Oregon Short Line In Utah
Index For This Page
This page was last updated on August 29, 2017.
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)
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
- Oregon Short Line to build shops in Salt Lake City. (Salt Lake Tribune, December 15, 1900)
- Oregon Short Line incorporates Utah, Nevada & Eastern to build into Nevada. (Salt Lake Tribune, December 16, 1900)
OSL Locations in Utah
(Salt Lake City to Ogden and North)
OSL in Salt Lake City
- Becks Hot Springs was at engineering station 1741+44 (32.98 miles south of Ogden)
- Grant Tower building was 34 feet, 4 inches by 19 feet, 4 inches. South Temple Street was vacated on July 26, 1948.
- Ownership of tracks west of Salt Lake City changed at LA&SL milepost 781.3; west of that point the north track was WP and the south track was LA&SL; east of that point the south track was WP and the north track was LA&SL.
- Deer Creek Coal Company was at 200 South, on west side of D&RGW tracks, served by a spur from D&RGW.
From a Union Pacific engineering drawing dated March 1913:
- A brick factory was located on the curve between 300 West and Paxton Avenue (at about 1200 South). The factory was also served by a spur from the Salt Lake and Utah.
- Oregon Short Line had joint trackage with D&RGW at Fireclay to serve the Western Fireclay Company, on the south side of Big Cottonwood Creek, just north of 4500 South.
- Hanauer Spur, retired under Work Order 6514, was located east of the mainline, also along the south bank of Big Cottonwood Creek.
- Murray depot was 24'5" x 112'8", with a 4' x 13' bay on the track (west) side and a 4' x 14'5" bay on the east side.
- U.S. Smelter Branch at Midvale was built in August 1904, from Atwoods Siding, running west under the D&RGW tracks to the United States smelter in Midvale.
- The Highland Boy Branch was also built in August 1904. It ran north from a connection with the U.S. Smelter Branch, west of the D&RGW tracks, to the Highland Boy smelter. The Highland Boy Branch was taken up in August 1918, under Work Order 6324.
- Midvale changed to Cushing on December 15, 1915.
- OSL Sandy depot was 24'5" x 63'8".
OSL in Davis County
- Improved Brick Company was just north of 1/2 section line in Section 30 T2N R1W; right-of-way deed was dated July 10, 1906
- Improved Brick Company was also served by Bamberger, located just off Second West, at curve to North Salt Lake, at about Seventh or Eighth South, near present-day Bountiful City shops and National Guard amory
OSL at Ogden
(incomplete; work in progress)
OSL at Dewey
- Retire 50,000 gallon water tank, December 6, 1947 (depot already retired).
OSL Branches in Utah
OSL Baker Siding and Spur
North of Brigham City, east of the Bear River
- Bakers (MP 25.6) was retired in 1949 (Work Order 2168)
- Bakers Spur (MP 25.3) was located east of mainline, across from connection at Bakers for the Urban Branch. The Bakers Spur was retired on December 3, 1947, at same time as the Urban Branch. (Work Order 2162)
- Bakers Spur left the mainline at engineering station 1590+00 and ended at station (for spur) 96+61 (1.82 miles long).
- Bakers Spur was purchased from Utah Idaho Sugar Company in November 1920.
OSL Bear River Branch
Garland (on Malad Branch) south to Bear River City, west of the Bear River
- Bear River Branch ran south from a spur at the Garland sugar factory to Bear River City (MP 10.6)
- Portion of branch from MP 9.9 to end of track at Bear River City (MP 10.6) was retired in December 1942. (Work Order 439)
- Portions of branch were sold to the Utah State Highway Department for various projects along U.S. Highway 30:
- MP 1.561 to MP 3.283 for highway project FAP 205A, in July 1940
- MP 3.434 to MP 5.542 for highway project FAP 63-B
- MP 5.542 to MP 6.044 for highway project No. 80
- MP 6.044 to MP 7.576 for highway project FAP 63-B
- Bear River Branch paralleled U.S. Highway 30 south from engineering station 178+22 (MP 3.37), where U.S. 30 turns south from Tremonton, to Bush, at engineering station 390+05 (MP 7.38).
- Beet dump located at Bear River City
- Lamb name changed from Hart on November 1, 1918. Lamb Station was retired in March 1950.
OSL Cache Valley Branches
OSL Evona Branch
- Retire 1.15 miles of Evona Branch, from MP 2.62 (crossing of Roy-Hot Springs Highway) to MP 3.77 (connection with OSL mainline near Roy). (Work Order 89, dated May 1942)
- Retire 1.03 miles of Evona Branch, from MP 1.59 (interchange with D&RGW) to MP 2.62 (previous end-of-track at Roy-Hot Springs Highway). (Work Order 1332, dated October 1945)
OSL Little Mountain Branch
North of Ogden. Hot Springs westward to east shore of Great Salt Lake.
Completed in 1971. Abandoned in 1997.
- Mar 1971 -- Construction started
- Sep 1971 -- Completed
- Sep 1996 -- Service ended due to UP-SP merger
- Aug 2000 -- Converted to Rails To Trails
- Jun 2002 -- Trail opened to public
June 16, 1967
Application made 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.
September 6, 1967
The application to the ICC was first made to build the Little Mountain Branch. Hearings were held in December 1967, in which there was support from industries that would benefit from competition between UP and SP to serve their plants, including those already under construction, and those with plans to soon start construction. SP objected to UP's planned spur on the grounds that competition was not needed and that it and its connecting railroad, D&RGW, would suffer detrimental effects. (Ogden Standard Examiner, September 6, 1967, "today"; December 12, 13, 1967)
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.
Union Pacific secured Interstate Commerce Commission approval to construct its Little Mountain Branch. The line was to extend 13.27 miles southwesterly from Hot Springs to mineral industry trackage on the east shore of Great Salt Lake, where Great Salt Lake Minerals and Chemicals was developing its extensive facility. (ICC Finance Docket 24635, dated February 3, 1969, in 334 ICC 267)
Union Pacific's application was protested by both Southern Pacific and the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad, arguing that the new trackage would duplicate SP's already existing 1.7-mile spur, and that shippers had not shown that they required duplicate service from two railroads. The two roads argued that SP, as the existing carrier, was entitled to an opportunity to serve the shippers prior to Union Pacific being granted entry into the area. SP had constructed its 1.7-mile spur northward from its main line to transport construction materials to the site, intending further extension into the area to connect with industry trackage as the area developed and industrial plants were completed. The ICC found that the Little Mountain industrial area was not exclusive SP territory, and that the area was as yet undeveloped and not generating any substantial traffic. Great Salt Lake Minerals, the largest potential shipper, testified that it required single-line service access to Union Pacific, because its markets were all located within Union Pacific territory in the Pacific Northwest, southern California, and in Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Nevada, and Wyoming. Other shippers in the area wanting competitive Union Pacific service included Prior Chemical Co., Boise Cascade Corp., Potlatch Forests, Inc., and Amalgamated Sugar Co. Construction was completed by the end of 1969. (ICC Financial Docket 24635, in 334 ICC 267-272)
May 20, 1970
Southern Pacific and D&RGW sued the ICC in federal District Court of Colorado, to overturn the commission's decision. The District Court upheld the ICC decision, and the two railroads appealed to the U. S. Supreme Court. (Ogden Standard Examiner, May 20, 1970)
November 23, 1970
The U. S. Supreme Court upheld both the ICC decision and the opinion of the District Court, approving the construction of UP's spur to serve the Little Mountain industrial complex. The ICC, in its original decision had stated that even without UP's spur being built, Union Pacific would receive at Ogden, 65 to 75 percent of the traffic from the complex because the traffic would consist of predominantly eastbound shipment of chemicals. (Ogden Standard Examiner, November 24, 1970)
December 28, 1970
The ICC reinstated its decision from 1969 allowing UP to build the branch, with the stipulation that construction was to start within three months. Union Pacific started construction of its Little Mountain Branch on March 18, 1971, and the line went into service on September 23, 1971. Projected shipments from the Little Mountain complex were reported as being 1 million tons per year by 1974, about 10,000 carloads, or about 30 cars per day. (Ogden Standard Examiner, March 5, 1971; April 1, 1971; September 19, 1971)
By letter dated December 22, 1997, UP notified the STB that service had been discontinued, but that additional time was needed to negotiate trail use for 10 miles of the 12-mile branch. The railroad retained a one-mile segment at the branch's connection to the mainline at Little Mountain Junction, also known as Hot Springs, and another one-mile segment was retained at the Little Mountain end. Both segments were needed for car storage. (STB Docket AB-33, Sub 99X, Decision 31314)
"UP states that the abandonment does not include active industries at Little Mountain Junction or Little Mountain, UT. UPRR also states that it intends to consummate the abandonment on or after the effective date of the Board’s approval in Finance Docket No. 32760." (STB Docket AB-33, Sub 99X, Decision 31314, decided August 6, 1996) (STB FD 32760 was the UP-SP Merger case, decided on September 11, 1996)
Negotiations to turn the abandoned 10 miles of right of way of the Little Mountain Branch into a trail began in August 1996, and several extensions were requested through following years, with the last extension expiring on September 8, 2000. All parties reached final agreement in August 2000, and the new Little Mountain Rail Trail was opened to the public in early June 2002. (Salt Lake Tribune, June 3, 2002)
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.
- Bear River name was changed from Waukegan on April 1, 1915
- Holmgreen name was changed from Bear River on April 4, 1918
- Elwood was retired on July 12, 1946. (Work Order 1618)
- Evans was retired on July 12, 1946 (Work Order 1617); reinstated as Ford in September 1959.
- Fielding (MP 25.0) was retired on July 15, 1974. (Work Order 23066)
- Halbert name changed from Esteep on October 25, 1917
- Utah Idaho Sugar Company owned a spur in west Corinne, south of the Central Pacific line to Promontory, at junction where the OSL turned north from the Central Pacific. The spur was operated by the OSL under contract number 56653.
- OSL purchased the 962-foot spur at Corinne Junction from Utah Idaho Sugar Company on April 12, 1950. The spur was the remainder of the old Central Pacific line between Corinne Junction and Ogden. Utah Idaho Sugar had purchased the spur earlier from Central Pacific.
- Brigham Sugar factory was located on the south leg of the wye at Brigham City, where the Malad Branch left the OSL mainline.
(from UP AFE 14, dated March 20, 1947)
- Purchase 1.83 miles of former Central Pacific mainline, Corinne Junction to Corinne
- OSL operated over the trackage since an agreement with CP on January 26, 1903, as part of OSL's Malad Branch
- (research completed on May 3, 1995; UP archives; AFE files, ICC Class 44)
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 Thatcher Branch
From a point near Tremonton (on Malad Branch, west to Thatcher.
(from OSL drawing 21809, dated January 1924)
- Thatcher Branch ran west, along the half section line, from a point about a half mile south of Tremonton (MP 17.8 on the Malad Branch) to Nelson.
- Portion of branch from Thatcher (MP 6.25) to the end of the branch at Nelson (MP 7.3) was retired in January 1943. End of track was at the north side of the highway. (Work Order 461)
- Portion of branch from MP 5.63 to Thatcher (MP 6.25) was retired in October 1945. Thatcher was moved to the new end of track, at MP 5.6, in November 1945. (Work Order 1429)
(from UP AFE 148, dated September 12, 1922)
- Purchase and rehabilitate Thatcher Branch
- Purchase price was $5,000.00; rehabilitation cost was $67, 830.00, including $58,000 to upgrade 40-pound rail to 80-pound rail
- 7.1 miles
- Owned by Utah-Idaho Sugar Company; built in 1904
- Operated by OSL only during sugar beet season; operating agreement was dated May 24, 1904
- AFE work completed on August 6, 1923
- Beet loading sites "dump" at Sommer, Bothwell, Sunset, Thatcher, Nelson
- (research completed on May 3, 1995; UP archives; AFE files, ICC Class 44)
- (Read the AFE accompanying letter; PDF, 3 pages; 1.2MB)
OSL Urban Branch
North of Brigham City, east of the Bear River
(from OSL drawing 20716, dated February 1919)
- Urban Branch ran west and north from Bakers (MP 25.2) to Urban (MP 4.95)
- Urban was located on the section line between Sections 8 and 17, due west from calls Fort on the OSL mainline.
- Beet dumps were located at Urban, Teal (MP 2.9), and Natal
- Cement plant was located at Opco (MP 1.1) (for the original Ogden Portland Cement Company)
- From Bakers to Opco (1.1 mile) constructed in 1909 to serve the plant of the Ogden Portland Cement Company.
- From Opco to Urban constructed in 1917 and 1918 for the handling of sugar beets grown on the east side of the Bear River to the sugar factory at Garland.
- "For the past few years the only traffic handled on the line has been from beet dumps at Teal (MP 2.6) and Urban (MP 2.93). No regular train service is provided. No organized communities located on line. During beet harvest season the traffic is handled by trains making one round trip a day for a period of about 30 days. Traffic handled on the line for 6 years 1941-1946, in order, amounted to 105, 79, 72, 75, 49, and 36 carloads. The decline in traffic is attributed to the steady decrease in the number of acres planted in sugar beets. No substantial loss or inconvenience will be suffered...because the beet producers can truck their shipments to beet dumps located at nearby stations on the mainline, and no shipper objected to the abandonment." (267 ICC 634)
- Retired 4.93 miles of branch from Bakers to Urban on 1 May 1948, under Work Order 2162 (ICC Finance Docket 15740, dated 3 November 1947, in 267 ICC 633)
- At the time of abandonment, the cement plant was owned by the Western Portland Cement Company and the "cement ponds" were owned by the Utah-Idaho Cement Company. The cement plant trackage had been removed.
- Bakers to Opco right-of-way was sold to Box Elder County, under Work Order 20414
- Bakers was retired in 1949. (Work Order 2168)