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Ogden Rapid Transit Company

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This page was last updated on July 22, 2013.

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Overview

Ogden Rapid Transit Company operated the street railroads in Ogden from its organization in 1900, until the 1914 merger along with Logan Rapid Transit that formed the Ogden, Logan & Idaho Railway.

The OL&I was renamed to the Utah Idaho Central Railroad in 1918, and in 1920, the street railroads were separated from UIC, to a newly organized Utah Rapid Transit Company. The end of street railroads in Ogden came in 1935 when the electric street cars of Utah Rapid Transit were replaced by gasoline buses. Utah Rapid Transit itself was reorganized in 1936 as the Ogden Transit Company.

In 1899, Ogden residents David Eccles and Thomas Dee became concerned about the condition of their city's deteriorating street railway as they were being operated by the current company, Ogden Electric Railway, and offered to purchase the company from its Midwestern owners. In May 1900, Eccles and Dee organized Ogden Rapid Transit Company to acquire and operate the properties of the Ogden Electric Railway. At the time, Ogden Electric Railway was operating only two cars - one on Washington Avenue and the other on 25th Street. The company's other cars were not fit for service. At midnight on Saturday, May 19, 1900, the Ogden Rapid Transit Co. took over the operation of the former Ogden Electric Railway.

Ogden Electric Railway had been organized on November 28, 1890, for the purpose of operating a street railway "along, upon and through the streets and public thoroughfares of Ogden City, and along, over, and upon the public highways of Weber County." The company soon made preparations to electrify its newly acquired system, with the work being completed by September 1891. The new company succeeded in building only a single electric line, and accumulated a heavy debt doing it, suggesting that all of the company's other street car lines in Ogden were still steam-operated.

The Ogden Rapid Transit Company was an Eccles company. David Eccles, head of the Eccles family and one of the wealthiest men in Utah, was the founder and heaviest investor. Throughout the history of Ogden Rapid Transit, and the later Ogden, Logan & Idaho Railway (after 1918, the Utah Idaho Central Railway), the name Eccles was never missing from the board of directors. Ogden Rapid Transit rapidly put the streetcar lines into first-class condition. The main line was along Washington Avenue, which in July 1900 was double-tracked between 19th and 23rd streets. A branch was built to Glenwood Park, and later extended up into Ogden Canyon.

Six streetcar routes operated in Ogden, with a total length of about 24 miles. Between 1900 and 1914, streetcars were operated by the Ogden Rapid Transit Company. In 1914, Ogden Rapid Transit Company joined with Logan Rapid Transit Company (both were owned by the same interests) to form the Ogden, Logan & Idaho Railway, which became the Utah Idaho Central Railroad in 1918. Ogden, Logan & Idaho (and the later UIC) continued to operate streetcar service in both cities until the cities began paving their streets. At that time, many of the lines were removed because the railroad couldn't pay its share of the paving costs. The electric street cars were replaced by gasoline buses in 1935.

Timeline

Ogden Rapid Transit Company

April 30, 1900
Ogden City granted a franchise to Hiram H. Spencer and Joseph P. Smith to build and operate a street railway in Ogden, except on Wall Avenue south of Twenty-fifth Street. (Ogden Standard, April 12, 1904)

May 16, 1900
Ogden Rapid Transit Company was organized, "To acquire, own, maintain, and operate a system of street railways and other transit in and upon the streets of Ogden and in other parts of Weber County outside of the Ogden city limits." (Utah corporation index number 13120)

May 19, 1900
"The Ogden Rapid Transit (ORT) was organized in May, 1900, for the purpose of acquiring and operating the properties of the Ogden Electric Railway Company (OER). At the time the OER was operating only two cars: one on Washington Ave. and the other on 25th St. The company's other cars were unfit for service. At midnight on Saturday, May 19, 1900, the ORT began operation." (Swett, Interurbans of Utah, page 70)

March 29, 1902
In a news item, Ogden Rapid Transit was reported as planning to extend its Twenty-fifth Street line "farther up the hill." Some of the cars formerly used on the Washington Avenue line were to have new trucks installed and would be used as "trailers."

March 28, 1904
The original franchise to Hiram H. Spencer and Joseph P. Smith for a street railway in Ogden was amended to accept that they had sold and transferred their interests to the Ogden Rapid Transit Company. The franchise was extended to 21 years from March 28, 1904, and to allow a new railway line to be completed along Wall Avenue between Twenty-fifth and Twenty-eighth streets, providing that said new line was completed within one year. (Ogden Standard, April 12, 1904)

March 1906
Plans were being made to build a new line into Ogden Valley and Huntsville, by way of Ogden Canyon, as early as March 1906. (Ogden Standard, March 5, 1906, "Extension of the Car Lines")

May 1, 1906
Several hundred feet of temporary railway were laid from Ogden Rapid Transit tracks, east into Ogden Canyon. (Ogden Standard, May 2, 1906, "yesterday afternoon")

October 25, 1906
David Eccles empatically denied any and all rumors that he had sold the Ogden street railway to E. H. Harriman. (Ogden Starndard, October 25, 1906) (The story had been carried in the October 25, 1906 issue of the Salt Lake Herald.) (Later events showed that Harriman bought the Salt Lake City street car system on October 27, 1906.)

June 30, 1907
There were a total of six cars in service on Ogden Rapid Transit, with two to be used in service to Hot Springs when that line is fully electrified. (Salt Lake Herald, June 30, 1907)

On March 30, 1909, Ogden Rapid Transit Company was granted franchises from Ogden City for operation along Wall Avenue south of 21st Street. On January 26, 1907, February 21, 1907, and June 16, 1925, Ogden City granted other franchises to Ogden Rapid Transit Company. (Public Service Commission of Utah, case 2419)

By March 1909, the routes of Ogden Rapid Transit included six separte street car lines:

Ogden Rapid Transit completed its line from Ogden to Huntsville in the Ogden Valley in 1915, after first extending its Canyon Mouth (Sanitarium) Line up-canyon to The Hermitage resort in 1909. The Electric Railway Journal of November 12, 1910, wrote of the line's first (1910) season:

The most interesting portion of the system [Ogden Rapid Transit] is the line that was put in service a year ago last summer in the canyon of the Ogden River. This canyon has long been famed among tourists as well as among the residents of Utah for its exceptional scenic features. The lower end of the canyon is particularly rugged and picturesque and the few spots where it widens out have been utilized for resorts, camping sites and summer homes. About two years ago, officials of ORT, realizing the possibilities of the canyon as a revenue producer, began the construction of a line to The Hermitage, a popular hotel and resort in the canyon.

The company was already operating a branch to a sanitarium near the mouth of the canyon. This line was extended along the bank of the river and for the most part on the side opposite the wagon road. For the greater portion of the distance the roadbed had to be blasted out of solid rock, and concrete banks and walls had to be built to hold the grade. Nearly all the post holes for the trolley line also had to be prepared by blasting. A fair idea of the heavy construction necessary may be gained from the fact that the three miles of line in the canyon cost $100,000.

The total length of the line from the Union Depot in Ogden is seven miles and in that distance the road rises 700 feet to a 5000-foot elevation at the upper end [at The Hermitage]. The maximum grade is 4 percent, and this extends for a distance of about 2000 feet. The prevailing grade is 2-3/4 percent, and the maximum curvature is 30 degrees. There are not many cuts in the line, but such as have been made have also required fills of rock, the deepest of them being about 16 feet. The line crosses the river three different times in the canyon, at one point by means of an 80-foot, steel plate girder bridge. Rails weighing 48 pounds [per yard] are used, and five sidings are provided so that a 10-minute headway can be maintained if desired.

Simon Bamberger, who owned The Hermitage, also wanted to build a rail line to his resort hotel; as did the Ogden Rapid Transit Co., backed by the Eccles family. Bamberger acted by surveying and grading an extension from his Lincoln Avenue line in Ogden eastward toward the canyon's mouth. Ogden Rapid Transit started its extension from its line already in service to a sanitarium near the mouth of the canyon. Eccles got started first, and was closer, so Bamberger reluctantly withdrew, abandoning his virtually completed grade, which later became part of the public highway into the canyon.

With the completion of the Ogden Canyon Line, Ogden Rapid Transit took delivery of four new "suburban" cars from St. Louis Car Co. to operate the new route. These cars were much larger and heavier than anything the company had previously operated. They were equipped with smoking compartments and toilets, and seated 46 passengers. Three years later, in 1913, the company rebuilt two of its older cars, numbers 16 and 17, as unique open-roof observation cars for use in the canyon.

The Independence Day holiday of 1910 saw 7,000 passengers carried over the new Ogden Canyon line, making one think that a trip to The Hermitage and its adjacent picnic grounds must have been "the" thing to do that weekend. The average Sunday and holiday travel numbers were about 1,800 passengers, with half that number on weekdays. These figures were for the months of June, July, and August, during which a car was operated every 20 minutes. During winter, the schedule was cut back to a car every one hour and 20 minutes. (Electric Railway Journal, November 12, 1910, quoted in Swett, Interurbans of Utah, p. 72)

Ogden, Logan & Idaho Railway

May 1914
The streetcar lines of Ogden were included in Ogden Rapid Transit's merger with Logan Rapid Transit that formed the Ogden, Logan & Idaho Railway in May 1914. By that date, the streetcars were also operating over Wall Avenue from 33rd Street, north to 24th Street and east to Washington, a distance of 1.5 miles. There were also other lines: along Jefferson Avenue from 25th Street to 27th Street, then along 27th Street to Van Buren Avenue (one mile); the 22nd Street Line had been shifted at Adams, north to 21st Street, then east along 21st to Van Buren (the tracks were removed along 22nd Street east of Adams); and the 23rd Street Line had been added from Washington to Harrison Avenue and along Harrison to 24th Street (1.2 miles). (Swett, Interurbans of Utah, p. 76) (Also see an article, with photos, of Ogden composite car, photo of number 45, by J. G. Brill Company, six cars, in Street Railway Journal, Volume 43, no. 24 June 13, 1914, p. 1326)

Also included in the Ogden, Logan & Idaho merger was Ogden Rapid Transit's suburban line along Washington to North Ogden, through Pleasant View and west to Hot Springs and Brigham City. This was the former Ogden & Northwestern line between Ogden and Brigham City, built by the Ogden & Hot Springs company in 1889, sold to Ogden & Northwestern in 1903; and re-sold to Ogden Rapid Transit in June 1911. The Ogden, Logan & Idaho company immediately built a new line from the Fairgrounds, at 17th Street and Wall Avenue, northwest to Harrisville, then north to Hot Springs, and a connection with Ogden Rapid Transit's original O&NW line to Brigham City via North Ogden. Ogden, Logan & Idaho Railway changed its name and became the Utah Idaho Central Railway in January 1918.

(Read more about Ogden, Logan & Idaho Railway)

Utah Rapid Transit Company

September 29, 1919
Utah Rapid Transit Company was organized, "To construct, purchase, lease and otherwise acquire, to equip, maintain or operate by steam, electricity or other motive power, railroads and railroad lines outside the state of Delaware, including the lines of street railway formerly owned by the Utah Idaho Central Railroad, a Utah corporation, which said lines of street railway are located in the City of Ogden, County of Weber, State of Utah, and in the City of Logan, County of Cache, State of Utah." (Utah corporation number 14254)

January 1920
The streetcar lines in Ogden and up Ogden Canyon to Huntsville were separated from Utah Idaho Central in January 1920, under the new name of the Utah Rapid Transit Co. At that point, URT's property consisted of 39 miles of trackage: 31.25 miles of single track; 5.81 miles of second track; and 2.05 miles of spur tracks. There were also 44 motor cars, three trailers, and five work cars.(Public Service Commission of Utah, case 727, decided September 27, 1924)

September 27, 1924
Utah Rapid Transit received Utah Public Utilities Commission approval to increase rates. (Public Service Commission of Utah, case 727, decided September 27, 1924)

May 5, 1928
Utah Rapid Transit discontinued streetcar service over the former Ogden & Northwestern's original Plain City line, built in 1914, along Harrisville Avenue, from Five Points to the crossing with the newer Utah Idaho Central line north to Harrisville. At the point of the former crossing, a connection was made that allowed UIC trains to operate directly over the Plain City Branch. The reason given for the discontinuance was that the public was adequately served by line to North Ogden along Washington Avenue. (Public Service Commission of Utah, case 1031, decided on May 5, 1928)

September 20, 1932
During the summer of 1932, several floods in Ogden Canyon damaged the tracks of Utah Rapid Transit's line to Huntsville. In September, URT received regulatory approval to discontinue railroad service, to remove its tracks from the route between Ogden and Huntsville, and to substitute buses and light trucks (for less-than-carload shipments) over the well maintained public highway that paralleled the entire route through Ogden Canyon. (Public Service Commission of Utah, case 1281, decided on September 20, 1932)

November 25, 1932
Utah Rapid Transit received additional regulatory approval to remove its agent and to close the station at Huntsville. A condition put in place by the Public Service Commission was that the bus currently being operated, would arrive 15 minutes earlier than before, at 7:45 a.m., to provide the 33 students in Huntsville with someplace warm to wait until the bus departed at 8 a.m. Other stations in the area functioned like this, with school trains that waited to provide shelter for the students, on Utah Idaho Central in Cache Valley, at Wellsville, Millville, Providence, and Hyde Park. The school trains of UIC and URT were an unusual operation in interurban passenger service, especially in the West. (Public Service Commission of Utah, cases 1269 and 1281, decided November 25, 1932)

June 13, 1933
The removal of streetcar tracks in Ogden began in mid-June 1933, when Utah Rapid Transit received approval to discontinue service along 28th Street. The route ran east along 28th from Washington Avenue to Jefferson Avenue, then south along Jefferson Avenue to 33rd Street. (Public Service Commission of Utah, case 1307, decided June 13, 1933)

October 19, 1934
The tracks in Ogden Canyon between Black Rock Point and Huntsville were removed in late 1934 to allow for the construction of Pine View Dam. The tracks below the dam site, from Ogden to Black Rock Point, remained in place and were used to supply materials to build the dam. (Public Service Commission of Utah, case 1671, decided October 19, 1934)

August 5, 1935
The state Public Service Commission approved URT's request to replace all of its streetcar service with gasoline bus service, and to abandon and remove all tracks from the city's streets. (Public Service Commission of Utah, case 1779, decided August 5, 1935)

December 16, 1936
All rights of the Utah Rapid Transit Co. were transferred to the new Ogden Transit Company. (Public Service Commission of Utah, case 1281)

November 9, 1940
In early November 1940, Utah Rapid Transit's successor company, a new bus-only carrier named Ogden Transit Company, received approval to cancel the entire Ogden Canyon bus route. (Supplementary order to Public Service Commission of Utah, case 1281, decided on November 9, 1940)

May 28, 1947
Ogden Transit Company (the bus company) received Utah Public Utilities Commission approval to purchase the Ogden car barns of the Utah Idaho Central Railroad which had ceased operations at 12:01 a.m. on February 16, 1947. The car barns, located at 17th Street and Lincoln Avenue, were erected in 1915, and measured 90 feet by 325 feet by 23 feet high, made of brick. (Public Service Commission of Utah, case 3121, decided on May 28, 1947)

Equipment Listing

Ogden Rapid Transit Equipment -- Equipment information from Interurbans of Utah by Ira Swett.

More Information

Ogden Rapid Transit Corporate Information

Utah Rapid Transit Corporate Information

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