Union Pacific Cedar City Branch
This page was last updated on February 8, 2018.
Columbia Steel received Utah Public Utilities Commission approval to construct a subsidiary called the Carbon County Railway. At the same time they withdrew their application to build another subsidiary called the Iron County Railway which was to be constructed from Lund, on the Union Pacific, to their iron ore properties in Iron County. The steel company withdrew their application based on the Union Pacific's protest in which Union Pacific stated that they were intending to construct the Cedar City Branch. (Public Service Commission of Utah, case 577)
October 18, 1922
LA&SL received ICC approval to construct the 32.5-mile Cedar City Branch. To be completed by December 31, 1923. (ICC Finance Docket 2527) (The branch was to be constructed to serve the developing iron ore mines in the district west of Cedar City.)
March 29, 1923
Union Pacific Railroad organized Utah Parks Company as a subsidiary of the railroad. The company was incorporated in Utah. A separate organization was needed to satisfy the concerns of National Park Service that a railroad would not have a monopoly over both transportation services and lodging services in national parks.
June 26, 1923
UP's Cedar City Branch was officially opened, including a ceremony presided over by U. S. President Warren G. Harding, who arrived by special train. Harding died on August 2, 1923. (Signor, LA&SL, page 94) (see also this additional source)
July 12, 1924
A new branch, 3.6 miles long, was completed from Iron Springs on the Cedar City Branch, to serve the Milner iron ore mine at Desert Mound, Utah. The new mine was a project of the Utah Iron Ore Corporation.
(Read more about the Iron Mountain Branch; portions completed in 1924 and 1935)
Union Pacific's Utah Parks Company began operating the facilities at Grand Canyon National Park, and took over the interests of Utah & Grand Canyon Transportation Company, the bus company that was operating the bus service between Union Pacific's passenger trains at Cedar City and Cedar Breaks National Monument, Bryce Canyon National Monument, Zion's Canyon National Park, and Grand Canyon National Park. The bus company had begun the service in 1923. (Poor's, 1929, p. 1052)
(Union Pacific changed the name of the bus company to Union Pacific Stages.)
August 25, 1935
Union Pacific completed the Iron Mountain Extension, 11.31 miles long. Construction and installation of a new mining and crushing plant at the Iron Mountain mine was begun on August 1, 1935, and was completed in April 1936. (Iron Mountain Record, July 22, 1937, page 1)
In 1935 Columbia Iron Mining expanded their operations to include the open pit mine at Iron Mountain and Union Pacific extended the Iron Mountain Branch 10 miles south to reach Iron Mountain Station. In 1942 mining operations were again expanded to supply ore for the new Columbia-Geneva Steel plant, under construction near Orem to supply steel plate needed for the war effort, and Union Pacific made improvements to the facilities on the branch to handle the additional traffic. (U. S. Bureau of Mines Report of Investigations 4076, May 1947)
July 5, 2013
The federal Surface Transportation Board approved Union Pacific application to abandon the last mile of its line to Cedar City, Utah, from MP 30.8 to MP 31.8. UP made the application on June 6, 2013.
This is the line east of the I-15 overcrossing, and it served the team track that is right adjacent to Main Street at 400 North. This is an area with lots of commercial development, so it is likely that a developer, or the city, or both, has plans to put in something that will bring in some tax revenue. There are several mixed traffic customers west of the I-15 crossing, so UP will continue to serve these customers.
There was a delay in the STB approval due to the state historical society, which is a state agency in Utah, not yet responding to the standard STB request to determine any buildings or structures with historical significance. From past experience, they never find anything of historical significance, so this is simply a result of personnel cutbacks due to a reduced state budget. In the final STB decision, UP was restrained from removing any structure, including removing rails and ties, until the historical review has been completed.
This is not related in any way to the iron ore unit trains being shipped over the Cedar City Subdivision, which come on to UP tracks at Iron Springs, nine miles to the west at MP 21. (Surface Transportation Board, Docket No. AB 33, Sub-No. 283X [Decision 43120]; Union Pacific Railroad Company--abandonment Exemption--in Iron County, Utah; Decision 43120, dated June 6, 2013; Decision 43169, dated July 5, 2013)