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Arthur B. Apperson

This page was last updated on July 4, 2012.

Biographical Notes

On the occasion in June 1912 of his taking the position of general superintendent of Denver & Rio Grande, the Evening Standard of Ogden, Utah wrote the following of A. B. Apperson:

"A. B. Apperson comes originally from the engineering department. He started work as a civil engineer for the Union Pacific in 1891. In 1894 he left the Union Pacific to become yardmaster and superintendent of terminals for the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul. He held this position four years, and then returned to the Union Pacific, where he remained until 1905. He went to Salt Lake City on February 1, 1906, as a superintendent of the Denver & Rio Grande, with headquarters in Salt Lake City. After three years in this capacity, [in 1909] he became general superintendent and traffic manager of the Castle Coal Company, where he continued until the company sold its interests." (The [Ogden] Evening Standard, June 5, 1912)

In January 1912, as Superintendent of Consolidated Fuel Company, the largest coal mining company in Utah, A. B. Apperson was instrumental in the organization of Utah Coal Railway, later changed to Utah Railway. In April 1911, a local commercial photographer by the name of Harry Shipler had taken a photo of a D&RG passenger train struggling to climb Soldier Summit in eastern Utah. This photo showed five steam locomotives pulling a nine car passenger train up the four-percent grade of Soldier Summit. The photo showed that five locomotives were needed to pull a passenger train up the difficult mountain grade, and that more locomotives were needed to pull freight trains over the same route.

Historian Charlotte Hamaker has reported that Apperson, as president of Consolidated Fuel, had a dispute with H. U. Mudge, then the president of the D.& R.G concerning the supply of empty coal cars, and sufficient locomotives to move the coal which the coal company wanted to have shipped. As a result of the conflict, Apperson went to New York City where he showed the Shipler photograph to the financial interests active in Consolidated Fuel's parent company, the United States Smelting, Refining and Mining Company. Apperson then explained the difficulties the D.& R.G. had hauling coal mined by his company into Provo. As a result the United States Smelting, Refining and Mining Company built the "Utah coal route" saying "It's wholly apparent that existing railroad faculties could not render competent service."

Additional research has found that until October 1, 1910, Apperson was the superintendent of D&RG's Salt Lake Division, the company's rail line between Ogden and Helper. On that date he resigned his D&RG job and took the superintendent's position with Consolidated Fuel Company. Consolidated Fuel was the parent company of Southern Utah railroad, the company that moved coal from Consolidated's mine at Hiawatha, north to Price, where the coal shipments were turned over to D&RG.

On June 10, 1912, Apperson resigned his position with Consolidated Fuel to accept the position of general superintendent of D&RG. So at the time of the April 1911 photo, he would have been employed by USSR&M, as the superintendent of their largest coal mine at Hiawatha. It follows that he would go to New York City to show his bosses that "we need our own railroad", using the photo as proof that D&RG obviously could not handle it. Indeed the Shipler photo itself may have been commissioned by Apperson for that exact purpose, although it seems more approriate to show an actual coal train rather than a passenger train.

Utah Railway was organized in January 1912, just eight months after the Shipler photo was taken.

On January 8, 1916, Apperson resigned his D&RG job to become general manager of United States Fuel Company, which was the 1916 merger of all of USSR&M coal properties in Utah.

While with United States Fuel, he was instrumental in the organization in 1917 of the jointly owned Utah Coal Route, a company jointly owned by Utah Railway and the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad, a railroad controlled by Union Pacific. The purpose of Utah Coal Route was to own and manage a fleet of coal cars, thereby doing away with the seemingly constant shortage of railroad cars needed to ship coal being mined by United States Fuel Company. (Read more about the cars of Utah Coal Route)

He remained with U. S. Fuel until February 1918 when he resigned to reportedly (in error, as it turned out) take the general superintendent job with the Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad, known at times as the Salt Lake Route. He was later instrumental in Union Pacific's purchase of LA&SL in 1921. The former LA&SL route from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles remains today a very important part of UP's territory.

When he resigned as general manager of U. S. Fuel in February 1918, Apperson apparently moved to Denver, where he became involved in other coal operations. He was appointed vice president of the reorganized Utah Idaho Central railroad in December 1926, but retained his residence in Denver.


September 23, 1873
According to his World War I draft registration, Arthur Bert Apperson was born on September 23, 1873.

Started railroading in 1891, working for UP as a brakeman.

In later years, he changed over to civil engineering, and as a surveyor, was connected with a number of roads in the West. In 1906 he selected the operating department as his specialty, and a year later was appointed as superintendent of the RGW Green River Division. (Eastern News Advocate, January 7, 1916)

Yardmaster and superintendent of terminals for the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul.

Worked for Union Pacific

April 1900
In a news item about a freight train derailment one mile west of Borie, Wyoming, "Bert" Apperson was shown as a brakeman on Union Pacific, receiving slight injuries. (Salt Lake Herald, April 18, 1900)

September 1906
Apperson was shown as resigning as yardmaster for Union Pacific at Cheyenne, and taking a new position with the Big Horn County Irrigation Company. (Deseret Evening News, September 12, 1906)

Appointed as superintendent of the Rio Grande Western, Green River Division.

June 1, 1907
A. B. Apperson was promoted from assistant superintendent of RGW's Second Division at Helper, to assistant superintendent RGW's First Division at Salt Lake City. (Salt Lake Tribune, June 1, 1907; Salt Lake Herald, June 1, 1907; Eastern Utah Advocate, June 6, 1907)

January 1908
Shown as Assistant Superintendent of D&RGW at Ogden (Deseret Evening News, January 14, 1908)

May 5, 1909
D&RG split its Utah Lines into two new divisions; the new Salt Lake Division (with A. B. Apperson as its new superintendent) was created to manage the road between Ogden and Helper; the new Green River Division was created to manage the road between Helper to Grand Junction. (Carbon County News, May 6, 1909; Eastern Utah Advocate, May 6, 1909; Richfield Reaper, May 6, 1909, "yesterday")

October 1909
In a news item about members of a conference of American Institute of Mining Engineers touring Bingham Canyon, A. B. Apperson is shown as superintendent of Denver & Rio Grande. (Salt Lake Tribune, October 1, 1909)

January 6, 1910
A. B. Apperson resigned as superintendent of the D&RG's Salt Lake Division; to take effect on February 1, 1910. It was reported that Apperson was to take a short rest, then assume similar responsibilities with another railroad company. (Salt Lake Herald, January 27, 1910)

March 1910
A. B. Apperson was shown as a director of the recently incorporated Utah Boiler and Flue Company. (Salt Lake Herald, March 1, 1910)

April 1910
A. B. "Bert" Apperson was shown in the 1910 U. S. census as living in a boarding house in Freeport, Illinois. He was age 36 and was living with his wife, Low, age 32, and their daughter Helen, age 11. The census shows that Apperson was born in 1874 in Illinois. Freeport is on the Chicago Great Western Railway mainline between Chicago and the Mississippi River.

June 1910
A. B. Apperson was appointed trainmaster of the western division of Chicago Great Western, with headquarters in Clarion, Iowa. (Deseret Evening News, June 14, 1910; Salt Lake Herald, June 27, 1910)

August 1910
A. B. Apperson had returned to Utah, having "decided to accept something more to his liking in the West." (Eastern Utah Advocate, August 18, 1910)

October 1, 1910
Apperson returned to Utah after a brief period with Chicago Great Western, to become the superintendent of Southern Utah Railway, effective October 1, 1910, with offices in Price. Apperson was reported as being the former superintendent D&RG Salt Lake Division. Apperson's acceptance of the position displaced E. A. Groves, who had previously held the position. (Eastern Utah Advocate, September, 29, 1910)

"A. B. Apperson has been appointed superintendent of the Castle Valley railway, and the Southern Utah Railway, with jurisdiction over all employees of both companies. Apperson was also superintendent of transportation for both companies." (Carbon County News, September 30, 1910)

March 1911
A. B. Apperson resigned as superintendent of Southern Utah and Castle Valley railroads to take a similar position with Utah Copper Company. (Carbon County news, March 3, 1911; Eastern Utah Advocate, March 9, 1911) (Utah Copper's Bingham & Garfield Railway started operations on September 14, 1911)

May 1911
In a news item about Utah businessmen touring the coal camp at Hiawatha, A. B. Apperson is shown as general superintendent of Southern Utah Railroad, "formerly of the Denver & Rio Grande railroad." (Salt Lake Tribune, May 1, 1911)

July 20, 1911
Apperson, as general superintendent of Southern Utah, testified in Salt Lake City before a commissioner of the Interstate Commerce Commission, concerning the high rates charged by Utah railroads to transport coal mined in Utah, compared to coal mined in Wyoming. The complaint was filed with the ICC by Consolidated Fuel company and the Southern Utah railroad, along with the Castle Valley Coal company and its Castle Valley railway. (Eastern Utah Advocate, July 27, 1911, "last Thursday")

October 1911
A. B. Apperson resigned as superintendent of Southern Utah Railway to devote full time to Castle Valley Railroad as general traffic manager in Salt Lake City. (Eastern Utah Advocate, October 19, 1911)

March 1912
Apperson resigned as general superintendent Castle Valley Railroad, with the reason given that the Castle Valley company had been sold. A man by the name of Johnson was reported as being the superintendent of the Southern Utah railroad, and would fill the position for both roads after Apperson leaves. (Carbon County News, March 22, 1912)

June 1912
United States Smelting, Refining and Mining Company purchased controlling interest in several Utah coal mining companies, including Consolidated Fuel and Castle Valley Coal. Six months earlier, USSR&M had organized Utah Coal Railway.

June 10, 1912
A. B. Apperson succeeded J. W. Mulhern as general superintendent of Utah Lines of Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, with headquarters in Salt Lake City, to take effect on June 10, 1912. Apperson was to assume the responsibilities of spending a large part of the $25 million recently authorized for the rehabilitating the D&RG's Utah Lines. (The [Ogden] Evening Standard, June 5, 1912; Eastern Utah Advocate, June 6, 1912)

February 1913
A. B. Apperson is shown as the general superintendent of Denver & Rio Grande. (Salt Lake Tribune, February 23, 1913)

October 1915
During a newspaper interview in his office on October 10, 1915, Apperson pointed out that for the past nine months, every siding on D&RG Utah Lines had been blocked with idle cars. But at the present time, every car was in use, and that there was not sufficient cars to handle the business for off-line shipments. Previous agreements in former years had OSL furnishing one-half of the equipment for coal traffic moving over its lines, but heavy grain and sugar beet traffic had made it impossible for OSL to keep its part of the agreement. D&RG was handling 300 carloads of coal, at 40 tons each, and 40 carloads of coke daily. There was also a very high demand for boxcars for coal shipments, as preferred by many coal dealers. (Eastern Utah Advocate, October 15, 1915)

December 24, 1915
A. B. Apperson resigned from his position as general superintendent of Utah Lines of Denver & Rio Grande, to take effect as soon as a replacement can be located. (News-Advocate, December 24, 1915) (The resignation may have been the result of a shareholder's meeting on November 4)

November 1915
Apperson traveled to Denver, then to New York City, and returned to Salt Lake City from the ten-day trip on November 16, 1915. He denied rumors that he had traveled to New York to discuss a possible position with another company. (Eastern Utah Advocate, November 19, 1915)

December 26, 1915
Apperson was registered at the Astor Hotel in New York City, after traveling from Denver, where he had held a meeting with H. U. Mudge, president of D&RG. (Eastern Utah Advocate, December 31, 1915, "last Sunday")

January 3, 1916
United States Fuel Company was incorporated as a consolidation of the Utah coal mining properties owned and controlled by United States Smelting, Refining and Mining Company. (News Advocate, January 7, 1916, "Monday")

January 8, 1916
A. B. Apperson resigned as superintendent of D&RG, to take effect on January 1, 1916, but delayed one week until January 8, 1916. There were rumors that he would become general manager of United States Fuel Company. C. E. Van Law was to be the new president of the newly organized United States Fuel Company. The current president was E. L. Carpenter, who had resigned on January 7, to take his wife "on a long trip in an effort to restore her health, which had been poor for the past two years."  (Eastern Utah Advocate, January 7, 1916)

Previous to working for D&RG, Apperson had been general superintendent of the Southern Utah Railroad and the Castle Valley Railroad. Apperson was mentioned as a possible replacement for E. L. Carpenter, after Carpenter's resignation. (The Sun, January 7, 1916, page 7, "A. B. Apperson Resigns")

January 17, 1916
A. B. Apperson was elected vice president and general manager of United States Fuel Company, replacing E. L. Carpenter, who had recently resigned. C. W. Van Law was president of U.S. Fuel, with offices in Boston, where he was also vice president and general manager of USSR&M; Apperson would serve as executive head of U. S. Fuel from his office in Salt Lake City. (Salt Lake Telegram, January 18, 1916, "yesterday")

C. W. Van Law was vice president of United States Smelting, Refining and Mining Company, and had been in Utah overseeing the coal properties of the company for the past several months. He was to remain in Utah while Apperson became familiar with the coal properties, at which time the responsibilities would be turned over to Apperson. Van Law was appointed president of USSR&M at a meeting of the company's board of directors on January 7, 1916. (Eastern Utah Advocate, January 21, 1916, "Van Law And Apperson Head The United States Fuel Organization"; includes a brief history of Van Law's history with the company)

W. G. Sharp was president of United States Smelting, Refining and Mining Company, with offices in Boston, and "has not been in good health for a considerable time." There was speculation that E. L. Carpenter would replace Sharp, after Carpenter's return from a six month voyage to South America. W. G. Sharp and E. L. Carpenter had been "closely related for many years." (Eastern Utah Advocate, January 28, 1916)

W. G. Sharp died on July 1, 1919, at age 62. (More about W. G. Sharp)

June 1916
A. B. Apperson, vice president and general manager of United States Fuel, announced that his company had purchased a McKeen motor car to operate between Price and the mines, for the benefit of company employees. (News-Advocate, June 23, 1916, "Mining Notes", from Salt Lake Mining Review)

November 1917
Returned to Salt Lake City after an extended vacation on the Pacific Coast due to ill health; granted a leave of absence "about two months ago." (News Advocate, November 1, 1917)

December 1, 1917
Utah Railway began its own operations, using newly purchased locomotives and cars; previously, Utah Railway operations had been with equipment and crews furnished by Denver & Rio Grande. The new equipment included 1,200 coal cars owned jointly with UP's LA&SL subsidiary. At the same time, Utah Railway sold half interest in an earlier group of 500 coal cars purchased in 1914. All of these cars were operated by the newly organized Utah Coal Route.

February 1918
A. B. Apperson resigned as manager of United States Fuel Company. There were rumors that he would replace H. C. Nutt, who had just resigned as general manager of the Salt Lake Route. Nutt had resigned due to his military rank of Lt. Colonel in the U. S. Army, with his duties shown as being director of railroads in the transportation of American troops. Apperson had been in Los Angeles when Nutt had offered his services to the army, having traveled there from Denver by way of the Santa Fe. (News Advocate, February 7, 1918; Salt Lake Herald, February 13, 1918)

"With the beginning of active operation of the Utah Coal Route, Mr. Apperson is said to have used his influence in such a way that the Salt Lake Route secured an independent line into the Utah Coal fields." "The Utah Coal Route was financed largely by United States Smelting & Refining company. The Salt Lake Route furnished steel coal cars and several big locomotives. Mr. Apperson pointed out the advantage of having a line into the Utah coal fields to members of the board of directors of the Salt Lake Route several years ago." (Salt Lake Herald, February 13, 1918)

The Salt Lake Herald of February 13, 1918 dismissed the rumor that Apperson was to take a position with the Salt Lake Route. Instead, Apperson was to gain a very high office with Denver & Rio Grande, now that the road was in receivership. The news item stated that Apperson prepared is resignation for his position with U. S. Fuel as soon as E. L. Brown was designated as the D&RG's receiver. Apperson was said to have previously worked under Brown in his earlier position with D&RG. Apperson had started with D&RG as a brakeman, but had risen rapidly through the ranks to become superintendent, and later assistant general manager. (Salt Lake Herald, February 13, 1918)

Moroni Heiner took over Apperson's position as manager of United States Fuel. Heiner was formerly the second vice president of United States Fuel. (News-Advocate, April 18, 1918)

October 1918
A. B. Apperson was in Price on October 30, and provided his thoughts on the candidacy of William H. Wattis as congressman from Utah. Apperson and Wattis had known each other since early manhood. "Mr. Apperson was largely responsible for the building of the Utah railway and was a large factor in the development of the United States Fuel company, and where Mr. Wattis through his organization, the Utah Construction company, built Utah Railway and has done a large amount of other railroad construction work." Wattis organized Utah Construction company in 1900, and the company had been under his constant management since that time. Utah Construction company "built the Western Pacific, large portions of the Union Pacific and Southern Pacific, numerous branch lines of the Oregon Short Line and Denver and Rio Grande, and practically the entire line of the Salt Lake and Los Angeles."

April 1920
Arthur B. Apperson was shown in the 1920 U. S. census as living in Hotel Utah in Salt Lake City. At age 46, he was shown as living with his wife, Low (or Lou), age 40, and their daughter Helen, age 21. Apperson was shown as the manager of a coal mining company.

A. B. Apperson is shown as living in the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver, with the title of president of Calumet Fuel Agency. (Denver City Directory, 1923)

May 1925
A. B. Apperson is shown as president "of the Cameo Coal Company, the largest shipper of coal over the D&RG lines." Apperson was part of the group of railroad and coal company executives, including D&RG and Sevier Valley Coal Company and Salina Canyon Coal Company, that toured Salina Canyon and the proposed route for a D&RG branch in the canyon to serve coal mines that were being developed. (Richfield Reaper, May 21, 1925)

December 13, 1926
"Direction of the Utah Idaho Central Railroad company was shifted from Ogden to other hands today with the announcement by the company that M. E. Singleton of St. Louis becomes president and A. B. Apperson becomes vice president." Apperson was living in Denver at the time he was appointed as vice president, and was "president of Calumet Fuel company and the Apperson-Vallery company." Singleton was well known as the director First National Bank of St. Louis, the largest national bank west of the Mississippi, as well as many other positions in the financial and insurance industry. (Standard Examiner, December 13, 1926, "today") Utah Idaho Central was recently sold under a receiver's sale and purchased by a committee representing the bondholders of the company. (Millard County Chronicle, December 23, 1926)

January 1927
M. E. Singleton and A. B. Apperson bought controlling interest in Utah Idaho Central, making for speculation that due to Apperson's position with D&RG, that D&RG would soon control Utah Idaho Central. (Salt Lake Tribune, January 2, 1927, page 24)

A. B. Apperson is shown as living in Denver, but with the title of vice president of Utah Idaho Central Railroad. (Ogden City Directory, 1928)

April 2, 1928
Apperson was re-elected as vice president of Utah Idaho Central railroad. (Salt Lake Telegram, April 3, 1928, "yesterday")

December 30, 1929
Apperson resigned as vice president of Utah Idaho Central railroad, stating that his business concerns in Denver required his full time attention. (Salt Lake Telegram, December 31, 1929, "yesterday")

April 1930
Arthur B. Apperson was shown in the 1930 U. S. census as living in Denver at 601 York Street. He was age 58, and his wife Eleanor was age 53. Apperson was shown as "president" of a "coal co."

October 1930
While visiting Salt Lake City, A. B. Apperson stated that the Hoover dam would benefit Salt Lake and Utah, as well as Los Angeles. The news item shows that Apperson was still president of the Calumet Fuel company. (Salt Lake telegram, October 22, 1930)

April 1940
Arthur B. Apperson was shown in the 1940 U. S. census as living in Denver at 394 Elm Street. He, age 66, and his wife, age 62, were living with Helen White, age 41 years, likely their married daughter. Apperson was shown as "mining man" engaged in "mining."

May 1942
A. B. Apperson was shown as the vice president of the Dix Coal company, and the former vice president of United States Fuel and Utah Railway companies, as well as the former vice president and general manager of Utah Idaho Central railroad. (Salt Lake Telegram, May 21, 1942)