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Salt Lake City Southern Railroad

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This page was last updated on November 21, 2014.

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Salt Lake City Southern Railroad (SL) operates a line owned by Utah Transit Authority by use of trackage rights. The line extends from Salt Lake City on the north, to Mount, on the south, a distance of 25 miles. In November 2000, SL leased and assumed switching operations from Union Pacific for the former D&RGW Small Arms Industrial Park on Salt Lake City's west side, at about 1300 South, west of Redwood Road. Traffic on the Salt Lake City Southern includes cement, animal feed and grain, lumber, forest products, minerals and stone, plastics, and chemicals.

The rail line between Salt Lake City and Mount was a former UP main line, originally built by Utah Southern Railroad in 1871-1872. Salt Lake City Southern short line service started April 19, 1993. SL has a freight easement over the line and trackage rights over a short segment of UP in the Murray to Midvale area. SL is a sister company of Utah Railway Company which is owned by Genesee & Wyoming, Inc.

According to the National Railway Historical Society web site, the SL reporting mark was active from January 1994 to July 2000. (NRHS.com; broken link)

Traffic includes cement, animal feed and grain, lumber and forest products, food products, minerals and stone, petroleum products, plastics, and chemicals (about 2,100 cars in 1994, and about 3,500 cars in 2001).

Interchange is made with UP at Murray, UT and Salt Lake City - Roper Yard.

The line is operated using Utah Railway locomotives and crews.


December 31, 1992
ICC approved UTA's acquisition of UP's Provo Sub between 900 South in Salt Lake City, and Mount, at the line between Salt Lake County and Utah County. (ICC Finance Docket 32186)

March 31, 1993
Union Pacific sold a portion of its right-of-way between Salt Lake City and Provo to the Utah Transit Authority as part of its planned operation of light rail along the Wasatch Front. The actual trackage and railroad right-of-way involved includes the former Union Pacific route from 900 South in Salt Lake City south to the county line between Salt Lake County and Utah County. UTA also purchased the rights to first refusal on the UP line from the county line south to Lindon, Utah, in Utah County. Also included in the sale to UTA was the Dahl Spur, which runs west from the former UP tracks, under the Southern Pacific (former D&RGW) tracks and Interstate 15, to the west side of Midvale, at the former location of the abandoned smelter of the United States Smelting, Refining & Mining Company, later known as Sharon Steel Company. UTA acquired this trackage because of the existing access under the Interstate, saving them from having to fund such an underpass in the future. There was also some existing rail business at the end of the spur.

The proposed sale of the UP line south through Salt Lake City was cause for concern for many of the businesses that used rail service along the route. To ensure continuous and seamless freight service to those customers, UTA negotiated an operating lease for its new rail property with Railtex Corporation, an operator of small, shortline railroads nationwide. The conversational connection between UTA as a transit agency operating light rail, and Railtex as a short line railroad operating over transit agency tracks to serve regular rail customers came from Railtex's freight operations of the San Diego Trolley light rail in San Diego, California. The Railtex operating lease went into effect concurrent with the March 31, 1993 sale of the UP line to UTA. (Telephone conversation with Bruce Barnes at Utah Transit Authority, August 1994.)

April 1, 1993
RailTex organized a new company called Salt Lake City Southern Railroad (SL), and began actual operations on April 19, 1993, following the UTA sale, using a GP15-1 locomotive leased from Union Pacific. (part from Railroad Retirement Board Employer Determination)

April 13, 1993
ICC gave regulatory approval for Salt Lake City Southern Railroad to acquire approximately 25 miles of rail line from Union Pacific, from UP milepost 775.19 (Mount, Utah) to mile post 798.74 (900 South in Salt Lake City), including the 1.25 mile Lovendahl Spur. (ICC Finance Docket 32276)

(Note that the mile posts were numbered according to their distance from Los Angeles because the line had been part of Union Pacific's Provo Subdivision, and from 1903 until 1993, had been part of the Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad, a subsidiary of Union Pacific.)

(The Lovendahl Spur mentioned above is also referred to as the Dahl Spur, and was the UP spur that passed under both I-15 and the former D&RGW mainline at about 6800 South, and which provided UP with access to the old United States Midvale smelter.)

Although UP had sold the portion of the Provo Subdivision from 900 South to Mount to UTA, they had retained a permanent easement for freight operations, and on April 13, 1993, that easement was passed to Salt Lake City Southern at no charge.

April 19, 1993
Salt Lake City Southern commenced operations. The company hired its first employee on April 1, 1993. They owned one locomotive and leased another locomotive. Upon startup, the railroad served 50 customers and provided full terminal and intra-plant switching under contract to UP. (part from Railroad Retirement Board Employer Determination)

June 1993
SL leased NREX SW1200 2253 from National Railway Equipment, ex SSW 2253. (Locomotive Notes II, Number 174, October 1993, page 12, reported by Ryan Ballard)

November 1993
Plans for SL locomotives included a former ATSF rebuilt SW1200 (SSB 1200) being reconditioned by VMV Enterprises in Paducah, Kentucky, ex Texas & Northeastern Railroad (TNER) 1229. (Ryan Ballard, reported in Locomotives Notes II, Issue 176, page 11)

Salt Lake City Southern contested the $1M valuation of its property by the Utah State Tax Commission. The case ended up before the Utah Supreme Court, which decided on September 14, 1999 that the tax commission was correct in its method of valuation, but the value was lowered to $738,000. (Supreme Court of the State of Utah, Case 970529, 1999 UT 90)

March 1994
The new railroad received their first formally lettered and painted locomotive in March 1994 -- an ex-ATSF GP7R, transferred from Railtex's Dallas, Northeastern & Garland operation, and repainted into a handsome light blue and silver scheme for its Salt Lake City assignment. (Telephone conversation with Bruce Weaver at Salt Lake City Southern Railroad, August 1994; Ryan Ballard, reported in Locomotive Notes II, Issue 179, page 12.)

The Salt Lake City Southern operation was successful from its very beginning. In the first sixteen months of operation, the traffic had seen a steady increase, about doubling the carloadings experienced by UP when it operated the line. The record monthly carloadings had been as high as 210, with an average of about 160 cars per month. The line was then-currently being operated as far south as the Intermountain Farmers Association (IFA) facility in Draper, Utah. (Telephone conversation with Bruce Weaver at Salt Lake City Southern Railroad, August 1994.)

September 1995
SL received a GP38 from Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad (CORP). Lettered for RailTex's Missouri & Arkansas Railroad (MNA) 5556, then as SL 5556. (Ryan Ballard, reported in Locomotive Notes II, Issue 187, page 16)

July 1996
SL received a GP9 from Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad (CORP). Lettered for CORP 6440. (Sheldon Perry, reported in Locomotive Notes II, Issue 194, page 9, photo)

May 1997
SL received a GP7R from San Diego & Imperial Valley Railroad (SDIV). Numbered as SDIV 2151, to SL 2151. (Ryan Ballard, reported in Locomotive Notes II, Issue 197, page 25)

February 12, 1999
Surface Transportation Board approved the Salt Lake City Southern petition to operate over a 0.26 mile segment of Union Pacific trackage, between mile post 798.74 and mile post 799.0 in Salt Lake City. Union Pacific stated that it planned to convey this segment to UTA as an extension of UTA's former UP Provo Subdivision. The trackage rights were needed as a result of the Gateway Redevelopment Project in Salt Lake City. The transaction was scheduled to take place on or before January 31, 1999. (STB Finance Docket 33711)

This 0.26 mile segment is the portion of the former Provo Subdivision main line along 400 West, from the connection with the former UP 900 South passenger line along 900 South at about 850 South, and the point where UTA's TRAX light rail line connects with the former UP Provo Subdivision, at about 200 West and 1200 South.

Mid 1999
Merger discussions were under way between Salt Lake City Southern owner RailTex, Inc., operating 26 railroads with 4,100 route miles in the U.S., eastern Canada and Mexico, and RailAmerica, Inc., operating 25 railroads with 8,400 route miles in the U.S., Australia, Canada, and Chile.

One of the projected changes would be for RailTex to shed itself of the Salt Lake City Southern operations due to the fact that the company did not actually own the trackage over which it was operating. RailTex notified UTA of this and UTA began looking for another operator, and very soon found Utah Railway.

Sale To Utah Railway

August 24, 1999
Surface Transportation Board approved UTA's request to take away Salt Lake City Southern's status as a common carrier, subject to another carrier being named to take over freight operations along the UTA line.

August 30, 1999
STB approved Utah Railway's application to offer freight service over the UTA line. (STB Finance Docket 33785)

September 14, 1999
Salt Lake City Southern had lost its appeal to the state tax commission for an adjustment of its property tax valuation.

September 30, 1999
Utah Railway agreed with Salt Lake City Southern's parent company RailTex to purchase all rights and assets of Salt Lake City Southern. (STB Finance Docket 33803, service date October 18, 1999)

The sale was made final after RailTex had placed its Salt Lake City Southern holdings under the ownership of a new RailTex subsidiary Utah Rail Co., which is the actual company that was purchased by Utah Railway. RailTex had transferred its Salt Lake City Southern holdings to its Utah Rail Co. subsidiary for the price of $675,000, making a profit of about $500,000. (San Antonio Business Journal, October 7, 1999)

RailTex - RailAmerica Merger
On October 14, 1999, RailAmerica announced its intent to merge with and control RailTex. On January 14, 2000, the Surface Transportation Board's approval went into effect, and on February 1, 2000, the stockholders of both companies approved the merger. On February 4, 2000, the merger became final, with February 7, 2000 being that last day of trading for Railtex (RTEX) shares on the NASDAQ exchange.

October 15, 1999
UP granted trackage rights to the new Salt Lake City Southern Railroad (SL) over 2.1 miles of rail line between milepost 735.8 and milepost 737.9, on UP's former D&RGW line. The trackage rights included the Midvale siding and crossover track, and allowed Utah Railway to move trains between its Midvale yard on the former D&RGW, to an interchange at Pallas on the former UP line, where it could access the UTA-Salt Lake City Southern tracks. (Approved by STB Finance Docket 33808, decided on October 18, 1999)

(Note that, because this is former D&RGW trackage, the mile posts are numbered according to their distance from Denver.)

The route for these trackage rights is along the former D&RGW mainline from Midvale, at about 6800 South and 500 West, to Murray, crossing over to the UP/UTA line near the UTA TRAX/Frontrunner Murray Central station, at about 5200 South. Then south along the UP/UTA line to Pallas, at about 5600 South and 300 West.

September 19, 2002
The Utah Railway-controlled Salt Lake City Southern Railroad Company was a Delaware corporation, as shown in STB equipment lease recordation no. 22455D, dated September 19, 2002. Utah Railway was purchased by Genesee & Wyoming on August 28, 2002. Equipment under lease included Utah Ry. GP38-2s 2000-2008 and Utah Ry. caboose no. 63, along with a variety of highway vehicles and maintenance of way equipment.

(Much of the timeline shown above was originally posted to the Utah Railroading Yahoo Group on August 24, 2001.)


(shown in service-date sequence, June 1993 to November 1999)

Model Builder Builder
In Service
NRE 2253 SSW 2253 SW1200 EMD 28898   Jan 1964 Jun 1993 May 1996 1
SL 2207 DGNO 2207 GP7R EMD/ATSF 13185   Jan 1951 Mar 1994 Aug 1996 2
SL 5556 MNA 5556 GP38 EMD 32665 7946-06 Nov 1966 Sep 1995 May 1997 3
SL 6440 CORP 6440 GP9 EMD 20444   May 1955 Jul 1996 Nov 1998 4
SL 2151 SDIV 2151 GP7R EMD/ATSF 18888   Nov 1953 May 1997 Nov 1999 5
TNER 272 SP 3785 GP9 EMD 22963 5516-32 Apr 1957 May 1998 Nov 1999 6
SL 3821 CORP 3821 GP38-2 EMD 33359   Nov 1967 Aug 1999 Dec 1999 7

General Notes:

a Salt Lake City Southern was a Railtex property; all SL locomotives came from other RailTex railroads, and were similarly later transferred to other Railtex railroads.
b. Salt Lake City Southern also leased HLCX GP38-2 2034, circa September 1994


1. NRE SW1200 number 2253, ex SSW 2253, was in Salt Lake City in June 1993 for use on the Salt Lake City Southern; owned by National Railway Equipment, leased to RailTex; built by EMD in January 1964 as St. Louis Southwestern (SSW) 1065, renumbered to SSW 2253 in 1965; retired in November 1989; sold to Chrome Crankshaft as CCX 2253; sold to National Railway Equipment in July 1991 as NREX 2253; leased to Ventura County Railway in July 1991; leased to RailTex for initial Salt Lake City Southern operations in June 1993; leased to Alamo Gulf Coast Railroad in May 1996. (June 1993 report from Locomotive Notes II, Number 174, October 1993, page 12, reported by Ryan Ballard)
2. SL 2207 was built by EMD in January 1951 as ATSF GP7 2664, rebuilt Cleburne shops September 1980, renumbered to ATSF 2207; sold to RailTex in 1992; to (RailTex) Dallas, Garland & Northeastern Railroad (DGNO) 2207; to (RailTex) Salt Lake City Southern Railroad (SL) 2207, March 1994 to August 1996; to (RailTex) South Carolina Central Railroad (SCRF), September 1996 (seen in Mckees Rocks, Pennsylvania on September 1, 1996, en route to SCRF); to (RailTex) Georgia Southwestern Railroad (GSWR)

SL 5556 was built by EMD in 1966 as Maine Central 256; sold to Helm Financial (HLCX) 256; to Helm Financial (HLCX) 3614; sold to Railtex; to (RailTex) Missouri & Arkansas Railroad (MNA) 5556, circa May 1994; to (RailTex) Salt Lake City Southern Railroad (SL) 5556, circa September 1995 to May 1997; to (RailTex) Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad (CORP) 3815, circa June 1997 to February 2002; to Arizona Eastern Railway (AZER), as CORP 3815, February 2002, still there, May 2004 (2004 AZER update from Norm Metcalf)

(May 1996 photo at RailPictures.net)

4. SL 6440 was built by EMD in May 1955 as B&O GP9 690, to B&O 6440 in early 1957, retired January 1987; sold to (RailTex) South Carolina Central Railroad (SCRF) 6440, January 1988; to (RailTex) Georgia Southwestern Railroad 6440; to (Railtex) Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad (CORP) 6440, April 1995; to (Railtex) Salt Lake City Southern Railroad (SL) 6440, July 1996 to November 1998; to (Railtex) Goderich-Exeter Railway 901, November 1998
5. SL 2151 was built by EMD in November 1953 as ATSF GP7 2871, rebuilt by ATSF to GP7R 2151; sold to San Diego & Imperial Valley Railroad (SDIV) 2151; to (RailTex) Salt Lake City Southern Railroad (SL) 2151, circa May 1997 to November 1999; moved to Monahans, Texas, November 1999 (see Locomotives Notes II, issue 212, page 9)

Salt Lake City Southern used Texas Northeastern Railroad (TNER) GP9 272, from May 1998 to November 1999; TNER 272 was seen en route to Salt Lake City at North Platte, Nebraska on May 4, 1998, with a way bill dated April 23, 1998. (see Locomotive Notes II, Issue 203, pages 9 [photo] and 10, citing The Mixed Train); moved to Monahans, Texas, November 1999 (see Locomotives Notes II, issue 212, page 9)

(TNER 272 was built by EMD as SP GP9 5781, renumbered to SP 3622, rebuilt to SP 3785; sold to Safety Railway Service at Victoria, Texas, in July 1993; to Texas Northeastern 272 in 1995; as of December 2010, located at DeBruce Grain, Amarillo, Texas)

7. SL 3821 was built by EMD in November 1967 as B&O 3841, to CSX 2041, April 1987, retired March 1992; sold to Houstonic Railroad, August 1992; to Conrail Leasing 305, mid 1994; sold to RailTex, December 1994, rebuilt to GP38AC by Conrail-Juniata, completed as (Railtex) Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad (CORP) 5041, April 1995; to (RailTex) Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad (CORP) 3821, circa August 1998; to (RailTex) Salt Lake City Southern Railroad (SL) 3821, August 1999, with incorrect SLC reporting mark rather than correct SL; to (RailTex) Goderich-Exeter Railway 3821, circa December 1999

(Locomotive roster completed with the assistance of Ken Ardinger, Ryan Ballard, Richard Barnes, Dave Carr, Mike Derrick, Norm Metcalf, James Mischke, Hank Stephens, Russell Underwood, and Paul Wester)

More Information

Salt Lake City Southern official web site -- Salt Lake City Southern is included as part of Utah Railway

Union Pacific's web page for Salt Lake City Southern -- A description of Salt Lake City Southern as a connecting short line railroad.

Salt Lake City Southern Wikipedia article