the year 1897' shows two engines, narrow gauge, at $500 each, and two engines, broad gauge, at $3,500 each; one narrow gauge coach on broad gauge trucks, at $500; one narrow gauge baggage and express car on broad gauge trucks, at $150; nine narrow gauge box cars at $15 each, five broad gauge box cars at $200 each; 15 narrow gauge flat cars at $15 each, 15 broad gauge flat cars at $75 each; and six narrow gauge stock cars at $20 each. In January of 1898, all the old narrow gauge stock is in storage at Manti (Salt Lake Tribune, January 22, 1898).

An item in the Salt Lake Tribune of April 15, 1899, headed "San Pete Engines Sold," reads as follows: "The San Pete Valley Railway yesterday sold to the Sumpter Valley railway two narrow-gauge locomotives. They will be shipped to Baker City early next week. These two engines are the 106 and 107, and were in service on the road up to the time it was broad-gauged, since then being in the sheds at Manti. Both are in good condition and are well adapted to mountain work. They will be put in service at once on the Sumpter Valley line. It will break the hearts of Billy Watson and Sam Parry to see old 107 go to Oregon, for they declare her to be the best narrow gauge that ever climbed a mountain." Again in the Tribune, of April 24, 1899, one notes this: "The two San Pete Valley engines sold to the Sumpter Valley road will go north in a day or two."

It is this writer's opinion, based on what sketchy evidence is available, that San Pete Valley engines 106 and 107 became Sumpter Valley engines 5 and 6, respectively - but that's another story! By the 107's going to the Sumpter Valley road, we now have a way to trace the origin of S.P.V. No. 107, formerly S.P.V. No. 1, since the Baldwin "Register of Engines Made" frequently notes later owners of engines - and, among others, "Sumpter Valley RR" is noted as a later owner of c/n 5695, 6/25/1881, as Minneapolis, Lyndale & Minnetonka No. 13, "Dr. Wm. B. Hawkes," class 8/20D-44, a 'stubby' little Mogul of exactly the right sort. This writer is firmly of the opinion that the note in the Baldwin Register may be taken as adequate evidence that the Sumpter Valley Railway came into possession of c/n 5695 - the question, of course, would be: just exactly how did the Sumpter Valley get the engine? The conventional story has been that the S.V. got c/n 5695 directly from the ML&M in 'about' 1893, which cannot be correct, since the Sumpter Valley's roster up through the April 1, 1899 acquisition of the S.P.V. engines totals four engines, well-known to have been three former Utah & Northern Brooks Moguls, and one Baldwin 4-4-0, formerly Utah & Nevada No. 3; entries in Poor's up through 1899 show the S.V. with four engines, bumping it to six engines in the 1900 volume - the increase of two engines being those from the S.P.V. Additionally, if the foregoing isn't enough - if the Sumpter Valley had acquired c/n 5695 direct in 'about' 1893, and then had acquired another, virtually identical engine via the S.P.V. in 1899, there would then have been two such engines on the Sumpter Valley - which simply did not happen. Rationally, the Sumpter Valley could only have acquired c/n 5695 via the San Pete Valley Railway.

An important consideration, of course, would be: Was the c/n 5695 'available' in December of 1881 (or thereabouts) to became S.P.V. No. 1 in the first place? The answer to that query seems to be - yes.

The Minneapolis, Lyndale & Minnetonka ordered two identical Mogul engines, class 8/20D-43 and -44, on (or about) January 29, 1881, to have 13x18-inch cylinders, 41-inch drivers, and an engine weight of about 45,000 lbs; the driver wheelbase was 8-feet 8-inches. They were built under construction numbers 5694 and 5695, June 25, 1881, as ML&M No. 12, "Robert S. Innes" and No. 13, "Dr. Wm. B. Hawkes," respectively, and were shipped to the ML&M on July 6, 1881, at a cost of $7,250.00 each, plus $55 each for a headlight, and $240 each for Eames Vacuum brakes. Shipping time being what it was at that date, one guesses that the two engines arrived in Minnesota around two weeks or so after shipping, or about July 20th or so. This pair of locomotives was the second lot of engines acquired by the ML&M from Baldwin, the first having been a pair of smallish 0-4-0T 'dummy' engines in 1879.

The third lot of engines ordered by the ML&M, also from Baldwin, was a pair of somewhat larger 0-4-2T 'dummy' engines, and a 4-4-0 of rather ordinary narrow-gauge dimensions, all ordered on (or about) February 3, 1882, that being the date on both specification sheets. The two 'motors' (a.k.a. 'dummies' were to be numbers 3 and 4, logically enough, the earlier two being numbers 1 and 2; however, the 4-4-0 was to be numbered 13, and named "Dr. Wm. B. Hawkes" - exceedingly unusual, to say the least of it, if the Mogul by the same name and number were still on the property; that the 4-4-0 was ordered with the same name and number would seem to be very good evidence that the Mogul was gone by February 3, 1882 at latest.

Another indication that the Mogul, class 8/20D-44, was gone is found in Baldwin's occasional practice of noting on the specification sheets the class numbers of other engines then owned by the same road, notably when there were common parts on both (or however many) ; the specification sheet for the 4-4-0 notes the stack base is to be the "same as 8/20D-43" only, not including the 8/20D-44 - the 4-4-0 specification sheet also notes that the headlight burner and chimneys are to be interchangeable with 6/16-1/3C-12 and -13, being the two motors, numbers 3 and 4, on the facing page, which example serves to show that Baldwin would note both engines in the reference, if there were two engines to reference.

So, it would appear that c/n 5695 was 'available' at an appropriate time to become San Pete Valley No. 1 - and, really, how else could the Sumpter Valley logically have come by the thing, but via the S.P.V.? We will so conclude; if there is someone out there who can convincingly - repeat, convincingly - refute this scenario, please do.

After the widening of the road, and the departure of most of the narrow gauge stuff to the Sumpter Valley road, the S.P.V. settled down to a rather ordinary existence. A 'spur' of some six miles or so in length was built in 1899, north from "Nebo Jct." (5.9 miles east of Nephi) to some rock quarries up in Andrews Canyon; this was the only addition to the mileage made by the S.P.V. during its broad-gauge days, and this bit was taken up some time prior to 1912.

The Rio Grande Western Railway obtained control of the San Pete Valley Railway (officially) on September 1, 1907; the S.P.V. was sold to the consolidated Denver & Rio Grande Railroad on August 1, 1908 (the R.G.W. having finally been fully merged into the D&RG on July 31, 1908); curiously, the S.P.V.'s two engines, Nos. 50 and 52, were not immediately renumbered to D&RG-compatible numbers - several years, in fact, would pass before renumbering; No. 50 was renumbered to No. 680 at Salt Lake on September 25, 1912, and the No. 52 renumbered to No. 681 at Salt Lake on January 20, 1912, and were assigned D&RG Class 80. In the 1924 renumbering, these two were assigned standard-gauge class C-16 numbers 287 and 288; however, both were scrapped at Salt Lake City in August of 1924, and photographic evidence suggests they were not actually renumbered before being scrapped. The entry in the record of "Locomotives Retired" cites 'original cost' as $7,855.00 on each - which matches precisely the net amount shown in the Baldwin order book.

Roster

Narrow-Gauge: all are 2-6-0, Mogul type
Road
Number
Builder c/n Date Class Cylinders
(inches)
Drivers
(inches)
Weight
(Pounds)
 
1 BLW 5695 25 Jun 1881 8/20D-44 13x18 41 45,000 Received about December 1, 1881, ex ML&M No. 13: renumbered in 1894 to S.P.V. No. 107 (see below)
2 BLW 3178 17 Mar 1873 8/18D-1 12x16 36 39,000 Received about January 1882, ex C&StL No. 13; dropped from equipment by March 1892.
106 Brooks 801 27 Oct 1882 -- 14x18 43 47,800 Received on or about January 19, 1894; built as DSP&P No. 40; to Kansas Central No. 13; to Kansas Central No. 106; to SPV 106; sold by SPV in April 1899 to Sumpter Valley Ry, probably No. 5 (1st).
107 BLW 5695 25 Jun 1881 8/20D-44 13x18 41 45,000 Renumbered from SPV No. 1 in 1894; sold in April 1899 to Sumpter Valley Ry., probably as No. 6 (1st), later No. 13.
Standard-Gauge: both are 2-8-0, built by Baldwin
Road
Number
c/n Date Class Cylinders
(inches)
Drivers
(inches)
Weight
(Pounds)
 
50 14875 5 Jun 1896 10/26E-252 16x20 38 80,000 Received July 1, 1896, new; D&RG No. 680, September 9, 1912, renumbered in 1924 to No. 287, scrapped in August 1924.
52 14876 5 Jun 1896 10/26E-253 16x20 38 80,000 Received July 1, 1896, new; to D&RG No. 681, January 19, 1912; renumbered in 1924 to No. 288, scrapped in August 1924.

Further Note, on the two engines sold to the Sumpter Valley:-----

This writer believes (strongly) that SPV 106 became Sumpter Valley first No. 5, in 1899; in any case, it was renumbered ca. 1906 into the 5 through 9 group, all of which were the Brooks Moguls acquired by the S.V. in 1891, 1892, 1899 and 1903; it (like the rest) was dropped from equipment prior to June 30, 1916 (ICC Valuation inventory), and at some uncertain date scrapped.

Likewise the No. 107 - we believe it became S.V. first No. 6, and in the 1906 renumbering (because of the Tonopah engines acquisition) became S.V. No. 13, and was also dropped from equipment prior to the June 30, 1916 ICC Valuation, and at some uncertain date scrapped.

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