Little Cottonwood Transportation Company (1916-1922)
Alta Scenic Railway (1925)
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This page was last updated on April 23, 2019.
The Little Cottonwood Transportation Company, and the later Alta Scenic Railway, operated a variety of vehicles capable of carrying a significant number of passengers, built out of automobile or truck frames, motors and such, i.e., track autos, rail buses, or whatever you want to call them. These vehicles seem to be all that is used on the line after the end of the last known steam operations in 1921, until all operations ended, apparently in 1924 or 1925. The date of change from Little Cottonwood Transportation to Alta Scenic Railway appears to be shortly after the end of steam operations, or about 1921-1922. (George Pitchard)
The gauge was 3-foot narrow gauge.
(This Little Cottonwood Transportation Company, of 1916, should not be confused with the Little Cottonwood Railroad of September 10, 1872, part of the land-grab scheme put forth by a group of Pennsylvania investors. Donald Robertson, in his multi-volume Encyclopedia of Western Railroad History, shows that the latter company was consolidated with D&RGW in 1882, which is incorrect.)
Throughout its brief history, 1916 to 1922, the Little Cottonwood Transportation company struggled to keep the line open after the snow began in late fall, and clearing the line of snow accumulation in spring. The road generally shut down in late November or early December, and did not reopen until late April or mid May, sometimes as late as mid June. During the time of suspended operations, the mines at Alta continued to ship high-grade ore by way of teams and wagons mounted on sleighs. The expense was very high, but the high value of the ore justified the expense. There were regular complaints from the mine owners about poor transportation facilities; complaining that not having the railroads not running, every day, year-around, and the county not keeping the road open all the way to Alta, was a great hindrance to their getting the ore out, therefore taking advantage of the price fluctuations of the metal markets and satisfying their investors.
The railroad struggled to keep their line open and the trains running, with great expense. But whenever they tried to raise their rates to match their expenses, the mines simply shipped more ore by team and wagon. The railroad finally had its last season in late 1921, and did not open in June 1922. The reason given was that all of the mine owners had made contracts with teamster companies to undercut the railroad and take all of the ore. By the mid and late 1920s, as roads and highways between Wasatch and Midvale were improved at public expense and became capable of allowing trucks to travel the public roads, and as motor trucks became larger and more reliable, the ore began moving by truck from the Alta mines, directly to the Midvale smelter, as well as other smelters and mills in the area.
October 24, 1910
An earlier 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)
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 percent. Estimated cost of the new line was $55,00.00. (Salt Lake Mining Review, September 15, 1915)
September 24, 1915
The Alta-Cottonwood Transportation Company was organized on September 24, 1915 to build from Wasatch to Alta. 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 25, 1915
"Company Formed to Build Railroad. Articles of incorporation of the Alta Cottonwood Railway company were filed yesterday. The company is capitalized for $100,000, divided into shares of $1 each. The object of the company is to construct a number of narrow gauge railroads in Utah, with the initial road from Wasatch, the terminus of the Salt Lake & Alta railroad, to the principal shipping mines of the Little Cottonwood district. The incorporators are W. K. Yorston and W. P. Twist of California and H. B. Cole, W. H. Burnside and George Ford of Salt Lake." (Salt Lake Tribune, September 25, 1915)
September 26, 1915
Concerning the newly incorporated Alta Cottonwood Railway, Walter K. Yorston stated that the railroad had been incorporated and that actual construction was to begin on "Tuesday" (September 28th). The company had secured a ten-year lease on the "Alta Jordan Valley railroad right-of-way," a strip of land 200 feet wide and of sufficient length to reach the Little Cottonwood District. The railroad was to be built between the terminus of the Salt Lake & Alta at Wasatch, and the Columbus Extension Tunnel at Alta. The railroad was to be a cog railroad, between Tanner's Flat and the portal of the Columbus Extension tunnel. The road would be shut during the snowslide season, about six weeks, but if needed, the company was prepared to build about 4,500 feet of snowsheds. (Salt Lake Tribune, September 26, 1915)
September 30, 1915
News item about the "Alta-Cottonwood Railroad" being incorporated. (Salt Lake Mining Review, September 30, 1915, page 25)
October 24, 1915
"Alta Railway Makes For Tanners Flat. From Wasatch, in the mouth of Little Cottonwood canyon, comes word that a gang of men of the Alta Railway Transportation company is vigorously clearing the right of way. The men started at the Wasatch terminal and is working easterly toward Alta. The manager stated the past week that he expected to have the grading done, the rails down and cars operating over the line to Tanners Flat inside of three weeks. That is a distance of about three miles. The track will be twenty-four inches wide. It is expected to make a rate of $1 a ton to deliver ore from the Alta mines to the cars of the Salt Lake & Alta railroad at Wasatch." (Salt Lake Herald Republican, October 24, 1915)
(Note that the gauge was originally to be 24 inches.)
October 30, 1915
News item about Alta-Cottonwood Transportation stockholders making an inspection of the proposed route. (Salt Lake Mining Review, October 30, 1915, page 18, "In The Alta-Cottonwoods")
February 20, 1916
The first mention of Pearson Engineering financing the building a $2 million narrow gauge railroad in Little Cottonwood canyon to serve the Alta mines. In May 1916, the chief engineer of Pearson Engineering, Irving F. Greene, came to Utah in person to inspect the canyon and the mines. (Salt Lake Telegram, February 20, 1916)
May 13, 1916
Pearson Engineering Syndicate to back the construction of a railroad between Alta and Wasatch, with a possible third rail to be laid on the Salt Lake & Alta to allow direct movement of 40-inch gauge ore cars from the new railroad. The new railroad was to connecet with an existing 1200-foot tunnel that already existed between the mines in Little Cottonwood, and Big Cottonwood, and which was to be lengthened to one lmile to reach all the shipping mines. (Salt Lake Herald Republican, May 13, 1916)
May 30, 1916
News item about Walter K. Yorston having a force of twenty men working on the grade for the new railroad between Alta and Wasatch in Little Cottonwood Canyon, with "steel to be laid within 10 days." The Michigan-Utah mining company was shipping 40 tons daily over its aerial tramway between Alta and Tanner's Flat. (Salt Lake Mining Review, May 30, 1916; two separate news items)
(This same news item states that the railroad being planned by the Pearson Engineering Syndicate was to be 40-inch gauge, and would connect with a one-mile long, deep drain tunnel to be built connecting all the mines in the district, including those in the Big Cottonwood district to the north.)
July 15, 1916
News item about Walter K. Yorston stating that twenty-seven men were working on the grade of the proposed railroad into the Alta camp. Shipping contracts have been signed with many of the mining companies. (Salt Lake Mining Review, July 15, 1916, page 23, "In The Alta-Cottonwoods")
August 8, 1916
Little Cottonwood Transportation Company was incorporated in Maine on August 8, 1916; and in Utah on November 3, 1916. The officers were residents of Portland, Maine. (Utah Corporation Index 12256)
(The difference here between the earlier Alta-Cottonwood Transportation, and this later Little Cottonwood Transportation company was likely that the earlier company was controlled by Yorston and local investors, and the later company was controlled by Pearson Engineering.)
(Notice of the incorporation in Utah was published in the November 17, 1916 issue of the Salt Lake Herald Republican newspaper, as well as the November 30, 1916 issue of the Salt Lake Mining Review.)
August 11, 1916
"Alta Road Progress. It is reported that rail-laying on the proposed new narrow gauge ore railroad from Wasatch up Little Cottonwood canyon to Alta may be started in a short time. The grading has been completed. The management is now figuring on whether to put on a Shay engine or to have the line electrified." (Salt Lake Herald Republican, August 11, 1916)
September 8, 1916
All of the rails and most of the ties had been received at Wasatch. The Shay locomotive had been ordered and would arrive in about 10 days. The ore cars had been ordered and enough were on had to begin hauling or as soon as the rails were laid. "Not until repeated efforts were made to finance the project among mining operators of Alta and local capitalists did Yorston decide to go East with it. He met with immediate success in enlisting the aid of the Pearson Engineering company and recently completed the grading."
September 13, 1916
Walter K. Yorston stated that enough ties and rail were on the ground at Wasatch to build four miles of the Little Cottonwood Transportation company's railroad. Ties and rails for the remaining four miles were on their way, as were the locomotives. The grading was complete, and laying ties and rail would begin immediately. (Salt Lake Tribune, September 13, 1916)
September 15, 1916
"The Shay engine is en route here and the steel cars for handling the ore from the mines and taking in supplies to the camp are being constructed here. The balance of the construction work on the railroad is being done by the Pearson Engineering corporation of New York and it is expected that the construction of the entire line will be completed within a month. The snow shedding sites have been decoded upon and that portion of the track that will require the enclosures will be covered before the first heavy snow falls in the canyon." (Salt Lake Telegram, September 15, 1916)
September 27, 1916
Little Cottonwood Transportation was heavily involved in the construction of its yards at Wasatch, as well as building an engine house at that location. Rail was being delivered every day for the construction of the line to Alta. The Shay locomotive was delivered to the Rio Grande yards in Salt Lake City "yesterday" and would be taken immediately to Wasatch. Walter Yorston stated that he expected the line to be completed to Alta by the time of the first snow fall. The following comes from the September 27, 1916 issue of the Salt Lake Telegram newspaper:
Wasatch Is A Lively Place With Road Construction — There is a business air about Wasatch in the Little Cottonwood canyon, the terminus of the wide gauge branch road to Alta and the point where deliveries are to be made from the Alta mines by the narrow gauge line, that brings the mine operators to a halt when they reach that station in their pilgrimages to the producers in the high mountains. The yards are filled with rails for the line that is being built to the mines, and a roundhouse is in course of construction. The canyon rings with the sound of more steel that is being delivered and there is a larger force of men seen there than ever before in the history of the old diggings.
Yesterday the Shay engine reached the local yards of the Rio Grande and this will be taken immediately to Wasatch. The ties, which have been long delayed, because the company could not obtain care for handling, are expected within a few days; then the actual construction of the road will be inaugurated. The first four miles to Tanner's Flat will be completed in short order, and a number of the producers will take advantage of this situation to have the wagon haul modified in order that some of the worst part of the haul may be eliminated by delivering ore to the new railroad station at the Flat.
Constructing Engineer Walter K. Yorston is of the opinion that he can have the entire line completed and ready for ore handling before the camp is shut in by the first snowfall. There will be some snowshed construction work to follow, though the old retaining stone walls in the path of the heaviest slides are still in place, and this will lessen the shed construction costs materially. With the Shay engine operating snow plows it is believed that a large part of the road can be cleared of the first snows, and the management believes that the winter obstacles will eventually be overcome with less difficulty than has been anticipated.
The time is growing shorter when Alta mines will have to wrestle with the transportation. It is certain that more ore will be hauled this winter than ever before and that all the obstacles will eventually be surmounted. The Pearson Engineering corporation has raised the money for this line and will be in charge of operations when the line is completed. (Salt Lake Telegram, September 27, 1916)
September 30, 1916
Ties and rails had been delivered for the recently incorporated Little Cottonwood Transportation Company. The "Shea" locomotives were "on their way." (Salt Lake Mining Review, September 30, 1916, "Salt Lake & Alta Railroad")
(The closure of the granite quarrying operations at Wasatch in 1916 meant that, after moving over 800 carloads of granite, the traffic base for Salt Lake & Alta was reduced to the minimal movement of ores from the Little Cottonwood mines.)
October 4, 1916
"A 50-ton Shay engine for the new road is now in Salt Lake, the rails are now at Wasatch, and part of the ties, and a half a dozen carloads [of ties] are on their way from Portland. The railway is to be 36-inch gauge. The Davis-Howe company is now constructing the steel cars." (Salt Lake Herald Republican, October 4, 1916)
(The above report states that it was a 50-ton Shay, which is incorrect. Shay no. 1 was a 24-ton model. The reporter may have been told it was a 50,000 pound Shay.)
October 6, 1916
The Shay engine had arrived at the Little Cottonwood railroad. Walter K. Yorston is manager. (Salmon Idaho Recorder, October 6, 1916)
October 6, 1916
Pearson Engineering Corporation of Portland, Maine, filed with the state to do business in Utah. The company proposed to build a tunnel between Alta in Little Cottonwood canyon, and the mines in Big Cottonwood canyon to the north. Officers of the company included Ward E. Pearson, who was also an officer in the Little Cottonwood Transportation company. Pearson Engineering also had a large interest in the Denver & Salt Lake railroad, but previously had held controlling interest. (Salt Lake Herald Republican, October 6, 1916)
October 11, 1916
Walter K. Yorston: "The grade into Alta is fully completed. There is something like six miles of track yet to lay. We have 30 men at work at the present time, but within two days at least 60 men will be engaged in the work, and I am confident that by November 4 the track will be connected. With the completion of the difficult grading the worst of the work is over. All the steel is here and the balance of the ties required is on the way and will be here in time for the fulfillment of the contract." "We will have to be content until next season with a 152 Shay engine that will adequately supply our needs for the present." (Ogden Standard, October 11, 1916)
(Unknown what he was describing as a "152 Shay." LCTCo. Shay no. 1 was a 24-ton Shay, weighing 48,000 pounds, and no. 2 was a 36-ton Shay, weighing 72,000 pounds. Also, no. 2 was one of three Shays reported as being received in mid to late 1917.)
October 16, 1916
The first mile of track had been completed "last night." "A heavy rail is being laid and the company is hauling its ties and rails from Wasatch over the first mile of track with small cars that run smoothly. A portion of the track has been ballasted and when the ballasting is completed the Shay engine will be put on to make the deliveries up the line to the point where the track laying is in progress. The engine and cars should be in operation within a week or ten days, after which it is expected that better headway will be made." The line was to be completed to Tanner's Flat "within a few weeks." The "old" Wasatch hotel was being used by track workers and Pearson Engineering staff. The summer cottages were being used by families of mine workers at Alta. (Salt Lake Telegram, October 16, 1916)
October 28, 1916
"Motor Is Purchased For Alta Railroad. The purchase of a motor for the narrow gauge railroad that is being built into Alta will greatly facilitate the work of completing the line. The motor will be placed on the track today between Wasatch and Tanner's Flat and will aid greatly in the prompt delivery of ties and rails, which was not possible under former conditions." "It is believed that the line can be completed to Tanner's Flat within a week or ten days, and Engineer Walter K. Yorston, who is in charge of the construction work, says he will soon be in condition to relieve the congested ore conditions at Alta." (Salt Lake Tribune, October 28, 1916)
October 30, 1916
Construction of the first mile completed. The Shay is on hand and as soon as the track is properly ballasted, the Shay will be used to complete construction. To be completed to Tanners Flat "within a few weeks". At Tanners Flat, a large tonnage of ore will be delivered via the aerial tramway of Michigan-Utah Mining Company. The following comes from the October 30, 1916 issue of the Salt Lake Mining Review:
Progress Of Alta Railroad — Walter K. Yorston, engineer in charge of the construction of the new railroad to the Alta district of Utah, reported last week that the first mile of construction work was completed, and that sufficient headway in securing materials has been made to guarantee the completion of the line before winter sets in. A heavy rail is being laid, and as soon as ballasting is completed a Shay engine will be used for delivering materials to the end of the line. This will mean better headway, and it is practically assured that the road will be finished and operating as far as Tanner's Flat within a few weeks. Here a big tonnage of ore will be secured, which is delivered to that point by the Michigan-Utah aerial tramway. (Salt Lake Mining Review, October 30, 1916, page 31)
October 31, 1916
The motor car was put on the tracks for the first time, after the railroad's new machine shop at Wasatch changed its wheels to allow running on railroad track. There was two miles of track in service, and the motor car would replace men and teams in hauling ties and rails to where they were needed. (Salt Lake Telegram, November 2, 1916)
November 3, 1916
Little Cottonwood Transportation Company was incorporated in Utah.
November 5, 1916
The railroad had completed 2-1/2 miles of track by the time a converted Ford motor car was put into service as a locomotive. (Salt Lake Tribune, November 5, 1916)
November 15, 1916
A motor car was being used in the construction of the Little Cottonwood Transportation Company. The following comes from the November 15, 1916 issue of the Salt Lake Mining Review:
Motor On Alta Railroad — Construction work on the new narrow-gauge railroad to the Alta district of Utah has been greatly facilitated by the recent acquisition of a small motor mounted on wheels, which is now delivering material in record time. It is now possible to deliver ties and rails to the end of the line as needed, and unless the present storms interfere too much with construction work it should be finished to Tanner's Flat by the middle of the month. This will relieve the present ore congestion at Alta, as freight from there can be delivered at Tanners by the Michigan-Utah aerial tram. The motor negotiates the grade without difficulty, and Walter K. Yorston, under whose supervision the line is being constructed, states that when the Shay engine is put to work after reaching Tanners, there is no doubt that it will handle the outgoing and incoming freight with all the speed required by the mine operators.
D&RG leased its line between Wasatch and Alta to Little Cottonwood Transportation Company. By this time, the still narrow gauge (three-feet) line had been long unused and was mostly disintegrated. Little Cottonwood Transportation agreed to reconstruct the line. (LeMassena, p. 131)
January 3, 1917
The Little Cottonwood Transportation rail line was completed to within a half mile of Tanner's Flat. (Salt Lake Tribune, January 3, 1917)
January 15, 1917
"The New Railroad. Construction of the new Salt Lake & Alta railroad, which is being put in by the Little Cottonwood Transportation Company, backed in turn by the Pearson Engineering syndicate of Allentown, Pennsylvania, was finished this fall to within a short distance of Tanners Flat. The work was halted by the unprecedentedly heavy snowfall, but it is hoped that it can be completed to the lower end of the Michigan-Utah aerial tramway in the immediate future. The new road is of thirty-six-inch gauge, with heavy rails. Shay engines will be used for the motive power. Its completion to Tanners will facilitate the movement of ore greatly, as shipments can be made from the mines to that point over the Michigan-Utah aerial tram." (Salt Lake Mining Review, January 15, 1917)
Pearson Engineering ran a full page advertisement in the January 15, 1917 issue of the Salt Lake Mining Review, showing Walter K. Yorston as General Manager and Chief Engineer. The ad also showed that the Little Cottonwood Transportation company was a subsidiary to the Pearson Engineering Company, and that the railroad would be making "$1,000.00 daily next summer."
February 9, 1917
The Little Cottonwood Transportation company's tracks were completed to Tanner's Flat "last night." Work had started "last Autumn." Snow drifts had to be removed to allow the laying of the last mile of track, and teaming of ore from the mines for the past several weeks had been by sleigh. The mines (Alta Consolidated, South Hecla, Wasatch Mines, Albion, Sells, and Emma) would benefit from the railroad, which was equipped to ship 350 to 400 tons of ore per day. (Salt Lake Tribune, February 10, 1917)
March 8, 1917
As the railroad had progressed up the canyon from Wasatch to Tanner's Flat, there was conflict between the railroad construction crews and the teamsters moving ore down the canyon by team and wagon, using the road that had been the original right-of-way. "The disputed territory between the railroaders and teamsters is one mile above Wasatch. Ten years ago [circa 1907] the Denver & Rio Grande railroad had a right-of-way here, and had laid tracks, but at that time they removed them. Since the tracks were removed, and for ten years previously there had been a hard road there, which the county has kept up, and over which the United States mails have traveled. Recently the Little Cottonwood Transportation company suddenly appeared, widened the road at a disputed point and grabbed the county road thus forcing the teamsters to haul over piles of dirt and muck." (Salt Lake Telegram, March 8, 1917)
April 21, 1917
The line was put into operation between Wasatch and Tanner's Flat on April 21, 1917. The line was being operated with a five-ton gasoline engine, with the Shays to be used when the line is completed to Alta. The road connected with Salt Lake & Alta at Wasatch. Construction began in the spring of 1916. The line used 10.8 percent grades. (Salt Lake Mining Review, April 30, 1917)
Alta Line In Operation. The Little Cottonwood Transportation Company's new railroad, which is to handle the ore from the Alta district of Utah, went into commission on the 21st inst. from Tanners to Wasatch, where it connects with the Salt Lake & Alta railroad, which carries the ore to the valley samplers. Tanners is about half way up the canyon, and W. K. Yorston, general manager of the line, states that the road will be completed into Alta the coming season. A five-ton gasoline locomotive is now being operated over the line, with light ore cars, but the company's Shay engines will be placed in commission when the line is completed to Alta, according to Mr. Yorston.
Construction of the railroad was commenced early in the spring of 1916, and the engineers have encountered a number of unusual problems. Among them was the operations of trains over the heavy grades, the steepest of which is 10.8 per cent, said to be the steepest over which any mountain railroad runs. The problem of holding the trains on these grades proved a serious matter, but after Yorston has invented a rail brake which does the work, and with which he says that it would be possible to operate trains over an 18 per cent grade. (Salt Lake Mining Review, April 30, 1917)
(Note "Shay engines," indicating that the 24-ton #1 and the 36-ton #2 were at least on the rails at Wasatch. Later items suggest that the two engines were not in service, and likely never were. Since the engines were likely leased or rented, like most locomotives of the period, possible changes in the railroad's financial fortunes may have resulted in some budget cutbacks.)
May 1, 1917
The Little Cottonwood Transportation company was owned by Pearson Engineering of New York, and the company president, W. E. Pearson, was in Salt Lake City to inspect the progress of the railroad. At the same time, he assured the county commission that the dispute over the road between the railroad and the teamsters would be settled immediately, and the teamsters would be allowed to use the road without question. (Salt Lake Telegram, May 1, 1917)
May 16, 1917
Little Cottonwood Transportation began to haul ore from Tanner's Flat on May 16, 1917, from the aerial tramway of the Michigan-Utah mine. (Salt Lake Mining Review, May 30, 1917)
May 22, 1917
The Little Cottonwood Transportation company was hauling ore down to Wasatch from the Michigan-Utah aerial tramway at Tanner's Flat. In the last ten days, about 250 tons had been hauled by the railroad, using gravity and brakes to move the cars down to Wasatch. The empty cars were being hauled back to Tanner's Flat using mules, as the gasoline engine was out of service. From Wasatch, the Salt Lake & Alta standard gauge road was moving loaded cars to Midvale, having moved 19 cars of ore in the past ten days. (Salt Lake Tribune, May 22, 1917)
(No mention of any Shay locomotives being on the railroad.)
May 24, 1917
The railroad tracks had been laid for about one-half mile above Tanners' Flat. (Salt Lake Tribune, May 24, 1917)
June 14, 1917
The Little Cottonwood Transportation company's railroad was within two miles of the loading station of the South Hecla mine, and should reach that point within three weeks. The South Hecla mine already had 2,000 tons of silver-lead ore on its dump and ready to ship. (Salt Lake Tribune, June 14, 1917)
June 17, 1917
"New Railroad Helps. This line is rapidly being pushed toward Alta. The management states that it will soon receive two new Shay engines, which will be able to handle all the ore that can be produced at the Alta camp. These will soon be in active operation between tanners and Wasatch. It is understood that the South Hecla, the Alta Consolidated, the Emma Copper, the Sells and others will soon be large shippers from the camp." (Salt Lake Tribune, June 17, 1917)
June 30, 1917
"The Pearson Engineering Company will soon have the narrow-gauge railroad, which is being built from Wasatch to Alta, in such condition that they will be able to haul a part of the tonnage from a point about one mile above Tanner's Flat to Wasatch. Thus there are practically two independent roads from the mine to Wasatch (county road used by teams and wagons, and narrow gauge railroad), which will insure a steady transportation of ores between these points. The only problem which is now to be overcome is the transportation of the ore from Wasatch to the smelter at Midvale." (Salt Lake Mining Review, June 30, 1917)
July 1, 1917
"The transportation question is improving. The Denver & Rio Grande Railroad company is relaying the tracks of the Salt Lake & Alta Railroad company with sixty-five-pound rails. A little over half of the entire distance between Midvale and Wasatch has been completed and it is thought that the balance will be completed within the next week, or less. All the product of the Michigan-Utah ore is coming down the tramway to Tanner's Flat and two-thirds or more of this is being transported over the Little Cottonwood Transportation company to Wasatch. The balance of the ore is being hauled by teams. At present there is a great crush at Wasatch on account of each of the several companies desiring to ship its ore first. With present indications, however, this will soon be straightened not. Besides the Michigan-Utah, the South Hecla, Sells, Emma Copper, Alta Consolidated and others are sending down the canyon large bodies of ore as fast as they can be transported. The Emma Copper has installed tractors between Wasatch and the smelter at Midvale." (Salt Lake Tribune, July 1, 1917)
July 3, 1917
A 20-ton Shay locomotive was shipped from Birmingham Rail and Locomotive after being converted from 24-inch gauge to 36-inch gauge. (BR&L information from Thomas Lawson letter to Don Strack, August 30, 1980)
(Prior to the arrival of this Shay engine, the railroad had been using ore cars without a locomotive to move the ore from Tanner's Flat down to Wasatch. The status of the two previous Shay engines is not documented, but they were obviously not in service, possibly due to financial problems of the company.)
July 4, 1917
"Manager Resigns. W. K. Yorston, who has for several years acted as manager of the Cottonwood Transportation company in Salt Lake, has resigned. Harry Hartwell, vice president of the company, stated that Mr. Yorston had given his reason for severing his connection with the company that he had outside personal interests requiring his attention. W. B. Elwood will succeed Mr. Yorston within the next few days. Mr. Elwood has long been connected with the Pearson Engineering corporation." (Salt Lake Tribune, July 4, 1917)
(This entry in early July 1917 appears to be the last for Walter K. Yorston as a manager of Pearson Engineering, the company that owned and built the railroad. In May 1918 Yorston was located in Iron County surveying and investigating the potential tonnage of iron ore for a possible railroad. By July 1918 he was promoting a railroad between Desert Mound and Lund, on the Salt Lake Route railroad, in the name of the Utah Development Company.)
"W. K. Yorston, construction engineer of Salt Lake, has resigned his position as manager for the Little Cottonwood Transportation Company, to devote his time to his personal interests. He is succeeded by W. B. Elwood, a member of the construction staff of the Pearson Engineering Company, which Is back of the project of building the new line into the Little Cottonwood district of Utah." (Salt Lake Mining Review, July 15, 1917)
July 27, 1917
The following comes from the July 27, 1917 issue of the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper:
Making Progress On Alta Railroad. New Superintendent Vigorously Pushing Work to Complete Line. That the railroad or the Little Cottonwood Transportation company from Wasatch into Alta, which has already gone past Tanner's flat, will soon be a reality, instead of a project is indicated by the vigorous work now being done by H. A. Dunn, the new superintendent of the road.
Harry Hartwell of New York, vice president and general manager of the company, who has been here for several days on his second trip from the metropolis, said yesterday that under the able direction of Mr. Dunn the work was progressing as well as he could possibly desire. He added that the present that the present task was putting the road in shape for the using of the Shay engines, of which the company now has one of fifty tons (sic: 20-tons), with another twenty-ton engine ordered.
Mr. Hartwell said that, while not a mining expert, he knew enough of the mining business in a general way to observe the great activity in the camp and to assure himself that the railroad was sorely needed to accommodate the producers of the big district.
(During May 1916, Harry A. Dunn had been the engineer-in-charge of the street railways in Mexico City, looking after the interests of Pearson Engineering, which owned the railway and electrical generating facilities under the name of Mexico Light and Power company. In late May 1916, the company was confiscated by the Mexican government and Dunn was sent to prison for his part in what was described as corruption and political treason. After extensive negotiations by American diplomats in Mexico, he was later released and sent back to the U.S. Prior to his assignment in Mexico, Dunn had been part of the Pearson Engineering staff in Spain.)
July 31, 1917
As of July 31, 1917 the Salt Lake & Alta railroad owed, among others: $14,095 to D&RG; $2,277.83 to Lima Locomotive Works; and $258.66 to Little Cottonwood Transportation Company. (Utah Public Utilities Commission Case No. 10, "Michigan–Utah Consolidated Mines Company vs. Salt Lake & Alta Railroad)
November 1, 1917
"A new 36-in. gage railroad was completed Nov. 1 by Little Cottonwood Transportation Co., from Wasatch, near mouth of the canyon, to Alta, the upper terminal being at the Howland tunnel dump of Wasatch Mines Co.; but little hauling was done in 1917. Equipment consists of one 55-ton Shay engine and two more were ordered." (Engineering and Mining Journal, Volume 105, Number 3, January 19, 1918, page 140)
November 4, 1917
"Another improvement at the mine in the last week was the completion of the laying of the track of the narrow gauge line from Wasatch to Alta. The entire construction of the railroad has now been practically completed and already a Shay engine is hauling a passenger car over the track daily. The line extends to the Columbus-Rexall dump. Work of ballasting the track will be completed some time within the next few weeks and as soon as cars arrive from the east ore will be hauled over the tracks. Another Shay engine for use in hauling ores is already on the way. The line is controlled by the Pearson Machinery company of New York." (Salt Lake Telegram, November 4, 1917)
November 16, 1917
A second 20-ton Shay locomotive was shipped from Birmingham Rail and Locomotive after being converted from 24-inch gauge to 36-inch gauge. (BR&L information from Thomas Lawson letter to Don Strack, August 30, 1980)
November 30, 1917
Little Cottonwood Transportation company announced that its railroad had cost $125,000 to construct, and would be "ready to handle both freight and passenger traffic upon receipt of another engine." (Salt Lake Telegram, November 30, 1917)
December 2, 1917
Ward E. Pearson of New York, head of the Pearson Engineering company and president of the Little Cottonwood Transportation company. "Mr. Pearson announced that it was probable that the road would not be ready for ore traffic before spring because of delays in getting new equipment. He said that a second Shay engine and other equipment, including forty freight cars had been ordered. The engine, he expects, will reach Salt Lake within the next few weeks, but the cars probably will not be available until well toward spring." "General Manager H. A. Dunn, who assumed charge of the road recently, has wide experience in railroad construction, especially in the building of mountain roads. Before coming to Salt Lake he was engaged in the construction of a mountain railroad in Spain and had engaged in similar work in various parts of the world." (Salt Lake Tribune, December 2, 1917)
December 30, 1917
The following comes from the December 30, 1917 issue of the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper:
No single enterprise promises to be of more value to the development of the properties in the vicinity of Alta than the narrow gauge railroad being constructed by the Little Cottonwood Transportation company. The construction of the line by the Pearson Engineering interests has dragged along for a couple years, but the road is now being prepared to handle traffic.
With the appointment of H. A. Dunn, an engineer of wide experience, as general manager of the property, the work has moved along in a manner entirely satisfactory to the operators of the Alta district. The road has been completed from Wasatch to the Columbus-Rexall dump and has been handling passenger traffic and a limited amount of freight for several weeks.
The cars originally ordered for the road were entirely too heavy for the sharp curves and another forty six-ton cars has been placed, also an order for an additional Shay engine. The new equipment is expected late in the winter, and in the meantime the roadway is being prepared to handle all traffic from the camp beginning next spring.
January 22, 1918
"As soon as the warm spring rains appear and the higher sun comes out in April and May, dissipating the snow along the north side, the Little Cottonwood Transportation with its two Shay engines and forty new ore cars will come to the respite of the teams. Then it is thought that Alta will be in a position to break all past records of ore production." (Salt Lake Herald Republican, January 22, 1918)
(Note: "two Shay engines")
January 26, 1918
"The Little Cottonwood Transportation company has three Shay engines and will have 40 ore cars available for haulage by April, I am told." (Salt Lake Herald Republican, January 26, 1918)
(Note: "three Shay engines")
February 2, 1918
"Little Cottonwood Transportation (Alta) -- Expected to begin operation over eight-mile narrow gauge road between Wasatch and Alta early in spring. Forty 6-ton cars just received and additional Shay engine, making second engine owned by company. Engines capable of hauling 12 to 15 cars in train." (Engineering and Mining Journal, Volume 150, Number 5, February 2, 1918, page 264)
April 26, 1918
"Fifty-two tons of ore were brought from Tanner's Flat to Wasatch by the narrow gauge road Wednesday, and new cars are being assembled as rapidly as possible. The company now has two Shay engines in service and about half of the forty new cars are assembled. Tipples for dumping the ore into loaded broad gauge cars at Wasatch have been completed and the road is now in condition to handle a limited tonnage between Wasatch and Tanner's Flat." (Salt Lake Tribune, April 4, 1918)
(Note: "two Shay engines")
April to June 1918
The Alta Auto Bus & Stage Company used the railroad tracks between Wasatch and Alta in Little Cottonwood canyon to operate an "Auto Railroad Car" during the months of April, May, and June of 1918; paying the railroad a fee of $383. (Utah Public Utilities Commission Case No. 76, "Alta Auto Bus & Stage Company")
May 30, 1918
After a winter season shut down, Little Cottonwood Transportation Company restarted its operations in mid May 1918. (Salt Lake Mining Review, May 30, 1918, page 38)
June 23, 1918
The following comes from the June 23, 1918 issue of the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper:
An important fact is that for the past month practically all of the ore from the Michigan-Utah has been transported over its tramway to Tanner's Flat and thence over the Little Cottonwood Transportation company railroad to Wasatch and thence over the Salt Lake & Alta railroad to the smelter at Midvale. At present no teams are employed by the Michigan-Utah in hauling ore. It has been a long time coming to this. It can now be said for the first time that it has transportation by railroad and tramway from mines to the smelter with no intermediate team hauling. The tramway is working without interruption. The railroad transportation is not only advantageous in hauling down the ore, but it also takes up freight from Salt Lake and other towns, direct to Tanner's Flat, from which place it is soon thereafter landed at the mine headhouse by the tramway.
It was said yesterday that sixty men, mainly from the mining companies interested in maintaining the public highway, were at work repairing the damage done by the recent storm. It is believed that the road will be to good condition by the first of next week. This, however, does out interfere with passengers and baggage to and from Alta. Passengers go by auto stage to Wasatch and thence by jitney from Wasatch to Alta over the Little Cottonwood Transportation railroad to Alta. This is a great improvement over the old system of transportation, which generally consumed an entire day in making the trip from Salt Lake to Alta. The trip is now made in two and one-half to three hours in comfort.
July 15, 1918
"Ward E. Pearson of New York, of the Pearson Engineering Syndicate, was in Salt Lake early in the month. He went over the line of the Little Cottonwood Transportation Company, controlled by the Pearson interests, while here." (Salt Lake Mining Review, July 15, 1918)
(The above note is the last reference in available online newspapers associating Pearson Engineering with activities in Utah.)
(Research suggests that at this time in July 1918, Pearson Engineering disposed of their interest in the railroad in Little Cottonwood canyon, possibly to local investors, who then hired Shand Smith to manage the railroad.)
(Research suggests that the first two Shay locomotives, numbered as 1 and 2 in various locomotive rosters compiled in the 1950s and later, were not on the railroad at this time. They were possibly on the railroad only briefly, and were disposed of in the June or July 1917 time period.)
July 18, 1918
The following comes from the July 18, 1918 issue of the Salt Lake Herald Republican newspaper:
Construction of the main line of the Alta railroad from its eastern terminus to the South Hecla ore bins is well under way. The distance is 1403 feet, and it is estimated that it will be completed and ore received direct from the South Hecla bins by August 1, or in about two weeks.
Superintendent H. A. Dunn is looking after the work. He is now operating two Shay engines and two score ore cars. Ore is now being handled by the little railroad from South Hecla, Emma Consolidated and Michigan Utah. The Columbus-Rexall will probably soon be shipping some ore via the new railroad, and the receiving station is within a stone's throw of the Rexall's ore bins. (Note: "two Shay engines")
It is expected that the South Hecla will give the railroad at least 125 tons a day until its large stockpiles are pretty well cleared up. These contained upwards of 2000 tons a short time ago, and a large daily breaking of new ore is in progress at the various stopes in the mine. It is expected soon to be handling 200 tons a day over the railroad to Wasatch, or about 1100 tons a week. When this is done, and the teams are also kept busy, it will give Alta a weekly production of well over 2000 tons, and possibly on maximum occasions this will reach 2500 tons.
It is now an easy and rather comfortable matter of going from Salt Lake to Alta. By the use of the auto to Wasatch and the railroad from there into camp, the trip of about twenty miles can be made in short order compared with the time when the street car and team were the hard, slow means only at hand.
August 8, 1918
Shand Smith, well known in mining circles for more than 15 years for his association with the Yampa smelter, the Ohio Copper company, and others, became manager of Little Cottonwood Transportation, replacing H. A. Dunn who had resigned and returned to New York. The narrow gauge railroad was handling 100 tons of ore per day, and would build a spur to the South Hecla mining company and increase its traffic to 200 tons per day. The spur to the South Hecla would be completed within a week. (Salt Lake Tribune, August 8, 1918)
August 13, 1918
The following comes from the August 13, 1918 issue of the Salt Lake Herald Republican newspaper:
It was stated yesterday afternoon by Shand Smith of the Little Cottonwood Transportation Railway company that the east extension of the line into Alta had that day reached the dumps of the South Hecla mining company. The new work is about 1200 feet long. The terminus is possibly 100 feet from where the South Hecla's old ore bins are, and big new bins will be constructed there. One venture was that they will cost $5,000 to $10,000. This is going to give the South Side's biggest mine a chance to get rid of some of its 1000 to 2000 tons of surplus ore, provided the Salt Lake & Alta at Wasatch will be in position to handle the large tonnage now coming down the canyon. This is estimated at not less than 200 tons a day.
Construction of a 300-foot spur from the railroad to the Columbus-Rexall is already under way. This will materially help out that mine also, which has been in shape to move 40 to 50 tons of ore daily by team. The bins will be reached this week.
Another Shay engine is being repaired with the expectation of keeping the two engines moving trains up and down the canyon when the camp is at its highest summer state of production.
Heavy rails and ties are being laid on the Salt Lake & Alta railway at Wasatch and to the west. It is stated, and it is thought that Alta may soon be able to increase its daily tonnage to possibly 300 tons or more than 2000 tons a week. At present about 1400 tons a week is coming down the canyon.
August 30, 1918
"The Little Cottonwood Transportation Railway Company, Shand Smith, manager, operating between Wasatch and Alta in Little Cottonwood canyon, is constructing a 300-foot spur from its main line, near Alta, to the loading bins of the Columbus-Rexall. Shay engines (note plural) are used as motive power on this scenic line, the construction of which has greatly improved the transportation facilities in the canyon." (Salt Lake Mining Review, August 30, 1918)
September 15, 1918
"Toppling Ore Bin Ties Up Alta Railway. Word from Alta yesterday was that one of the large ore bins of the Michigan-Utah at Tanners Flat had toppled over and buried a section of the Little Cottonwood Transportation railroad, tying up that road. This was confirmed by Manager Shand Smith of the railroad company. He said that he expected that the mass would be cleared away and the road again operating between Wasatch and Alta within three of four days. The road had not been operating for several days owing to the fact that some repairs were being made to the Shay engines. However, the operations should be normal at the first of the week." (Salt Lake Herald Republican, September 15, 1918)
September 29, 1918
The Alta mines were delivering 75 tons of ore per day to the Little Cottonwood Transportation company, split between the Michigan-Utah tramway at Tanner's Flat, and the South Hecla ore bins at Alta. Additional ore from other Alta mines was coming by team and wagon to Wasatch. All ore is being loaded into cars for the "old railroad" at Wasatch and moved to the Midvale smelter. (Salt Lake Herald Republican, September 29, 1918)
October 20, 1918
"Manager Shand Smith of the Little Cottonwood Transportation company came down from Alta and Wasatch yesterday. He made it a point to walk the entire length of the new ore railroad from Wasatch to camp, and reports that it is in good condition. The trains haul about 80 tons of ore to the trip. Each train pulls 12 to 13 cars. The cars contain about seven tons each. All the ore now being hauled direct from Alta is from the South Hecla, where connection was recently made with the new ore bins." (Salt Lake Herald Republican, October 20, 1918)
November 10, 1918
Most of the ore on the Little Cottonwood Transportation company's railroad was coming from the South Hecla mine. (Salt Lake Herald Republican, November 10, 1918)
November 14, 1918
"Little Cottonwood railroad last Monday (November 11th) sent down the heaviest ore train at any period this summer or fall, 131 tons in a single train. All this ore came from the South Hecla mine, which is located almost in the heart of Alta and to which the Little Cottonwood company has built a spur, direct to the property." (Salt Lake Tribune, November 14, 1918)
November 21, 1918
A train of nine cars was needed to haul about 75 tons of South Hecla ore from Alta down to Wasatch. (Salt Lake Herald Republican, November 23, 1918)
November 28, 1918
A cold snap of 3 degrees below zero hit Alta and the vicinity, freezing the water pipes and lines on the Little Cottonwood Transportation company's railroad. There was two to three feet of snow in the Alta camp. Although the railroad line was open between Wasatch and Alta, the Shay engines were not able to pump water from the creek to allow their operation. (Salt Lake Herald Republican, November 28, 1918)
November 30, 1918
"General Manager Shand Smith said yesterday that in accordance with advice received direct from the head office of the company in New York, the three engines that the company now uses between Wasatch and Alta would be thoroughly overhauled, and that from thirty to forty more six-ton cars would be acquired. The company now has forty of those six-ton cars and with he additional equipment expects to be able to transport from 300 to 400 tons of ore every day. Despite about two and one-half feet of snow, the line is still open and a train of ore was brought down from the South Hecla mine on Thanksgiving day." (Salt Lake Tribune, November 30, 1918)
(Note: "three engines" is contrary to records that the railroad had four Shay locomotives on the property.)
December 3, 1918
"Manager Shand Smith of the Little Cottonwood Transportation company said yesterday that the railroad is open and operating between Wasatch and the camp of Alta. Some lumber was sent on Sunday, and ore from the South Hecla was coming down yesterday. With the present favorable weather continuing, the ore railroad will help out considerably in relieving the congestion of ore at the Alta mines. The South Hecla has been sending down about 70 tons a day by rail and some by team, when the roads were good. The Michigan-Utah is able now to move about a car of ore daily between Tanners Flat and Wasatch, where it had 600 tons stored. Here the Salt & Alta railroad picks up most of the Alta ores." (Salt Lake Herald Republican, December 3, 1918)
December 7, 1918
The Little Cottonwood Transportation was shut down to the winter after the last train ran on "Saturday Night" (December 7th). During the year, "A line was run to the South Hecla's ore bins and the rails were extended to the Columbus-Rexall. Already connection had been made at Tanner's flat with the ore bins of the Michigan-Utah." During the winter, the locomotives and cars would be overhauled. With three feet of snow on the ground at Alta, teams and sleighs, each with a capacity of 5 to 6 tons, would bring the ore down the canyon, as they had been doing for 40 years. The use of teams and sleighs would continue through April, and possibly June. At the time of the report, there were four 8-horse outfits en route from the Michigan-Utah ore bins at Tanner's Flat. (Salt Lake Herald Republican, December 12, 1918, Thursday)
December 8, 1918
The Little Cottonwood Transportation company was shut down for the winter. During the shut down, the locomotives would be thoroughly rebuilt and the ore cars repaired. Fifty new ore cars would be built. (Salt Lake Tribune, December 9, 1918)
December 30, 1918
Little Cottonwood Transportation company operations have been suspended until spring. Repairs on the engines and cars was to be done during the winter months. (Salt Lake Mining Review, December 30, 1918)
During 1919 the line operated an eight mile railway between Wasatch and Alta, with an average grade of 7 percent and the greatest grade being 11 percent. Its principle shippers were: South Hecla Mining Company; Columbus Rexall Consolidated Mines Company; Sells Mining Company; Michigan Utah Consolidated Mines Company; and Alta Consolidated Mining Company. During 1919 a total of 7,298 tons were shipped in 1919: South Hecla shipped 6,537 tons; Columbus Rexall shipped 583 tons; Sells Mining shipped 133 tons; Louise Mining Company shipped 28 tons; and Wasatch Mines Company shipped 17 tons. (Utah PSC Case 213)
January 5, 1919
Manager Shand Smith stated that the three Shay locomotives would be put into condition for the coming ore hauling season. Forty more ore cars would be ordered, giving the railroad capacity to handle 500 tons per day. (Salt Lake Herald Republican, January 5, 1919)
March 7, 1919
Snowfall had been light through February, but a series of heavy storms had brought deep snow, and several slides and avalanches had buried the railroad's track as much as 30 feet in places, with snow and ice. The need to dig the tracks out from the slides forced a delay in the opening of the railroad for at least 60 days, until early May. (Salt Lake Herald Republican, March 7, 1919)
March 16, 1919
"During all this winter the railroad company has kept a large force of men steadily employed overhauling the cars at Wasatch, reinforcing them and making such other changes as will increase their capacity. The three Shay engines belonging to the road are in the Denver & Rio Grande shops, undergoing renovation and repair and they will be ready for service by the middle of April. The company is putting in two long sidings between Wasatch and Alta and will also replace the 30-pound rails on the South Hecla spur with 50-pound rails." (Salt Lake Tribune, March 16, 1919)
March 16, 1919
The Little Cottonwood Transportation company "has also secured an additional Shay engine, which is now on the ground, having received a thorough overhauling in the Rio Grande shops. The other two engines are also undergoing heavy repairs in the same shops and are expected to be ready for delivery within the next month." (Salt Lake Herald Republican, March 16, 1919)
March 29, 1919
In an attempt to resume operations, one of the Little Cottonwood Transportation three Shay engines had been able to reach Tanner's Flat, a distance of about four miles. Beyond that point a number of snow slides had buried the track, including across Superior Gulch, which is at the doorstep of Alta. Manager Shand Smith stated that he would make a strenuous effort to reach the ore bins of the Columbus-Rexall, and the South Hecla mines within two weeks. This would give "the little ore railroad seven of eight months of good hauling. It is expected to be able to operate the three Shays, with their 40 or 50 ore cars, up to well into December next." The aerial tramway of the Michigan-Utah company from Alta to Tanner's Flat was being "reconstructed" (repairs to damage by snow slides) and put into operation, with operations to resume in seven or eight days. (Salt Lake Herald Republican, March 29, 1919; April 1, 1919; April 8, 1919)
March 29, 1919
"Little Cottonwood Transportation (Alta) -- Narrow-gage line to Wasatch being put into condition for spring hauling after winter snows. Capacity increased by additional Shay engine making a total of three engines owned. Good shipments expected after winter of development work in mines." (Engineering and Mining Journal, Volume 107, Number 13, March 29, 1919, page 594)
April 20, 1919
The railroad had been cleared to White Pine, about one mile east of Tanner's Flat, but the slide at Superior Gulch still blocked the wagon road and railroad. Ice was several feet thick in the Superior cut, and explosives were used to clear the railroad and the wagon road. More snow had fallen and filled all the cuts that had previously been cleared. (Salt Lake Herald Republican, April 20, 1919)
May 2, 1919
The Alta camp was to open about a month early. The Michigan-Utah aerial tramway was in operation again, having been out of service for the past three months, and the Michigan-Utah was shipping ore four miles from its ore bins at Tanner's Flat, by way of wagons to the ore loading station at Wasatch. The road between Tanner's Flat and Wasatch was dry enough to allow wagons of 6000 pounds each. The South Hecla company would be shipping ore over the Little Cottonwood Transportation company's railroad "inside of the next week or ten days. Yesterday two bunches of men were cutting their way toward each other in Superior gulch, about a mile west of Alta. The west forces are those of the railroad, while the South Hecla has started men clearing the track from the east side. The two forces were about three-quarters of a mile apart. In places the cut is 10 to 18 feet deep." (Salt Lake Herald Republican, May 2, 1919)
May 4, 1919
After a slide that came down Superior Gulch during the winter season; "The track was buried 19 feet deep in places. This makes a deep narrow cut. But this man-made channel in the great spread of snow over the breast of the gulch is helping immensely the work of the midday sun. The workmen are run up from Wasatch to the slide by the little motor. However, it is expected to take out the Shays by the middle of the week, and perhaps be hauling ore from the South Hecla within a week, at least." (Salt Lake Herald Republican, May 4, 1919)
May 15, 1919
"Operations began on the South Hecla mine last Thursday (May 15th), following the opening of the Little Cottonwood Transportation company's railroad. Two cars have been shipped daily, making a total of twelve cars up to date." (Salt Lake Tribune, May 21, 1919)
May 24, 1919
"Little Cottonwood Transportation (Alta) -- Narrow-gage road clear and ore shipments from South Hecla and Columbus-Rexall to begin immediately." (Engineering and Mining Journal, Volume 107, Number 21, May 24, 1919, page 938)
May 25, 1919
"Manager Shand Smith of the Little Cottonwood Transportation company said yesterday that he has been hauling about 100 tons of ore a day since he got the work last week. All this ore is coming from the South Hecla, which last week shipped 500 tons of ore, and probably will average 600 to 700 tons the following week." (Salt Lake Herald Republican, May 25, 1919)
June 7, 1919
"Little Cottonwood Transportation (Alta) -- Narrow-gage taking out 12 cars daily, equivalent to two regular cars." (Engineering and Mining Journal, Volume 107, Number 23, June 7, 1919, page 1022)
September 9, 1919
The following comes from Utah Utilities Commission Case No. 213, Little Cottonwood Transportation company, approved September 9, 1919:
To increase freight rates.
Operates an 8 mile line of railway between Wasatch and Alta, with an average grade of 7 percent and the greatest grade being 11 percent.
Principle shippers are:
South Hecla Mining Company
Columbus Rexall Consolidated Mines Company
Sells Mining Company
Michigan Utah Consolidated Mines Company
Alta Consolidated Mining Company
7,298 tons were shipped in 1919: South Hecla shipped 6,537 tons; Columbus Rexall shipped 583 tons; Sells Mining shipped 133 tons; Louise Mining Company shipped 28 tons; and Wasatch Mines Company shipped 17 tons.
The application to raise the rates was protested by the South Hecla Mining Company.
November 6, 1919
The Little Cottonwood Transportation company asked for permission from the Utah Public Utilities Commission to close the railroad after November 1st, due to low tonnage, scarce labor, and poor weather conditions. The South Hecla protested to the commission and asked that the road be forced to stay open as long as weather permits. (Salt Lake Tribune, November 6, 1919)
November 22, 1919
After the Public Utilities Commission ordered the Little Cottonwood Transportation to resume operations (which had been suspended on November 1st). The newspapers wrongly reported that, upon hearing the decision, Shand Smith had resigned his position as manager of the railroad. In fact he had taken another position for the winter season. (Salt Lake Tribune, November 23, 1919)
December 12, 1919
Winter season shut down on December 12, 1919. (Utah PSC Case 240)
May 2, 1920
Little Cottonwood Transportation company completed a spur to the lower terminal of the Michigan-Utah aerial tramway at Tanner's Flat, along with a spur to the Alta Consolidated ore bin, also at Tanner's Flat. (Salt Lake Tribune, May 2, 1920)
May 2, 1920
"The Little Cottonwood Transportation company expects to have the railroad running up to the Columbus Rexall and Sells this week. The company has managed to clean the right of way of snow as far as Tanner's Flat, and it is probable that the road will be broke the rest of the way early in the week." (Salt Lake Herald Republican, May 2, 1920)
June 15, 1920
The Little Cottonwood Transportation company's railroad was opened for the season to the ore bin of the South Hecla mine at Alta. (Salt Lake Telegram, April 3, 1921; South Hecla annual report for 1920)
The company settled with federal government for the deficit incurred during the period of federal control during WW I.
- Operated under federal control from April 1, 1918 to February 29, 1920, known as the "federal period"
- Operated between Wasatch and the silver, copper, and lead mines located in Little Cottonwood Canyon
- approximately 8.5 miles connecting at Wasatch with D&RGW, also under federal control
- deficit incurred during the federal period was stated as $39,073.053
- (ICC Finance Docket 166, in 65 ICC 189)
September 18, 1920
Little Cottonwood Transportation Co. was approved to receive $39,073.23 from U. S. government as settlement for the period of time that the railroad was under the control of USRA, from April 1, 1918 to February 29, 1920. ICC Finance Docket 166. (65 ICC 189)
November 16, 1920
The Little Cottonwood Transportation company was closed for the winter season. (Salt Lake Tribune, November 17, 1920)
Began operations for the 1921 season on June 20. Stations on the line were shown as: Wasatch; Tanners; Drain Tunnel; Sells Mine; and Alta. (Utah PSC Case 463)
April 29, 1921
"Rail Report Filed. From the annual report of the Little Cottonwood Transportation company, operating a railroad from Wasatch to Alta, filed with the public utilities commission, it is learned that the total expense of operation during the year 1920 was $43,631.06 and the operating deficit was $23,533.81, which amount was transferred to profit and loss. The road transported 7210 tons of ore during the year, which was the entire traffic moved." (Salt Lake Telegram, April 29, 1921)
June 5, 1921
On June 10th, work would begin to clear the winter snow accumulation of the Little Cottonwood Transportation company's railroad, and the railroad was to be opened for operation on June 15th. The South Hecla mine also began clearing the tracks from the vicinity of its ore bin at Alta, and ore shipments would begin at the same time. The county road would be in good shape in about three weeks, and automobiles would be able to make the trip all the way to Alta. The most significant problem on the road were the large granite boulders, which were being removed with explosives. (Salt Lake Tribune, June 5, 1921)
June 21, 1921
The first train of empty ore cars made its way to the South Hecla ore bins, after a force of 16 men from the South Hecla mine, and a force of men from the railroad worked together to clear the Superior snow slide, and a washout at "Coalpit," about a mile east of Wasatch. A bridge on the D&RGW line between Wasatch and Midvale had washed out about a mile west of Wasatch, and D&RGW promised to put a repair crew to work getting the line into shape. (Salt Lake Tribune, June 21, 1921)
(Operations began on June 20, 1921 -- Salt Lake Tribune, August 19, 1921)
September 6, 1921
The following comes from Utah Public Utilities Commission Case No. 463, approved September 6, 1921:
To increase rates.
Began operations for the 1921 season on June 20.
Stations on the line are: Wasatch; Tanners; Drain Tunnel; Sells Mine; and Alta.
April 19, 1922
The Little Cottonwood Transportation company filed its annual report with the Utah Public Utilities Commission, for the year ending December 31, 1921. The railroad was 9.56 miles in length, from Wasatch to Alta. The operating revenue for the year was $10,052.50. The operating expense for the year was $21,231.88, leaving an operating debit of $11,179.38.
June 3, 1922
Little Cottonwood Transportation announced that the railroad would not be placed into operation this season, in accordance with orders from the railroad's owners in the East. The reason given was that all of the active mines had signed contracts with freight teams to haul all of their ore from mine to Wasatch by wagon and team. The mines had been using teams throughout the winter season when road conditions permitted, and had grown to prefer the method of transportation, since it was essentially year-around, instead of the six months every year when the railroad was not in operation. Application was made to the Utah Public Utilities Commission to allow the cessation of operations. (Salt Lake Tribune, June 3, 1922)
The Wasatch Mines at Alta was shipping four or five cars of ore weekly to the loading station at Wasatch. (Engineering and Mining Journal-Press, Volume 114, Number 2, July 8, 1922, page 77)
July 28, 1922
Passenger service between Wasatch and Alta, by the Little Cottonwood Transportation company, was to resume. Passenger service was to be by stage from Sandy to Wasatch, then by rail from Wasatch to Alta. Shand Smith was still shown as manager of the company. Service resumed on August 6th. (Salt Lake Tribune, July 28, 1922; August 6, 1922)
August 27, 1922
Shand Smith advised the Utah Public Utilities Commission that service on the Little Cottonwood Transportation would not be resumed, and that he would retire as of September 1st. The company's office in Salt Lake City would be closed, and all business would thereafter be conducted from its offices in New York City. (Salt Lake Tribune, August 27, 1922)
(Shand Smith would have been about 62 years old at this time.)
(No further apparent references after August 1922 in online newspapers to Little Cottonwood Transportation Company.)
The Michigan-Utah mine at Alta was shipping 28 tons per day. (Salt Lake Mining Review, December 15, 1923)
March 12, 1923
The Interstate Commerce Commission "Statistics of Railways" for the year ending December 31, 1923, shows Little Cottonwood Transportation company as owning and operating 8.25 miles; "Property purchased by George H. Watson, March 12, 1923."
(Not listed in ICC Statistics of Railways for the year ending December 31, 1924)
April 7, 1923
George H. Watson and others interested in the George H. Watson & Company investment house and brokerage, organized the Alta Merger Mines Company to own or control 21 mining companies, along with the Emma Silver Mines company, the South Hecla Mines company, and the Alta Michigan Mines company, and several additional independent mines in the Cottonwood and American Fork mining districts. The merger also included "the taking over of eight miles of railroad running from the mouth of Little Cottonwood canyon, to loading stations in the Alta Merger mining district." (Ogden Standard Examiner, April 8, 1923)
(This action by George Watson indicates that Pearson Engineering stepped away from the operation of the narrow gauge railroad between Wasatch and Alta. Pearson had already ended operations in August 1922, eight months before. A possibility is that George Watson took over the lease given to the Little Cottonwood Transportation Company by D&RGW.)
June 17, 1923
A large group of "nearly 400 people" traveled from Salt Lake City to Alta, as part of a chamber of commerce excursion arranged by George Watson. Transportation was by rail to Wasatch, then by "automobile bus operating over the Little Cottonwood railroad" to the mining camp of Alta. An employee of the U. S. reclamation service, C. J. Blanchard, was reported as taking "moving pictures" during the trip from Wasatch to Alta. (Salt Lake Tribune, June 18, 1923, "yesterday")
February 1, 1924
Following the successful excursion in June 1923, George Watson announced the start of a daily excursion service from Salt Lake City to Alta, with an underground mine tour. "The excursion can be made in an afternoon. Automobile stages of the Salt Lake Transportation company will convey tourists from Salt Lake to Wasatch, at the mouth of the canyon, by way of Highland Drive. From Wasatch to Alta ... the trip will be made in open cars over the Alta Scenic railroad." (Salt Lake Tribune, February 1, 1924)
The service apparently started in June 1924. (Salt Lake Tribune, June 6, 1924; June 14, 1924, with advertisement)
(The only mention in online newspapers of the so-called "Alta Scenic Railway," is during the 1924 season, and only in relation to tourists being moved from Wasatch and Alta, after automobile buses had moved them between Salt Lake City and Wasatch over the county road.)
Little Cottonwood Transportation Company ceased its lease and operation of the Wasatch to Alta portion of the Wasatch Branch. Portion of line later operated by private parties. (LeMassena, p. 145)
During the years of its operation, the Little Cottonwood Transportation company moved 2000 tourists each season over its railroad between Wasatch and Alta, which it operated with gasoline trucks on steel wheels on narrow gauge tracks. (Salt Lake Telegram, December 28, 1935)
April 15, 1925
J. P. Clays, manager of the Peruvian Mining Company, organized the Alta-Wasatch Tramway Company in April 1925 to build a 6-1/2 mile aerial tramway between the mines at Alta and the railroad terminal at Wasatch (3.5 miles below Tanners). The upper terminal was to be just below the operating and drainage tunnel of the Wasatch Mining Company at the mouth of Peruvian Gulch and about 4000 feet below the Peruvian mine itself. The capacity was to be 150 tons per day. The haulage rate for the tramway was said to be about $1.50 to $3.00 per ton compared to the $2.50 to $4.00 and more being charged by the wagon freight companies. No projected date of completion was given. The mines at Alta included the Wasatch, the Hellgate, the West Toledo, the Columbus-Rexall, the Alta Merger, the Emma, the Alta Consolidated, the Michigan-Utah, and others. (Salt Lake Mining Review, April 15, 1925)
(Note that the above news item does not mention the railroad, being the former narrow gauge tramway between Wasatch and Alta operated in the 1875-1895 time period, or the later Little Cottonwood Transportation Company, operated between Wasatch and the lower terminal of the Michigan-Utah aerial tramway at Tanners.)
April 30, 1925
After shipping 276 tons of combination silver-lead-gold-copper ore during the past quarter, the Emma Silver mine reported that it had 100 tons of the same quality ore waiting to be mined and shipped. The mine was waiting for the "spring break-up" to end, and the roads to be put into condition for hauling from mine to railroad at Wasatch. (Salt Lake Mining Review, April 30, 1925)
(This indicates that the old narrow gauge railroad between Alta and Wasatch was not being used by "Alta Scenic Railroad" or anybody else to ship mined ore.)
July 17, 1927
"The stage operating over the Little Cottonwood railroad is now running to Alta instead of a part-way trip enforced by snow conditions." (Salt Lake Tribune, July 17, 1927)
Also, by about this same time, Shay locomotives 2 and 4 were "sold" back to Morse Brothers, the dealer in Denver where they had been originally purchased second-hand.
According to information in the Lima builder's record, in November 1925, Shay locomotive no. 1 was converted from wood fuel, to coal fuel, by an unknown owner, apparently *not* either Little Cottonwood Transportation, or on Alta Scenic. The locomotive may have been in service at the time as Pioche Pacific Transportation Company no. 3, at Pioche, Nevada.
Later research concerning the methods of financing locomotives suggests the possibility that Little Cottonwood Transportation likely "purchased" all four locomotives from Morse Brothers, using a mortgage-lease "lease-to-own" arrangement with annual lease payments. And when the railroad failed in 1922 due to the aerial tramway being built between Alta and Wasatch, Morse Brothers repossessed all four due to non-payment of the lease. The locomotives may, or may not have been actually moved to Denver. In fact, a photo in Trains magazine taken in 1933 shows a wrecked Shay locomotive among the brush and small trees at the side of the former right-of-way.
Shay locomotive no. 3 was sold to Utah Iron Ore Corporation.
October 3, 1965
The following history of Alta after the shut down of the railroad comes from the October 3, 1965 issue of the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper:
George H. Watson is remembered by many as the "Mayor of Alta," the man who did much to introduce Alta into the era of skiing. In 1909, George Watson was hired as manager of the South Hecla Mining Co. Twenty-two years later, Mr. Watson had become the controlling shareholder of Alta United Mines Co., a consolidation of several properties.
Mr. Watson also took over the railroad in 1922 (sic: 1923) and promoted a scenic ride that has something of a counterpart in the recreational doings on the other side of the mountain at Park City's Treasure Mountains.
Consider this bit from an "Alta Scenic Railway" brochure in the Twenties: "The trip up Little Cottonwood Canyon is a delightful excursion into a sylvan paradise. The sturdy cars of the Alta Scenic Railway carry you over the most beautiful landscape imagination can picture. When you arrive at the head of the canyon there are many things to do. You may go underground through a labyrinth of the mine working in the Old Emma Silver Mine, or content yourself with a stroll around to the other mines of the camp..."
But 1929 and the Big Depression brought an end to cheerful tourist excursions. Trains and aerial trams were shut down. Five years later the train tracks were ripped up.
Mining continued only slightly through the Thirties. Only $752,200 in gold, silver, copper, lead and zinc was produced for that decade.
Rights Transferred. In 1937, Alta United Mines Co. turned over to the U.S. Forest Service surface rights on some 1,700 acres of land for development or recreation. It was a magnanimous move. And it posed another consideration: A road that would haul skiers, hikers and picnickers into the area, and which could be used year-round to haul ore out. And Alta at that time had no modern road.
The skiing era is at a peak. Alta snow is reckoned as among the most alluring and consistently best skiing snow in the world by its unique internal structuring.
But skiing did not resurrect a dead camp. And while mining activity in the snow-blanketed ridges would seem remote in time, the pulse beat is there yet.
More Development. Since 1935, an estimated $1,450,000 has been spent in continued development of the mines properties, according to Walter Hoppe vice president of Alta United Mines Co.
In the past 30 years nearly 2-1/2 million dollars in gross values has come out of various mines at various times.
Development work has added two miles of tunnels, side drifts, shafts, winces and raises of the 43-mile labyrinth of workings in Emma Hill.
A change in metal prices, development of new processes and the impending demand for metals could mean that Alta someday will have another mining era. That's the hope of present owners and developers.
Little Cottonwood Canyon Railroads — A Google map of the railroads in Little Cottonwood Canyon, with the Little Cottonwood Transportation being the 3.5 mile portion between Wasatch and Tanners.
No documents or online newspaper items have yet been found concerning the formal abandonment of the narrow-gauge portion between Wasatch and Alta.
The former narrow gauge right-of-way (9.6 miles) was sold to Salt Lake County in 1935, and was used for a new highway that was completed in November 1936.
Little Cottonwood Locomotives — A roster listing of Little Cottonwood's four Shay locomotives.
Railroads of Little Cottonwood Canyon — Information about the railroads that served the quarries, smelters, and mines of Little Cottonwood Canyon.
Trains Magazine, Letters to the Editor, 1951-1952
The following group of Letters to the Editor appeared in Trains magazine, November 1951 through October 1952, concerning the early railroad in Little Cottonwood canyon.
Shand Smith Biographical Notes
(Note that Shand Smith is not mentioned in available online newspapers as being associated with Pearson Engineering.)
1890 — Shand Smith began a 12-year employment with Rio Grande Western. Approximately 28 years of age.
April 1892 — Shand Smith, age 30, married Gay Trout, age 19, in Salt Lake County. (Salt Lake Tribune, April 17, 1892)
September 1892 — Shand Smith shown as secretary-treasurer of Henrietta Mining Company, which held four mining claims in the Henry mountains in Garfield County. Other officers of the company were a superintendent of RGW, and a roadmaster of RGW. (Salt Lake Tribune, September 21, 1892)
October 1892 — "Shand Smith of the Rio Grande Western has returned from a Denver trip." (Salt Lake Tribune, October 16, 1892)
December 1892 — Shown as chief clerk to Arthur E. Welby, general superintendent of the Rio Grande Western. (Salt Lake Tribune, December 6, 1892)
October 1895 — Shand Smith was promoted from chief clerk to Mr. Welby, to chief accountant of all of RGW. (Salt Lake Tribune, October 24, 1895)
October 1896 — Shand Smith shown as president of the Japan Mining Company, with properties in Dry Canyon at Ophir. He remained as a director of the company when it was reorganized as the Daylight Mining and Milling company in March 1901. (Salt Lake Tribune, October 20, 1896; February 21, 1897; Deseret Evening News, March 14, 1901)
February 1898 — Shand Smith became chief clerk to Mr. Welby as general superintendent of the RGW, replacing A. H. Cowie who had resigned to head to the Klondike. (Salt Lake Tribune, February 23, 1898)
May 1900 — "Chief Clerk Shand Smith of the general superintendent's office, Rio Grande Western, was kept busy yesterday..." (Salt Lake Herald, May 3, 1900)
March 1901 — Shand Smith shown as treasurer of the newly organized Garn Oil Company, with properties at Green River, Utah. (Salt Lake Herald, March 7, 1901)
October 1901 — Shand Smith shown as secretary-treasurer of the newly organized Utah Oil Company, to develop oil deposits in Grand County, Utah. (Salt Lake Herald, October 20, 1901)
July 1902 — Shand Smith remains as the chief clerk of RGW general superintendent Welby, who resigned on July 31st. Welby was replaced by Joseph H. Young on August 1st. (Salt Lake Tribune, July 30, 1902; Deseret Evening News, July 31, 1902)
October 1902 — Shand Smith resigned as chief clerk of the general superintendent of the RGW, now fully owned and controlled by D&RG. Smith held the chief clerk position for 12 years. (Salt Lake Herald, October 6, 1902; Salt Lake Telegram, October 16, 1902)
December 1902 — Shand Smith was one of the organizers of the newly created Lynn-Smith Company, a real estate, loans, and brokerage company, with Smith as secretary-treasurer. (Salt Lake Telegram, December 6, 1902)
May 1906 — Shand Smith shown as manager of the Yampa smelter in Bingham Canyon, owned by Tintic Mining and Development Company. (Salt Lake Tribune, May 1, 1906)
June 1909 — Shand Smith resigned his position as cashier, purchasing agent and accountant with the Yampa group, to go into business for himself. (Salt Lake Tribune, June 20, 1909) (Numerous references after that with Smith as auditor, secretary, treasurer, accountant of organizations such as mining companies and other businesses.)
November 1916 — Shand Smith shown as agent for the Little Cottonwood Transportation Company, incorporated in Maine.
August 1918 — Shand Smith became Manager of Little Cottonwood Transportation company. He appears to have continued some of his mine management and development activities.
August 1922 — Shand Smith announced that he would retire as of September 1st (at about 62 years of age), and the offices of the Little Cottonwood Transportation company in Salt Lake City would be closed.
June 1925 — Shand Smith sold his home in Salt Lake City and moved to northern California. After retiring in 1922, he had moved to Montana to continue his management of the Jib mine there, which began in 1919. By June 1925 he was no longer associated with the Montana company and had been residing in San Francisco for the past two years. (Salt Lake Telegram, June 17, 1925; Salt Lake Mining Review, June 30, 1925)
Walter K. Yorston Biographical Notes
September 1915 — Walter K. Yorston shown as president and general manager of the newly organized Alta-Cottonwood Transportation company, the predecessor to the Little Cottonwood Transportation company one year later. No mention of his later association with the large Pearson Engineering company. In February 1916, Yorston and Pearson are first mentioned in association with the Little Cottonwood project. In December 1915, Pearson had been engaged by Eastern investors to survey and plan the extension of the Denver & Salt Lake railroad across Utah's Uintah Basin.
April 1916 — Walter K. Yorston took a contract to transport ore from the Lake View Mining company in the Promontory mining district, and to build a narrow gauge railroad from the mine to the Southern Pacific railroad. The contract was turned over to a new company, Promontory Development and Transportation company, organized for the purpose.
October 1916 — Walter K. Yorston, while building "Alta-Cottonwood" railroad, shown as western general manager of Pearson Engineering company of New York, the contractor for the construction work. (Ogden Standard, October 11, 1916)
June 1917 — Walter K. Yorston apparently completed the construction of the Little Cottonwood Transportation company's railroad, and relocated to Iron County within a few months.
(This entry in June 1917 appears to be the last for Walter K. Yorston as the "western manager of Pearson Engineering," the company building the railroad in Little Cottonwood canyon. In May 1918 he was located in Iron County surveying and investigating the potential tonnage of iron ore for a possible railroad. By July he was promoting a railroad between Desert Mound and Lund, on the Salt Lake Route railroad, in the name of the Utah Development Company.)
March 1918 — Walter K. Yorston was arrested in Los Angeles and returned to Utah to face charges of desertion of his wife and child, without providing for means of their support. (Salt Lake Tribune, March 24, 1918)
June 1918 — Walter K. Yorston, formerly with Pearson Engineering, was in Iron County, Utah, planning for the construction of a standard gauge railroad to be built between Lund on the Salt Lake Route, and the iron mines at Desert Mound. (Iron County Record, June 21, 1918)
September 1921 — "Major Walter K. Yorston, engineer in charge of the construction on the Wasatch-Alta railroad, who has been in the city for several days, will leave today for Idaho to look after mining interests. Major Yorston, since leaving Salt Lake several years ago, has spent the greater part of his time in Europe and Mexico." (Salt Lake Tribune, September 21, 1921)
(A review of online national newspapers shows that from the early 1920s onward, Yorston was living in Boise and in New York City, and known generally as an "Idaho mining man," had numerous occasions to be investigated and indicted for stock fraud, mail fraud and non-payment of debts. In November 1928, he was shown as president of Idaho Copper Corp. [since 1924], and after a trial in New York City, was sentenced to nine months in the Westchester county jail.)
July 1932 — Yorston apparently took residence in Reno, Nevada, and was shown as the engineer of the Adams-Rice placer mine, near Reno. In August, he took over operation of the May Adams mine. (Reno Gazette Journal, July 14, 1932; Yerington Mason Valley News, August 5, 1932)
July 1933 — Yorston was engaged to complete a survey of a railroad between Lund and Cedar City, Utah. (Beaver County News, July 20, 1933)
October 1939 — Yorston was shown as age 58, following a automobile accident in downtown Reno. (Reno Gazette Journal, October 11, 1939)
October 1945 — "Walter K. Yorston Dies Suddenly. Taken ill suddenly two days ago, Walter K. Yorston, Reno mining engineer, died Thursday evening at a local hospital. A native of Detroit, Mich., he was 64 years old, and was a native of the Spanish-American war. He came to Nevada 14 years ago from California. For several years he had been interested in the development of iron deposits in this state, and also operated a placer property. Surviving are a son, Walter L. Yorston of Reno; a sister and two brothers, Mrs. Frank Zoder, Frank and Robert Yorston of New York. Funeral arrangements are in charge of the O'Brien-Rogers Co." (Reno Gazette Journal, October 12, 1945) (Yorston was buried in the veterans section of the Mountain View cemetery in Reno.)