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Oregon Short Line In Utah

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This page was last updated on July 23, 2016.

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Overview and Timeline

OSL in Utah, Salt Lake City to Ogden, and north of Ogden -- Tracks owned by OSL; all UP lines north of Salt Lake City (leased to UP in 1936; merged with UP in 1987)

Research Notes

Compiled from handwritten notes, dating from 1978-1988.

(Most of this information was transcribed from handwritten notes taken while doing research in the files of UP's engineering department during 1982-1983, then compiled as a computer file in 1988, with additions through September 1994.)

(The notes from the early 1980s were completed prior to the closure of UP's engineering office in Salt Lake City in about 1984. All files and most personnel were moved to Omaha in 1983-1984. The office was located in the Utah Division offices in the former depot annex building, just south of Union Pacific's Salt Lake City depot. The building was demolished in 1999 to make room for The Gateway Project.)

OSL Newspaper Articles

OSL in Davis County

OSL Syracuse Branch

(NOTE: check Davis County Book of Deeds J-280 for Ogden & Syracuse Railway.)

OSL's Syracuse Branch ran southwest for about 5.8 miles from Clearfield Junction to a wye on the east shore of the Great Salt Lake at Syracuse. (Syracuse, Utah was named after the town in New York state, which also had a predominant salt industry.)

Built in 1887 as the Ogden and Syracuse Railway. Became part of the Oregon Short Line and Utah Northern in 1889, which became the Oregon Short Line in 1898.

John R. Barnes bought land from Union Pacific on March 22, 1878 and sold it to the Ogden and Syracuse Railway on March 1, 1887. (Davis County Book of Abstracts A, page 205)

Tracks from Syracuse (MP 4.7) to the end-of-track at the lake shore, at engineering station 285+32 (5.4 miles) was taken up in March 1906. This trackage served the salt industries along the lake shore and the Syracuse Resort, a swimming resort located along the north side of the branch, just west of the north-south leg of the wye.

The switch at the location that the curved north leg of the wye connected with the north-south leg of the wye was at engineering station 285+32. The end of the north tail track of the wye was at engineering station 29+00 (0.54 mile). The north-south leg of the wye, along with the south tail track of the wye ended at station 41+30 (0.78 mile).

On October 24, 1927 the Inland Crystal Salt Company sold its interests to the Morton Salt Company. Included were about 61 acres in the NWQ of SWQ of Sec 7, a strip of land approximately a quarter mile wide by a half mile long, all of Lot 3 of sec 7, and about 128 acres in the NWQ of Sec 18, a strip of land approximately a quarter mile wide and a mile long. All three parcels were along the east shore of the Great Salt Lake. (Davis County Book of Deeds 1-H, page 387)

The tracks from Syracuse (MP 4.7) to the end of track (about MP 5.4), including the wye tracks, were taken up in March 1906. The tracks were shown as ending at the 1/2 section line of sections 7 and 18; track ran along section line between sections 7 and 18; property included lots 2 and 3 of Section 7, and lots 1, 2 and 3 of Section 18.

The trackage of the Syracuse Branch extended to Station 285+32 (5.4 miles), at the switch of the north leg of the wye, including the north curve of the wye. The actual north leg of the wye extended to station 29+00 (0.54 mile). The west side and south leg of the wye extended to Station 41+30 (0.78 mile). No information was available for the south curve of the wye.

Steed station (MP 3.2, at 3000 West, on the section line between Sections 8 and 9, T4N, R2W) was retired on December 4, 1946.

The West Point Spur (1.8 Miles, also known as the Steed Spur) connected with the Syracuse Branch at Steed and proceeded northwest for 1.8 Miles along the top of the bluff to the West Point Road (300 north). The spur was built and owned by the Layton Sugar Company to serve their beet dump on the West Point Road.

In September 1928 the sugar company purchased a fifty foot easement from the Steed and Wilcox families to be used for the "present spur track". The easement was perpetual as long as it was used for the spur track. Upon removal of the track the easement reverted to the families. (Davis County Book of Abstracts 4, page 89, Book of Agreements H, page 449)

The West Point beet dump was on 1.54 acres of land that the sugar company had purchased from James Patterson in April 1921. (NWQ of NWQ of Section 5, T4N, R2W) (Davis County Book of Abstracts 4, page 83; Book of Deeds 1-F, page 18) (The spur was retired at the same time as the branch, in August 1955. No construction date or retirement date for the West Point Spur is known, but Steed Spur may have been retired because the West Point Spur was removed.)

There was also a pea viner located at the Syracuse Branch's crossing of the Bluff Road (3000 West), just across the road from the Steed beet dump. A pea viner was used by the local green pea growers to separate their peas from the vines and pods. The pea viners were operated by the canning companies, with the separated peas being loaded and shipped directly to the canneries and processed. Two other pea viners were located Syracuse, one not served by rail, at about 1000 South and 1000 West, and another at the western end of D&RGW's Bennett Branch in south Syracuse, at 2700 South and 1000 West. (Interview with Don Rentmeister)

Barnes (MP 2.1) was retired on November 30, 1953. (Work Order 4083)

The track between Barnes (MP 2.1) and Syracuse (MP 4.7) was retired on August 31, 1955.

Before each transaction of selling the abandoned right of way, the OSL sold each parcel to the Union Pacific for one dollar. Union Pacific then sold the parcel to the adjoining land owners.

Union Pacific sold a 2.94 acre parcel to Jack and Bessie Kerr in August 1955. This portion of Davis County was included in UP's original 1869 land grant. UP had originally sold the land to David Kerr in 1887. David Kerr later, in April 1887, sold a right of way to the Ogden & Syracuse Railway. (Davis County Book of Records 102, page 507)

Union Pacific sold a 3.17 acre parcel to Walter W. Steed in July 1954. The deed gives the description of the Syracuse Branch "as formerly constructed and operated". (Davis County Book of Records 68, page 559)

(NOTE: Information above partially from OSL ICC Valuation and Alignment Map 17362, dated May 1913, on file at Davis County Recorder's office.)

(NOTE: Original research done at Davis County Recorder's office, Farmington, Utah, on August 2-3, 1980 while researching land ownership of Joseph Glen Simpson, the author's father-in-law. The Syracuse Branch end-of-track and wye, along with the Syracuse Resort, was located on Mr. Simpson's property, in Sections 7 and 18, T4N, R2W.)

OSL in Salt Lake City

From a Union Pacific engineering drawing dated March 1913:

OSL Evona Branch

OSL Cache Valley Branches

(Read more about the OSL and UP branches in Cache Valley)

OSL at Dewey

OSL Thatcher Branch

(from OSL drawing 21809, dated January 1924)

(from UP AFE 148, dated September 12, 1922)

OSL Bear River Branch

OSL Baker Siding and Spur

North of Brigham City

OSL Malad Branch

Built by Malad Valley Railroad, a direct subsidiary of OSL; incorporated on November 25, 1902.

OSL and Malad Valley Railroad signed an agreement with Bear River Water Company, on November 25, 1902, to construct a line from Corinne, north to a construction site of a new sugar factory to be built by Bear River Water Company, a distance of 12 miles (later known as Garland). The new contrsuction included a new connecting line between the OSL at Brigham City, and a connection with Central Pacific at a point near Corinne, then into and through Corinne to a connection with Malad Valley Railroad. The water company agreed to acquire all needed property and right of way, and then to pass all rights and ownership of said property and right of way to OSL and Malad Valley Railroad. In return, in a separate agreement on the same day, OSL and Malad Valley Railroad agreed provide transportation services for the sugar factory, at a rate that was the same or lower than any rate that the sugar company might obtain from any competing railroad.

From Brigham City to Corinne Junction was called the "Brigham City Cutoff".

The land companies involved in the development of the agricultural land adjacent to the new Malad Branch included the Bear River Land, Orchard and Sugar Beet Company, and the Bear River Valley Land Company, which was in receivership and was sold to the Malad Valley Railroad in April 1903.

OSL/UP leased all of the former Central Pacific facilities, trackage and right-of-way between Corinne Junction and Corinne on June 5, 1945, effective on March 16, 1945, with a right to purchase. The trackage and property was purchased on October 16, 1947.

(from UP AFE 14, dated March 20, 1947)

OSL Urban Branch

(from OSL drawing 20716, dated February 1919)

OSL Little Mountain Branch

(from ICC Finance Docket 24635, dated February 3, 1969, in 334 ICC 267)

Application made on 16 June 1967 to construct a 13.27 mile branch line from Hot Springs (9.95 miles north of Ogden) to the newly developing mineral industries on east shore of Great Salt Lake.

Protested by Southern Pacific and Denver & Rio Grande Western based on their feeling that the new branch would be a duplication of facilities already in place, constructed by SP, and that the shippers in the area did not need a duplication of service. The SP served the area via 1.7 mile spur built north from its line in the Little Mountain area.

Principle developer of Little Mountain area is Great Salt Lake Minerals and Chemicals Corporation testified that it must have single-line service with UP, which would provide the shortest, most direct route to territories not reached by SP.

Other potential customers include: Lithium Corporation of America; Dow Chemical; Prior Chemical Company; Boise Cascade Corporation; Potlatch Forests, Incorporated; and Amalgamated Sugar Company.

Construction to commence before May 3, 1969, to be completed before November 3, 1969.

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