Utah Railway History
Index For This Page
This page was last updated on October 15, 2015.
(This is a work in progress; research continues.)
Utah Railway has operated coal trains from mines in east central Utah to a connection with Union Pacific at Provo, Utah, since 1917. Many writers over the years have assumed that since Utah Railway operated Union Pacific-design locomotives, cars, and cabooses, Union Pacific must have been either full or part owner of this coal hauling line. This has never been the case. Utah Railway was organized in 1912 as the Utah Coal Railway, and construction began immediately. Utah Railway's parent company was United States Fuel Co., a subsidiary of United States Smelting, Refining & Mining Co., which owned extensive coal lands in east central Utah. The line was completed in 1914, and between 1914 and 1917 the railroad was operated under contract by Denver & Rio Grande.
In 1917, Utah Railway took over its own operations due to the company's dissatisfaction with the level of service that D&RG was providing. The main difficulty was D&RG's inability to provide sufficient empty coal cars to fill the shipping needs of Utah Railway's parent company, United States Fuel Co. Union Pacific's involvement came because Utah Railway was a major source of interchange traffic for UP subsidiary San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake at Provo, Utah. To replace the D&RG operations, Utah Railway approached Union Pacific for help in setting up its operational and maintenance organizations, including designing and purchasing rolling stock.
When Utah Railway began operating its own trains on November 1, 1917, after giving a one year notice as required under the D&RG contract, its new operating department put into use six 2-10-2 and three 2-8-8-0s built to Union Pacific design. The new equipment also included 1,500 Utah Coal Route drop bottom gondolas, jointly owned between Utah Railway and the newly renamed Los Angeles & Salt Lake (then still jointly owned by UP's OSL subsidiary, and the line's original organizer, Senator William Clark).
Prior to 1912 and the organization of the Utah (Coal) Railway, the only outlet for the coal mines at Mohrland and Hiawatha was the single track railroads of the Southern Utah Railroad and the Castle Valley Railroad. "These railroads were poorly and inadequately constructed, with impracticable grades, lacking in equipment, and incapable of being put into condition to serve this region and handle the output of the mines, to say nothing of making possible increased output and new development." (Utah Railway: Manual, page 21)
January 24, 1912
The Utah Coal Railway was incorporated to build, or acquire and operate a standard gauge railroad from coal mines in Carbon and Emery counties, Utah, to a point of connection with the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad.
May 4, 1912
Less than five months later, on May 4, 1912 the company name was simplified, from Utah Coal Railway to just Utah Railway. (Utah Railway: Manual, page 21)
Utah Coal Railway was incorporated to build a ninety mile railroad from Provo, south and southeast through Utah, San Pete, and Emery counties. The corporation also showed an intended thirty-five mile route from Nephi, in Juab County, east through Juab and San Pete counties, to a connection with the first route. William M. Bradley of Salt Lake City was shown as president and owner of 1,246 of the authorized 1,250 shares. On May 4, 1912 the name was changed to Utah Railway. On September 10, 1912, an additional route was filed. This route was from the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake line at or near Spanish Fork. (Utah corporation, index number 9369)
The original, preliminary survey had the new railroad paralleling the D&RG from Provo to Thistle, then south following D&RG's Marysvale Branch as far as Hilltop, and thence in a southeasterly direction, down Huntington Canyon, to Mohrland. (New Railroads, page 17)
As the surveying of the projected line progressed, the engineers began to see that a better route could be had by crossing over the D&RG at Castle Gate and proceeding generally parallel to the D&RG over Soldier's Summit to Thistle and either Spanish Fork or Provo, where a connection would be made with the SPLA&SL. (Utah Railway: Manual, page 21)
May 16, 1912
The engineer in charge of the survey of the Utah Coal Railway was William Ashton, also the chief engineer for the Union Pacific-owned Oregon Short Line Railroad. Ashton and W. G. Sharp, president of both Utah Railway and United States Smelting visited Price to inspect progress of the survey and to attend to other business matters. While in Price, Sharp announced that he would be exercising his option to purchase both Consolidated Fuel Company and Southern Utah Railroad. (Coal Index: Eastern Utah Advocate, May 16, 1912, page 1)
May and June 1912
The survey of the new "Utah Coal Railroad" was completed between Spanish Fork and Mohrland in late May or early June 1912. (Coal Index: Eastern Utah Advocate, June 6, 1912, page 5)
There were six parties of surveyors out locating the line of the Utah Coal Railway during the summer of 1912. (Coal Age, October 26, 1912, page 590)
(The first portion of the new railroad began construction between the mines at Mohrland and Hiawatha and the vicinity of Castle Gate. From there the line was to parallel the D&RGW through Price Canyon and Spanish Fork Canyon to a connection with the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad at Spanish Fork.)
September 10, 1912
Work began on Utah Railway's new line between the Hiawatha/Black Hawk and Castle Gate. The contract with Utah Construction Company was for the construction of twenty-eight miles of grade between Mohrland and half way to Helper and Castle Gate. The construction was to be completed within ninety days. The survey of the line beyond Castle Gate was not yet completed. As part of the construction of the new line for Castle Valley Railroad, four carloads of equipment and one steam shovel were already in place at Mohrland. (Eastern Utah Advocate, September 12, 1912) (Utah Railway Manual, page 22, says work started in October)
(QUESTION: Did the Castle Valley Railroad ever have a locomotive shop? Did they use the Southern Utah shop at East Hiawatha? Did they ever complete their announced joint machine shop at Price?)
The coal from the United States Smelting's mines was used in their own furnaces at Midvale, Bingham, and Tintic. The coal was also sold to markets in Utah. (Coal Index: Eastern Utah Advocate, January 2, 1913, page 6)
With the anticipated completion of the Utah Railway, changes were made to the operational patterns of the combined Southern Utah and Castle Valley railroads. In mid April 1913, the center of operations for the two roads shifted from Price to East Hiawatha, where the train crews began "tieing up". Conductor J. B. Darrah of Southern Utah Railroad received a new red caboose. (Eastern Utah Advocate, April 17, 1913, page 5)
(Darrah Siding on the Utah Railway may have been named for conductor J. B. Darrah. The timing of his receiving his new caboose doesn't match the arrival of the new Utah Railway cabooses from Mt. Vernon Car.)
During the first half of September 1912, the combined Southern Utah and Castle Valley railroads shipped about fifty cars per day to the Denver & Rio Grande connection at Price. (Eastern Utah Advocate, September 20, 1912)
October 31, 1912
The survey of the Utah Railway on the western slope of Soldier Summit called for the new line to be located 800 feet above the D&RG at its station at Tucker. (Eastern Utah Advocate, October 31, 1912, page 1)
The contract for the construction of the Utah Railway grade between two miles east of Thistle and Diamond Fork was let to C. L. Crandall, H. T. Reynolds, and Henry L. Simpson, all of Springville, Utah. (Eastern Utah Advocate, November 21, 1912)
The survey for Utah Railway's route between Castle Gate and Soldier Summit had been decided on. The projected route was by way of the south side of Price River Canyon using several tunnels and a two-percent grade. On the western side of Soldier Summit, the grading of the line between the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon and Thistle had begun, including a 500-foot tunnel near Thistle, to be the longest on the line. (Eastern Utah Advocate, November 28, 1912)
December 1, 1912
Work started on Utah Railway's own line between Provo and Thistle on December 1, 1912. The work was being done by Utah Construction Company under a contract dated November 14, 1912. (Utah Railway: Manual, page 22)
January 9, 1913
The new Utah Railway route included a possible tunnel through the south side of the Castle Gate rock formation, about 100 feet above the D&RG at that point. (Eastern Utah Advocate, January 9, 1913)
January 13, 1913
In early 1913, the yards and sidings along Southern Utah are choked with loaded coal cars awaiting movement by the D&RG, who lacked enough locomotives to move all of its trains. (Eastern Utah Advocate, January 13, 1913)
(From 1910 to 1920, the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad was suffering from major money problems because it was being forced to cover the debt and construction costs for the Western Pacific, and the D&RG was subject to many complaints from mining companies about its lack of service.)
February 6, 1913
The northern terminal of Utah Railway was changed from Spanish Fork, to Provo through the efforts of the Provo Commercial Club's Financial & Right-of-way Committees. The northern terminal for the new railroad had previously been announced as being either Springville or Spanish Fork, with Spanish Fork being mentioned most often. The location the new terminal meant jobs and economic growth for the community chosen, so apparently some competition did exist for its location. (Eastern Utah Advocate, February 6, 1913, "Terminus of Sharp Road To Be Provo")
February 13, 1913
Most of the work was being done between Mohrland, Hiawatha, and Castle Gate. (Eastern Utah Advocate, February 13, 1913)
February 20, 1913
The United States company's coal companies had orders for 1,400 cars of coal that couldn't be shipped due to the lack of rail cars. (Eastern Utah Advocate, February 20, 1913)
To support the anticipated increase in traffic, in March 1913 the Utah Railway announced that it would expend $1.5 million on new rail cars, with $50,000 being paid for the initial order of 500 cars. (Coal Age, Volume 3, number 9, March 1, 1913, page 352)
Utah Railway purchased several acres of the Oman Ranch near Helper as a site for its new terminal. (Eastern Utah Advocate, April 10, 1913)
The contract for the bridge abutment work between Mohrland and Castle Gate was given to Turner and Silvagni, of Price, for the amount of $40,000.00. (Eastern Utah Advocate, May 15, 1913, page 5, the article stated that the northern end of the new route was at Helper)
Negotiations between Utah Railway and D&RG for a joint trackage agreement began in late June 1913. (Eastern Utah Advocate, June 26, 1913)
July to November 1913
Work on the line between Provo and Thistle (started on December 1, 1912) was abandoned on July 1, 1913 while extended negotiations progressed between Utah Railway and D&RG. Work resumed on the 20.62 miles of Utah Railway between Thistle and Provo on September 1, 1913, under a contract between D&RG and Utah Construction Company signed on September 8, 1913. The joint trackage agreement between Utah Railway and D&RG was signed on November 1, 1913. (Utah Railway: Manual, page 22)
(RESEARCH: The ICC corporate history, 141 ICC 545, talks about the Utah Company having to borrow construction funds for the building of the Utah Railway from United States Smelting because its own construction funds were tied up for twenty months from "legal difficulties which developed" from the change of its original plans. Also that it had to pay double interest during the "period of litigation". Who sued who? and why? Was it over the change of in the planned route of the Utah Railway, or was it over some associated matter?)
Shipments on Utah Railway were made in the name of the Utah Coal Sales Agency, which acted as the selling agent for USSR&M's mines, from 1913 until July 25, 1930, when it was replaced by the United States Fuel Sales Agency. United States Fuel Sales Agency remained as the sales agent until January 1, 1936, when Utah Railway began making shipments directly in the name of United States Fuel Company. (Utah Railway: Coal Mines)
November 1, 1913
Utah Railway and D&RG signed a joint operating agreement for 20.6 miles of Utah Railway owned single track trackage between Thistle and Provo, along with 19.8 miles of D&RG owned single track trackage between the same two points. Also included were 51.35 miles of D&RG owned double track trackage between Thistle and Utah Railway Junction. (141 ICC 574,575)
November 1, 1913
After construction was begun on Utah Railway's line south of Castle Gate, Denver & Rio Grande Western approached the Utah Railway with a plan to share trackage through the canyon and have a joint operation between Castle Gate and Springville. After lengthy negotiations, Utah Railway agreed to the plan and the two roads signed a trackage agreement on November 1, 1913. (Utah Railway: Manual, page 22)
November 4, 1913
Utah Railway and the Denver & Rio Grande signed a joint trackage and operating agreement for their lines between Castle Gate (Utah Railway Junction) and Provo. The agreement called for Utah Railway to abandon its construction between Castle Gate and Spanish Fork. (Eastern Utah Advocate, November 6, 1913, page 3; Carbon County News, November 6, 1913, page 9)
November 10, 1913
Utah Railway operations began with the completion of the new D&RG Soldier Summit line during the week of November 10, 1913. (Eastern Utah Advocate, November 13, 1913)
Enginehouses were completed at Hiawatha and Martin:
Hiawatha -- The steam locomotive servicing facilities at Hiawatha were built as part of the original construction in 1914. The enginehouse at Hiawatha burned down in 1922 and was replaced. The Hiawatha enginehouse retired and demolished in 1939. The fueling facilities at Hiawatha originally consisted of an elevated structure built in 1924, which could hold a single car of coal. Locomotives were fueled from coal dumped on a platform and hand shoveled into the locomotive's tenders. The structure was abandoned and demolished in 1938. The new United States Fuel preparation plant at Hiawatha plant completed in 1939 included a chute for coaling of Utah Railway locomotives. (Utah Railway: Engineers Report, 1951)
Martin -- The steam locomotive servicing facilities at Martin were built as part of the original construction in 1914. The original enginehouse, built in 1914, at Martin burned in 1922 and was replaced by a brick, concrete, and steel structure, which still stands today. It has two through tracks and a stub track, and could house six steam locomotives. In 1917 an Ogle 200-ton coaling station was constructed at Martin, with two supply chutes, called "aprons", to service locomotives on the main track. In 1930 an additional 50-ton bin was added to service the eastward main track. In the 1930s the wooden legs were cut off and concrete footings installed. In 1939 a steel-bodied coach body was installed at the Martin enginehouse. (Utah Railway: Engineers Report, 1951)
June 25, 1914
Utah Railway between Provo and Thistle went into service as a second track for Denver & Rio Grande. Fourteen miles of Utah Railway's own line between the mines and Castle Gate (Utah Railway Junction) was complete, with the remainder to be complete by September. (Eastern Utah Advocate, June 25, 1914)
The construction of the deck-girder bridge over Gordon Creek, known for being the longest and highest bridge on the line, caused some delays during its construction. While the abutments were under construction, rock and soil conditions were discovered that forced the span to be lengthened. Other delays came after a cloudburst brought with it the loss of nearby construction materials needed for the bridge. (141 ICC 554)
August 13, 1914
The work of improving the mine tipple tracks at East Hiawatha was coming to a close. With the work about completed, Consolidated Fuel laid off 150 men who had been employed in laying the tracks at the loading tipples. (Eastern Utah Advocate, August 13, 1914)
August 14, 1914
The new Utah Railway was formally completed from the Black Hawk and Hiawatha mines at Miller Creek, north to the connection with D&RG at what was named Utah Railway Junction, 1-1/2 miles south of Castle Gate. With the completion of the new line the D&RG began the operation of the Utah Railway, as called for in the agreement of November 1913. Corporate income and cost statements stem from this August 14, 1914 date. (141 ICC 567,569)
Total length of the new Utah Railway, from Mohrland to Utah Railway Junction was 25.78 miles. (Utah Railway: Manual, page 22)
October 1, 1914
By late September and early October 1914, most of Utah Construction Company's forces had been pulled out of Carbon County. Finishing work on the line between Mohrland and Castle Gate was just about complete. (Eastern Utah Advocate, October 1, 1914)
In the initial operation of Utah Railway, Denver & Rio Grande used its heaviest Mallet engines and trains made up of sixty cars. The improvements at the mines would allow shipment of 150 cars per day. (Salt Lake Mining Review, October 30, 1914, page 21)
The Mallet locomotives mentioned by the Mining Review would have been either the eight L-62 class 2-6-6-2s built in 1910, or the sixteen L-96 class 2-8-8-2s built in 1913. The next group of D&RG articulateds, the ten L-107 class 2-8-8-2s, didn't arrive on D&RG until 1923. (LeMassena: Rio Grande, pages 123,125; LeMassena: Articulated, pages 96,99,100; Colorado Railroad Museum: Rio Grande, page 53)
(QUESTION: Did D&RG continue to use the two Southern Utah and two Castle Valley 2-8-0s to move coal trains over the new line to Castle Gate?)
Operation by D&RG
October 21, 1914
D&RG formally took over operation of the Utah Railway's Mohrland to Utah Railway Junction line on October 21, 1914, and of the Thistle to Provo line on November 1, 1914. (Utah Railway: Manual, page 23)
In the 1915 annual report of the United States Smelting, Refining & Mining Company, the directors had this to say to the shareholders about the construction of Utah Railway:
As your railroad investment was only made to get your coal to market, and not because your company desired to be interested in railroad operations, your directors gladly concluded an operating and trackage agreement with the Denver & Rio Grande railroad, which became fully effective November 1, 1914. Under this agreement the Denver & Rio Grande railroad assumes the operation of your railroad property, utilizing those portions parallel to its own tracks as a second track for the purposes of your coal. (Salt Lake Mining Review, April 15, 1915, page 22)
August 13, 1915
All coal was being shipped over the Utah Railway, except "what little coal is used in Price and east of here". All local freight, passenger, express and mail business was going out of Price by way of the Southern Utah and Castle Valley roads. (The Sun, August 13, 1915)
January 16, 1916
D&RG operation of joint Southern Utah/Castle Valley included passenger trains: No. 1 operated between Mohrland and Price in the early morning, from 7:15 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. No. 2 returned from Price to Mohrland in the late morning, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:01 p.m. (The Sun, January 16, 1916, page 7)
November 1, 1916
Utah Railway gave notice to the Denver & Rio Grande that the company would take over the operation of its own trains on December 1, 1917. The one year notice was a requirement of the joint operating agreement signed in 1913. The original agreement between Utah Railway and D&RG contained a stipulation that after two years, Utah Railway could take over the privilege of operation of its own line at the end of the following (third) year. The smelting company was dissatisfied with the service, especially to its U. S. Fuel mines. (News-Advocate, January 18, 1917, page 1; The Sun, January 19, 1917, page 1, "Smelting Company To take Back Road")
November 1, 1916
United States Fuel Company gave the required one-year notification that it would assume operation of its Utah Railway subsidiary on December 1, 1917. The mines of United States Fuel Company were in full production, or at least producing coal that could be sold and shipped. At times coal was sitting at the mine tipples waiting for cars to load, and other times the coal was sitting in cars on sidings waiting for locomotives. United States Fuel could see that the D&RG operation of its Utah Railway was unsatisfactory, and not able to keep up with the demand for cars and locomotives to ship the company's coal. To ease the situation the Utah Railway served notice to the Rio Grande that they would take over operation of their line as of November 1917. The Utah Railway also purchased six of their own steam locomotives. (Utah Railway: Manual, page 23)
November 17, 1916
At the time that USSR&M took over Consolidated Fuel company in mid June 1912, the latter company had a judgment against Denver & Rio Grande railroad in the amount of $525,000, which was to be paid in a reduction of 25 cents per ton of coal shipped from Hiawatha, Mohrland and Black Hawk. By mid November 1916, almost 4-1/2 years later, the judgment had about been paid off, but D&RG was still not able to furnish the cars needed by U. S. Fuel, which had purchased Consolidated Fuel. Utah Railway had 1,000 coal cars of its own, but the four mines were still idle about half the time for want of railroad cars. There were large numbers of rumors from several sources that Utah Railway was about to take over the operation of its own railroad. "Take it from me", said a knowledgeable source, "some thing is going to happen. These people are not going to put up with Gould mismanagement forever. A change is going to come." (The Sun, November 17, 1916)
There were many complaints and negative comments in the local press about the shortage of cars and that the yards at Price and Helper are being "choked" with loaded cars, waiting for locomotives. This lack of credible service by D&RG is what led copper giant, Utah Copper Company in 1911 to build its own Bingham & Garfield Railroad between its Bingham Canyon mines and its mills at Magna, both in northern Utah. The poor service was also the cause of the United States Smelting, Refining & Mining Company to also build its own railroad, in the form of Utah Railway in 1912-1914.
The coal companies, specifically United States Fuel Company, found Rio Grande's inability to furnish sufficient cars for the transportation of coal bad enough to formally file complaints with the state Public Utilities Commission and the federal Interstate Commerce Commission. Both government agencies held hearings on the subject and found that the D&RG's financial condition was so bad that it simply did not have the resources to furnish sufficient numbers of cars to satisfy the demand for coal that was taking place. It was also shown that if the mining companies needed cars for the shipment of coal they would have to furnish them themselves - and this is exactly what the Utah Railway did in 1917 when they purchased their own fleet of locomotives, and half interest with LA&SL in a fleet of coal cars.
(RESEARCH: The 1917 Utah legislature appointed a committee to look into the shortage of coal in Utah. They found that better transportation was needed. More research is needed -- from 72 ICC 91,92)
(RESEARCH: May 10, 1917 of News-Advocate has descriptions of mine improvements; "All mines of Carbon County show great growth...")
July 20, 1917
With the Southern Utah line out of service, the residents of Mohrland, Black Hawk, and Hiawatha soon began complaining of the roundabout way of getting into Price. By late July nothing had been done towards the repair of Southern Utah's Price River bridge, and it was thought that the Southern Utah would most likely be abandoned due to its financial condition. The Castle Valley Railroad was noted as being "a thing of the past". (News-Advocate, July 20, 1917; The Sun, July 20, 1917, page 5)
July 20, 1917
New Utah Coal Route cars for the Utah Railway were arriving at the rate of twenty cars per day. (The Sun, July 20, 1917, page 6)
During early August 1917, D&RG announced that they would be receiving 500 new coal cars. The accompanying newspaper article stated that the new cars would allow seven trains per day of fifty cars each, each car carrying forty tons (14,000 tons per day). The new cars would allow the Cameron Coal Company, the Independent Coal & Coke Company, the Spring Canyon Coal Company, and the Standard Coal Company to ship 4,400 tons per day from their mines, with the mines of the United States Fuel Company being able to ship twice that amount when they get the cars to load. The new double track line between Helper and Colton wasn't quite ready for D&RG's heaviest locomotives, with fills still too soft and bridges still too weak to carry the traffic. Work was progressing on improvements along the line. A special train was being operated daily from Provo to carry men who would not go on the job unless they could spend the nights with their families. (News-Advocate, August 9, 1917)
August 24, 1917
Utah Railway said that the new locomotives were being delayed because of United States Railway Administration (USRA) restrictions of domestic production due to the war effort. (The Sun, August 24, 1917, page 6)
November 14, 1917
Utah Railway's first two new locomotives arrived in Price, along with 1,200 Utah Coal Route cars. Locomotives and cars were placed in storage pending start up of independent Utah Railway operations on December 1st. (The Sun, November 16, 1917; Salt Lake Mining Review, November 30, 1917, page 35)
April 5, 1917
The original order for 800 coal cars was increased to 2,000 coal cars. (News-Advocate, April 5, 1917)
October 12, 1917
The two locomotives had been shipped from the factory. (The Sun, October 12, 1917, page 5)
November 16, 1917
Two locomotives arrived, with two more due by November 29th and two more due to arrive on December 1st. (The Sun, November 16, 1917, page 1, "New Equipment Here")
December 5, 1917
Another Utah Railway locomotive arrived at Salt Lake City on Wednesday, December 5, 1917. Utah Railway locomotives were made ready for operation at the OSL shops in Salt Lake City. (The Sun, December 7, 1917, page 5)
December 9, 1917
A fifth Utah Railway locomotive ran out of the OSL Salt Lake shops under its own power on Sunday, December 9, 1917. (The Sun, December 14, 1917, page 8)
December 15, 1917
The sixth locomotive was received "a few days ago" and was to be put into service soon. (Salt Lake Mining Review, December 15, 1917, page 27)
(Utah Railway's new locomotives were built to the same design as several of Union Pacific's locomotives, as were its new wooden cabooses. The locomotives and cabooses were purchased through the Union Pacific Equipment Association, but were entirely owned by Utah Railway. UP never had any interest in Utah Railway. The 2,000 Utah Coal Route gondola cars were jointly owned by Utah Railway and UP's LA&SL subsidiary. UP and Utah Railway shared the Provo Joint Shops and Provo Joint Yard.)
Operation By Utah Railway
December 1, 1917
Utah Railway began operation of its line using its own locomotives and crews. (The Sun, November 30, 1917, page 8)
December 1, 1917
The first Utah Railway train of forty cars was operated into Provo on Saturday, December 1, 1917. (News-Advocate, December 6, 1917, "Coal Route Is Working Well")
Also on December 1, 1917, Utah Railway began the rental of the four Southern Utah Railroad 2-8-0s, including the two former Castle Valley Railroad locomotives purchased by Southern Utah in 1914. The rental came to an end on July 1, 1918 when Utah Railway formally purchased all four of the remaining locomotives from the two earlier roads. Other equipment on hand at the start up of service were 522 steel gondola cars, fourteen flat cars, and five cabooses, which had been purchased in 1912 and 1915 and leased to the D&RG for their operations of the line. (Utah Railway: Manual, page 23)
January 31, 1918
The locomotives of the Utah Railway en route from the builders were commandeered for service by USRA in the east. UP and WP, which have a locomotive surplus, furnished power to help Utah Railway with its needs. (News-Advocate, January 31, 1918)
January 24, 1918
Utah Railway was shipping about 100 cars per day. (News-Advocate, January 24, 1918)
February 15, 1918
Utah Railway was shipping 600 carloads (30,000 tons) a week, mostly to Pacific Coast markets. (Salt Lake Mining Review, February 15, 1918, page 35)
May 2, 1918
Utah Railway was shipping 4,000 tons of coal per day into Provo, using two trains. (News-Advocate, May 2, 1918)
The tonnage handled by Utah Railway for the year 1919 was 1,196,314 tons, of which 1,185,818 tons (or about 23,716 carloads, about 65 carloads per day) was coal, leaving just 10,496 tons (or about 210 carloads) of non-coal tonnage handled. At the time of the ICC valuation in 1919, Utah Railway owned thirteen locomotives, forty-one freight cars, and one passenger car, along with half-interest (with LA&SL) in 2,000 gondola cars. (141 ICC 560,564)
The frame stucco depot at Hiawatha was constructed in 1919 and was used for passenger and freight service until passenger train service was discontinued in 1926. (Utah Railway: Engineers Report)
August 22, 1922
Two Utah Railway trains met head-on inside Tunnel No. 2. The investigation found the dispatcher to blame. (Coal Index: The Sun, November 10, 1922, page 7)
(RESEARCH: Get copy of August 1922 Utah Railway accident report, circa August 1922, from ICC?)
United States Fuel Company completed a new all-steel and concrete, five-track tipple at Hiawatha. The design and construction work took nearly a year. The new tipple included a seven by sixty-four foot long Marcus Horizontal Picking table, along with a slack re-screening plant and loading booms to load the coal into the railroad cars. (United States Fuel: Firing Line, Volume 1, number 8, December 1924, page 1)
January 27, 1925
United States Fuel changed the names of it mines. The Black Hawk mine, located at the town of Hiawatha, and at Kingmine Station on Utah Railway, became the King No. 1. The Mohrland mine became the King No. 2 mine. (Utah Railway: Coal Mines)
February 27, 1925
To improve screening and preparation of coal, in 1925 United States Fuel built a new coal preparation plant at the original Hiawatha mine, also known as East Hiawatha. Cost was $200,000.00. (Coal Index: The Sun, February 27, 1925, page 8)
(United States Fuel Company published "The Firing Line", a monthly foldout brochure for its retailers and customers. Each issue was 7x10 inches and folded out to 14x20 inches. Volume 1, number 1 was April 1924, with successive issues published monthly, except Volume 1, number 10, which was February-March 1925. This was also the last issue, possibly due to the declining coal market. All ten known issues are available at the Utah State Historical Society, accession numbers 17995 to 18004.)
May 11, 1925
Utah Railway received permission from the Public Service Commission of Utah to discontinue its passenger service between Kingmine and Mohrland on May 11, 1925. The station at Mohrland was closed because the only industry served by the agent, U. S. Fuel's King No. 2 mine, was shut down. The American Railway Express office at Mohrland closed on March 31, 1925, and the Mohrland U. S. Post Office closed on April 30, 1925. (Public Service Commission of Utah, case 800)
August 14, 1926
Scheduled passenger service on Utah Railway came to an end in 1926. Daily, except Sunday, passenger train service, including mixed train, passenger, mail and express, had been inaugurated between Utah Railway Junction and Mohrland on December 1, 1917, at the same time as independent freight train service. The passenger service was extended to include service to Spring Canyon at the time that Utah Railway acquired the Utah Terminal Railway on September 26, 1921. Passenger service to Kingmine (Utah Railway's name for its station at Hiawatha) and Mohrland was discontinued on May 11, 1925. All remaining passenger service, in the form of mixed train service, was discontinued on August 14, 1926. (Utah Railway: Manual, page 23)
Utah Railway received permission from the Public Service Commission of Utah to discontinue all mixed train service on August 4, 1926. (Public Service Commission of Utah, case 892)
(The Utah Railway 1937 Official Manual shows a 70-foot, six-axled combination passenger, baggage and mail coach purchased second hand on January 13, 1919 from the Las Vegas and Tonapah Railway. The passenger car was retired on March 2, 1927 and converted to outfit car number 05, which was retired on June 6, 1939.)
The Utah Railway built a two-story office building at Martin, overlooking its locomotive shop. The following comes from the January 1930 issue of Ax-I-Dent-Ax, Utah Railway's employee magazine:
"In 1927 a brick, concrete and steel office building 2 stories high was constructed at Martin for use of train dispatchers, agent and Superintendent's operating organization. The first floor is used largely for storehouse for miscellaneous maintenance of way material and the second floor for offices." (Utah Railway: Division Engineer's Report, 1951, Utah Railway Main Track, sheet 16)
"In 1947 a third floor was constructed on the Martin office building and fitted up with 13 sleeping rooms, lounge, and wash and toilet room for use principally of train and enginemen not residing at Martin." (Utah Railway: Division Engineer's Report, 1951, Utah Railway Main Track, sheet 17)
"November 7, 1927, marked the completion by the Utah Railway Company, at Martin, Utah, of a substantial modern fireproof brick and steel office building. The offices on the main floor are assigned to the Superintendent, Engineer of Maintenance of Way & Structures, Dispatchers, Agent & Telegraph Department. The full basement is utilized for storage purposes and provision was made at the time of original construction for an addition of another story when needed.
"The dispatcher's headquarters were previously located at Kingmine and were moved to Martin when the building was completed." (Ax-I-Dent-Ax, January 1930, page 18)
During the year 1929, approximately two-million tons of coal (about 6,600 tons, or about 133 car loads, per day for a 300 day year) originated on the Utah Railway. This figure represented about forty percent total Utah coal production. (Anderson, page 3)
The steam locomotives of the Utah Railway began receiving brakemen's cupolas, located on the tender. Locomotives in all different classes of service were affected. (Ax-I-Dent-Ax, July 1930)
The new 3,000 foot passing track at Wildcat on the Utah Railway was almost complete. The passing track was built to handle increases in traffic coming off of the National Coal Railway. (Ax-I-Dent-Ax, September 1930)
Utah Railway began hiring more crews due to the annual increase in traffic. (Ax-I-Dent-Ax, October 1930)
The second track between Utah Railway Junction and Martin was completed. (Ax-I-Dent-Ax, April 1930, page 23)
Utah Railway's locomotive repair activities were moved from Martin, to the roundhouse at the Provo Joint Yard. All shop tools were moved from the shop in Martin. (Ax-I-Dent-Ax, February 1931)
(This action coincides with the retirement of the 2-8-0s at Martin. Number 4 remained at Provo as the switcher until the mid 1940s.)
Utah Railway tonnages:
- 1930: 1,569,777 tons coal, 10,538 tons misc.
- 1931: 1,280,318 tons coal, 7,315 tons misc.
- 1932: 1,097,287 tons coal, 3,936 tons misc.
- 1933: 895,255 tons coal, 4,528 tons misc.
- 1934: 721,212 tons coal, 4,087 tons misc.
- 1935: 1,014,048 tons coal, 4,783 tons misc.
- (The Mixed Train, March 1986, page 3)
The last piece of track connecting the old Southern Utah Railroad to the new Castle Valley Railroad was removed, under AFE 794. The sand house at Hiawatha was removed in May 1939. The cinder pit at Hiawatha was removed in December 1939. (Utah Railway: engineering drawings)
September 1, 1945
The Utah Railway station of Kingmine was changed to Hiawatha. (Utah Railway: Kingmine, Utah station map)
During the period from 1948 to 1958 the coal industry was on the decline. However, from 1959 forward there has been a considerable upsurge, notwithstanding that domestic consumption declined, railroad use declined and general manufacturing use of coal declined; consumption of coal in the electrical utility industry increased markedly. This increase in consumption (by electrical utilities) was considerable--86 million tons in 1947 to 272 million tons in 1967. This phenomenal increase in sales to utilities has been attributable to more efficient coal production methods, including mining techniques and general mechanization. Transportation methods have also improved, and the net result has been that the coal industry has been able to compete successfully with gas and other energy sources for use in the generating plants.(Kennecott Copper Corporation Vs. Federal Trade Commission, Docket 71-1371, United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit, September 15, 1972; F.T.C. 467 F.2d 67, 1972)
The Diesel Era Begins
January 25, 1952
Utah Railway received its first diesel locomotives from American Locomotive Company. Numbered as Utah 300, it entered service on February 9th. A total of six locomotives were delivered between January and August 1952, numbered as Utah 300-305.
The following is the text of an advertisement for American Locomotive Company, in Railway Age magazine.
"Alco 1600-hp 6-motor road switchers have cut our train operating costs 30%"
. . says L. A. Kane, President and General Manager, Utah Railway
"We began dieselization," says the president of the coal-carrying Utah. "with the purchase of six Alco 1600-hp 6-motor road switchers. That was in January, 1952. Today, those six Alco units have cut our train operating costs by about 30 per cent and have considerably increased our operating efficiency." Mr. Kane gives two examples: "On our heavy mine-run switching assignments the 6-motor road switchers are giving very satisfactory service on 4 per cent grades at altitudes of better than 7000 ft. And they are doing an equally good job on the difficult run between Martin and Provo. Utah, with two units in multiple on the head end and four units in multiple in helper service hauling a train of 85 cars of coal-6400 actual tons--up the 2.4 per cent ruling grade between Martin and Soldier Summit, Utah"
"The Utah," adds Mr. Kane, "is looking forward to still lower operating ratios and greater efficiency with delivery next summer of three additional Alco 6-motor road switchers."
At the Provo terminal, the large engine house was torn down in 1981. Also, although there was still a track known as the "brick shed", the matching brick structure that the track name referred to had been torn down in the early 1970s. (email from James Belmont, December 31, 2004)
New Traffic For IPP, 1985
June 17, 1985
The first coal train bound for the Intermountain Power Project operated over Utah Railway. (Pacific RailNews, Issue 262, September 1985, page 4; CTC Board, August 1985)
The train was a joint operation of Union Pacific and Utah Railway, and was loaded at the Wildcat loadout on Utah Railway. The first train had 84 cars and operated without a caboose. Its main motive power was four UP GE locomotives, including UP 2436, 2457 and 2462. Its trip up the east side of Soldier Summit used four Utah Railway ex-BN F45s and two of the four ex-SP SD45s being tested in the new service.
[photo caption] This is the first train from the Wildcat mine near Martin, Utah (on the Utah Railway) to the new Intermountain Power Project near Delta, Utah moving on June 17, 1985. This particular train is scheduled to run about six times per month until the new power plant gets into full stride when it will require three trains of coal per day from various Utah mines. Above, the train, using UP power (it is a joint UP/Utah Railway operation) and new aluminum cars, is dropping around the middle Gilluly loop below Rio Grande's Soldier Summit. The photo below shows the same train on the 2.4 percent Price River grade near Castle Gate. The helper on the 84 car cabooseless train is four ex-BN F45's, now with Utah Railway stenciled on the sides, plus two of the SP SD45's (of a group of four) now being used on a trial basis by the Utah. The train speed, even with all this power, is about ten miles per hour. (CTC Board, August 1985, back cover)
To prepare for the new operation, Utah Railway began leasing several high-horsepower locomotives to serve as motive power for the new trains. These were the four former BN F45s(in March 1985) and the eleven former SP SD45s(in June 1985).
Unit No. 1 of the Intermountain Power Project near Delta, Utah, went into formal operation. Coal was furnished by unit coal trains
Utah Railway's Wattis Branch was removed from service and abandoned, following the completion of the new flood loader built by Plateau Mining for its Star Point mine. The new flood loader was located on Utah Railway's mainline, and made use of a new 13,000-foot siding.
Utah Railway ran trains on its Mohrland Branch as late as April 1991. (photo of Utah Railway 9147 at Mohrland, by Blair Kooistra)
Utah Railway's parent company, United States Smelting, Refining & Mining over the years diversified its business interests. In 1972 the corporate name was changed to better reflect, for potential investors, the company's mission. The name chosen was UV Industries, using the ticker tape symbols for the company. In 1979 control of UV Industries was purchased by Vincent Posner's Sharon Steel Corp. Posner remained in control until Sharon Steel's bankruptcy in December 1990. The strongest component of the former UV Industries interests in 1990 was Mueller Industries, formerly Mueller Brass. Mueller Brass had been a major component of the United States Smelting, Refining & Mining Company, along with both United States Fuel and Alaska Gold. The interests of United States Fuel have passed to a new component of Mueller Industries called Arava Natural Resources (including the management and operation of Utah Railway) who is in the process of reclaiming its former coal mining activities. The coal mined by United States Fuel, beginning in 1915, was taken under lease from U. S. government lands, called "C" coal. By 1993, Mueller made the business decision to end their coal mining activities and pursue other interests more closely associated with brass. (telephone interviews on October 31, 1994 with John West, general manager of Utah Railway, and Mike Watson, general manager of Arava.)
United States Fuel Company stopped producing coal from its Hiawatha mine (King No. 4), the last of its operating coal mines. In 1994 the company completed negotiations to sell its 12,700 acres of coal property (10,000 owned and 2,700 leased), but by 1995 the sale was not yet completed. The sale was completed in 1997. (Mueller Industries, SEC Form 10K, 1995, 1996, and 1997)
August 9, 1995
Utah Railway received regulatory approval to remove its automatic block system on two segments of trackage, from milepost 1.4 to milepost 4.3, near Martin, and from milepost 17.8 to milepost 18.4, near Wattis, consisting of the removal of nine signals. The reason given was that the signals were obsolete. (DOT-FRA Block Signal Application BS-AP 3359, service date August 4, 1995, published in Federal Register, August 9, 1995)
December 1, 1995
Utah Railway received regulatory approval to abandon its Spring Canyon Branch on December 1, 1995. The trackage involved was from milepost 0.0 at Jacobs to milepost 3.6 at Spring Canyon. No traffic had moved over the line for at least two years. (ICC Docket AB-310X, service date October 26, 1995, published in Federal Register, November 1, 1995)
December 1, 1995
Utah Railway received regulatory approval to abandon its Wattis Branch on December 1, 1995. The trackage involved was from milepost 0.0 at Wattis Junction to milepost 2.4 at Wattis. No traffic had moved over the line for at least two years. (ICC Docket AB-310, sub 1X, service date October 26, 1995, published in Federal Register, November 1, 1995)
After the Union Pacific/Southern Pacific Merger
As a result of the 1996 merger of Union Pacific and Southern Pacific, in January 1997, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway contracted with Utah Railway to operate its coal and local trains along the UP Central Corridor, over which BNSF was given haulage rights. To handle the new business, Utah Railway will lease an additional eight locomotives, bringing its fleet to 21 locomotives. New coal customers that Utah Railway was to serve included Savage Coal Terminal near Price, and Cyprus Amax's Willow Creek mine near Castle Gate. (Salt Lake Tribune, April 4, 1997)
"Utah Railway serves the central Utah coal fields." (UP Online, Volume 2, number 24, posted February 1, 1996, "Around The System")
Utah Railway Agreement -- An agreement to allow Utah Railway to expand its operations, if the Union Pacific/Southern Pacific merger is approved, was announced today.
Under the agreement, UP/SP will: grant Utah Railway overhead traffic rights across the SP's line between Utah Railway Junction and Grand Junction, Colorado; allow Utah Railway access to the Savage Coal Terminal near price, Utah; and allow Utah Railway access to the Cyprus Amax's Willow Creek Mine near Castle Gate, Utah.
As part of the agreement, Utah Railway agreed not to raise any objections to operations by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation between Utah Railway Junction and Provo.
This agreement addresses concerns Utah Railway had about the Union Pacific/Southern Pacific merger and it removes a potential obstacle to effective trackage operations by Burlington Northern Santa Fe between Denver and Salt Lake City,' said Dick Davidson, Union Pacific Corporation President.
Gary Barker, Utah Railway president, said, "This agreement directly addresses our concerns with the UP/SP merger. The expansion of Utah Railway's operations will ensure our continued ability to serve the Utah coal industry."
Union Pacific/Southern Pacific combination will provide stronger rail transportation competition throughout the Western states through creation of a rail system with direct routes, service capabilities and financial resources to compete with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation.
As a provision of the September 1996 merger between UP and SP, BNSF was allowed trackage rights along the central corridor between Denver and Stockton, California. To operate its local and switching service between Ogden and Provo, BNSF contracted with Utah Railway in April 1997. (Deseret News, April 9, 1997)
Utah's operation of BNSF trains into Ogden began in September 1997. After BNSF contracted with Utah Railway to operate its local service as a provision of the UP-SP merger in September 1996, Utah Railway hired 40 additional employees and leased 13 additional locomotives. During September 1997, Utah's operations consisted of running a train between Provo and Ogden three times each week, delivering cars set out by BNSF at Provo - as many as 20 cars per week. Included in the contract service was regular operation west to Great Salt Lake Minerals at Little Mountain over the former SP line. At the time, Utah was operating with leased GP10 locomotives. (Ogden Standard Examiner, September 26, 1997)
September 27, 2000
Utah Railway operated the last coal train to be loaded from the Willow Creek mine at Castle Gate. The mine was closed due to an accident on July 31, 2000 where two workers were killed. (CTC Board Railroads Illustrated, January 2001, page 15)
During the motive power changes of late 2001, when the 5000-series (MK5000C) and 6000-series (SD50S) locomotives went into service, Utah Railway was operating three coal trains per day, including trains to the IPP plant in Delta. (Ryan Ballard, September 29, 2001)
Purchase of Salt Lake City Southern
On September 30, 1999, Utah Railway purchased the Salt Lake City Southern Railroad from RailTex, of San Antonio, Texas.
On August 24, 1999, the federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) approved Utah Transit Authority's (UTA) request to take away Salt Lake City Southern's status as a common carrier, subject to another carrier being named to take over freight operations along the UTA line. Salt Lake City Southern (AAR reporting Mark: SLS) had been operating under a lease with UTA to offer freight service on the UTA-owned line since April 1993, after UTA's purchase of the line in March 1993. SLS had been operating under trackage rights donated to it by Union Pacific in 1993. These trackage rights were canceled by the STB, and Utah Railway was allowed these rights with this August 1999 agreement. (STB Finance Docket 33803, service date October 18, 1999)
On August 30, 1999, the STB approved Utah Railway's application to offer freight service over Utah Transit Authority's former UP line between Salt Lake City and Draper. (STB Finance Docket 33785, service date August 30, 1999)
The sale of Salt Lake City Southern to Utah Railway was made final after RailTex had placed its Salt Lake City Southern holdings under the ownership of a new RailTex subsidiary Utah Rail Co., the assets of which are what Utah Railway actually bought. (San Antonio Business Journal, October 7, 1999)
The new Salt Lake City Southern Railroad (SLCS) operated upon 24.95 miles of trackage owned by Utah Transit Authority, but over which Union Pacific had retained freight train rights. UP had assigned its rights for freight train operations to Salt Lake City Southern, extending from milepost 798.74, at 900 South in Salt Lake City, south to milepost 775.19 at Mount, at the Salt Lake County/Utah County line, including the 1.4 mile Lovendahl Spur at milepost 790.52. The sale was made final on September 30, 1999. (STB Finance Docket 33803, service date October 26, 1999; Mueller Industries, Form 10K, 1999)
Utah Railway purchased Salt Lake City Southern Railroad from Railtex, Inc., of San Antonio, Texas for $675,000. Railtex operated 30 shortline railroads in 15 states, operating over 3,500 miles of trackage. Railtex had earlier, in 1998, attempted to negotiate the sale of Salt Lake City Southern to Sierra Pacific Rail Group, operators of California & Northern Railroad and Arizona & California Railroad, but the negotiations fell through. (Salt Lake Tribune, October 8, 1999)
On October 15, 1999, UP granted trackage rights to the new Utah Railway-controlled Salt Lake City Southern Railroad over 2.1 miles of rail line between [D&RGW] milepost 735.8 and [D&RGW] milepost 737.9, on the former D&RGW portion of UP's Provo Subdivision. The trackage rights included the Midvale siding and crossover track, and would allow Utah Railway access from its Midvale yard to the former SLCS yard on the UTA trackage at Pallas. This was in addition to the almost 25 miles of trackage rights obtained by Utah Railway a month earlier, when it took over the trackage rights previously owned by Salt Lake City Southern. (STB Finance Docket 33808, service date October 18, 1999)
Sale To Genesee & Wyoming
On August 28, 2002, Utah Railway's parent company, Mueller Industries, sold the railroad to Genesee & Wyoming, a company with several other shortline railroad properties nationwide. The stated sale price was $54 million. Utah Railway, and its Salt Lake City Southern Railroad subsidiary, added 45 miles of owned trackage and 378 miles of operated trackage to G&W's existing over 8,000 miles of owned and leased trackage and 2,700 miles of operated trackage. (STB Finance Docket 34235, service date September 16, 2002; Deseret News, August 20, 2002; Salt Lake Tribune, August 21, 2002)
Genesee & Wyoming controlled the following other railroad companies:
- Allegheny & Eastern Railroad
- Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad
- Bradford Industrial Rail, Inc.
- Corpus Christi Terminal Railroad
- Dansville & Mount Morris Railroad
- Genesee & Wyoming Railroad
- Golden Isles Terminal Railroad
- Savannah Port Terminal Railroad
- Louisiana & Delta Railroad
- Pittsburgh & Shawmut Railroad
- Portland & Western Railroad
- Rochester & Southern Railroad
- South Buffalo Railway
- Willamette & Pacific Railroad
G&W also operated freight railroads in Canada, Mexico, Bolivia, and Australia.
G&W's Rail Link subsidiary controlled the following other railroad companies: Carolina Coast Railway (CLNA); Commonwealth Railway (CWRY); and Talleyrand Terminal Railroad (TRR). (GWI purchased Rail Link, Inc., a noncarrier holding company, on November 8, 1996 - STB Docket 33291)
G&W's Emons Transportation Group subsidiary controlled the following railroad companies: York Railway and St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad.
G&W would operate Utah Railway under its Rail Link subsidiary, and named James Davis as the general manager of the new Utah operations. (Railway Age, September 2002, page 20)
September 19, 2002
The Utah Railway-controlled Salt Lake City Southern Railroad Company was a Delaware corporation, as shown in STB equipment lease recordation no. 22455D, dated September 19, 2002. Utah Railway was purchased by Genessee & Wyoming on August 28, 2002. Equipment under lease included Utah Ry. GP38-2s 2000-2008 and Utah Ry. caboose no. 63, along with a variety of highway vehicles and maintenance of way equipment.
July 31, 2005
The Gordon Creek trestle was damaged by a fire. (Deseret News, August 6, 2005; link)
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has launched an investigation regarding the attempted sabotage of a Utah Railway train bridge.
Utah Railway has offered a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone involved in the sabotage.
On Sunday, a Utah Railway train approached the Gordon Creek Bridge, located nine miles southwest of Helper, Carbon County, at approximately 8:30 a.m. and stopped when employees saw smoke down the tracks.
"They were approaching the bridge; they saw some smoke ahead, and based on the area, they used their better judgment to slow down and investigate it," said Brent Robbins, FBI Special Agent and spokesman.
The crew found a smoldering fire on the bridge trestle. Firefighters extinguished the blaze, but Utah Railway estimated fire damage at approximately $4,000.
Robbins said the bridge structure is made of metal but there is rail timber, similar to railroad ties but larger, between the track that goes across the bridge. Robbins said four rail timber ties were completely burned and seven more were damaged beyond repair.
"The train, had it gone over, might have actually broken through the bridge," Robbins said.
Robbins said the state fire marshal suspects the fire was set with an accelerant poured on the timbers to make them burn faster.
"For that to burn like that, they would have to be purposely setting (the fire) and wanting it to burn." Robbins said.
He said the area surrounding the bridge includes nothing sensitive, but that they are still investigating possible terrorism.
"Nobody has made any claims," Robbins said. "We're not sure if it was some kids goofing around, or somebody who had a grudge against the railway or the coal mines, which the railway services."
Train and railway sabotage is a federal crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison, and if someone is killed as a result of sabotage, it is a capital crime.
The FBI is working with Carbon County officers on pursuing leads. Anyone with information is encouraged to call the FBI in Salt Lake City at 801-579-1400.
"The bridge is up there in an area where people go ATV and recreational driving," Robbins said. "Somebody might have seen something."
Read more about the Gordon Creek bridge fire. (Sun Advocate, August 9, 2005; link)
State and federal authorities are investigating an apparent railroad sabotage incident in Carbon County.
On July 31, a Utah Railway crew manning a company train reportedly discovered a smoldering fire on the trestle bridge in Gordon Creek at approximately 8:30 a.m.
A train with three engines pulling empty cars was approaching the bridge at approximately 8:30 a.m. when the crew found the fire and reported the incident.
The Price and Helper city fire departments were dispatched to the scene and the emergency crews extinguished the blaze at the bridge.
The 90-foot high railroad trestle bridge is located approximately nine miles southeast of Helper.
Last Thursday, Federal Bureau of Investigation's special agent Timothy Fuhrman and Utah fire marshal Ron Morris confirmed that federal and state authorities had launched an investigation into the incident.
"We don't know if it was malicious kids or a more subversive group such as eco-terrorists," pointed out FBI special agent Brett Robbins during a telephone interview on Monday.
At the time of the interview, Robbins said there was no indication as to the purpose of the alleged attempted sabotage incident.
The special FBI agent said four rail ties were completely burned and seven timbers were damaged in connection with the incident.
In addition to the 11 wooden ties, two metal rails on the bridge were replaced after the incident, according to state and federal investigators.
Utah Railway estimated the fire damage at approximately $4,000.
The sabotage of trains and railways constitutes a federal crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison, indicated the FBI officials.
Railroad sabotage becomes a capital offense if an individual or individuals die as a result of the crime.
Operations as of October 2006
Utah Railway ran four locals run each day out of Midvale yard. One from Midvale south to Provo. The other three run north to the refineries at Woods Cross (Phillips 66), North Salt Lake (Tesorro), and Becks (Chevron). The train symbols are the RUT309, RUT310, RUT311 and RUT312. (James Belmont, posted to Trainorders.com on October 18, 2006)
Operations as of June 2008
(as posted to Trainorders.com by Dick Ebright)
Utah Railway runs an empty coal train east nearly every morning from Provo, Utah yard, over Soldier Summit to Utah Ry. Junction just west of Helper, Utah. Here the train leaves UP rails and gets on its own track. Then through Martin yard, usually without stopping, and on several more miles to the coal loader at Wildcat, Utah. This is the only remaining active loadout on Utah Ry. rails. URY can also access the Savage loadout at the end of the CV Spur between Price and Wellington. The morning train usually has Utah power, but sometimes runs with UP power. Once at Wildcat the engines pull through the loader and loading begins. When all cars have been loaded, the power cuts off of the train, runs back around it and recouples to what used to be the last car. Then they run back to Martin yard where mid train, or "swing" helpers are added. Normally this is a six unit set. Then the train leaves Martin, regains UP rails at Utah Ry. Junction and begins the climb to Soldier Summit. In my opinion this is one of the finest sights and sounds in western railroading as 10 units struggle to get a 15,000 ton train up the hill. It happens every day and is in plain sight from the highway. Trains from Wildcat are bound for the huge IPP power plant near Delta, Utah. This generating plant is mostly owned by the Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power.
The Utah Ry. also loads at the Savage loadout on the Castle Valley Spur. Same type operation as a Wildcat train, but often with UP power on the point. Then, after loading, helpers are sent down from Martin yard to Savage as a light engine move. They are cut into the train as swing helpers right on the spur and then go over Summit without stopping at Helper. These Savage trains are fairly easy to spot because they normally have UP lead engines and Utah Ry helpers. Union Pacific also loads at Savage. After loading, UP helpers are cut into the train at at Helper yard. Then there is the third and final loadout in Utah coal country, the one at Skyline. This is at the end of the Pleasant Valley sub which takes off of the main line at Colton, about 5 miles or so east of Soldier Summit. This is strictly a UP operation and loads an average of one train a day. Skyline trains don't need helpers, as Skyline to Colton is downhill for loads and Colton to Soldier Summit is up hill but very low gradient. So, counting all 3 loadouts, Wildcat, Savage, and Skyline, maybe they total about 4-6 loaded coal trains a day over Soldier Summit. Swing helpers are normally cut out right at the summit.
August 1, 2008
Three years after an earlier attempt in 2005, the bridge over Gordon Creek was severely damaged by a second fire. (Sun Advocate, August 1, 2008; link)
One of the most unique railroad bridges in the United States was burning this morning as Utah Rail officials puzzled over the reason for the fire.
The bridge, which crosses Gordon Creek and carries tracks to the now shut down mines near Hiawatha, was reported on fire to Carbon County dispatch around 1:30 a.m. Rudy Sandoval, the state fire warden for the area was informed and got to the bridge about 2:30 a.m.
"It lit things up around there," said Sandoval. "The fire was really going."
State fire marshal investigator Troy Mills, who said there was no other possible ignition source except arson, flew over the bridge taking photos just before the helicopter he was in started dumping water on the fire.
"You can see where it started near the middle tower," he stated. "There are spread marks and holes in the ties where they are burned more. It's obvious that an accelerant was used to start the fire."
Helper City sent their water truck to supply water to a portable tank near the fire so the Bureau of Land Management helicopter that had been dispatched out of Moab could dump water on the blaze. But by the time crews were able to start getting any meaningful suppression on the fire about 10:30 a.m. Friday morning the vast bulk of the wooden ties that line the bridge were burned. As officials watched the blaze large chunks of ties fell into the gorge starting small fires below that were quickly handled by Sandoval and his crew.
Damage to the bridge, which was constructed sometime between 1913 and 1917 when the rail line was completed, is severe and whether the steel structure of the bridge will be compromised can only be told after an inspection.
"We haven't run a train over the bridge in two years, because right now there is nothing to haul from the Hiawatha area," said Tim Erchanbrack, vice president of transportation for Utah Railway. "But someday we figure we will be needing it again. This will cost at least several hundred thousand dollars to repair."
Whoever started the fire will face some serious charges, and some of those charges will be federal. The FBI was on its way to the scene to conduct an investigation. Property crimes against railroads are federal offenses.
Paula Henry, the president and general manager of Utah Railway was at the site and also said that the railway would make finding who started the fire a priority.
"We will be offering a substantial reward for whoever comes forward with information leading to the conviction of the person or persons who did this," she stated.
National Coal Railway (Gordon Creek Canyon)
National Coal Railway -- Read more about Utah Railway's line in Gordon Creek Canyon; built in 1925 and operated by Utah Railway until 1954.
National Coal Railway Map -- A Google Map of Gordon Creek Canyon (part of the map of Utah Railway).
Utah Terminal Railway (Spring Canyon)
Utah Terminal Railway -- Read more about Utah Railway's line in Spring Canyon; built in 1921 as competition to D&RGW's Spring Canyon Branch; seldom used after the mid 1950s except for car storage; abandoned in 1995.
Utah Terminal Railway Map -- A Google Map of Utah Railway and D&RGW branches in Spring Canyon.
Southern Utah Railroad and Castle Valley Railroad -- Information about the two companies and their jointly operated line between Price and the coal mines at Hiawatha and Mohrland.
Consolidated Fuel Company -- Information about Southern Utah Railroad's parent company, and its mine at Hiawatha.
Castle Valley Coal Company -- Information about the parent company of Castle Valley Railroad
Southern Utah's McKeen Car -- Information about Southern Utah's one-only McKeen car.
United States Fuel -- Information about the mines of United States Fuel Company, the merger of Consolidated Fuel, Castle Valley Coal and Black Hawk Coal companies, served by Utah Railway after 1914.
Map of Utah Railway -- A Google map of Utah Railway.