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Alta Tramway in Little Cottonwood Canyon

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Overview

Wasatch to Alta (1875-1895)

The Alta tramway was a narrow gauge railroad between Wasatch and Alta, Utah. The town of Wasatch was the site of the granite quarries near the mouth of Little Cottonwood canyon, and was the center of railroad operations in the canyon from 1872 to 1917.

In the 1872-1895 time period, the Alta tram was operated with mules and horses. Research has not yet found that locomotives were ever used on the tram. There may have been various attempts, but the grade incline was always too steep for normal railroad operations.

Originally built in 1872-1875 by the Wasatch & Jordan Valley Railroad, the tramway was from the first, operated by horses and mules for the uphill trip, and by gravity for the downhill trip. Snow was a problem from the very first, and the entire line was covered by snow sheds in 1876. By the early 1880s, the line was closed for each winter season.

"To facilitate transportation, a horse tramway was built from Alta to Wasatch, near the mouth of the canyon, at an expense, it is stated, of over $150,000. From Wasatch a standard gauge, steam road was built to Sandy, and this was operated by the Rio Grande Western railroad up to within a year or two ago. The horse tram, however, is in need of extensive repairs, and has not been active use for a number of years." (Salt Lake Mining Review, October 30, 1904, page 17, photo of horse tramway on page 16)

The Wasatch & Jordan Valley company became part of Denver & Rio Grande Western in 1881, which in-turn became part of Rio Grande Western in 1889. These corporate changes directly affected how the Alta horse tram was operated, with indications after 1889 that it was leased to third-parties to keep it in operation as the traffic from the Alta mines went through their boom and bust cycles. Even when leased to low-cost operators, there was not enough business to keep the tram in regular operation, and definitely not during the winter season.

Newspaper accounts suggest that the Alta tramway was open each season between July and November. Snow cover along the route between Wasatch and Alta, and in Alta itself prevented the tramway to be operated on an regular basis between November and June. Many of the mines continued working, producing ore that was stored in sacks, awaiting the opening of the tramway each season.

Snow slides in the canyon above Tanners Flat were a constant problem, destroying the road and aerial tramway on a regular basis. One can assume that the narrow-gauge Alta tramway above Tanner's Flat also suffered similar damage, but none of the newspaper accounts of slides, or the damage they caused, mention the former railroad line. The assumption continues that the railroad line above Tanner's Flat was simply abandoned in the mid 1890s, likely due to slide damage. And without sufficient ore hauling business to justify the expense of repairs, the railroad was simply abandoned in place.

Rio Grande Western leased the Little Cottonwood Branch from Sandy to Wasatch, and the Wasatch-to-Alta horse tramway to Jake Smith in July 1896, who operated it as a simple horse tram, with two horses or mules pulling single open-top passenger cars. In May 1899, Smith began using old Salt Lake City horse-drawn street cars on the standard-gauge portion between Sandy and Wasatch. Rio Grande Western had converted the portion from Midvale to Wasatch, from narrow gauge to standard gauge in June 1891. It was over this earlier narrow gauge, and later standard gauge portion that blocks of temple granite had been hauled on a regular basis, at least until the last block of temple granite was moved in early 1892.

The Wasatch Hotel resort at the mouth of Little Cottonwood canyon had opened in July 1894, with newspaper ads saying that D&RGW provided day-trip round trip excursions for $1. This would have been by way of the standard gauge portion, from Midvale to Wasatch.

After mid 1899, when the former Salt Lake City horse street cars were obtained, it appears that the Alta tramway was more of a passenger operation, than a freight operation for moving ore, especially over the standard gauge portion between Wasatch and Sandy.

Although it was not used to haul freight, the Continental-Alta Mining company negotiated a lease in 1904 of the Alta tramway from Rio Grande Western, including the narrow gauge portion from Alta to Wasatch, and the standard gauge portion from Wasatch to Sandy. In the first quarter of 1907, the Continental Alta mining company went through a merger and bankruptcy that brought an end to its operations, except by low-tonnage leasers. The old horse tram to Alta lay dormant after that.

In October 1904 the Continental Alta mining company completed a new aerial tramway from its mine, down to a new concentrating mill and loading station at Tanners Flat, four miles below the town of Alta. These four miles were known to be the steepest, and most unsafe portion of the old horse tram. In 1904, it was reported that the tramway could be operated all winter, to within three miles of Alta, suggesting that it was these final three miles (one mile above Tanner's Flat) that was susceptible to the damaging and dangerous snow slides. The aerial tramway was used intermittently until 1910 when a a snow slide took out several of the support towers. The aerial tram was rebuilt in 1912 by the Michigan-Utah mining company, which had purchased the mining properties of the previous Continental Alta company.

Although newspaper accounts in May 1915 mention plans to extend aerial tramway down-canyon below Tanner's Flat, the lower terminal remained at that location and the extension was never completed. Tanner's Flat was the upper terminal of the Little Cottonwood Transportation Company's Shay-operated narrow gauge railroad, completed in 1917 between the standard gauge Salt Lake & Alta at Wasatch, and the lower terminal of the aerial tramway at Tanner's Flat. The railroad remained in operation until about late 1921.

Timeline

August 18, 1875
Tracklaying on the W. & J. V. tramway has reached Tannersville, and there is enough iron on hand to reach Alta. (Salt Lake Herald, August 18, 1875)

(Read more about the Wasatch & Jordan Valley Railroad)

September 4, 1875
"Little Cottonwood Tramway" Item reports that it is rapidly nearing completion to end at Alta; the grade is complete to Central, and track is but 1-1/2 miles from Alta, and will likely be completed by the end of next week. (Salt Lake Herald, September 4, 1875)

September 14, 1875
"Alta by Rail", completion of the tramway that joins Alta with the terminus of the W&JV, opened on Sunday last, the 12th. "Several passenger cars for the tramway are now on the way from the east, and it is expected will soon be put upon the road." C. W. Scofield plans to put a shed over the entire eight miles, at an estimated cost of 60 or 70 thousand dollars. "It is not many weeks ago that he became the owner of the W. & J. V. ..." (Salt Lake Herald, September 14, 1875)

October 25, 1875
A report of a considerable wreck on "the tramway of the Wasatch and Jordan Valley Railroad, which extends from Fairfield Flat to Alta." It seems that a brakeman on a descending car thought that his brakes would not hold, so he jumped off the car, which promptly took off like a shot, crashing into other cars, mules (killing four of them) and finally ending by pushing the remains of cars, mules and freight out the side of the snowshed. The brakeman took up work elsewhere. (Deseret Evening News, October 25, 1875)

April 8, 1876
The Alta tramway opened up, partially, on the 6th, as far as Tannersville. The first passengers of the season rode up on the 7th. (Salt Lake Herald, April 8, 1876)

June 6, 1876
The Alta Tramway is cleared of snow and in use to Central City, or about 1/4 mile from (below) Alta depot. (Salt Lake Herald, June 6, 1876)

August 17, 1876
The Alta Tramway is being covered with a snowshed. (Salt Lake Herald, August 17, 1876)

January 10, 1877
"The horse tramway to Alta is again clear, and the cars running." (The Utah County Enquirer, Provo, January 10, 1877)

March 10, 1877
The Alta tramway is blocked by snow again; is the only road to Alta. (The Utah County Enquirer, Provo, March 10, 1877)

February 21, 1878
"About two hundred feet of the Alta tramway shed was swept away by a snow slide on Tuesday morning. Trains ran through from Wasatch yesterday, the passengers walking over the slide were taken to Alta on cars run down for that purpose." (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, February 21, 1878)

August 2, 1878
"Alta in Ashes," as it burned yesterday. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, August 2, 1878)

January 1, 1880
A long letter on "Little Cottonwood," written from Alta, December 30, 1879; comments upon the quarries "...along the Wasatch and Jordan Valley Railroad. Passing onward, we soon come to a hotel and outbuildings designated as Wasatch. This is the terminus of steam navigation and here we change cars for Alta via the Tramway. This latter is a continuation of the narrow-gauge, and is a well-built and thoroughly ballasted road with steel rails and comfortable open seat cars, requiring for the upward trip a propelling force of almost three mule-power. For the downward passage, however, gravitation has to be held in check to keep the speed within the limit of safety. We soon enter the snow sheds, and are consequently debarred from viewing some of the most pleasing scenery in Utah." "Once within the snow sheds we wrap our patience as a mantle about us and imagine ourselves comfortable during our two-hours ride to Alta..." (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, January 1, 1880)

April 21, 1881
The tramway to Alta is now open and doing business, the snow blockade being raised. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, April 21, 1881)

April 5, 1882
The Alta tramway, which has been closed all winter, will be opened again soon. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, April 5, 1882)

October 14, 1882
Considerable problem on the Alta Tramway - wind is repeatedly blowing down various parts of the snowshed. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, October 14, 1882)

December 29, 1882
"The Alta Tramway." "The Tribune this morning states that "the mining men and citizens of Alta complain because the railroad company have shut them off from civilization" by closing down the tramway between that camp and Wasatch. In conversation with a Chronicle representative this morning, Mr. Lamborn, assistant general passenger and freight agent of the D.& R. G. road, said he knew of no good reason for complaint on the part of anyone at Alta. It is usual to close down the tramway during the winter months, and the mining and business men of Alta fully expected that the road would be shut down this season. At present there is no ore to be sent down ... and ..., it is hard to see how any reasonable person could expect the tramway to be kept open. Besides, experience has fully demonstrated the danger of running cars up and down the canyon when the snow lies deep on the sides of the mountains, ..." (Salt Lake Evening Chronicle, December 29, 1882)

May 16, 1883
City: "the Alta tramway, running from Wasatch to Alta, will be open for through traffic tomorrow. The tramway has been closed since December." (Salt Lake Evening Chronicle, May 16, 1883)

December 10, 1883
"Stopped for the Winter." "The Alta branch of the Denver & Rio Grande railroad, running up Little Cottonwood canyon from Wasatch to Alta, closed down to-day for the winter. Travel in this canyon during the winter months is attended by great danger from snow-slides, and the policy of the D.& R.G. management seems to be to close down the road before the dreaded avalanches can get a chance to bury people traveling over the tramway." (Salt Lake Evening Chronicle, December 10, 1883)

December 11, 1883
The line from Wasatch to Alta was closed yesterday for the winter. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, December 11, 1883)

March 11, 1884
Alta was hit by a slide on Sunday, the 9th; "The new town of Alta is situated ... on a flat near the head of Little Cottonwood canyon. The old town was destroyed by fire some years ago, and the present site was supposed to be a safer place for the town." (Salt Lake Daily Herald, March 11, 1884)

July 12, 1884
Two carloads of horses and mules were taken to Wasatch yesterday for the Alta tramway. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, July 12, 1884)

July 29, 1884
Article on ride to Alta on the tramway; two mules pull the car, which seats nine, three to a seat. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, July 29, 1884)

February 13, 1885
"The D. & R. G. is running double-headers to Wasatch and Bingham." It seems this is necessary on account of snow. (Salt Lake Evening Chronicle, February 13, 1885)

February 16, 1885
The Western's depot, snowsheds, etc., at Alta were destroyed in the slide at that place on February 13, 1885. (Salt Lake Evening Chronicle, February 16, 1885)

April 28, 1885
Alta tramway to be opened by May 10, 1885. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, April 28, 1885)

May 21, 1885
Daily trains running to Alta 'via the mule power tramway'. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, May 21, 1885)

July 28, 1885
The Alta tramway was being hauled by horses: "...there is little discomfort in the up journey, over the tramway, in being hauled by equines, up the continued steep grades..." (Salt Lake Herald, July 28, 1885)

May 28, 1887
The Alta tramway is now in process of being opened up for the season. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, May 28, 1887)

October 30, 1887
"Local Railway Notes." "The D. & R. G. W. has issued a notice that the tramway between Wasatch and Alta will be closed November 10th, after which no passengers or freight will be taken to Alta, and all freight and passengers for Alta will be delivered at Wasatch." per J. H. Bennett, General Freight and Passenger Agent of the D. & R. G. W. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, October 30, 1887)

May 20, 1888
"The Alta tramway opens today for the season." (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, May 20, 1888)

November 10, 1888
The Alta tramway was closed yesterday. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, November 10, 1888)

June 20, 1890
The tramway to Alta opened today, but not by the RGW, as the line from Wasatch to Alta is leased to other parties. Fare one way is $1.15. (Salt Lake Evening Times, June 20, 1890)

June 3, 1891
An advertisement item, on the RGW Alta Branch, "...which has now been made broad gauge,..." "At Wasatch tramway connection is made for Alta." (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, June 3, 1891)

July 15, 1894
"Wasatch - The Ideal Summer Resort - the Most Picturesque Mountain Resort In Utah - New Hotel, New Management" (Salt Lake Herald, July 15, 1894)

The earliest reference in online newspapers for the Wasatch Resort was in mid July 1894. Prior to that time, there was a "Wasatch Hotel" in downtown Salt Lake City in the period between 1873 and 1887, then another was located in Ogden. The new Wasatch Hotel opened at Wasatch in mid July 1894, advertising the beauty of the surrounding granite peaks.

January 1, 1896
"Once one of the most prosperous camps in Utah has been doing but little for some years. In 1894 a number of old properties shipped ore and the tramway was operated for part of the season, but in 1895 the tram did not run cars and little was done in the district outside of assessment work on the unpatented claims. The ore shipments amounted to practically nothing..." (Salt Lake Tribune, January 1, 1896)

July 7, 1896
"Jo Smith, who has a lease on the tramway, is making repairs between Alta and Wasatch, and as soon as the R. G. W. sends out some cars to the latter place, ore shipments from Alta can and will begin." (Salt Lake Herald, July 7, 1896)

August 29, 1896
"The Marion Consolidated ore is transported from the mine to the tramway, a distance of a mile and a quarter, on rawhides, from which point it is moved in cars to Wasatch, where it is loaded into Rio Grande Western cars." (Salt Lake Herald, August 29, 1896)

August 16, 1897
"At present the tramway is in daily operation and persons whose destination is Alta may make quick time by boarding the Graham stage, which connects with the Murray street-car at 7:45 a. m., and later with the tramway at Wasatch direct to Alta." (Salt Lake Tribune, August 16, 1897)

January 15, 1898
"Alta Shipments Closed it the Winter. -- The last shipment of ore has been made for the season, and Alta's curtains have been drawn for the winter. The tramway has been closed down, the road leading from its terminus is blocked up, and until next May there will be no further ore on the market. In the meantime the doors of the diggings are closed with a large amount of work in progress." (Salt Lake Tribune, January 15, 1898)

May 17, 1898
"Mr. Wallace, who has just returned from Alta, said yesterday that the tramway would start up on Monday next and that to that end a force was now employed in the opening of the track. At one place the rails have been buried beneath thirty feet of snow that recently came down from the mountain side, and which extends for 150 feet along the track." (Salt Lake Tribune, May 5, 1917, "Monday next" was May 23, 1898)

June 12, 1898
"With hard trials and great tribulations the railroad tramway to Alta was opened yesterday and tomorrow will be ready for travel and for ore hauling. Jake Smith, the manager, was in the city yesterday and reports that to complete the undertaking he was compelled to tunnel 150 feet through what was known as the Superior snowslide, which covered the tracks of the tramway for 25 feet in depth. He succeeded and made the tunnel safe, which is now ready to haul anything which comes his way, and will start tomorrow on a large consignment for the smelters from several of the mining properties up there." (Salt Lake Herald, June 12, 1898)

June 17, 1898
"Wasatch is still asleep and it is not known there what if anything is to be done with the hotel this season." "The tramway up the canyon is open and cars are going up and down daily." (Deseret Evening News, June 17, 1898)

July 10, 1898
"The tramway is now making regular trips, and the stage will begin in a few days." (Salt Lake Tribune, July 10, 1898, "Operations at Alta")

August 4, 1898
"Better at Alta. -- R. G. Taysum has returned after a visit to Alta and says the old camp presents a better aspect tan at any time in many years. Jake Smith has started up and is regularly operating his tramway, that has already offered an outlet for shipments from the Grizzly and a half dozen others, while the prediction is made by him that the tonnage for the season will exceed that of many years." (Salt Lake Tribune, August 4, 1898)

August 9, 1898
"The Rio Grande Western has virtually abandoned its rail and tram line to Wasatch and Alta. This is the third summer the track has been unused, and it is doubtful if it will ever be resumed, unless the mines take an upward turn, or other business conditions should make the operation of the road a paying proposition." (Salt Lake Tribune, August 9, 1898, page 5, "Will Build Big Cars" "Railroad Notes")

November 8, 1898
"Snow at Alta on the level is over two feet deep, while in some of the ravines and canyons it is drifted and packed to the depth of ten and twelve feet. James Pitts, who came down recently, says the idea of keeping the tramway open during the winter was hailed with joy, but it was soon found to be impracticable, the prospective traffic being found too light to justify such an expensive scheme." (Salt Lake Tribune, November 8, 1898)

May 7, 1899
"Jake Smith, who has had charge of the Alta tramway for more than six years, has been given permission by the Rio Grande Western Railway company to use its track on the spur running up to Wasatch. He has secured an old street car from one of the city railway companies, and intends to have it ply between Sandy and Wasatch, with a team of mules as the power of locomotion going up the canyon, while, returning, the car will come down by gravity. From Wasatch passengers will be taken up on the tramway, a distance of six miles. With these conveniences in operation, Mr. Smith expects to be able to land anyone going from the city in Alta by 11 o'clock in the forenoon, giving them a few hours to look over the camp and return to Salt Lake the same day." (Salt Lake Herald, May 7, 1899)

May 12, 1899
"The Grizzly and City Rocks are among the properties ready to commence shipments as soon as "Jake" Smith opens up his tramway. which will be about the first of June." "Jake Smith operates the Alta tramway, a line eight miles in length. He expects to see a lively year of it, and is preparing to do a big business in the way of hauling ore. As stated The Herald several days ago, he has secured permission from the Rio Grande Western railway to operate the spur between Sandy and Wasatch. He informed Mr. Darmer that he had secured a couple of old street cars to handle the passenger traffic, and it is his intention to purchase at least two ore cars and run them also over the same line. He will bring the ore down from Alta, by the tramway to Wasatch, and there transfer it to the ore cats, and when they are loaded, let them run down to Sandy by gravity. Returning, the cars will be taken back by mule teams." (Salt Lake Herald, May 12, 1899)

August 1, 1899
"Henry Wallace, who came in from Alta yesterday after putting the new machinery on the Albion in motion, says that shipments from the camp are being delayed because of the condition of the road. The trouble, according to Mr. Wallace is that the road supervisor is paying too much attention to the tramway, of which he is the superintendent, and too little to the county road that the producers must use to get their ores to market. He will go before the County Commissioners seeking a remedy. The first car to reach Alta over the tramway this season, said he, made its appearance at the camp Sunday, and it has accordingly, been of no service whatever thus far." (Salt Lake Tribune, August 1, 1899, "Sunday" was July 30, 1899)

August 17, 1899
"Wasatch is Lively. -- People down from Wasatch say the resort was never so lively as at the present time, and fish were never so plentiful In Little Cottonwood creek. Jake Smith is running tramway parties to Alta almost daily. The ride from Wasatch to Alta and return, especially when taken in the afternoon, is one of the big features." (Salt Lake Herald, August 17, 1899, advertisement)

September 2, 1899
"There is no trip more pleasant than a ride on the Alta tramway or an excursion with Jake Smith to Sandy from Wasatch. The ride down, in the latter case, as in the former, is by gravity, and it is exceedingly exhilarating these loverly mornings." (Deseret Evening News, September 2, 1899, advertisement)

March 17, 1900
"There has been very little snow in the Cottonwood canyons this year, much less than usual, and all winter long some of the largest producers have been sending down ore for treatment at the smelters." "If the good weather continues the tramway will start operating in a short time." (Salt Lake Herald, March 17, 1900)

April 25, 1900
"H. C. Wallace came down last night from Alta without any difficulty, and in a few days the tramway ought to be able to resume operations." (Salt Lake Tribune, April 25, 1900)

June 23, 1900
"The resort at Wasatch, in Little Cottonwood Canyon, near Granite, has been opened to the public, and street cars commenced to operate between the Oregon Short Line station at Sandy and the Wasatch hotel yesterday. The fare from Sandy to Wasatch is 75 cents and round trip $1; ..." "The hotel at Wasatch has been renovated and placed in first class condition." (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, June 23, 1900)

June 26, 1900
"At present no less than twenty-five teams are operating between the camp and the Mingo smelter at Sandy, while the tramway has finally started up and ores are being handled very satisfactorily. From the tramway they are transferred to the Rio Grande Western's Little Cottonwood branch, which had been equipped with rolling stock formerly in use upon the horse-car lines of this city, so that the trip between Sandy and the diggings is made a very agreeable one." (Salt Lake Tribune, June 26, 1900)

June 30, 1900
"Little Cottonwood Tramway. -- The tramway between Alta and Sandy is now run by Grantor & Atwood of Murray, Jake Smith having sub-leased it to that firm, and they will have charge of all the transportation to and from Wasatch and Alta this season. Two routes have now been provided - one by way of street car to Murray and then by stage to Sandy, thence by street car to Wasatch, and via Oregon Short Line to Sandy and then by street car to the summer resort." (Salt Lake Tribune, June 30, 190, advertisement)

July 2, 1900
There were twenty teams and wagons "plying" between Alta and the valley below, with complaints that more were needed to meet the demand of mine output at Alta. No mention of the horse tramway. (Salt Lake Tribune, July 2, 1900, "Ore Hauling From Alta")

July 20, 1900
"Cars on the Wasatch tram connect with all Short Line trains south of Salt Lake. The cars run between Sandy and Wasatch and are taking many passengers." (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, July 20, 1900)

August 28, 1900
"Doings at Wasatch" "Tramway rides to Alta are still very popular, and these, with the regular traffic to Alta keeps the historic old tram car pretty well filled, both going and coming." (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, August 28, 1900)

September 8, 1900
"The Alta Branch and tramway consists of eighteen miles. As it is not operated, the RGW is contemplating using the steel where it will bring in some revenue." (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, September 8, 1900)

October 3, 1900
In a reference to the activity at the Highland Chief mine at Alta... "While a foot of snow has fallen at camp, it has disappeared, and the season is still open for shipment of ores over the tramway." (Salt Lake Tribune, October 3, 1900)

December 15, 1900
"The discontinuance of the Alta tramway has necessitated the employment of a large number of teams in that canyon the last two summers, and the entire output, practically, has been handled at the Pioneer [sampler]." (Deseret Evening News, December 15, 1900)

January 8, 1901
Nathaniel W. Raphael vs. the Wasatch & Jordan Valley Railroad Co., the Rio Grande Western Railway Co., and the Union Trust Co. of New York -- complaint alleges that on May 1, 1879, the W. & J. V. RR. conveyed to said Trust company (to secure $1,200,000 in mortgage bonds), all of the main line (33 miles) and tramway lines (11-1/2 miles) from Bingham to Alta via Sandy; further alleges the property was foreclosed for default and came into possession of the R.G.W. through collusion and fraud. Plaintiff asks that sale to D.& R.G.W. Rwy. Co. and all subsequent actions be set aside! Paper comments that "The line from Sandy to Wasatch and Alta, however, is worthless, and has been abandoned by the company for a long time, as far as operation of it as a railroad is concerned." (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, January 8, 1901)

June 11, 1901
"The tramway from Sandy to Wasatch and thence from Wasatch to Alta will be in full operation by Thursday next, so that the trip to the famous old mining camp may be made by cars. The tramway will be under the care of 'General Freight and Passenger Agent' Graham, as he is known among those who patronize the line, as during former years." (Salt Lake Tribune, June 11, 1901)

June 13, 1901
"The first car over the tramway between the mines of Alta and the railway at Sandy reached [Alta] yesterday, with the active loading of ores and their transportation to the smelters to begin today." (Salt Lake Tribune, June 13, 1901)

June 15, 1901
"The tramway from Sandy and Wasatch to Alta was opened this week Thursday." (Salt Lake Mining Review, June 15, 1901)

June 10, 1902
"Tramway in Operation and Ores Again Moving. -- The tramway by which Alta is linked with the smelters of the valley has been reopened and two trips between Wasatch and the loading station at Sandy are made daily, while a single run is made to the camp itself, the traveler reaching it at 1 o'clock p.m. The opening is an unusually early one, said John G. Stillwell, who serves the camp as its postmaster while operating a number of propositions in the hills, and who came in for supplies yesterday, but George Graham, the general manager of the route, has been unusually energetic with his shovel and the snowdrifts are practically gone. Mr. Stillwell reports a very large volume of ingoing freight while ores are moving from the Albion, the Grizzly and City Rocks, with Tony Jacobson getting ready to come to market with a consignment for the Columbus, which is to be equipped with machinery." (Salt Lake Tribune, June 10, 1902)

June 17, 1902
The tramway from Wasatch resort to Alta was open and George Graham was running the horse car with passengers, connecting the Wasatch resort with the Oregon Short Line at Sandy twice a day and running to Alta once a day, also carrying the daily mail to Alta. (Deseret Evening News, June 18, 1902)

August 15, 1902
"The Mines of Old Alta" "During the latter years of the camp's prosperity the ores of Little Cottonwood were hauled down to Sandy over the tramway built from that place to Alta. Steam power was employed as far as Wasatch over a standard gauge railroad; from there on the grade is heavy, and smaller narrow gauge cars were used with mules as locomotive power. Returning, the cars run the entire length of the road by gravity." "The road is still in operation, but the track and equipment is in poor condition. The property is in the hands of R.G.W. Railway and its improvement is one of the things promised for the very near future, and in all probability, the upper tram, between Wasatch and Alta, will be operated by electrical power." (Salt Lake Mining Review, August 15, 1902, pp.15-18)

September 16, 1902
"Among the Mountains." "The tramway has carried many passengers this year, who all thank God when they get down to Wasatch, even if they never thank him elsewhere. The county commissioners ought to make somebody put that 'dear, damned, delightful' little railway in a safer condition." - Charles Ellis. (Salt Lake Herald, September 16, 1902)

July 15, 1903
The smelting companies in Salt Lake had discovered that the ore coming out of Alta was high in sulphide iron content, which is needed as a flux ore for the lead-silver, and copper smelting process. The smelting companies were reported to have approached Rio Grande Western about their railroad between Sandy and Wasatch, and their tramway between Wasatch and Alta, by either leasing the railroad, or inducing RGW to make their own repairs and put the line into commission. "The Rio Grande, which has been accustomed to leasing each year its lines between Sandy and Alta has refused to do so this season. This fact is looked upon as having some significance." (Deseret Evening News, July 15, 1903)

In July 1903, the Alta mines of the newly organized Continental Mines & Smelting company were re-opened. Known as the Continental Alta group, the mines included the mines of the previous Lavinia & Grizzly Consolidated, Regulator and Darlington companies. Although there were thousands of tons of ore identified and blocked out, ready to be mined, the ore was too low in quality to justify the high cost of moving it by team and wagon down to the smelters. There were all manner of discussions and comments about the need for a railroad that would make transportation cheaper for the mining companies.

Henry M. Crowther was the field manager of the newly incorporated the Continental Smelting and Securities company, incorporated in New Jersey, with principle investor being a New York City banker and his associates. (Deseret Evening News, June 12, 1903)

August 23, 1903
"The operators of the camp are already beginning to figure on some system of transportation that will be quicker and more economical that the out-of-date teaming method and it is very probable that by the time spring rolls around again the problem will have been solved. the old tram road has gone to decay and whether it will be reconstructed and equipped as an electric road or whether a system of aerial tramways will supersede it, are among the questions now receiving attention." (Salt Lake Herald, August 23, 1903)

August 25, 1903
"The great drawback now, say the old-timers, is the high price of ore-hauling to the railroad. Efforts to induce the Rio Grande to repair the old tramway have been fruitless, the company demanding a guarantee which the miners did not feel prepared to make. Transportation by wagon costs about $3.50 per ton, a prohibitive rate on the quality of ore which exists in such generous quantities on old dumps and in the workings of abandoned mines." "The Altaites look for prosperity via the iron oxide which composes a large proportion of the native ores. It is claimed that the smelters are importing ore from great distances especially to secure this important element for fluxing, while almost inexhaustible quantities lie right at their doors." (Salt Lake Tribune, August 25, 1903)

November 6, 1903
C. D. Rooklidge, of Salt Lake City, obtained a 10-year lease on the RGW tramway between Alta and Sandy, including the broad gauge portion from Sandy to Wasatch, and the narrow gauge portion from Wasatch to Alta. He was to reconstruct and equip the line for electric operation, at a cost of $100,000.00. (Deseret Evening News, November 6, 1903, includes photo)

Charles D. Rooklidge had been prominent in the Park City mines, and was superintendent of the Mackintosh Sampler in Park City until his resignation in January 1897. He had been manager of the Mackintosh sampler for the past eight years. He remained in Park City and became a mine manager at the Queen of Sheba group, then moved to California in 1900 for a brief period until spring 1902, when he became interested in the mines at Alta. By August 1902, Rooklidge was managing the properties of the Oxford Mining company at Alta, which consisted the Oxford & Geneva group of five claims in Peruvian Gulch, where new discoveries had found ore that was as high as 60 per cent lead, with excellent values of silver and gold. The Oxford company was formally incorporated in October 1902. Apparently his plans to rebuild the Alta tramway and convert it to electrified operation did not work out, and in April 1905, Rooklidge was named as the new manager of the Pioneer Ore Sampling company at Murray. The Pioneer company was owned by S. L. Butler, and after taking over the management of the sampling works, Rooklidge and Butler were involved in numerous mining ventures in Utah and Nevada. In January 1907, Rooklidge resigned the Pioneer company to devote his full time to the management of the newly organized Yerington Copper company in Nevada, along with other Nevada mines. He never did return to Alta.

December 27, 1903
"For the purpose of obtaining power for this mill, as well as for operating the mines, an appropriation of water in Little Cottonwood creek, at Wasatch, eight miles below, has been perfected, and the surveys and plans are finished. Here will be erected an electrical power plant which will generate some 600-horsepower, to be conducted to the mine by wire. Mechanical transportation over this route and also to the smelter, a total distance of twenty miles, is being planned. The grade for a tramway, now out of commission, which formerly ran from the camp to Wasatch, still remains, as does also a grade from Wasatch to Sandy on the Salt Lake route under an abandoned broad- gauge track. With these facilities installed, the cost of obtaining fuel will be practically eradicated, and that of taking up supplies and conveying the ores down the mountain will be reduced to a minimum." (Salt Lake Herald, December 27, 1903)

December 27, 1903
"Not only are means for lighting of the basin and for economic operation of the camp's machinery to be provided, but the miner is going to have transportation for his ores. Charley Rooklidge, to whom the Rio Grande railroad has awarded a lease on the tramway between the camp and the valley, has decreed it and with a brand new upon a brand new ballast he proposes to afford the producer an outlet for all the wealth that the ledges of the New Alta can be made to disgorge." (Salt Lake Tribune, December 27, 1903)

March 8, 1904
The Continental Alta mining company notified the Rio Grande railroad that it was willing use its own funds to rehabilitate the old horse tramway. (Salt Lake Tribune, March 8, 1904)

April 11, 1904
Pending a response from Rio Grande about Continental Alta paying to have the tramway reconstructed, the mining companies paid to have the county road cleared of snow and made ready for use hauling ore to market. The mining companies were expecting Salt Lake County to reimburse them for the expense. (Salt Lake Telegram, April 11, 1904)

June 22, 1904
"That Alta Tramway -- Negotiations for Rebuilding of Line Progressing Satisfactorily -- Henry M. Crowther, manager of the Continental Alta mines, has been laboring with officials of the Denver & Rio Grande railroad for several months past in an effort to secure better transportation facilities for the camp, in the rehabilitation of the old tramway line between Wasatch and the town of Alta. The entire line would necessarily have to be rebuilt. The broad gauged line between Sandy and Wasatch would also have to be provided with new ties and heavier rails. It is said negotiations have been progressing favorably and will probably result in the railroad company making the improvements, if not in the leasing of the line to others for a term of years. Either way will satisfy the producers of the camp. The mines have been developed to the extent that the road can be made a splendid paying proposition." (Deseret Evening News, June 22, 1904)

June 22, 1904
"A number of the Rio Grande officials have recently been over the road and they were closeted with Mr. Crowther all morning. The tram line is almost a necessity to the future of the camp of Alta, as the wagon haul is not only expensive but almost impassable during the winter months, and in addition to this not enough ore could come down the canyon by wagon to make Alta a big camp. On the other hand the tramway can be operated at least within three miles of Alta all winter, or at any time of the year, and it would probably be possible with some additional work to run it right to the town even in winter. The cost of repairing the line and equipping it with rolling stock will probably be in the neighborhood of $40,000, and will require about three months' time. The owners of the Columbus Consolidated, Alta-Quincy, Kennebec, Albion, and other properties in the camp are watching the progress of the deal with the greatest anxiety, as they know how much its successful consummation will mean to every mine in the camp." (Salt Lake Telegram, June 22, 1904)

The delay in signing the lease of the Sandy-to-Alta tramway was due to a change in management at Rio Grande Western's main offices. (Salt Lake Tribune, July 10, 1904)

August 5, 1904
The Alta tramway was leased by RGW to Henry M. Crowther, manager of the Continental Alta mines. The existing standard gauge portion between Sandy and Wasatch (8.5 miles) was to be converted to narrow gauge, matching the mule-tram portion between Wasatch and Alta (7.75 miles). The entire line was to be relaid with 40-pound rails. The news item suggests that the lease and operation of the tramway was to be for the sole benefit of the Continental-Alta mine. (Salt Lake Telegram, August 5, 1904)

September 14, 1904
The mill of the Columbus Consolidated was completed at Alta, and ground had just been broken for the new 100-ton mill of the Continental Alta company. (Salt Lake Herald, September 14, 1904)

October 23, 1904
The Continental Alta Mining company was progressing with the construction of its mill, and a five-mile aerial tramway connecting its mine at Alta, with the new mill at Tanner's Flat. The mill was practically complete, with all machinery and equipment either delivered, or en route. (Salt Lake Herald, October 23, 1904)

The New York directors of the Continental Alta mining company had approved the construction of a new mill and electric power plant in late July 1904. (Salt Lake Tribune, July 26, 1904)

The corporate parent of the Continental Alta mining company, was the Continental Mining & Smelting company, with offices in New York City. The Continental properties at Alta included the previously active Lavinia & Grizzly Consolidated, Regulator and Darlington mining companies. All four mining companies had been shut down pending the outcome of multiple encroachment law suits, that were settled by all four companies being sold to a single buyer. The other large mining company at Alta was the Columbus Consolidated mining company.

The new mill was located at Tanner's Flat, and the Continental Alta Mines & Smelters company was considering some arrangements for other mines along the route of the aerial tram between its mine and its mill, to be able to use it without mixing their ore with the ore of the Continental-Alta company. These arrangements include separate loading stations, different colored buckets, and separate ore bins at the mill. (Salt Lake Herald, October 31, 1904)

The Continental Alta aerial tramway was also used by the Columbus Consolidated company. At various times over the next 5 to 8 years, the aerial tramway was out of commission due to a snowslide taking one or more of the supporting towers. Finally in March 1910, a slide destroyed several towers and the tramway was out of commission for most of the following months. While the aerial tramway was being repaired, the mining companies were forced to depend on teams and wagons to get their ores to market, but due to poor road conditions, they faced higher costs and at times complete shutdown due to weather conditions that prevented the wagons from transporting the ore.

November 1, 1904
The mill of the Columbus Consolidated mining company was started, but would take another week for the minor adjustments to be completed before full production could begin of reducing four tons of ore to one ton of ore for the smelters. (Salt Lake Telegram, November 1, 1904)

April 12, 1905
The mill, power plant, and aerial tramway of the Continental Alta mining company were complete and being adjusted for good and reliable operation. There had been numerous delays due to severe weather, and shipping delays for tramway cabling and other finishing materials. By the third week of April, the mill and the tramway were in full operation. (Deseret Evening News, April 12, 1905; Salt Lake Herald, April 25, 1905)

(No mention of how the ore was to be shipped from the Continental-Alta's loading station at Tanners Flat, down to the valley smelters, a distance of almost 12 miles, other than a brief mention of the condition of the roads, and that the "teams" being well organized to move the ore to market. This was the route of the railroad tram that Crowther had leased from RGW.)

May 3, 1905
"Mr. Crowther had a car of crude ore on the market this morning and has more to be forwarded just as fast as the teams can get the metal hauled to the railroad." "The Columbus has all its ore bins filled to overflowing with concentrates and is now dumping them out on the ground around the mill. the haulers seem to be unable to relieve the situation and until tramways are built to reach the higher ground such as the Continental-Alta has, the problem for transporting the ore out of the snowbound camp will always be a difficult one." (Salt Lake Telegram, May 3, 1905)

June 3, 1905
"Alta -- The Continental mill is treating about sixty tons of ore daily and sending from ten to twelve cars of ore and concentrates to market every week by way of the tram line. The concentrates average 40 per cent lead, twenty ounces silver, 2.5 per cent copper and 75 cents in gold to the ton." (Goodwin's Weekly, June 3, 1905)

July 23, 1905
The U. S. Mail was being forwarded from Tanner's Flat to Alta by way specially-painted buckets on the five miles of the Continental-Alta aerial tramway, arriving two to three hours sooner than if moved by horse or mule. In addition, freight was being handled up to the camp, including wood as long as 16 feet, mine ore cars as large as 20 cubic feet capacity, hay for the animals, and quarters of beef. The aerial tramway passed over the most difficult parts of the road to Alta, and was close to the mill of the Columbus Consolidated company, which was also using it for its upward-bound freight. (Salt Lake Herald, July 23, 1905; August 16, 1905)

October 21, 1905
"It is said that the Rio Grande has completed arrangements for the construction of a tramway to run from the loading station at Sandy to the mines in Alta." (Salt Lake Telegram, October 21, 1905)

October 26, 1905
"A standard gauge line is to be run from Bingham Junction to Wasatch, and from this point an electric line is to be continued up the canyon to tap the other mines that are sending out the ores by means of wagons. The connection will be made at Tanner's Flats, and if at any time during the winter season it is found impractical to keep the roadway up the canyon open, Mr. Crowther proposes to place the tramway at the disposal of the neighboring mining companies." (Salt Lake Telegram, October 26, 1905)

February 17, 1906
Henry Crowther returned to Salt Lake City after meeting with D&RG officials in New York, and D&RG vice president C. H. Schlacks in Denver, obtaining a 10-year lease on the right-of-way of the tramway between Sandy and Tanner's Flat. Crowther had worked for two years in his efforts to obtain the lease, and thereby cheaper transportation for his mine. The new railway was to be owned by the shareholders of the Continental-Alta mining company, but it would be a common carrier for passengers and freight to and from Alta, and would take business from anyone in the canyon. (Salt Lake Telegram, February 17, 1906)

"The old Alta tramway was practically abandoned a dozen years ago." (Deseret Evening News, February 19, 1906)

May 30, 1906
Article about Alta, with photograph taken on "old Alta tramway". (Salt Lake Mining Review, May 30, 1906)

June 3, 1906
Henry Crowther's lease of the RGW tramway apparently included a stipulation that work was to begin with eight months (from February, or October 1906), including the necessary funds to begin construction. By early June, Crowther had completed his surveys, and had organized his new railroad company as the Continental Transportation company. (Salt Lake Herald Republican, June 3, 1906)

July 10, 1906
Henry M. Crowther was born in Chicago on May 27, 1873. He first came to Utah in 1897. His new railroad was called the Bingham Junction & Alta railroad. (Salt Lake Telegram, July 1, 1906, includes a photo of Crowther)

August 21, 1906
"A survey of Little Cottonwood canyon from Wasatch to Tannersville, says Henry Crowther in a statement to shippers of Alta, has revealed that the grade between those stations is such as to absolutely prohibit the operation of a railway, and as a substitute he advises them that he will take immediate steps to arrange the present Continental aerial tramway, that it may be used as a custom carrier, this to be accomplished within the next six weeks. The profile shows that for a stretch of four miles the grade between the points involved is approximately ten per cent." The steep grade meant that a railway was impractical and that a tramway was the only way to have cheap transportation for the movement of ore from the camp, and supplies to the camp. But since the needs of the Continental-Alta company did not justify such a tramway, Crowther asked the other shippers for their guarantee that they would use such an extension of his aerial tramway, as well as his projected line from Wasatch to Sandy. (Salt Lake Herald Republican, August 21, 1906)

September 7, 1906
After determining that neither a railroad nor extending his aerial tramway would economically serve the purpose of moving ore from Tanner's Flat down to Sandy, Henry Crowther proposed an cog railway, similar to what was used in the Alps, on Mount Washington in New Hampshire, and on the Pike's Peak railroad in Colorado. While these were all solely passenger operations, Crowther felt that ore could just as easily be handled, given the proper loading and unloading facilities. (Salt Lake Telegram, September 7, 1906)

January 21, 1907
"About two months ago, the Continental placed an order for 22,000 ties for use in the Alta railroad line." (Salt Lake Tribune, January 21, 1907, including notes about the merger of Continental and Unity Mines)

Throughout 1907, there is little mention in online newspapers of Crowther and his projected tramway and railroad between Alta and Sandy. In December 1906, a news item shows that Crowther had left to go to New York City, likely to consult with the owners of the Continental mining company. In January 1907 Crowther was replaced as president of Continental Alta, becoming vice president and general manager. At the same time, news reached Salt Lake City that the Continental mining company was to be merged with Unity Mines of Arizona. Also in January 1907, his wife divorced him on the grounds of desertion.

March 30, 1907
"After figuring for many years the management of the Columbus Con. believes it has found the answer to the ore transportation problem. The extension of the Continental tramway to Wasatch and a railway from Wasatch to the Rio Grande at Sandy form a part of the solution and the rest is the capital to make these improvements. The backing is promised by the Unity Mines Co., which now owns the Continental-Alta. The Columbus will pay toll at the rate of $1 per ton. This will be cheaper than teaming, but the great benefit of the arrangement will be the lengthening of the ore shipping season. Teams are useless for fully half the year while the tram and railway will be in service practically the year around." (Goodwin's Weekly, March 30, 1907)

April 10, 1907
"It is thought that before leaving for New York, Mr. Robinson, of the Unity Mines corporation, had an understanding with the Rio Grande officials, by which the road will build a branch from Sandy to Wasatch as quickly as the mines are ready by means of the [aerial] tramway to send out sufficient ore to justify the extension of the line." "The Unity organization is now working upon the [aerial] tramway, having a force of men employed upon the upper portion of the same. Alta citizens state that the line there is a complete wreck, snow slides having destroyed towers, cables and nearly everything else that was destructible, while the buckets in numerous instances are reposing in trees. It will mean an entirely new plant, from Tanners to Alta, but the company is ready and willing to undertake the task." (Salt Lake Tribune, April 10, 1907)

(The aerial tramway was back in service by June 1907, hauling 70 tons per day, some of which was sent to the concentrating mill at Tanner's Flat.)

August 30, 1907
"What has been known for years as the Continental-Alta Mines has lately been incorporated as the Unity Mines company, at the head of which are Harry Lee and Henry M. Crowther, of Salt Lake. The company's holdings now consist of the old Continental mines, adjoining the City Rocks on the north, the aerial tram operating for four and one-half miles down canyon, and the small mill at Tanner's Flat. The domain of the company includes over 500 acres of excellent ground, on which a vast amount of work has been done. At the present time the company is confining itself to the operation of its tramway, preparatory to extensive development work at the mines. The equipment of this tram was furnished by A. Leschen & Sons Rope company of St. Louis, and is of the standard type. The Columbus Consolidated and City Rocks are now hauling their ores by contract over this tram, and are keeping it in constant operation. It is rumored, that a new tram will be constructed all the way to Sandy and will be built along the center of the canyon to avoid the disastrous results of snowslides." (Salt Lake Mining Review, August 30, 1907)

Henry Crowther was replaced as manager of the Unity Mines property, and left the state in August 1907 after remarrying. He and his new wife traveled extensively until their return to Salt Lake City in April 1908. In March 1909, Henry Crowther was leasing the upper workings of the old Ontario mine, and by 1913 he was also leasing the old Ontario mill, under the name of his Crowther Leasing company.

August 30, 1907
Article about Alta, past, present and future, with photographs. (Salt Lake Mining Review, August 30, 1907) (About 500-600 tons were being moved over the Unity Mines aerial tramway per month, or about 16 to 20 tons per day, not nearly enough to support the operation of a railroad)

1908
D&RGW leased the "Alta Branch" between Sandy and Wasatch to J. G. Jacobs in 1908. By May 1911, the rails were still in place to Wasatch, and the portion between Midvale and "Sand Pit" (four miles) was in service. The distance from Sand Pit to Wasatch was six miles, making the lease for a total of ten miles. The original lease was not to be executed until traffic was sufficient to justify rehabilitation and operation of the line. (Salt Lake Tribune, May 5, 1911)

On August 26, 1909, the mining properties of the Unity Mines Corporation, which never filed its organization in Utah, were sold at a Sheriff's sale in Salt Lake City. The suit was against the Continental Mines & Smelting company. There is no mention in the property listings of the aerial tramway or the mill at Tanner's Flat, or of the plans to extend the railroad from Wasatch to Tanner's Flat, or to extend the aerial tramway in the opposite direction. As late as March 1910, the ownership of the Little Cottonwood mining claims of the former Continental Alta, and their lease to Unity Mines (a New York company that never filed in Utah) was still unsettled. (Deseret Evening News, August 18, 1909; Salt Lake Herald Republican, March 16, 1910)

October 24, 1910
A company called Alta & Jordan Valley Railroad was incorporated on October 24, 1910 to build 16 miles of railway between Sandy and Alta. No further activity is known to have taken place. (Utah Corporation Index 8633)

May 1911
"Wasatch Railroad - Under this name a company will ask for incorporation in Utah to build about six miles of line from Sand Pit, Utah, to Wasatch. J. G. Jacobs is said to be back of the project." (Evening Dispatch [Provo], May 29, 1911)

New ore bins were to be built at Wasatch, near the resort there, to load ore from the mines at Alta, making the wagon-haul much shorter. Several mines at Alta were in the hands of Eastern investors after a recent "gigantic merger." There was 200 to 300 tons of sand being shipped from Sand Pit every day. At Sandy, the new railroad would connect with D&RG, with Oregon Short Line, and with the suburban cars of Utah Light & Railway. These connections will allow increased passenger business to the resort at Wasatch, which planned on adding new cottages to accommodate the increased business. (Salt Lake Tribune, May 5, 1911)

Plans were put in place for the construction of a depot and a roundhouse at Wasatch, at a cost of $4,000. (Salt Lake Tribune, May 13, 1911)

December 20, 1911
Michigan-Utah Consolidated mining company was organized on December 20, 1911, by the merger of the Utah Mines Coalition, City Rocks, Grizzly, and Copper Prince groups. Duncan McVichie was the majority shareholder. (Salt Lake Herald Republican, December 21, 1911, "yesterday")

The Grizzly group had formerly been part of the Continental-Alta group, which went through its own bankruptcy in August 1909. Other properties included the Cleave Tunnel, Topeka Tunnel, City Rocks Tunnel, Butte Mine, Black Bess Mine, Solitude Tunnel, Utah Mines Coalition, Lavina, Darlington, Regulator, all which had been under the Continental-Alta group. The Michigan part of the Michigan-Utah name comes from a group of heavy investors living in Houghton, Michigan.

June 8, 1912
"The most extensive operations in recent years in the old district of Alta are in prospect, the newly organized Michigan-Utah Consolidated company being the active factor. The company includes the Utah Mines Coalition, City Rocks, and other properties, and is well financed. One of its plans is to utilize the old Continental-Alta tramway to a connection with a branch of the Rio Grande railroad in order to maintain shipments all winter. The camp is usually snowbound during the winter months, but the overhead tram will overcome this difficulty." (Mining and Scientific Press, June 8, 1912)

July 24, 1912
It was reported that D&RG would build a branch up Little Cottonwood Canyon to the Alta mining camp. The reason given was to transport ore from the Alta mines, and transport granite for the new building at the University of Utah, and for the new state capitol building. There was at present a spur between Midvale and the gravel pits, about 1-1/2 miles, and the new line would require the construction of another 6-1/2 miles to Wasatch, and another two miles beyond that point. The terminus of the new road would be at Tanners Flat, at the lower terminal of the aerial tramway between Alta and Tanners Flat. (Salt Lake Tribune, July 24, 1912; Salt Lake Herald Republican, July 27, 1912)

September 25, 1912
The Alta aerial tramway of the Michigan-Utah Consolidated mining company was completed and in operation, but not yet hauling ore due to a strike by miners at Alta. The upper terminal was at the City Rocks tunnel. The lower terminal was at Tanner's Flat, with the tramway being 4-1/2 miles in length. (Salt Lake Herald Republican, September 25, 1912)

(Construction began on June 24, 1912. Subsequent newspaper reports stated that the tramway was new, and not the previous Continental-Alta's tramway rebuilt. To prevent trouble from snow slides, the new tramway was built with snowsheds where needed, and longer suspensions between supporting towers were installed at the known areas where snow slides happened regularly. -- Salt Lake Tribune, June 23, 1912; Salt Lake Telegram, October 30, 1912)

May 11, 1913
"This week Michigan-Utah Mining company sent down eighty tons of ore in one day over the tramway which connects the property at Alta with Tanners Flat. This is probably the heaviest tramming done since the line was reconstructed last fall. One of the cars came from leasers, and the other from company operations. the ore is said to have sampled about the average of $30 to $35 a ton." (Salt Lake Herald Republican, May 11, 1913)

May 30, 1915
The Michigan-Utah has a force of men at work reconstructing the headhouse and repairing the aerial tramway, which extends from the mine to Tanners Flat, fur and one half miles, and it will be in operation in a few days. It is the intention of the company as soon as it is finished to extend the tramway to Wasatch, nearly three miles further down the canyon, to connect with the Salt Lake & Alta railroad. When completed to Wasatch the tramway will be of sufficient capacity to handle all the ores of the Alta district if the different mining companies of the district elect to avail themselves of this cheaper means of transportation." (Salt Lake Telegram, May 30, 1915)

Sandy To Wasatch, 1913

1913
D&RG leased its Wasatch Branch between Sandy and Wasatch to Salt Lake & Alta Railroad, which agreed to reconstruct and operate the branch. (LeMassena, p. 125)

March 14, 1913
The construction of a new railroad line from Midvale to Wasatch had been started. The new railroad was being built by J. G. Jacobs, and would be completed by May 15th. (Salt Lake Herald Republican, March 14, 1913)

(Read more about the Salt Lake & Alta Railroad; the portion between Sandy and Wasatch)

Wasatch To Tanner's Flat, 1915

September 15, 1915
"Railroad To Alta", article about proposed railroad to Alta. Walter K. Yorston, general contractor, issued a prospectus for "Cottonwood Transportation Company". To build a 24-inch gauge railroad between Wasatch and Alta for the purpose of hauling ore. The company had secured a lease and a bond to the right of way of the former horse tramway. The average grade to Alta was 7-1/2 per cent. Estimated cost of the new line was $55,00.00. (Salt Lake Mining Review, September 15, 1915)

September 24, 1915
A company was organized on September 24, 1915 to build from Wasatch to Alta. Called the Alta-Cottonwood Transportation Company, the company's stated purpose was to construct a railroad from Wasatch, Utah, on the Salt Lake & Alta Railroad in Little Cottonwood Canyon, to a station called Alta Junction, a distance of about nine miles. This company was organized by Walter Yorston, who would later be the construction engineer for the Little Cottonwood company organized less than a year later. (Utah Corporation Index 11388)

September 30, 1915
News item about the "Alta-Cottonwood Railroad" being incorporated. (Salt Lake Mining Review, September 30, 1915, page 25)

(Construction appears to have begun in 1915, but the majority was done in 1916 and 1917.)

(Read more about the Little Cottonwood Transportation Co.; the portion between Wasatch and Alta.)

Map

Little Cottonwood Canyon Railroads -- A Google map of the railroads in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

More Information

Alta Mines -- Information about the mining activity at Alta.

Wasatch & Jordan Valley Railroad/D&RGW (1873-1895)

Clarence Reeder's research for the Wasatch & Jordan Valley Railway

Granite For The Temple

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