Salt Lake & Utah Railroad
Index For This Page
Taken from "Interurbans of Utah" by Ira Swett, pages 35-47.
The Orem Line
The Salt Lake and Utah Railroad -- better known in Utah as "The Orem Line" -- extended south from Salt Lake City to Payson, a distance of 67 miles. A branch line served the town of Magna and was nine miles in length.
In today's automotive era it is difficult to realize the importance to the hinterland of the interurban railway at the time it was at its zenith. For this reason, we quote somewhat liberally in the following history from newspapers of the cities and towns on the line of the Salt Lake and Utah. The clippings were made available to us by Mr. Fred Fellow, and are from the SL&U's own scrapbook. They make fascinating reading, and we regret the lack of sufficient space to use them in their entirety.
Service between Salt Lake City and Provo on the Salt Lake and Utah Railroad; the state's newest electric line, will be established early in the year (1914). The grade has been finished and only a few miles of track remain to be laid. The track-laying machine is putting down rails at the rate of a mile a day.
The distance between Salt Lake City and Provo on the new line is about 49 miles. The extension of the line to Payson, 17 miles south of Provo, will be taken up when the line to Provo has been put in service, and the ultimate plans now under consideration contemplate building to Nephi, 25 miles south of Payson.
The new line is known locally as the "Orem Road" for A. J. Orem & Company, whose handling of the financing and construction of the line under the direction of W. C. Orem, the active head of the company, has been marked by high efficiency throughout. The Orem interests took hold of the project late in 1912 and will have the line in actual operation in little more than a year from the time they assumed charge. The work accomplished in the period includes the making of all surveys and plans, the securing of rights of way, the purchase of large quantities of material and equipment, and the actual construction of 49 miles of railroad.
The new road is the logical result of a demand for better transportation facilities in the rich territory immediately south of Salt Lake City. This demand included closer connection between the various communities themselves as well as with the city. Many towns and villages that will be reached by the new line have had no railroad facilities in the past and others had long felt the need of more frequent service than that provided by the steam railroads.
Citizens desirous of having a new railroad obtained franchises in 1910 and 1911, but the project did not take material form until after the Orem interests assumed the charge of it. The matter was then in the hands of men accustomed to handling large enterprises. The Orems had been successful in important metal and coal mine development work and had built the Nevada Copper Belt Railroad, which furnishes transportation for mines in the Yerington district of Nevada and has opened new agricultural territory in that neighborhood.
They took hold of the Salt Lake and Utah with characteristic energy. Actual construction was in progress early in the spring of the present year and was pushed so vigorously that the end of work on the first unit of the line is already close at hand.
Construction and equipment conform in every particular with the most approved modern standards. The line is on private right of way, purchased by the company, everywhere except where it passes through cities and towns. This makes possible faster running time than if public highways were used, and also furnishes a measure of protection that could not be obtained otherwise. Grades are easy and curves light. The heaviest grade is where the road ascends Provo Bench. This grade is only 1-1/2 percent and is necessary to reach the rich Provo Bench fruit territory, which has heretofore been without railroad connection. Elsewhere the heaviest grade is .8 percent. The sharpest curve outside terminals is 8 degrees and the road has unusually long stretches of straight track.
The road has a long viaduct over the Denver and Rio Grande tracks at Salt Lake City and four bridges, besides numerous culverts. Two of the bridges span the Jordan River, one the lake at the Lehi sugar factory, and one the Provo River north of Provo. Bridge construction, like all the rest, follows the best modern practice.
Standard rails, weighing 75 pounds to the yard, are used, with American continuous rail joints, which will do much toward lessening the jar of the wheels passing over the joints. The rails are supported by 2,880 ties to the mile, resting on an unusually well constructed grade, which will make a roadbed equal to that of any electric railroad in the country and far superior to most of them.
The catenary type of line construction will be used overhead and the motors will be operated by 1,500 volts direct current. Current will be supplied by the Utah Power and Light Company under a 50-year contract. The electrification of the line will not be complete until about April 1, 1914. Gasoline motors will be used until that time.
The passenger cars are all steel, 60 feet long, weighing 42 tons each and provided with wide, comfortable seats. The electrical equipment of the line is Westinghouse.
Hourly service will be given. Stations are being established at about 20 points between Salt Lake City and Provo.
The new line leaves Salt Lake City by running southward on First West to a short distance below Tenth South, where it turns southwest to a point 80 rods west of the Redwood Road, paralleling that highway to a point just south of Riverton. It then winds through the Jordan Narrows into Utah County, taking the west side of the Jordan River until near the Fairfield Branch of the Union Pacific, where it crosses to the east side of the Jordan and proceeds to Lehi. It passes over one of the principal streets of Lehi to the sugar factory, thence through the main portions of American Fork, Pleasant Grove and Lindon and to Provo Bench, across which it runs for ten miles before crossing the Provo River and entering Provo City.
The route for the extension to Payson runs through Springville, Spanish Fork and Salem. It passes through the centers of all the Utah County towns from Lehi to Payson. This will be a great advantage, even to the places which have railroad connections now, as in most instances the railroads pass thru the outskirts of the towns.
The establishment of service on the new line is eagerly and cordially awaited by all the communities it reaches. Residents along the route realize in advance the many advantages it will bring them, and the officers of the road have assurance of their heartiest support.
The benefits to be derived from the construction of the new line will not be confined to the districts that have already been developed. Settlement of large areas at present not under cultivation will be greatly stimulated by the transportation facilities the road will provide. The land under the new irrigating canals of the Utah Lake Irrigation Company will be reached and a large and promising territory in Utah County, southwest of Salt Lake, will be brought in close touch with the consuming centers at present comparatively remote thru lack of quick transportation. The line will also give a needed outlet to the lands reclaimed by the Strawberry irrigation project.
Lands that may be bought at low prices now will undoubtedly increase in value rapidly after the road is in operation. The road will reach a population of about 50,000 persons outside Salt Lake City.
It will form an important link ultimately in a north-and-south electric system that will pass through the most populous portions of the state. Connections with the Salt Lake and Ogden at Salt Lake City and through it with the Rapid Transit at Ogden will give service from Brigham City on the north to Provo on the south immediately after the Provo line begins to operate. Connections with Cache Valley on the north and the extension to Nephi on the south will give the state an electric railway system about 225 miles long.
On August 8, 1912, Salt Lake City newspapers carried articles concerning a proposed electric railroad which was to be constructed from Zion into the Utah Valley. On the same date, the first franchise for such a railroad was granted to Mr. W. C. Orem, a wealthy promoter from Boston; Mr. Orem was well known in the central west, having built other railroads (mostly into mining areas) previously. For the lack of a name for the proposed interurban, newspapers referred to it as "The Salt Lake & Utah Valley Railroad," or "The Salt Lake & Payson Railway," or--this name stuck--"The Orem Line."
In September, 1912, Walter Orem and Simon Bamberger made an auto tour of the cities which were to be served by the new line -- such a trip being front page news in those days. They pronounced the route feasible, and the work of financing was begun. It was estimated to cost $3 millions to build an electric railroad from Zion to Payson; of this amount, Boston capital was to put up $2 millions and Zion business men were to provide the remainder.
Interests in opposition to Orem entered the field that month in the persons of John MacGinnis, a Montana banker, and Thaddeus Lane, a telephone magnate of Spokane. Under the name, "Utah Interurban Electric Company," Lane engineers worked quietly for three months before public announcement was made. The Lane road was to extend from Salt Lake City to Payson -- 64 miles -- at a cost of $2 millions.
In October, the Orems formed "The Interurban Construction Co." in Portland, Maine, with the object of building "The Salt Lake & Utah Railroad" between the cities of Salt Lake City and Payson. The ICC was capitalized at $l.5 millions, and it was announced at that time that work had begun, with grading under way in American Fork and Provo. Orem purchased outright the land his rails used between towns, while securing franchises for the use of public streets in and through the various communities. By late October, Orem secured his final franchise.
On October 16, 1912, Boston papers carried the story that the incorporation of The Salt Lake and Utah Railroad had been carried thru on that day in Portland, Maine. Mr. C. Dyer of Portland was the SL&U's first president, while Mr. F. M Orem of Salt Lake City was the treasurer. Capital stock: $3,000;000. The A. J. Orem Company of Zion disbursed the funds, and construction was to be supervised by S. S. Arentz.
October 20, 1912, saw actual construction begin in Provo at the corner of Fifth South and Academy Ave. The plan was to construct a street car line first from the D&RGW Depot to Brigham Young University, and then connect up the interurban to it. Some 35 blocks of street car tracks were constructed. Track was also laid about the same time on Main Street in American Fork, more to hold the franchise and beat out the Lane interurban, which was lining up its own franchises, town by town.
By the end of November, forty miles of rail had been delivered to Provo, the center of operations, and a large force of men and teams was working in both directions from there. Three used streetcars were purchased from the Utah Light and Railway Company of Zion for use in Provo, but it is doubtful if they ever turned a wheel there. The cars were of the 40-Class, seating 38, and were formerly operated on the South Temple line in Zion.
All through the winter months, SL&U piled up materials at Provo, American Fork and Salt Lake City. By the time spring came, some 35 miles of rails and ties were ready to be placed on the roadbed. In Salt Lake City, track was laid from Third South to Ninth South on First West Street, and by April, 1913, hundreds of teams and men were working hard, with track laying often progressing at a rate of a mile a day.
In June, 1913, a stockholders meeting took place at Zion, with the following officers being elected: President, W. C. Orem; F. M. Orem, Secretary-Treasurer; W. C. Orem, General Manager; a large number of Utah capitalists were elected directors.
1913 plans called for the construction of 53 miles of line, including switches and stretches of double track. 500 men were at work on the roadbed, working south from Zion, north from Provo, and within the city limits of Lehi, American Fork and Pleasant Grove on actual track laying. The big job of threading track through the Jordan River Narrows was finished in the fall. Work was costing between $38,000 and $40,000 per mile -- just about the estimate. A 3,000-foot trestle over the marshes just south of Zion cost $50,000 and also served as a crossing over the tracks of the D&RGW. In 1923 this trestle was filled in, using dirt from the Terminal site.
Two interesting announcements came in October: First, three new gasoline motor cars were ordered from the Hall Scott Car Company of Berkeley, California; these were to open SL&U for public use on January 1, 1914, and after electrification would be kept for use as standby equipment in emergencies. Second, a track laying machine was secured and upon its delivery it was expected that construction work would be somewhat accelerated.
Electrical equipment for substations was purchased from Westinghouse, with delivery specified for March, 1914. Substations were located at Granger, Bringhurst, Lindon and Springville. Each was equipped with 250-KW, 60 cycle, three phase, 750-volt rotary converters which operated at 1500 volts in series. In each substation one spare unit was installed, and the buildings at Granger and at Springville were arranged to accommodate two extra units. Power was purchased under a fifty year contract from the Utah Power and Light Company at 45,000 volts, 60 cycles; this was converted to 1500 volts DC.
SL&U purchased one of the SL&O's old steam locomotives -- No. 26 -- for use in construction work. With the completion of the bridge over the Jordan River south of Salt Lake City and of the viaduct over the D&RG's tracks, the track laying machine, pushed by the 26, went to work with a vengeance in November, 1913; its job was to lay rails between the viaduct and Jordan Narrows. South of the Narrows, all of the grading had been done and much of the track had been laid. At the Narrows a bridge had to be built, linking up the northern and the southern divisions.
One of the sub-contractors for the SL&U was the colorful woman railroad builder of the West, Mrs. W. M. Smith, said to be the only woman railroad contractor in the world. Among her earlier projects were the Western Pacific main line from Winnemucca to the Utah line, the Southern Pacific branch from Fernley, Nevada to Susanville, California, and the Teton Branch of the Union Pacific. Working with Mrs. Smith on the SL&U out of Lehi was her daughter, Miss Irene Smith, who was learning the business so she could succeed her mother. Mrs. Smith learned the business from her father, John Sheehan of New York, who built the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad. This somewhat formidable lady had amassed a fortune estimated to be in the neighborhood of a half million, and made her headquarters at the family residence in Redlands, California. Not only did she boss the track-laying gangs, but built all bridges, administered the commissary, made all her own estimates when figuring out her bids. Mrs. Smith was quoted thus: "There is good money in the contracting business and I don't see why a woman shouldn't succeed in it as well as a man. Certainly I can look along a rail and see if it is laid straight. If it isn't I make the men take it up and fix it."
The work of laying rails was somewhat disrupted by a severe winter, which saw laborers piling brush and wood on the right-of-way and touching it off every night in an effort to draw the frost from the ground. The target date for opening to Provo was set; it was to be January 1, 1914 -- but alas! the winter postponed it considerably. The first week in February saw the three Hall-Scott gasoline cars leave the factory in West Berkeley, California, and run via the S.P. to Ogden, making the longest trip ever made in the west by such cars. On board for the delivery trip were representatives of S.P., the California State Railroad Commission, and Albert and Harold Hall of the manufacturing corporation.
A temporary passenger terminal in Salt Lake City was erected at the corner of First West and Third South (Broadway) Streets. The terminal contained waiting rooms, ticket office, baggage room, express office, trainmen's rooms and offices. It was constructed of corrugated iron.
On March 6, 1913, "half the population of American Fork turned out to welcome the first car of the SL&U." The gas car brought to American Fork a distinguished group of railroaders, including Orem, Simon Bamberger and others. Music was furnished by the Silver Band. At a banquet that evening at the Hotel Grant, it was announced that the line would be open for public service within a short time.
On March 23, 1913, the SL&U opened. Public passenger and freight service was established that day with four regular trains in service between Salt Lake City, and American Fork. The trains left Zion and American Fork at the same hours, 7:45 AM, 10:30 AM, 1:30 PM, 5:30 PM running out of the temporary depot in Salt Lake and out of the SL&U's new depot in American Fork on Main Street. The service was provided by the gasoline motor cars and was given by the Interurban Construction Company (the SL&U did not assume charge until the road was electrified). Running time was 1 hr. 25 min. The first car to reach Provo arrived in that city on June 4 and remained in town all day to give the natives a look at it. The public service was extended to Lindon and Pleasant Grove on June 12, and on July 3 the first of the electric cars arrived at Ogden.
Substantial station buildings were erected at all major towns on the line. Typical was the building at American Fork. Located at the intersection of Third North and First West, it was built entirely of concrete, 321 feet wide and more than 50 feet long. It contained a waiting room (18 x 18), a baggage room (14 x 18), and a ticket office. The agent's living quarters were attached. The building was made in Salt Lake City and shipped in sections.
To encourage the public to ride the new interurban line, mileage books were introduced. Books containing tickets for 500 miles sold for $11.25, making the cost 2-1/4 cents per mile. The 1,000 mile books were $20.00, or 2 cents per mile. The books were also good on the Bamberger and Ogden Rapid Transit lines.
On July 24, without ceremony or proclamation, the electric cars opened public service to Provo. Seven trains each way daily were put into service, leaving Salt Lake at 6:45 AM, 8:00 AM, 10:30 AM, 1:30 PM, 4:00 PM, 6:30 PM, and 11:45 PM. Departures from Provo were made at the same hours, and running time was 1 hr. 55 min. Only the day before had the first electric car reached Provo on its test run, but W. C. Orem, when advised of the perfect performance of both cars and substations, ordered the line thrown open to the public the next day. The Pioneer Day parade in Provo was joined by an SL&U interurban and as the parade wound its way west on Center Street the big red car was the object of much interest and received great applause. For a station site in Provo, SL&U purchased from the Mormon Church a strip of land 110 feet wide and 600 feet long, being the west front of the Tabernacle block between Center and First South Streets. A permanent one story brick station, costing $10,000, was announced for the site. The formal celebration of the opening was held at Provo on August 14, with the governor, mayors of all cities on the line, and company officials taking leading roles. The following day, through freight service was inaugurated.
Business boomed, and the interurban prospered. Cars ran full more often than not, and standing loads were not unusual. By October, the papers related that during State Fair week, the SL&U carried between four and five hundred people from American Fork to Salt Lake, while less than a dozen patronized the steam roads. SL&U was carrying an average of more than 800 passengers daily.
After getting the main line in operation, Orem construction men turned their attention to the streetcar line projected in Provo. A force of thirty men in October began extending the line on Academy Ave. north to Eighth North, where a wye was installed. Another wye was installed near the Union Passenger Station on Third West. Plans were also made to extend the line to the sugar company plant in Lake View. Thus Provo's long-awaited streetcar line drew nearer. The date of inauguration of this local service is uncertain, but probably was about October 24th. Orem was anxious to continue construction of his main line south to Payson, but the condition of the money market was such as to cause him to postpone indefinitely this undertaking.
Orem had not long to wait, however, before getting the green light from his brother, A. J. Orem, to go ahead. Construction crews again went to work with a will, and by July 18, 1915, twenty trains a day ran to Springville. On January 1, 1916, these runs were extended to Spanish Fork. On March 2.4, the first train arrived in Salem. If we go by the timetables a shuttle service was operated making only four daily round trips between this point and Spanish Fork.
May 20, 1916, saw the last day of rail laying on the main line. The last spike was driven in the streets of Payson. May 26 and 27 were set aside for celebrating both the arrival of the SL&U and the government's large Strawberry reclamation project. Immediately 24 trains a day made the complete run from Salt Lake to Payson, a distance of 66.6 miles. By July, service had increased to 26 trains a day, which was the largest number ever operated to Payson. From then until final abandonment, service was gradually cut back. During the Twenties, an average of 16 to 18 trains were run daily. The lowest point was reached in 1937 when only ten daily trains were scheduled.
On October 10, 1917, the 9.7-mile Magna Branch was put into service with eight trains daily. This service grew to 18 trains a day, then fell to six during the Depression, and was back to ten at the end. Much of the freight hauled on the Magna Branch was pulled by regular passenger trains. Many people thought the Magna Branch was a foolish investment, but it did manage to produce a fair income from coal.
SL&U was constructed throughout to steam road standards. It used main line rail of 75 lbs., with spurs and sidings laid with 60 lbs. The overhead was catenary, hung from a single pole line. Pantographs could have been used, but never were -- all cars and locomotives being equipped with poles and small trolley wheels. The maximum grade was 1.5 percent, necessary to climb up onto the very fertile Provo Bench; else where, the maximum was 0.8 percent. Rail joints were staggered, and standard switches with spring rail frogs were used on all main line turnouts. Rails were bonded with two terminal bonds of the American Steel and Wire Company.
Virtually every city on the line clamored for the SL&U's shops, but it was Payson which got them -- a questionable choice. Work on the Payson Shops began in June, 1916, and when completed later that year the SL&U was in possession of one of the finest interurban car maintenance centers in the west.
A further extension into the Sanpete Valley to Nephi, about 25 miles south of Payson, was intended and even surveyed. The estimated cost of the Nephi extension was $1 million, but financial uncertainty and the generally upset condition of the business world due to World War One postponed the extension and eventually nullified the idea.
By March 1919, the Provo streetcar service was terminated and few people today remember its existence. It is said that the income per day would very often run as low as twenty cents. Car No.11 was then used on the one-mile branch to the Spanish Fork Sugar Factory for about three years (this branch was purchased by the D&RGW after SL&U abandoned). The old cars bought from the Utah Light and Traction Co. for use in Provo never turned a wheel, being stored behind the Payson Shops until finally scrapped.
With the end of World War One, automobiles and trucks began to be in common use, and SL&U's business, both passenger and freight, started to suffer. By 1925 this condition had become very serious, and on July 24th of that year the SI&U entered receivership. Henry I. Moore of Salt Lake and D. P. Abercrombie of Boston were appointed Receivers and W. C. Orem was demoted to Comptroller. Deficits continued until 1929, but thereafter the new management, by dint of an aggressive merchandising policy, managed to make a slight profit annually, although SL&U continued to default on its bonds. A tremendous effort was made to build up its business. Cars were painted and given the most complete overhaul they had ever had. Photographs were taken and circulated to all parts of the country. For the benefit of the stockholders and other interested groups, comparative photos were made of the Bamberger and SL&U; at that time the BRR was in poor condition, with run-down equipment and poorly ballasted roadbed -- while the Orem was in almost perfect shape. Movies were taken and circulated by traffic men to show what the SL&U had to offer. Business was so good that at time it was necessary to borrow cars from the UIC for months at a time. Bamberger trailers were often rented, and even the 750-volt Bamberger motors were borrowed and used as trailers on the 1500-volt SL&U; the BRR trolley poles were turned and tied to roofs. On other occasions, Orem equipment made it way out to Saltair to help them carry the crowds; even a freight motor was put into service on the beach line to pull trailers. On many occasions the red cars were pressed into service for entire seasons on the UIC. Through trains to the Lagoon amusement park were common. The longest recorded UIC train on SL&U was six cars; however, eight or nine-car trains including Bamberger equipment were made up and pulled by freight motors directly to Lagoon on many occasions. Even during the last days, SL&U 751 was seen headed for Hill Field behind an SL&U motor car. Arresting signs were hung on Orem cars in the Thirties to stimulate patronage; these show clearly in accompanying photographs.
In spite of these energetic measures, business did not pick up to the necessary level. More and more, traffic turned to the highways, which were being built into all parts of the SL&U region. With little prospect of effecting a successful resuscitation of the Orem company, time set the stage for the elimination of the Orems from the SL&U.
Two Court orders, dated July 31, 1937 and December 17, 1937, ordered the Receiver to sell all properties of the SL&U to the highest bidder at a foreclosure sale, which took place on January 26, 1938. The successful bidders were G. S. Eccles and M. A . Browning of the Ogden Eccles interests (which included the UIC and the Amalgamated Sugar Company). Meanwhile, a new company: The Salt Lake and Utah Railroad Corporation, was incorporated in Delaware on December 8, 1936, with the announced purpose of "engaging in the general electric interurban business." Upon approval of the Interstate Commerce Commission in April, 1938, the new company acquired for $607,017 (net) the entire property of the old SL&U from Eccles and Browning. The foreclosure sale was confirmed by the Court on February 11, 1938, Eccles-Browning assigned their interests in the property to the new SL&U company on February 24, 1938, and formal transfer occurred on May 2, 1938. The property which then changed hands was listed as follows: main line from Salt Lake to Payson, 66.99 miles; Granger-Magna branch, 9.15 miles; total miles road, 75.14 miles; sidings and spurs, 27.27 miles. Closed passenger cars with electrical equipment, 11; without electrical equipment, 4; freight-work cars with electrical equipment, 2; without, 248; express car, 1; miscellaneous car, 1; locomotives, 7; total cars 274. Franchises extended to 1960 in Utah County, and in Provo; to 1962 in Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County; to 2010 in Lehi, American Fork and Pleasant Grove; to 2012 in Springville, Spanish Fork and Payson; remainder of line on private way. The officers of the new SL&U were M. A. Browning, president; E. G. Bennett, vice president; G. S. Eccles, Treasurer. Thereafter, SL&U was more or less closely allied with the UIC through common management.
One of the new company's first acts was to apply and receive a bus franchise from Salt Lake City to Payson, and within Provo City. Five busses were purchased and put into service, effectively forestalling competition. The busses began operation between Salt Lake and Payson on January 1, 1939, and in Provo in April, 1940.
It has been said that the SL&U paid the third lowest wages of any electric line in the nation. As a result, the road had a high rate of turnover among employees. During the war years, anyone could work for SL&U. More than once, a crew would report for a freight run only after the men were good and ready and full of alcohol. An example of a run made under these conditions was the night when the crew boarded its freight motor and proceeded down the line. They left their conductor (out cold) in Salt Lake City by a pile of ties. As they proceeded through American Fork, another man got off for a beer but his train moved right on. The motorman wanted to go home, so he got off and the brakeman who lived in Provo uncoupled the cars and ran light to Provo. The facts may be slightly altered, but this is close to the type of service which was often rendered. On the next to the last day of operation, the motorman on the Magna branch placed his trolley on the wire, the car jerked forward and ran up a coal chute where it became derailed; he had left his controller on the night before when current was low. Such occurrences were numerous. Many runaways and fires occurred. Some are remembered, others have faded into obscurity. Among those remembered: One night at Lehi a freight crew was switching in the sugar beet factory and left its caboose on the main, unprotected; along came another freight, and loco 104 went right through the caboose and spilled a box car full of brand new Fords being shipped for Christmas delivery in Salt Lake City. Defective heaters caused two passenger motors, 602 and 610, to burn. Lindon was the scene of a freight train runaway when snow got into an air pipe; men went out over the tops with clubs and stopped it. Another train got away north of Spanish Fork and sped through town without a mishap.
The Orem was notorious for having bad accidents. Fortunately most of these involved freight trains. The 51, for example, was demolished in a cornfield meet with steam engine No. 26; it was rebuilt into the 52 and in 1942 again met disaster and was never rebuilt. Most of the freight motors showed signs of bad treatment. There were probably no less than ten accidents which involved either fatalities or serious injuries, to say nothing of completely mangling the equipment involved. Toward the last days, the road was in such poor shape that the line car would pull a trailer, or a passenger motor would be in such poor condition that a freight motor would pull it over the line to keep the schedule. It was nothing at all to be two hours late. Finally, as one car would fail, it would be stored until it was necessary to repair it to few more runs.
Although the receivership and subsequent foreclosure sale to the new company had wrung a lot of water out of SL&U's corporate structure, the new SL&U found it had a tough row to hoe. In spite of the war, SL&U failed to make money: in 1944 its operating revenues were $717,359, but expenses plus depreciation were $717,678 -- and after taxes were added, SL&U was in the red some $44,489 -- this in a year when almost every electric railway showed a handsome profit. The deficit in 1939 was but $14,000, but by the end of 1945 it had grown to $220,000 and roadbed and cars were in pitiful condition. Small wonder that again the SL&U was placed in receivership on December 12. 1945. Receiver was Mr. S. J. Quinney; one of his first acts was to apply to the Utah Public Service Commission and the Interstate Commerce Commission for permission to abandon the entire SL&U company.
At the abandonment hearings in Salt Lake City, some interesting facts were brought out. J. W. Barriger, former head of the RFC's railroad division, declared that conditions made it inevitable that the SL&U would be abandoned, due to its inability to maintain its physical property out of its financial resources. Mr. Barriger added: "The primary cause of abandonment is not a deficiency of traffic in the territory, but the competition of subsidized highway transportation of both public and private carriers, along with the growing intensity of strong steam railroads. It is futile for the SL&U to carry on this unequal contest longer, even if it were not forced to take its present action by reason of serious deterioration of tracks and bridges." Glen J. Maw, assistant division engineer of Southern Pacific's Ogden-Reno Division, made a report on an inspection he made of bridges, way and trestles; he said he found them to be in poor condition; on the 102 miles of railroad, including spurs and sidings, a total of 114,900 ties needed to be replaced -- bridges and trestles were in poor shape, citing the Jordan River bridge of 360 feet as one which needed to be entirely replaced. W. R. Thomson, SL&U's superintendent of maintenance, testified that $289,000 would be required to put roadbed and equipment in good condition. These hearings lasted from February 4th to February 7th, 1946, and brought out the sad fact that SL&U was operating on a day-by-day cash basis, so low had its financial resources sunk.
On February 23, 1946, Mr. Quinney, the receiver, appeared in court and stated that he was unable to meet current operating expenses from the railroad's income. Judge Tillman D. Johnson thereupon ordered all operations on the SL&U discontinued effective at 12:01 AM March 1, 1946. Pending the final ICC decision, Judge Johnson stated, it was incumbent upon him to see that the railroad's assets were not dissipated, so he ordered the suspension of service.
After the arrival of the last northbound train on February 28th, passenger equipment was deadheaded back to Payson. Emergency freight switching on SL&U trackage in and around Salt Lake City was performed immediately by Bamberger crews, using SL&U 101 on 1500-v. trackage. Bamberger, D&RGW and UP, by informal agreement, took upon themselves the responsibility to care for other SL&U shippers for the time being.
The SL&U was dead physically, but not legally. Its properties remained in a dormant state awaiting the decisions of the UPSC and the ICC. On April 29, 1946, the ICC authorized SL&U to abandon its entire property effective June 8, 1946. In June, 1946, the UPSC also gave its permission for SL&U to abandon. The receiver, S. J. Quinney, was granted authority to sell the company's property for salvage. He realized $1.10 for each $1.00 originally invested.
In the bidding for trackage of the defunct SL&U, the sale being held at the Provo City and County Building on July 26, 1946, the only participants were Bamberger and D&RGW. Bamberger first bid $202,000 for trackage from 6th South to 13th South, Salt Lake, and from Pleasant Grove to Grundy (south of Provo), but withdrew its offer when the property was divided into segments. D&RGW made its bid of $145,000 for the same property. The D&RGW purchased the following: (1) Fayette Ave., Salt Lake, to 13th South, $5,000; (2) 13th South to 8th West, $12,425; (3) 8th North, Orem, southward through Provo to D&RGW's own line $70,000; (4) West Jordan trackage $1937; (5) Springville trackage, $2185; (6) Spanish Fork trackage $10,706.
Bamberger successfully bid $100,000 for trackage from 6th South to the north line of Fayette Ave.
Bamberger's only other winning bid was a $1 bid for the SL&U's half of the Salt Lake Terminal.
SL&U's real estate holdings, including stations, and the railroad's equipment were sold at auction the following day, on July 27th, and was bought by the salvage concern of Hyman Michaels and Company. Immediately those portions of the line not sold were ripped up, trolley wire came down, the cars were disposed of by selling them for further use or, if this was impossible, they were cut up for scrap. The dismantlement of the SL&U was complete; the visitor to Utah County today would encounter little to remind him that once the Orem Road was hailed as the savior of this prosperous region. The big red interurban trains built up the area, then were allowed to starve to death.
The location of the SL&U's shops was a bone of contention all along the route of the Orem Road. Provo, being the largest of city in Utah County and centrally located, made a very strong bid, with its various newspapers carrying front page editorials on the subject. Lehi also wanted the SL&U shop payroll, as did American Fork. Orem refused to commit himself, however, until the road was completed to Payson. Then he made the announcement: the SL&U's shops would be built at Payson. Considerable resentment arose, especially in Provo; we surely cannot blame Provo for feeling put out, for certainly it was the main reason for SL&U's existence and would provide the lion's share of SL&U's business.
Orem perhaps reasoned that the SL&U in future years would build on, to Nephi and perhaps much farther. Such an event would make Payson a central point.
Ground for the Payson Shops was broken in June, 1916; a large car house was also built on the same plot of ground. Orem built his shops on a somewhat less pretentious scale: framework was of light steel and siding was of corrugated iron. He did not stint on the necessary machinery, however, as witness the very good rebuilding a jobs performed wrecks (603, 51, etc.)
The Payson Shops and car house were located on the east edge of town; SL&U came in from the east through a deep cut, then entered the street for the run to the center of town. Just as the single track hit pavement, there were the Shops, on the south side of the street. An entire city block was purchased by Orem, with the shop and car house buildings located slightly off-center to the southeast. Five tracks entered buildings, while three storage tracks ran alongside the car house on the southern edge of the block. To the rear of the buildings was an open area for the storage of poles, rails, etc. On the north frontage of the block were three more tracks, also used for car storage.
The passing years laid a heavy hand on Payson Shops. Not being built of permanent material, the buildings became rusted and weather-beaten. Their woebegone air indicated all too clearly the fact that SL&U had fallen on evil days. After the road was abandoned, the shops were sold, and today are being used by private industry.
The project of providing the City of Provo with streetcar service turned out to be a headache for SL&U. The city campaigned hotly for a local service, and SL&U gave it for about two years. Patronage was light (some days' receipts falling as low as 20 cents), that SL&U withdrew the little single-truck cars about the time we entered World War One. One of the streetcars was thereupon used on a one-mile spur running out of Spanish Fork to a sugar factory; this operation continued until about 1923.
SL&U first purchased two (?) used cars from Utah Light and Traction Company for the Provo service, but these were stored behind the Payson Shops for years, finally being scrapped, never having been used by SL&U.
Single-truck closed cars 11 and 12 were purchased in 1914 and were 31 feet 8 inches long. In 1923 they were withdrawn from Spanish Fork service and retired. The bodies became chicken coops, while their motors were put into a rotary snow plow built by SL&U and used to turn the blades.