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The Bamberger Railroad got its start 1891 as the Great Salt Lake & Hot Springs Railway, building northward from the west side of Salt Lake City, near the Union Pacific depot. The railroad was owned (mostly) by Simon Bamberger, using financial resources from his interests in coal and metal mines. The company completed its line to Becks Hot Springs later in 1891, and continued on to Bountiful in less than a year. Centerville was reached in 1894, and Farmington in 1895. To provide a destination for travelers while the company was recovering financially, Bamberger purchased a swampy area just north of Farmington, drained it and built the Lagoon Resort, for residents of Salt Lake City who sought recreation outside of the city. (Lagoon remains today as one of the largest resort parks in the West.)
Within a year of the completion of the line to Farmington in 1895, Bamberger expanded his vision with plans to extend his Great Salt Lake & Hot Springs line to serve Ogden. Bamberger wanted to provide service for the local business traveler, providing more frequent service than either Union Pacific or Rio Grande, which did not offer conveniently timed passenger service between Ogden and Salt Lake City.
The company was reorganized in October 1896 as the Salt Lake & Ogden Railway. The end of track remained at Lagoon from 1896 through 1902, when construction resumed, with Kaysville as the goal. Kaysville and Layton were reached in 1906, Kaysville on May 30 and Layton on September 4. Construction crews finished the line to Ogden in late July 1908, with passenger service between Salt Lake City and Ogden beginning on August 8, 1908. The depot was located at 31st Street and Lincoln Avenue.
Although the Salt Lake & Ogden Railway was powered by large steam locomotives, it was still known as "the Dummy Line" because of its 1890s start with dummy streetcars, small steam locomotives that were built with bodies that resembled regular electric streetcars. As service was expanded to points north, and to Ogden, the company purchased larger steam locomotives and larger cars with capacity to move the increased freight and passenger traffic.
With the completion of the line in 1908, Bamberger began giving thought to joining the wave of interurban railroads (railroads that inter-connect large urban areas) that were modernizing their lines by electrifying them, using electric power to replace steam locomotives. The Salt Lake & Ogden Railway seemingly had all the requirements for a profitable interurban railroad: large cities at either end of the line (with large central city terminals) to provide both passengers and freight; a prosperous rural countryside between to supply more of both; and a well-engineered route that would allow operation of high-speed, electric interurban trains. In 1910, the electrification was completed by stringing overhead trolley wire and purchasing new equipment, along with constructing electrical substations along the line. Since Bamberger also owned several coal mines, it seemed proper to also construct a coal-fired power plant, and one was built at Farmington to furnish all of the electricity needed for the railroad. The first day of electric operation was May 28, 1910.
Throughout its early years, the Salt Lake & Ogden Railway was known as "the Bamberger." In August 1917, the name was changed officially to the Bamberger Electric Railroad, accepting the road's nickname. Also in 1917, Simon Bamberger was elected governor as the Progressive Party candidate.
Most of the freight traffic was to and from local businesses along the line between Salt Lake City and Ogden, with Bamberger interchanging traffic with the larger interstate companies at either end of the line. During the 1920s, publically-funded highways slowly expanded, providing trucking companies access to these same local businesses. Bamberger, with its privately owned right of way and tracks, was forced to compete with trucking companies for freight, and bus companies for passengers, all of which used the public highways.
Due to declining business, Bamberger Electric Railroad declared bankruptcy in 1933, emerging in 1939 as the reorganized Bamberger Railroad, dropping the word "Electric" from its name. During the 1939 reorganization, Bamberger owned 84 freight cars, four freight locomotives, 29 passenger cars, two express cars, a line work car, and two highway buses. To better compete for the local passengers, in March 1939 the company purchased five high-speed, streamlined cars that were capable of 75 miles per hour.
Like so many other railroads and businesses in the nation, Bamberger's bottom line benefitted by the movement of freight and passengers during World War II, but its fortunes went into decline after the war. By the very early 1950s, the company was again struggling to keep red ink away from its account books. After the war, Bamberger had increased its efforts to convert its passenger business from rail cars to buses. By mid 1952, with new buses traveling daily between Salt Lake City and Ogden, regulators allowed the company to end the operation of its passenger trains. The last day was September 6, 1952.
Bamberger Railroad continued as a freight-only company until all operations came to an end on December 31, 1958. Remnants of the line are evident today in many of the towns it served, with the spur between Ogden and Hill Air Force Base, purchased by Union Pacific, remaining as the only part still seeing regular rail operations.
From The History of Weber County, by Richard C. Roberts & Richard W. Sadler:
The Bamberger Electric Railway was built under the leadership of Simon Bamberger, pioneer Utah coal-mine operator and railroad entrepreneur. Bamberger projected the Ogden-Salt Lake City line as a steam line as early as 1891; and in 1908 Ogden was connected to Salt Lake City on what was known as the Bamberger. The line was electrified on May 28, 1910 and renamed the Bamberger Electric Railway. The business of the line included commuter and shopper travel between Ogden and Salt Lake City as well as heavy summer traffic to Lagoon resort. Bamberger had developed Lagoon at Farmington to compete with the Denver and Rio Grande's resort, Lake Park, on the shore of the Great Salt Lake. In 1908 the Bamberger had five daily trains running both directions. The Ogden depot of the Bamberger was located on Lincoln Avenue just north of 24th Street. On May 7, 1918 the Ogden station, car barn, and some of the passenger equipment were destroyed by fire. Replacement equipment was difficult to obtain until the end of World War I. The advantage the Bamberger had over the Union Pacific line from Ogden to Salt Lake City was that it made stops at most of the small towns on the way, while the UP trains did not normally stop between Ogden and Salt Lake City. In 1914 the electrified Utah-Idaho Central was established, connecting Ogden with Preston, Idaho. A branch line of this road was extended to Plain City.
From The Electric Interurban Railways in America, by George W. Hilton and John F. Due:
The Bamberger was originally almost entirely double track, but the railroad removed most of its second track when it adopted automatic block signals in the late thirties. About ninety percent of America's other interurban lines were built and operated as single track systems. Notable exceptions with double track were the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee and the Rochester, Syracuse and Eastern; the Pacific Electric is also notable because that system had substantial amounts of route with four parallel tracks. Some systems, such as the Indianapolis and Cincinnati, and the Union Traction, constructed rights-of-way suitable for double track, but only laid single track on one side of these grades. (Hilton p.49)
From Pacific RailNews January 1988 article about interurban speeds in the west, comparing them to BART's then-current speeds:
Based on employee timetables (rounding off the figures in the railroad's favor) there is little doubt that the fastest interurban in the west -- and one of the fastest in the U.S. -- consistently was the Bamberger Railroad between Salt Lake City and Ogden, Utah. Its "Flyers" (two round trips a day) made the 36.25 mile run in exactly one hour, with the average speed thus being 36.25 mph, on a schedule that allowed six intermediate flags tops for passengers. Bamberger's limited trains averaged just above 30 mph, locals about 27-28 mph.
What is remarkable about this performance is that the Bamberger achieved the "Flyer" speed on a mainline with considerable single track that was crowded with freight and passenger trains. The Bamberger ran both speedy lightweight "Bullet" cars (acquired in 1939 from the Fonda, Johnstown and Gloversville) and heavy old interurban cars. (Business was so good during World War II the lightweights built in 1932 had to be removed from some of the "Flyer" schedules because of their limited seating capacity, and old cars were speeded up for the schedules).
Bamberger's top average speed is almost identical to the Oregon Electric's 36.8 mph average on the 121 mile Portland-Eugene line in 1932, shortly before the line was abandoned.
From Electric Railway Journal, January 1914:
ELECTRIC RAILWAY DEVELOPMENTS IN UTAH -- "...the Salt Lake and Ogden Railway (Bamberger line) has purchased during the past year eight new electric motor cars, one 40-ton electric locomotive and fifty box, brick and flat cars, and has built in its own shops one high-speed emergency line car and one caboose. Other improvements include large expenditures to secure better power supply. The company has also announced its intention of building car houses at Ogden large enough to hold all equipment of the system." (Electric Railway Journal, Volume 43, number 5, January 31, 1914, p.240)
Great Salt Lake & Hot Springs Railway (1891-1896)
November 22, 1890
Great Salt Lake & Hot Springs Railway was organized with a proposed route from a point at or near the Union Pacific Railway depot in Salt Lake City, then through Salt Lake and Davis Counties to a point at or near Farmington. Also from a point on said railroad line westward through Kinney's and Gorley's Improved City Plat of Salt Lake City to some point at or near the Jordan River, a total length of about 20 miles.
April 23, 1891
Yesterday, the Great Salt Lake & Hot Springs received some of its new equipment, in the form of three closed and two open cars. (Salt Lake Daily Herald, April 23, 1891)
May 16, 1891
The Great Salt Lake & Hot Springs road will begin laying track from both ends on Monday the 18th, says the paper. (Salt Lake Tribune, May 16, 1891)
July 10, 1891
"Word was had yesterday from the motor for the Salt Lake & Hot Springs Railroad. It has been on the road from the factory some three weeks. St. Louis telegraphed that it was coming and Pueblo wired that it would be here in three days. This encourages the officers of the road to the belief that they will have trains running by the middle of next week, at farthest." (Salt Lake Tribune, July 10, 1891)
July 15, 1891
"The first motor for the Salt Lake and Hot Springs road arrived and was unloaded yesterday. After a trial trip over the road the City Council and newspaper men will be invited to take a ride over the road and inspect it. The date has not been decided for this." (Salt Lake Tribune, July 15, 1891)
July 18, 1891
"One motor of the Hot Springs road has come and was tried yesterday. A special trial trip will be given this next week..." (Salt Lake Tribune, July 18, 1891)
July 19, 1891
"The Salt Lake & Hot Springs Railway Company begins business today by running each hour, commencing at 8 o'clock and continuing up to 8 this evening, between the Union Pacific depot and Beck's Hot Springs. The real opening of the road has been set for next Thursday, when invited guests will be treated to a ride and banquet." (Salt Lake Tribune, July 19, 1891)
July 24, 1891
Official opening of the Great Salt Lake & Hot Springs last evening, 23rd, with three trains of 'invited guests' going up to the Hot Springs. The 'motor' is "...one of the very best manufactured by the Baldwin works..." and has Westinghouse air brakes. "At present the road has the one motor here and another which will soon arrive. There are five cars here." Trains using U. P. depot for the present; road is 3-1/2 miles long, using 30 pound and 40 pound steel. (Salt Lake Tribune, July 24, 1891)
August 29, 1891
"Local" "The new motor car for the Hot Springs railway will arrive in about ten days." (Salt Lake Daily Herald, August 29, 1891)
September 11, 1891
"The second motor of the Hot Springs Railway has come and is in operation. The company have bought 160 feet square north of the Union Pacific Hotel, where they propose to erect shops and a station." (Salt Lake Tribune, 11 September 1891)
16 October 1891
"Cars for the Hot Springs Railway." "Mr. Simon Bamberger has given orders for the construction of thirty cars for the use of the Hot Springs railway, of which four will be for passenger service and the remainder for the freight traffic." (Salt Lake Daily Herald, October 16, 1891)
October 17, 1891
The Great Salt Lake & Hot Springs road is building a wye at Third West and South Temple. (Salt Lake Daily Herald, October 17, 1891)
November 13, 1891
At the RGW auction of narrow gauge rail and equipment, "The Hot Springs road is expected to take the 785 tons of forty pounds steel, and it will give them good service. Someone wishing to create trouble, asked if Agent Riley had secured an auctioneer's license from the city to sell off those goods. If he didn't, the police would be shortly in hot pursuit of the violator of the law. Mr. Babcock is supposed to have bought the cars for the Rio Grande Southern." (Salt Lake Tribune, November 13, 1891)
December 8, 1891
Tracklaying begins today on the extension of the Great Salt Lake & Hot Springs to Bountiful. (Salt Lake Tribune, December 8, 1891)
December 10, 1891
Grade to Bountiful completed yesterday, and tracklaying is progressing. (Salt Lake Tribune, December 10, 1891)
January 1, 1892
Great Salt Lake & Hot Springs Railway bought the 'Trinidad' of the RGW towards the end of the year, and it is now being put on a set of standard gauge trucks at the RGW shops. (Salt Lake Tribune, January 1, 1892)
January 3, 1892
Incorporation papers filed yesterday for a 'Salt Lake & Ogden' company. (Salt Lake Tribune, January 3, 1892)
January 7, 1892
The Great Salt Lake & Hot Springs track was to have reached Bountiful last night. (Salt Lake Tribune, January 7, 1892)
January 16, 1892
Great Salt Lake & Hot Springs starts running regular trains to Bountiful this morning, Saturday; through trains every two hours starting at 7:00am. (Salt Lake Tribune, January 16, 1892)
February 6, 1892
The Great Salt Lake & Hot Springs is building a neat depot and a large platform at Bountiful. (Salt Lake Tribune, February 6, 1892)
March 24, 1892
"A monster 100-ton engine, with seven and a half feet drivers, has arrived at the R.G.W. yards for the Great Salt Lake & Hot Springs Railway, and it is said the monster will haul the limited express at the rate of a mile per minute between this city and Centerville corners. Persons disposed to make fun say that the engine is a peewee, weighing only five tons; but then, some people do not know a big thing when they see it." (Salt Lake Tribune, March 24, 1892)
March 24, 1892
It would appear that the GSL&HS has gotten another engine, and it is not a very large affair. (Salt Lake Tribune, March 24, 1892)
January 1, 1893
"The Hot Springs Railway company has taken charge of Beck's bathing resort. They propose to keep everything in first class shape and run trains every half hour." (Salt Lake Daily Herald, January 1, 1893)
January 20, 1893
The recently elected directors of the Great Salt Lake & Hot Springs Railway met yesterday and elected the following officers: President, James F. Woodman; Vice-president, 0. J. Salisbury; General Manager, Simon Bamberger; Treasurer, Frank Knox; and Secretary, C. E. Pearson. (Salt Lake Daily Herald, January 20, 1893)
January 22, 1893
"Relief at Hand!" a long article on the plans of the G. S. L. & H. S., most of which center on its intentions to build to Coalville and bust up the U. P. coal monopoly in Salt Lake City! But this item has a useful paragraph, entitled "History of the Hot Springs Road." "Several years ago John Beck, to secure quick access to the Hot Springs, built the road to that resort, with no thought of its being converted into a coal road. Later on Simon Bamberger became the manager and received overtures from the farmers and brick men at Bountiful to extend the road to that thriving settlement. Next there came requests for its continuation to Kaysville." (Salt Lake Daily Herald, January 22, 1893)
April 1, 1893
"A Hot Springs Locomotive." "The Great Salt Lake & Hot Springs road has added a thirty-five ton Porter locomotive to its equipment. The engine, which has been in use before, was converted from a narrow to a broad gauge and thoroughly overhauled, the work being done in the company's shops in this city. .It will be used in the freight service, the business of the little road having grown to such proportions that something heavier than the motors is required, about twelve carloads of brick are being hauled daily." (Salt Lake Daily Herald, April 1, 1893)
November 26, 1894
Great Salt Lake & Hot Springs seized by sheriff under court order on judgments totaling $63,702.08, and will likely be sold in about three weeks. The road has, as equipment, two 'normal' locomotives, two 'dummy' engines, 16 flat cars, one superintendent's car (Trinidad, from RGW), three passenger cars and eight excursion cars. (Salt Lake Tribune, November 26, 1894)
January 1, 1895
Great Salt Lake & Hot Springs -- has 14 miles of railroad, three of which were built in 1894. (Salt Lake Tribune, January 1, 1895)
March 10, 1895
Great Salt Lake & Hot Springs Railway had been completed to Centerville, and "Tomorrow morning dirt will fly on the extension of the [railway] from Centerville to Farmington, a distance of four miles." (Salt Lake Herald, March 10, 1895)
March 12, 1895
"The work for the grading of the extension of the Great Salt Lake and Hot Springs road from Centerville to Farmington commenced yesterday." (Salt Lake Herald, March 13, 1895, "yesterday")
April 30, 1895
Great Salt Lake and Hot Springs Railway "is expected to be at Farmington by the end of this week." (Salt Lake Herald, April 30, 1895)
May 23, 1895
"The Great Salt Lake and Hot Springs extension to Farmington will be opened tomorrow, and on the 24th the children of Davis county will be given an outing at Lake Park." (Salt Lake Herald, May 22, 1895)
September 20, 1895
Bamberger has just returned from a trip to the East -- he bought six closed coaches for his Great Salt Lake & Hot Springs in Kansas City, which are to be here and in service by conference time. (Salt Lake Tribune, September 20, 1895)
January 28, 1896
The buildings and such at Lake Park, now defunct, are to be removed to Bamberger's new resort, and a short extension of the Great Salt Lake & Hot Springs railroad will be built to it. (Salt Lake Daily Herald, January 28, 1896)
Bamberger opened his new Lagoon resort.
The end of track remained at Lagoon from 1896 through 1902, when construction resumed, with Kaysville as the goal. (Swett, Interurbans of Utah, p. 9)
October 27, 1896
The Great Salt Lake & Hot Springs Railway was sold yesterday, in foreclosure proceedings, to Salt Lake & Ogden Railroad, for $70,000.00. (Salt Lake Tribune, October 27, 1896)
Salt Lake & Ogden Railway (1896-1917)
March 14, 1896
Salt Lake & Ogden Railway was organized on March 14, 1896. The company changed its name to Bamberger Electric Railroad on August 14, 1917.
May 26, 1897
The Salt Lake & Ogden will soon receive five coaches from Kansas City, which will bring to 20 the number of coaches on the road (Salt Lake Daily Herald, May 26, 1897)
June 5, 1897
"The Salt Lake & Ogden has received its new equipment and is in good shape to handle passenger traffic." (Salt Lake Tribune, June 5, 1897)
June 11, 1897
"Several excursion cars have been received at the Rio Grande yards for the Salt Lake & Ogden." (Salt Lake Tribune, June 11, 1897)
March 8, 1898
SL&O to paint its cars an orange color, C & O standard. (Salt Lake Tribune, March 8, 1898)
March 21, 1898
"A train of flat cars pulled into the Salt Lake & Ogden depot Friday and at first it was thought that a wreck had occurred, for the cars were loaded with bodies of coaches and passenger trucks, as well as small engines. It was the train from the East, however, loaded with the recently acquired equipment for the road." (Salt Lake Tribune, March 21, 1898)
April 12, 1898
"The Salt Lake & Ogden management has decided to abandon yellow as the standard color for its cars. The old cars, with the new equipment, will be painted a cherry color throughout with gilt lettering." (Salt Lake Tribune, April 12, 1898)
November 8, 1898
"Simon Bamberger Returns" from the East, where he has been on business of the Salt Lake & Ogden; 10 cars and 2 engines have been arranged for, and will be here when needed. (Salt Lake Tribune, November 8, 1898)
January 1, 1899
Review of 1898: On the Salt Lake & Ogden, "new engines and cars have been ordered,..." (Salt Lake Tribune, January 1, 1899)
April 2, 1899
"The Salt Lake & Ogden will order two more locomotives shortly." (Salt Lake Tribune, April 2, 1899)
April 8, 1899
"The Salt Lake & Ogden has just received two fine thirty-eight ton locomotives for use on its line." (Salt Lake Tribune, April 8, 1899)
April 9, 1899
"Engines 17 and 19, the new ones for the Lagoon route, are very handsome and serviceable." These are later referred to as 50-ton locos. (Salt Lake Tribune, April 9, 1899)
April 14, 1899
The Salt Lake & Ogden contracted yesterday for 5,000 ties, to be used in the existing road, "Owing to the fact that the two engines just received are fifty-ton locomotives, it is necessary to improve the track..." "The new engines will be able to make fast time with a train of from ten to seventeen cars,..." (Salt Lake Tribune, April 14, 1899)
August 16, 1899
Bamberger says that the SL&O will build 2-1/2 miles this fall. (Salt Lake Tribune, August 16, 1899)
September 12, 1899
One James H. Kirk has been appointed Superintendent of the Salt Lake & Ogden, in addition to his current duties as Master Mechanic. (Salt Lake Tribune, September 12, 1899)
December 31, 1899
"The Salt Lake & Ogden bought two Baldwin locomotives." The SL&O is reported as having nine locomotives and 72 cars. (Salt Lake Tribune, December 31, 1899)
March 2, 1900
"The Salt Lake & Ogden has bought two box cars from the Oregon Short Line." (Salt Lake Tribune, March 2, 1900)
March 23, 1900
"J. E. Jennings yesterday transferred to S. Bamberger for $2,000.00 the lot on Third West street, now occupied by the shops of the Salt Lake & Ogden. This property is that on which Mr. Bamberger recently instituted condemnation proceedings." (Salt Lake Tribune, March 23, 1900)
December 30, 1900
Review of 1900: SL&O still at nine locomotives. (Salt Lake Tribune, December 30, 1900)
October 5, 1901
The Salt Lake & Ogden has bought a 20-ton switch engine. (Salt Lake Tribune, October 5, 1901)
Kaysville and Layton were reached in 1906, Kaysville on May 30 and Layton on September 4. (Kaysville-Layton Historical Society. A History of the Bamberger Railroad, p. 3)
April 21, 1908
Union Pacific and Salt Lake & Ogden Railroad were involved in a court suit to allow SL&O to build across Union Pacific and Oregon Short Line tracks at Ogden. A previous agreement had provided that SL&O would build an overhead crossing to gain access to its planned tracks and depot in Ogden, but delays were being encountered. In the interim, SL&O wanted to build an at-grade crossing, at the foot of Thirty-Third Street, which Union Pacific disagreed with. In response, Union Pacific had arranged for several derailed and dismantled coal cars, loaded with scrap steel, to be placed at the point of the planned crossing, effectively blocking the SL&O construction crews from doing any work on the crossing without the use of heavy derricks to move the derailed cars. Work on the Salt Lake & Ogden had progressed to the crossing of the Weber River, and much of the cut and fill earth work west of the Union Pacific crossing had been completed. A temporary wooden bridge was in place over the river, to be replaced by a permanent steel bridge to be completed within three weeks. Arrangements had already been made for special excursions to be made between Ogden and Lagoon on Memorial Day, and special excursions between Ogden and points in Ogden Canyon on June 7. (Deseret News, April 21, 1908)
July 22, 1908
"The Union Pacific Railroad Company is installing a nine-lever mechanical interlocking plant at the crossing of the Salt Lake and Ogden Railway and Union Pacific Railroad, one mile east of Ogden. The plant will be placed in service July 22d, on which date the Salt Lake and Ogden Railway commences running trains over the crossing." (The Signal Engineer magazine, July 1908, page 45, Google Books)
The plans for serving the Coalville coal mines were soon dropped due to a business slump in 1907, but SL&O construction crews finished the line to Ogden in late July 1908, with passenger service between Salt Lake City and Ogden beginning on August 8, 1908. The depot was located at 31st Street and Lincoln Avenue. (Swett, Interurbans of Utah, p. 9)
Although the Salt Lake & Ogden Railway was powered by large steam locomotives, it was still known as "the Dummy Line" because of its 1890s start with dummy streetcars, small steam locomotives that were built with bodies that resembled regular electric streetcars. (Kaysville-Layton Historical Society. A History of the Bamberger Railroad, p. 2)
August 4, 1908
Salt Lake & Ogden Railroad opened for traffic to Ogden "this morning" with the operation of several special trains arranged by the Ogden Press Club. The trains were operated between Ogden and the Lagoon resort in Farmington, with projections of 2,500 people taking advantage of the service. (Deseret News, August 4, 1908)
March 4, 1909
"We are all ready to begin the work of electrifying the Salt Lake & Ogden railroad." said Senator Simon Bamberger, the president of that railroad. Sidney Bamberger, superintendent of the SL&O, had just returned from California after hiring an electrical engineer to oversee the project. While in California, he had also visited several electric railroads to inspect and observe their operation. These included the Pacific Electric, the Los Angeles Pacific, and Los Angeles interurban lines in Los Angeles, and the Key Route at San Francisco, and the Northern Electric at Sacramento. Blueprints, plans and specifications for the electrification of the line had been received and everything was ready to begin work. (Deseret News, March 4, 1909)
April 17, 1910
Ten new parlor cars arrived from the East by way of the Denver & Rio Grande road. The new cars were being held until the start of the electrified operation on May 1st. (Salt Lake Tribune, April 18, 1910)
May 14, 1910
"The electric current will be turned into the wires of the Lagoon road Saturday." (Salt Lake Tribune, May 14, 1910, "Railroad Notes"; "Saturday" was May 14)
Salt Lake & Ogden completed the conversion of its lines from steam-powered trains, to electrified trains.
In 1910, the electrification was completed by stringing overhead trolley wire and purchasing new equipment, along with constructing electrical substations along the line. Since Bamberger also owned several coal mines, it seemed proper to also construct a coal-fired power plant, and one was built at Farmington to furnish all of the needed current for the railroad. The first day of electric operation was May 28, 1910. (Street Railway Journal, Volume 37, no. 16 April 22, 1911, pp. 700-707, includes article, plans, and photos of Salt Lake & Ogden electrification)
SL&O's first electrically powered cars came from the Jewett Car Co. of Newark, Ohio. Later in 1910, Bamberger purchased three trailers secondhand from Washington, Baltimore & Annapolis, which had recently upgraded its system and no longer needed the unpowered cars. (Hilton, p. 60-61)
Other trailer cars were purchased from the Niles Co. The electric cars were modern and fast. Bamberger adopted the slogan, "Every Hour, On The Hour, In An Hour," reflecting the high speeds which the cars were capable of. ("Abandonment Report: Bamberger Railroad", Short Line Railroader, p. 4)
When electrification was completed, there were 10 trains running in each direction every day, all of which stopped at every station between Ogden and Salt Lake City.
Bamberger Electric Railroad (1917-1939)
September 20, 1920
Bamberger received Utah PSC approval to construct a single track spur along the west side of 4th West, between Beck Street and 10th North, to connect its railroad with that of the Utah Light and Traction Company on 4th West. (Utah Public Service Commission case number 133)
Bamberger received Utah PSC approval to operate less-than-carload (LCL) truck service between Salt Lake City and Ogden. (Utah Public Service Commission case number 944)
August 24, 1932
Bamberger received Utah PSC approval to relocate tracks near Glovers Lane to accommodate construction of the new state highway between Bountiful and Farmington (Project No. FAP 112-A). (Utah Public Service Commission case number 1283)
March 2, 1934
Utah State Road Commission received Utah PSC approval to construct a concrete subway for U. S. Highway 91 under the Bamberger Railroad in south Bountiful (now the 200 West crossing of 500 West). The crossing was where the most intense highway traffic in the state, at five-thousand cars per day, crossed the most intense railroad traffic in the state, at thirty trains per day. Bamberger called the station "Parkins". (Utah Public Service Commission case number 1512)
September 7, 1934
Work started on a highway underpass under the Bamberger tracks in South Bountiful. The work was planned to take about four months to complete, with an overall cost of $83,000. (Davis County Clipper, September 14, 1934) A later story referred to the bridge as the "Parkin Underpass." (Davis County Clipper, October 12, 1934)
June 28, 1935
The opening of a new secondary highway between Salt Lake City and Ogden (U.S. Highway 91) included the formal completion of the highway underpass under the Bamberger tracks in South Bountiful. The highway was to be opened to the public "next Wednesday" (July 3, 1935). (Davis County Clipper, June 28, 1935) This was the opening of what today is 500 West in Bountiful, between the merge point with 200 West in the south and the I-15 on ramp at 1000 North at the north end. The highway originally continued northward, but was included as part of I-15 in the early 1970s.
May 6, 1936
The Utah Public Utilities Commission approved the construction of a highway underpass in North Farmington, allowing U. S. Highway 89 (known as the "Mountain Road") to pass under the Bamberger Railroad. Just to the south of the site was where U. S. 89 had its junction with U. S. 91, and the construction of the new underpass would include an modernized junction for the two highways. The location was known as Secrist Hill. (Davis County Clipper, May 8, 1936, "last Wednesday")
May 14, 1937
The highway underpass at North Farmington had been completed and stop signs installed for all directions of travel, where the Mountain Road left the new state highway. (Davis County Clipper, May 14, 1937)
Bamberger receivership, F. D. 12017, approved July 8, 1938. (ICC Finance Reports, Volume 228, p.267)
Bamberger Electric Railroad was sold to H. L. Balser, reorganization manager, on October 20. 1938. He then assigned and transferred all his rights to the Bamberger Railroad. The sale was ordered by the court on March 23, 1938.
Bamberger Railroad (1939-1959)
Bamberger Railroad acquisition of Bamberger Electric Railroad, F. D. 12356, approved June 7, 1939. (ICC Finance Reports, Volume 233, p.301)
Bamberger received Utah PSC approval to construct a spur to serve the new Ogden Arsenal. (Utah Public Service Commission case number 2440)
Utah State Road Commission received Utah PSC approval to construct underpass subways for State Highways 193 and 232 (the access roads to Hill Field) at Clearfield and Layton, under the tracks of the Bamberger Railroad. (Utah Public Service Commission case number 2470 and 2471)
May 2, 1945
Utah State Road Commission received Utah PSC approval to construct an underpass subway for the entrance road to Ogden Arsenal, at Sunset, under the Bamberger railroad. Federal Access Road Project No. DA-WR 156 (1). (Utah Public Service Commission case number 2832)
Bamberger to acquire SL&U tracks in Salt Lake City. F. D. 15449, approved 10/22/46. (ICC Finance Reports, Volume 267, p.806)
December 4, 1946
Salt Lake & Utah trackage in Salt Lake City along 200 West (First West; changed to Second West in 1972) was sold to Bamberger Railroad on December 4, 1946. The Bamberger trackage was sold to D&RGW on December 31, 1958. (D&RGW engineering drawing for former Bamberger line, South Temple to 13th South, Utah State Archives, Index H-232)
December 31, 1946
Bamberger Railroad and the Salt Lake Terminal Company receive Utah PSC approval to construct a spur at 100 South near 500 West. (Utah Public Service Commission case number 3071)
January 27, 1947
Bamberger received Utah PSC approval to construct a spur at 800 North and 400 West. (Utah Public Service Commission case number 3084)
April 22, 1947
Julian Bamberger purchased the Salt Lake Rail and Bus Terminal, approved by the federal ICC on April 22, 1947. At the same time, he became sole owner of the Bamberger Railroad. (ICC Financial Docket 15643 and 15644, ICC Finance Reports, Volume 267, p.826)
August 27, 1947
Bamberger received Utah PSC approval to close and remove the grade crossing at 1500 North in Salt Lake City. The railroad is operating thirty-eight passenger trains per day over the crossing, along with twenty freight and switching movements per day. (Utah Public Service Commission case number 3090)
March 11, 1952
A fire at Bamberger's North Salt Lake shops destroyed the building and machinery inside. The damage was officially set at $200,000. (Swett, Interurbans of Utah, Interurbans Special 55, page 13)
March 30, 1952
A new schedule went into effect. Nine northbound rail trips and eight southbound rail runs were removed from the schedule, leaving just three round trips daily and one of these ran on week days only. Added were seven round trips by buses daily. The reason given for this drastic curtailment of good service was that without the machinery that had burned in the fire 19 days before, it was impossible to keep the cars in good running condition. This was just an excuse, since there was another building at North Salt Lake Shops was equipped with the necessary equipment, plus a pit, being used to maintain the Bamberger electric locomotives. (Swett, Interurbans of Utah, Interurbans Special 55, page 13)
April 27, 1952
Bamberger put into effect a new schedule calling for four daily round trips plus an evening trip as far as Lagoon and back. (Swett, Interurbans of Utah, Interurbans Special 55, page 13)
July 10, 1952
After a June 1952 fire in its Ogden substation, the Bamberger company applied to end all rail passenger service. In the hearings that began on July 28th, the company testified that electric train losses totaled $29,876 in the first five months of 1952 while its bus operations lost only $9,112. Passenger service could show a profit, if switched to bus operation completely. Most of the freight operations were reported as being profitable because they were handled by diesels. (Swett, Interurbans of Utah, Interurbans Special 55, page 13)
Saturday, September 6, 1952
After the abnadonment was approved, cars 322 and 436 made the final interurban trip between Salt Lake City and Ogden. (Swett, Interurbans of Utah, Interurbans Special 55, page 13)
September 7, 1952
The Bamberger Railroad ceased operation by electric power and substituted diesel locomotives for all freight service. Under same date, buses owned by the Bamberger Transportation Company provided all of the company's passenger service. (Swett, Interurbans of Utah, Interurbans Special 55, page 13)
August 1, 1953
The Bamberger Railroad sold its bus operations to the Lake Shore Motor Coach Company. On the same date, the Bamberger Railroad Company and the Bamberger Transportation Company eliminated all passenger service. (Swett, Interurbans of Utah, Interurbans Special 55, page 13)
Bamberger merger et. al., F. D. 19669, decided April 1, 1957. (ICC Finance Reports, Volume 295, p.826)
Bamberger to abandon entire operation, F. D. 20202, decided November 25, 1958. Embraced in F.D.20338. (ICC Finance Reports, Volume 307, p.802)
November 25, 1958
D&RGW to purchase portion of Bamberger, F. D. 20338, decided November 25, 1958. (ICC Finance Reports, Volume 307, p.803)
November 25, 1958
UP to purchase portion of Bamberger, F. D. 20367, decided November 25, 1958. Embraced in F. D. 20338. (ICC Finance Reports, Volume 307, p.804)
December 31, 1958
"Bamberger Quits After 67 Years" "One of Davis County's most colorful characters died this week when the Bamberger Railroad passed into history." Bamberger had operated its final trains between Salt Lake City and Ogden, with the last southbound train on Wednesday December 31 picking up empty coal cars at Smith Milling, and empty boxcars being picked up at Bountiful station which brought the last load of new automobiles to Bountiful. (Davis County Clipper, January 2, 1959)
December 31, 1958
Salt Lake & Utah trackage in Salt Lake City along 200 West (First West; changed to Second West in 1972) was sold to Bamberger Railroad on December 4, 1946. The Bamberger trackage was sold to D&RGW on December 31, 1958. (D&RGW engineering drawing for former Bamberger line, South Temple to 13th South, Utah State Archives, Index H-232)
"DEATH OF THE BAMBERGER: Utah's 37-mile Bamberger Railroad has gone out of business after selling tracks at Salt Lake City to the Rio Grande and an 8-mile stretch from Ogden to Hill Air Force Base to the Union Pacific. Once the proudest of Utah's interurban "big four" (the others: Salt Lake & Utah; Utah-Idaho Central; Salt Lake, Garfield & Western ), the Salt Lake-Ogden line began as a steam road in 1891, reached Ogden in 1908 as Salt Lake & Ogden Railway, was electrified two years later, and adopted the name of its longtime managing family in 1917. The Bamberger closely paralleled lines of UP and D&RGW, in its prime gave them tough competition, in its fading years saw the tables turned as connecting roads froze Bamberger's chances of attracting new industry by denying the short line participation in "fabrication in transit" freight rates. Revitalized in 1939 after a long insolvency, the electric hopped up passenger runs with five lightweight Brill Bullets from New York's Fonda, Johnstown & Gloversville, reaped the results of perseverance during busy war years. But by 1952 Bamberger was forced to drop passenger service and dieselize freight operations; later the Bamberger family sold out to Texas interests. Truck competition and highway construction involving part of the right of way did the rest. As the road's oldest adversaries, UP and D&RGW were glad to get its best parts. And towns along the way were happy to get the tracks out of the streets." (Trains magazine, March 1959, page 12)
"NEW HOME FOR THE HYBRID: Union Pacific, a railroad known for variety in motive power, has picked up an odd one: Bamberger Railroad diesel 570, now UP 1270. Bamberger (which folded last year ) got the early road-switcher from Alco-GE in 1943. Although the few units built up to that time had been partly requisitioned for wartime use in Iran, the Utah electric rated One complete with heating boiler (and a trolley pole to throw signals ) for its troop trains. The Alco's silhouette became truly unforgettable in 1951, when upgrading at La Grange gave it an EMD hood." (Trains magazine, January 1960, page 14)
Simon Bamberger Biographical Notes
Simon Bamberger, fourth governor of the State of Utah, was born at Darmstadt, Bayern, Germany, February 27, 1847. In 1861, at the age of fourteen years he came to the United States, and in 1869 he became a resident of Utah. He assisted in developing the coal mining interests of Utah and in course of time was made president of the Bamberger Coal Company. His business interests were not confined to mining operations, however, as he has held the positions of director of the Salt Lake Valley Loan and Trust Company and director and treasurer of the Bamberger Electric Railway. In 1898 Mr. Bamberger was elected a member of the board of education of Salt Lake City and continued in that body for five years. He was elected state senator on the democratic ticket in 1902 and served for four years. During that time he increased his acquaintance over the state and became recognized as one of the leaders of the democratic party. In 1916 he was nominated and elected governor for a term of four years. He was Utah's first Democratic governor, first non-Mormon governor, and the oldest, assuming the office at age 71. (part from Utah Since Statehood: Historical and Biographical. Volume I.)
Shortly after coming to Utah in about 1869-1870, he settled in Ogden. He remained in Ogden for just a short time before moving to Salt Lake City where he operated the Delmonico Hotel with a partner. In 1872, Bamberger invested in a silver mine, the Centennial Eureka Mine in Eureka in Juab County. A major vein of silver was struck two years later, making Bamberger a millionaire.
In 1875 he was hired to manage the operations of the San Pete Coal and Coke Company, and its subsidiary San Pete Valley Railway. The coal mine was near Wales in Sanpete County, and the railroad transported coal from the mine to a connection with the Utah Southern Railroad as that road built its line south, reaching Nephi in 1879.
He married Ida Maas in 1881 in Cincinnati, and they had four children, born between 1883 and 1889: Sidney, Helen, Elsa, and Julian.
In 1882 he organized a connecting railroad, the California Short Line Railroad, a small company with grand ambitions. The CSL only built about three miles of track, all within San Pete Valley. Both the railroad and the coal mine fell on hard times by 1888.
(The name meant that the railroad was to be the railroad line with the shortest distance, the "short line," to California. This was in 1882, less than a year after Union Pacific had organized its own Oregon Short Line Railway, to connect its mainline in southwestern Wyoming, with Oregon and the Pacific Northwest.)
In April 1888 the two companies' London owners replaced Bamberger as general manager of the two companies.
In 1890, he organized the Great Salt Lake & Hot Springs Railway to build an excursion line to Becks Hot Springs in northwest Salt Lake City.
In 1890, Simon Bamberger was shown as living at 126 S. Main, Salt Lake City, working for Rio Grande Western Railway, and was the proprietor of the Bamberger Quarry Company. (Utah Directory, 1890: Salt Lake City, Logan, and Provo, R. L. Polk and Company, 1890)
Bamberger saw the potential for a localized railroad line between Salt Lake City and Ogden, and by 1895 had extended his Great Salt Lake & Hot Springs Railway as far north as Farmington, where Bamberger built his Lagoon resort to serve as a destination for railroad customers. In 1896 the road was reorganized as the Salt Lake & Ogden Railway to extend the line still further, but construction north of Farmington was delayed until 1902. Ogden was reached in August 1908.
The Bamberger Coal Company was organized on May 16, 1898 to purchase assets and business of Halm-Bamberger Coal Co., incorporated May 21, 1898, name changed to Bamberger Coal & Grain Co. on August 5, 1903, name changed back to Bamberger Coal Co. on June 30, 1939, name changed to Castle Gate Coal Co. on January 14, 1949, voluntarily dissolved on August 10, 1950 with Utah Fuel owning all 7,500 shares of stock (Utah #2233)
Improved Brick Company in North Salt Lake was also served by Bamberger, located just off Second West, at curve to North Salt Lake, at about Seventh or Eighth South, near present-day Bountiful City shops and National Guard armory.
Bamberger Railroad -- A Google Map of the electric railroad between Salt Lake City and Ogden.
Equipment Rosters -- Roster listings of Bamberger electric locomotives and cars.
Steam Locomotives -- A roster listing of steam locomotives on Bamberger's predecessor railroad Salt Lake & Ogden Railway.
Diesel Locomotives -- A roster listing of diesel locomotives on Bamberger railroad.
Great Salt Lake & Hot Springs Railway and Salt Lake & Ogden Railway -- Information about the Great Salt Lake & Hot Springs Railway, started in 1891 and changed to the Salt Lake & Ogden Railway in October 1896; converted to electric operation in May 1910; name changed to Bamberger Electric Railroad in August 1917.
Bamberger's Alco RS1 number 570 -- An expanded article based on an original piece published in Railroad Model Craftsman in 1988.
Bamberger Railroad -- An excerpt from Ira Swett's "Interurbans of Utah".
Bamberger Railroad History -- An excerpt from the book "Ogden Rails".
Simon Bamberger and the Lake Park Resort -- A separate page about the Lake Park Resort, one of Bamberger's earliest business ventures.
The Dummy Line -- A copyrighted history of the Bamberger Railroad, completed by Shay Stark (presented here with Mr. Stark's permission).
The Interurban Era, by William D. Middleton, Kalmbach Publishing Company, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1961
The Electric Interurban Railways in America, by George W. Hilton and John F. Due, Stanford University Press, 1960
Interurbans of Utah, by Ira L. Swett, Interurbans Special 55, Interurbans, Glendale, California, 1974