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Provo Street Railroads

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This page was last updated on March 17, 2016.

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Timeline, 1889-1894

February 14, 1889
Provo City Council adopted a resolution allowing Provo City Railroad Company a franchise to operate over city streets. An earlier resolution had stated the company was to have an exclusive franchise, and would complete at least one mile of track, within one year of the resolution being adopted. This current resolution removed the word "exclusive" and changed the time period from one year, to fifteen months. (Utah Enquirer, February 21, 1890)

October 26, 1889
"The franchises granted Provo Electric Light Company and Provo Street Railroad Company will soon expire as the terms have not been complied with. We need both enterprises badly." (Deseret Weekly, October 26, 1889, "Our Provo Letter")

April 22, 1890
"The iron for the Provo Street railway was ordered today from St. Louis." (Utah Enquirer, April 22, 1890)

May 6, 1890
The first spike of the Provo street railway was driven at 3:12 pm on "Tuesday" (May 6th) by R. H. Dodd and Judge Dan Jones. "The laying of rails began in ernest this morning. Several blocks have already been laid." (Utah Enquirer, May 9, 1890)

August 15, 1890
"The Provo Street Railroad Company has ordered two new motors." (Utah Enquirer, August 15, 1890, "Railroad Racket")

February 5, 1891
Provo Street Railroad was hauling ice from Utah Lake. "It pays better than passenger traffic." (County Register [Ephraim], February 5, 1891)

April 15, 1891
Provo Street Railroad was reported as having sufficient cars to handle 300 passengers. $35-40,000 in bonds have been sold in New York, and the monies would be forwarded to Provo to liquidate existing obligations. John W. Young was the controlling stockholder. (Provo Daily Enquirer, April 15, 1891)

March 12, 1891
"Ike Fordonski of Springville is in the city and is quite enthusiastic over the prospects of the Provo Lake Resort, just incorporated with 1000 shares at $50 each. The papers were filed with Secretary Sells to-day. Fordonski holds 450 shares of the stock and is the superintendent of the resort, which is on Utah Lake, where the Provo street railroad reaches it. He has let a contract for the electric lighting of the place, for enough more bathrooms to make the aggregate 100, and for a pavilion 100x140 feet, and a bowery 60x10. It is proposed to make it a summer and winter resort, including bathing, boating, skating, etc." (Salt Lake Tribune, March 12, 1891)

"The Provo Lake Resort Company was incorporated in February 1891 when land and facilities that had previously been owned by the Garden City Bathing Resort were purchased. The original directors were William Probert, Isaac Fordonski, Joseph F. Thompson, Charles A. Allen, and Peter Stubbs, with Fordonski acting as superintendent. The resort was located on Utah Lake, just south of the mouth of the Provo River, and provided various recreational activities including boating, bathing, and a saloon. From the Board of Directors’ minutes it is clear that the company was plagued with financial problems and was not profitable during the 1890s. Although it is unclear when the Provo Lake Resort Company ceased operations, recreation at Utah Lake declined in the early 1900s due to a drought that lowered the water level." (Register of the Records of the Provo Lake Resort Company, 1890-1900, MSS 3895, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Brigham Young University)

April 20, 1891
"The Provo street railroad did a big business yesterday; crowds of people went to the lake and the rage of last summer's lake going was resumed." (Provo Daily Enquirer, April 21, 1891)

June 1891
The timetable for Provo Street Railroad showed trains operating between "the bank corner" and the depot, and from the bank corner to the lake, on an all-day schedule about 30 minutes apart. (Provo Daily Enquirer, June 27, 1891)

July 19, 1891
"The Provo street railway has been connected with the Union Pacific track. This movement, says the Dispatch, brings a good state of affairs, as freight cars can now be brought to the door of merchants without expense of extra handling. Brick, coal, lumber for building purposes, etc., can be laid anywhere along the streets with less expense than ever before." (Ogden Standard, July 19, 1891)

(On July 18, 1891, the Tabernacle Choir, 350 members, rode the new street railway from the depot, west to a picnic at the lake. -- Salt Lake Herald, July 18, 1891)

July 21, 1891
At the annual meeting of the stockholders of the Provo Street Railroad Company, a note was made that "the balance had been paid on the new motor." Two hundred bonds in the amount of $500 each had been placed in the hands of John W. Young for him to sell in New York and Europe. (Evening Dispatch, July 22, 1891, "last night")

February 18, 1892
"The street railway with its smoking and noisy dummies..." The so-called gravel beds north of the city were found to be useless for street paving, or even for sidewalks, and the line (along J Street to Fourteenth Street) built to serve them was instead seen as being for the benefit of a few real estate men. (Provo Daily Enquirer, February 18, 1892)

May 10, 1892
"The difficulty between the Provo Street Railway Co. and Union Pacific in regard to the crossing on the Union Pacific track west of the city, has been amicably settled. The Union Pacific section gang who tore up the Street railroad's crossing, yesterday, were on the ground bright and early this morning and put the crossing back in good shape."(Provo Daily Enquirer, May 10, 1892)

The crossings of the street railway were installed by R. H. Dodd as part of his new lease. Rio Grande Western approved the crossing of their track, but Union Pacific objected and tore the crossing out, stating that it was not up to their specification. There was to be a delay of three to four weeks, and an additional $300 cost to install the approved crossing. (Provo Daily Enquirer, May 9, 1892)

May 12, 1892
"Provo Street Railway - Having leased the Provo City R.R., I will until further notice run trains to the Lake Resort as follows: Leave bank at 2:30, 4;30 and (x):30. Fare for round trip 25 cents - R. H. Dodd." (Provo Daily Enquirer, May 12, 1892)

(The above notice appeared from May 7 through June 16, 1892)

May 17, 1892
Provo City Railroad was in the hands of a trustee, who asked First District Court that a receiver be appointed to look to the interests of Southworth Brothers, which held a judgment against the company in the amount of $1,100.00 (Provo Daily Enquirer, May 17, 1892)

June 17, 1892
"Baldwin Motor Sold At Auction - A motor, the property of Provo street railway company, was auctioned off yesterday by William Hill. There was a judgment rendered in favor of Union Pacific railway company for freight upon this engine and the sale was to satisfy the same. S. L. Jones & Co., purchased this property for $515. J. F. Gates, who is a member of the street railway company, was present and entered a formal protest against the sale, stating that whoever made the purchase would secure a law suit, and that an effort would be made forthwith to recover the motor." (Salt Lake Herald, June 17, 1892)

July 4th, 1892
Approximately 2,000 passengers rode the street railway to the lake resort. Many had come down by train from Salt Lake City. The business fully taxed the railway company, as well as the resort company, run by the Southworth Brothers, to furnish enough bathing rooms, suits, boots, etc. (Salt Lake Herald, July 5, 1892)

July 19, 1892
A law suit brought by D. P. Kellogg against the Provo street railway was successful in obtaining judgments in total of $1,461.70, for the benefit of 18 separate parties, with claims varying from $6,000 for J. W. Young, to multiple claims for $50. Most claims were in the $1100 to $500 range. The stockholders of the railway company were taken by surprise. (Salt Lake Herald, July 19, 1892)

October 10, 1892
"A resolution was submitted by the city attorney, providing for the forfeiture of the franchise of the Provo Street Railway Company if cars be not running daily at the expiration of 60 days from date. Resolution adopted." (Provo Daily Enquirer, October 11, 1892, "Monday evening")

June 20, 1893
The Provo City Council voted to allow W. P. Bennett to continue operating the street railway, for a fee of $10 per month, to be paid to the city treasury, and to continue doing so at the pleasure of the City Council. (Provo Daily Enquirer, June 20, 1893)

June 26, 1893
"The Provo street railway will be in operation in a few days between the city and the Garden City Lake Resort. Manager Bennett had a force of men at work on Saturday clearing the track of rock and dirt." (Deseret Evening News, June 26, 1893)

June 29, 1893
"The case of A. A. Noon vs. Provo Street Railway was set for hearing July 1st. When the street railway property was sold to pay taxes there was a surplus of $298. The present suit is a garnishee process to obtain the amount which was also claimed by the bond holders." (Provo Daily Enquirer, June 29, 1893)

July-August 1893
The timetable for Provo Street Railroad showed trains operating only between the bank corner and the lake, at 3:30 pm and 7:30 pm. (Provo Daily Enquirer, July 15, 1893; August 3, 1893)

October 23, 1893
The property of Provo Street Railroad was sold at a Marshal's sale, at the front door of the county court house, City of Provo, County of Utah.

All of the roadbed and track of the said Provo Street Railroad Company as follows: Beginning at the intersection of J and First streets in Provo City, thence running north along said J Street to its intersection with Seventh Street, thence running west along said Seventh Street to the corporate limits of Provo City., thence westerly to the Provo Lake Resort. Also beginning at a point on said Seventh Street directly east of the track of the Rio Grande Western Railway company, and running southerly to the round house of the said Provo Street Railroad company.

Also beginning at the intersection of J and Seventh streets, Provo City, thence running north along said J Street to its intersection with Fourteenth Street, thence running east along said Fourteenth Street to the corporate limits of said Provo City, thence easterly to the gravel beds north of the territorial Insane Asylum. Together with all of the side tracks, switches, spurs and fixtures of said track and road bed.

Also the right of way and franchise of said Provo Street Railroad company, excepting one eighth of a mile of said road bed and track described as follows, to-wit: Beginning at the intersection of said J and Fourteenth streets and running east along said Fourteenth Street one-eighth of a mile.

To be sold as the property of Provo Street Railroad company, at the suits of Daniel P. Kellogg and Alonzo A. Noon. (Provo Daily Enquirer, October 5, 1893, "Marshal's Sale")

(Note: No mention is made of operating equipment or rolling stock, including either steam or electric motors.)

October 23, 1893
The Provo Street Railroad was sold in two pieces on the afternoon of October 23, 1893. The first part, along J Street from the depots to Fourteenth Street, thence east to the gravel beds (minus 1/8 mile) was sold to A. A. Noon for $1,300. The second part, running west from the bank corner to the Provo Lake Resort was sold to Daniel P. Kellogg for $1500. Each buyer had sued the road for the part that was purchased. (Provo Daily Enquirer, October 23, 1893, "Court Matters")

November 20, 1894
The rails of the Provo Street Railroad were removed and used to lay the Salt Lake & Mercur. The move was delayed by a suit by George Q. Cannon, trustee, against A. A. Noon. (Evening Dispatch, November 20, 1894)

November 25, 1894
"Yesterday a quantity of ties and rails that were recently taken upon the line of the abandoned Provo street railroad and intended for use in the construction of the Mercur road, were attached by the creditors of A. A. Noon president of the Mercur and Salt Lake" (Salt Lake Herald, November 25, 1894)

December 24, 1894
The property of Provo Street Railroad was sold at a sheriff's sale, at the front door of the county court house, City of Provo, County of Utah.

All of the roadbed and track of the Provo Street Railroad company, to-wit: Beginning at a point at the intersection of J and First streets, Provo city, Utah; thence running north along said J street to its intersection with Fourteenth street to the corporate limits of said Provo City; thence easterly to gravel beds at the foot of mountain north of the Territorial Insane asylum, together with the right of way and franchise of the Provo Street Railroad company for the distance specified, about two and one-half (2-1/2) miles, except that portion of the road-bed and track of said Provo Street Railroad company described as follows: Beginning at the intersection of J and Fourteenth streets running east along J street and Fourteenth street one-eight (1/8) mile.

To be sold as the property of John Devy, M. J. Barrett, Logan G. Holdaway, George T. Peav, J. E. Booth, Charles W. Smith, W. S. Holdaway, W. H. Dusenberry, A. A. Noon and Charles D. Moore, at the suit of National Bank of Commerce. (Evening Dispatch, December 1, 1894, "Sheriff's Sale")

(Note that, according to an 1887 issue of Utah Industrialist, W. H. Dusenberry as an officer of First National Bank in Provo, and that A. A. Noon was president of the Utah Valley Iron Mining and Manufacturing Company, also of Provo.)

(Note: No mention is made of operating equipment or rolling stock, including either steam or electric motors.)

January 9, 1895
"The rolling stock of the defunct Provo street railway was yesterday placed on the Union Pacific track. "Little Kate" the smaller dummy, was easily handled but it took eleven horses and a score of men to handle the larger dummy." (Provo Daily Enquirer, January 9, 1895)

November 1, 1895
A suit was filed in First District Court, titled "George Q. Cannon and LeGrand Young vs. A. A. Noon, J. G. Jacobs and the Salt Lake & Mercur Railroad company." The basis for the suit was possession of seven miles of steel rails taken up from Provo Street Railroad, and laid on Salt Lake & Mercur Railroad, "or if possession cannot be had, for the sum of $20,000.00, the value thereof, and for the sum of $1000 damage for unlawful detention of the property and for costs." The complaint was for the fact that the rails were part of the secured property subject to 30-year bonds sold upon organization of the company (in 1889), that the company was wholly in default on its debt and interest at the time the rails were removed, and that the rails should not have been part of the sale. "The complaint alleges that the rails were removed and the property destroyed on or about November 1, 1894, unlawfully, wrongly and wholly without right of authority." (Evening Dispatch, November 1, 1895)

July 16, 1897
Oregon Short Line proposed to build a spur to the Provo lake resort, from where their line intersected Seventh Street, west along the alignment of the defunct Provo street railway. (Salt Lake Herald, July 16, 1897)

Equipment, 1890-1894

August 15, 1890
"The Provo Street Railroad Company has ordered two new motors." (Utah Enquirer, August 15, 1890, "Railroad Racket")

November 1890
Baldwin Locomotive Works delivered a steam motor. Baldwin serial number 11337, built in November 1890. Cylinders: 10x14; Wheels 35 inches; Wheel arrangement 0-4-2. Recorded as "Provo City Railway #8".

(Baldwin #11337 was possibly built for Ogden City Railway #8, but like #11336, was diverted by Baldwin to Provo Street Railroad as their #8.)

(An identical steam motor was completed by Baldwin as Ogden City Railway #6, also in November 1890, with Baldwin serial 11336. This was exactly when the Ogden company electrified its lines, meaning that the Ogden steam motor may not have been delivered.)

(George Pitchard's research shows that Baldwin #11336 was built for Ogden City Railway, but upon completion was diverted by Baldwin to Great Salt Lake & Hot Springs no. 1 on June 6, 1891.)

February 18, 1892
"The street railway with its smoking and noisy dummies..." (Provo Daily Enquirer, February 18, 1892)

June 17, 1892
"Baldwin Motor Sold At Auction -- A motor, the property of Provo street railway company, was auctioned off yesterday by William Hill. There was a judgment rendered in favor of Union Pacific railway company for freight upon this engine and the sale was to satisfy the same. S. L. Jones & Co., purchased this property for $515. J. F. Gates, who is a member of the street railway company, was present and entered a formal protest against the sale, stating that whoever made the purchase would secure a law suit, and that an effort would be made forthwith to recover the motor." (Salt Lake Herald, June 17, 1892)

January 9, 1895
"The rolling stock of the defunct Provo street railway was yesterday placed on the Union Pacific track. "Little Kate" the smaller dummy, was easily handled but it took eleven horses and a score of men to handle the larger dummy." (Provo Daily Enquirer, January 9, 1895)

(Builder's data for both steam motors, Baldwin #11336 and 11337, suggests that they were identical locomotives. Baldwin #11336 was built for Ogden City Railway at the same time that Baldwin #11337 was built for Provo Street Railroad, both in November 1890; the Ogden company equipment was sold at auction on December 23, 1890, and the Ogden motor was apparently sold to Provo.)

(There is evidence that one of the Great Salt Lake & Hot Springs steam motors was also known as "Little Kate," and may have been the same steam motor that was placed on Union Pacific tracks in January 1895 and moved to Salt Lake City for service on the Great Salt Lake & Hot Springs line.)

(Read more about these and other stream dummies in Utah.)

Timeline, 1912-1919

October 20, 1912
Actual construction begin in Provo at the corner of Fifth South and Academy Ave. The plan was to construct a street car line first from the D&RGW Depot to Brigham Young University, and then connect it with the Salt Lake & Utah interurban line. Some 35 blocks of street car tracks were constructed. Track was also laid about the same time on Main Street in American Fork, more to hold the franchise and beat out the Lane interurban, which was lining up its own franchises, town by town. (Ira Swett, Interurbans of Utah)

July 24, 1914
Salt Lake & Utah began public service to Provo, 48.5 miles, with 14 daily electric trains, red interurban cars. SL&U assumed operating responsibility. Travel time 1 hour 55 minutes. (Stephen Drew, email dated January 21, 2008)

October 24, 1914
After getting the Salt Lake & Utah main line in operation, Orem construction men turned their attention to the streetcar line projected in Provo. In October 1914, a force of thirty men began extending the line on Academy Ave. north to Eighth North, where a wye was installed. Another wye was installed near the Union Passenger Station on Third West. Plans were also made to extend the line to the sugar company plant in Lake View. The date of inauguration of this local service is uncertain, but probably was about October 24th. (Ira Swett, Interurbans of Utah)

Two used streetcars, numbered as 11 and 12 (single-truck closed cars, 31 feet 8 inches long) were purchased in 1914 from the Utah Light and Railway Company of Salt Lake City for use in Provo, but it is doubtful if they ever turned a wheel there. The cars were of the 40-Class, seating 38, and were formerly operated on the South Temple line in Zion. These were stored behind the Payson Shops for years, finally being scrapped, never having been used by SL&U. (Ira Swett, Interurbans of Utah)

March 1919
The Provo streetcar service was terminated. Car No.11 was then used on the one-mile branch to the Spanish Fork Sugar Factory for about three years. The old cars bought from the Utah Light and Traction Co. for use in Provo never turned a wheel, being stored behind the Payson Shops until finally scrapped. (Ira Swett, Interurbans of Utah)

One or both Provo streetcars were then used on a one-mile spur running out of Spanish Fork to a sugar factory; this operation continued until about 1923.

In 1923 the cars were withdrawn from Spanish Fork service and retired. The bodies became chicken coops, while their motors were put into a rotary snow plow built by SL&U and used to turn the blades.

Provo City Buses

Interurban bus operation on Salt Lake & Utah started in January 1939 using two 27-passenger Superiors on Ford chassis. Local service in Provo was started in April 1940. A small Crown bus was added in 1941, and two Ford conventional buses with Wayne bodies in 1944. A Ford Transit bus was also acquired in that year, presumably for the Provo city service.

The demise of the SL&U in 1948 left Provo without any city bus service. In late fall of 1952, Gene Boswell and John Yeaman were operating a bus franchise in Ogden, and Provo City and the Chamber of Commerce invited them to start a bus route in Provo. A trial line between Orem, Brigham Young University and downtown Provo was started using Ford Transits not needed in their Ogden operation. The line was not to prove successful despite a small subsidy from BYU and was given up after six months.

In the mid 1950s, Harry Hardman was operating a commuter bus service between heber City and the U. S. Steel plant at Geneva. A cab company in Provo was operating a similar commuter bus service between Santaquin and Geneva, as well as a local city service in Provo, as the successor to the earlier Provo City service started in late 1952 at the request Provo City. The Santaquin operation failed and Hardman took it over, along with the Provo City service. The new combined commuter and city bus service became Utah Valley Transit in 1965. Harry Hardman teamed up with Vernon Cook in 1969 to operate multiple franchises in northern Utah, and in 1972 Hardman and Cook split the routes, with Cook taking the routes in Ogden and Logan and operating them under the Cook Transportation name. Hardman took the routes in Salt Lake and Utah counties, operating them under both the Utah Valley Transit and the Lake Shore names.

By the early 1970s, Utah Valley Transit operated only two city routes in Provo, converging downtown at University Avenue and Center Street. Both routes were operated with a single a used GM TDH-3714 transit bus. Later a new GM TGH-3501 transit bus was purchased. The routes were losing money, even with the small subsidy from Provo City. But in August 1974, University Mall opened in Orem and a new route was started with direct service between downtown Provo, to the mall in Orem, by way of a route through Brigham Young University. The service was hourly, and immediately became a success. It usually ran with 400-500 passengers per day. Larger buses were purchased and by 1979 was operated under contract to the Timpanogas Transit Authority. Residents of Utah County voted in 1984 to become part of the Utah Transit Authority, which took over the local service in Provo.

(Portions of the above summary of Provo city bus service comes from Motor Coach Age, Volume 29, Number 3, March 1987)

More Information

Corporate Information -- Information on file with the Secretary of State's office, describing the two companies organized in 1890, using two similar names: Provo City Railroad and Provo Street Railroad.

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