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Union Pacific at Echo

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This page was last updated on June 6, 2014.

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Locomotive Facilities

From the very first of UP's operations in 1869, Echo had been a helper terminal, where as many as six locomotives were kept to both help trains up the most severe portion of the Wasatch grade, and to power the locals on the Park City Branch. The Echo helper terminal was closed with the completion of the new roundhouse and engine terminal at Ogden in 1927.

At the height of steam operations, locomotives used on eastbound freights used two-thirds of their coal and water getting up the first forty miles, to Echo, where coaling chutes and water tanks was located. After refueling at Echo, they made their way to the top at Wahsatch, continuing on to Evanston where they were refueled again.

In the early years at Echo there was a four-stall wooden engine house and a 66-foot turntable. The 66-foot turntable had been moved from Spring Valley in 1906, and was replaced in the 1920s with a later 80 feet long version. Both were hand powered. The Echo enginehouse was in place before 1893, and was closed and likely demolished in 1906 when the newer turntable was installed. After it was removed, the remnants of the turntable, or at least its abandoned pit, was still in evidence west of the Echo yard until grading for Interstate 80 North (later Interstate 84) in the late 1960s removed much of the hillside at that location.

Along with coal chutes built at Echo City, the railroad built warehouses, which stored groceries, hardware, and other goods for sale in the Summit County area. The water tanks were filled from the Weber River using a steam powered water pump. A flour mill was erected in 1871, and a large two-story hotel was also built. In later years, Echo City was the home of over 300 railroad employees, including three section crews, a yard crew (the yard was expanded in the 1923), two signal maintainers, a station agent, four to six telegraphers, and a buildings and bridges crew. All of the employees lived in houses furnished by UP. The town itself had two stores, two hotels, a gas station, and a school.

While diesel locomotives used on the Park City Branch were almost always serviced at Ogden, steam locomotives used on the branch were serviced either at Echo, or later, at Ogden, 41 miles west of Echo by way of the Weber canyon mainline.

According to the 1951 edition of UP's "List of Agencies, Stations, Equipment, Etc.", also known as a Form 70, the Echo turntable was a 80 feet long. Previous research had suggested that the turntable at Echo had been removed in 1944 when the engine terminal there was downgraded because of the Big Boys, but the listing for 1951 indicats that the turntable remained until at least that year. The remains of the Echo turntable pit ca still be seen where the turntable was located, although a good part of the outside southwestern edge was taken as part of the I-84 construction.

Echo Coal Chutes

Echo had a large two-pocket frame wooden coaling trestle that was destroyed by fire in January 1941, and replaced by a modern concrete and steel one furnished by Fairbanks, Morse, & Co. (Echos Of Yesterday, Summit County Centennial History, Daughters of Utah Pioneers of Summit County, 1947, page 78, "A new coal chute was built in 1941 after a fire destroyed the old one. It was the fourth one to be built at Echo.")

The coaling trestle at Echo was illustrated in a 1910 photo of UP articulated 2000, on page 24 of Jim Ehernberger's "Ocean Toads" article about UP's first Mallet locomotives (see The Streamliner, Volume 5, Number 2).

From the Ogden Standard newspaper, January 10, 1941:

Flames Ruin Echo Chutes

For the third time in Echo's railroad history, the Union Pacific coal and water service chutes - a familiar sight to trainmen and highway travelers - lay in ashes today.

The 50-foot wooden structure burned to the ground in two brief hours before midnight Friday, carrying away in flames the 40 tons of coal it contained.

Flames were first noticed about ten-fifteen p. m., while an eastbound freight train was receiving coal from the chute, and within a few minutes had surged 100 feet into the sky.

Volunteer firemen from Coalville kept the blaze from spreading to underground gasoline tanks and section houses nearby, but it was hours before the heat subsided sufficiently to allow section crews to begin clearing the tracks.

Railroad officials estimated the loss at $8,000.

Ogden railroad employees said the main line was not closed by the fire. The Pony Express arrived here from Denver at seven a. m., a half hour late.

The wooden coal trestle was replaced by a 200-ton capacity concrete and steel coaling tower furnished by Fairbanks, Morse, & Co., which used the model designation Type SR11 Skip-Hoist for its design. UP simply called it a two-track skip-hoist type. The new concrete coaling chute is shown in an Emil Albrecht photo in September 1946 being used to fuel a double-headed Mikado helper and a Big Boy road engine on an eastbound freight. The replacement Echo coaling tower was the same as the design used by UP at Evanston, Wyoming, and very similar to the new tower built at Rock Springs, Wyoming, in 1944.

An Emil Albrecht photo in the UP small steam book shows the replacement coaling tower in September 1946 being used to fuel a double-headed Mikado helper and a Big Boy road engine on an eastbound freight. This 200-ton capacity, replacement tower was what the railroad called a two-track skip-hoist type. It was likely one of the numerous improvements installed by UP along the Wyoming mainline to support the new 4-8-8-4 Big Boy locomotives that arrived beginning in August 1941. The replacement Echo coaling tower was the same as the design used by UP at Evanston, Wyoming, and plans have been published for very similar tower built at Rock Springs, Wyoming, in 1944.

(Plans for the new concrete coal tower were published in The Streamliner, Volume 13, Number 1, along with photos of the new concrete Echo coaling tower.)

(A color photo of the Echo tower, along with Big Boy 4019, was published on the cover of The Streamliner, Volume 5, Number 2.)

(Additional detail photos and drawings of what Fairbanks, Morse called its Type SR11 Skip-Hoist Coaling Station, were published in a 1989 reprint by TLC Publishing of a mid-1930s Fairbanks, Morse & Co. catalog.)

More Information

Union Pacific's Park City Branch

Union Pacific's Route in Weber and Echo Canyons