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Utah Rail Men, Biographical Information

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This page was last updated on August 2, 2016.

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The growth of Utah's railroad industry would have never taken place without the personalities of the men who built the companies. Below are just some of the names, with what little information that has come to light.

(Listed alphabetically)

Arthur B. Apperson

Arthur B. "Bert" Apperson started his railroad career in 1891 at age 18, working on Union Pacific as a brakeman. He tried his hand as surveyor for a period of time, but by 1906, he was a yardmaster working on Union Pacific in Cheyenne. Between 1907 and 1916, Apperson was a manager on Rio Grande in Utah, and on Southern Utah Railroad and Castle Valley Railroad. In 1916-1918, he became general superintendent of United States Fuel, the parent company of Utah Railway, and was reported as being the organizing force when Utah Railway took over the operations of its own railroad. In 1918, he left Utah to manage various coal companies from a new location in Denver. In 1926-1928, while remaining in Denver, he was vice president of Utah Idaho Central.

(Read more about Arthur B. Apperson)

William H. Bancroft

In 1878, William H. Bancroft came to Utah to work on Denver & Rio Grande Western. After holding various manager postions, in 1890, he left Rio Grande to become general supintendent of Oregon Short Line & Utah Northern. He was named as one of OSL&UN's receivers in 1895, and became vice president and general manager of the new Oregon Short Line Railroad when it was organized in 1897. He held various senior mangement positions of OSL, working closely with E. H. Harriman. He held senior positions with the combined UP and SP interests until the two roads were separated in 1913. He remained as vice president and general manager of OSL until his death in 1915.

(Read more about William H. Bancroft)

Edgar E. Calvin

Later serving as Union Pacific president from 1916 to 1928, Edger E. Calvin started his railroad career as an telegraph operator on Union Pacific.

July 11, 1881
E. E. Calvin drove the first spike on the Oregon Short Line Railway at Granger, Wyoming: "Special to the Tribune - Granger, Wyoming, July 11 - Track laying on the Oregon Short Line began at this point today. The first spike was driven by E. E. Calvin, operator at Granger." (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, July 12, 1881)

May 21, 1892
In a news item about his visit to Brigham City to see about leasing some property, E. E. Calvin is mentioned as the "Supt. of U.&N. and O.S.L. branches of Union Pacific." (Brigham City Buglar, May 21, 1892)

December 28, 1901
In a news item about new shops being built for OSL in Pocatello, E. E. Calvin is noted as being General Superintendent of OSL, and W. H. Bancroft ad General Manager. (Intermountain Catholic, December 28, 1901)

October 28, 1904
A news item about E. E. Calvin being promoted by E. H. Harriman to become General Manager of Pacific Lines of Southern Pacific, replacing C. H. Markham, who had resigned. Calvin was promoted from his previous position as General Manager of Oregon Railway & Navigation, and was formerly Assistant General Manager of Oregon Short Line. (Deseret News, October 28, 1904, "within a few days")

Calvin remained in Portland until a successor was found, which was B. A. Worthington, formerly Assistant Director of Operations and Maintenance for all Harriman Line from his office in Chicago. Worthington moved to Portland in February 1905, and Calvin moved to San Francisco to take up his new duties there. (Deseret News, February 10, 1905)

July 5, 1905
E. E. Calvin was mentioned as being Vice President and General Manager of Southern Pacific. The news item specifically reported that Calvin was in Salt Lake City to see his daughter, who was in a local hospital due to an appendicitis. (Deseret News, July 5, 1905)

March 2, 1911
E. E. Calvin was mentioned as still being Vice President of Southern Pacific lines with his office in San Francisco. The article was about double tracking both Union Pacific and Southern Pacific. (Ogden Standard Examiner, March 2, 1911)

July 13, 1912
E. E. Calvin was promoted from Southern Pacific's Vice President and General Manager, to become SP's Vice President of Operations and Construction. (Ogden Standard Examiner, July 13, 1912)

January 22, 1914
W. H. Bancroft resigned as general manager of Oregon Short Line railroad. Bancroft was to be replaced by E. E. Calvin, currently the vice president in charge of construction and operation of Southern Pacific, effective February 1, 1914. Bancroft would retain his position as vice president of OSL, along with his position as first vice president of the Salt Lake Route, and president of Utah Light and Railway. Reported as being 74 years of age, a year previously, Bancroft had expressed a wish to curtail his work and duties. (Salt Lake Tribune, January 23, 1914)

"The history of the lives of both Mr. Bancroft, the retiring general manager of the Oregon Short Line, and of E E. Calvin, incoming head of the road, shows that both men have attained their high positions by working up from the ranks Mr. Bancroft entered the railroad game as telegraph operator and ticket clerk in 1856. Mr. Calvin began his career in 1871, also as a telegraph operator.

"Mr. Calvin was born October 16, 1858, in Indianapolis, Ind. He began railroading in 1873 and for two years was telegraph operator for the Indianapolis. Cincinnati & Lafayette railway. He then went back to school for a year. From April, 1877, to March, 1882, he was telegraph operator and station agent for the Union Pacific. From then until June 1, 1887, he held the positions of train dispatcher conductor and trainmaster. June 1, 1887, he was made division superintendent of the Missouri Pacific. On February 22, 1891, he took charge as superintendent of the Idaho division of the Oregon Short Line, remaining in that capacity until 1895. He became general superintendent, of the International Great Northern, with headquarters at Tyler, Texas, until March 16, 1897, when he was called to the general superintendency of the Oregon Short Line, with headquarters in Salt Lake.

"From May 15, 1903, until April 1, 1904, he was assistant general manager of the Oregon Short Line, the same position now held by F. H. Knickerbocker. He was sent to Portland in 1904 to take charge Of the Oregon Railroad & Navigation company as vice president and general manager of the road. Until July 15, 1912, he was general manager of the Southern Pacific company, with headquarters in San Francisco. He was then made vice president in general charge of construction and operation, the position he will leave to accept the general managership of the Oregon Short Line."

June 1, 1916
E. E. Calvin was elected President of Union Pacific, succeeding A. L. Mohler who was to retire on July 1st. (Logan Republican, June 1, 1916)

November 21, 1917
E. E. Calvin was noted as being President of both Union Pacific and Oregon Short Line. (Salt Lake Telegram, November 21, 1917)

April 12, 1919
E. E. Calvin was noted as being President of Union Pacific Railroad, and Federal Director of the Union Pacific System. (Ogden Standard Examiner, April 12, 1919) (Also noted as being "Federal Manager in charge of Union Pacific" April 23, 1919)

January 1920
The federal government returned control of Union Pacific and its subsidiaries back to its board of directors and officers on March 1, 1920. E. E. Calvin had been federal manager and director in charge of the entire Union Pacific system, but the Chairman of the Board, Judge Robert Lovett took the opportunity in January 1920 to place Carl R. Gray into the office of the President. With the reorganization, E. E. Calvin became Vice President of Operations. (Klein, Union Pacific, Volume II, The Rebirth, pages 243-245)

March 25, 1920
E. E. Calvin, already serving as Vice President of Operations of Union Pacific, was elected as First Vice President of Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad. (Ogden Standard Examiner, March 25, 1920)

October 17, 1922
E. E. calvin was noted as being Vice President of Operations of Union Pacific, with Carl R. Gray as President of Union Pacific. (Ogden Standard Examiner, October 17, 1922)

October 17, 1928
E. E. Calvin was noted as being Vice President of Operations for Union Pacific upon his retirement on October 16, 1928, his 70th birthday. His career with Union Pacific had spanned 51 years. He planned to retire to Los Angeles. (Salt Lake Telegram, October 17, 1928)

J. Ross Clark

Together with his brother, Senator William A. Clark, J. Ross Clark was the moving force behind the construction of the railroad between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. Their railroad, the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad, was completed in May 1905. Union Pacific bought a half-interest in the SPLA&SL in 1903, and in 1921, Union Pacific purchased the Clarks' interest.

(Read more about J. Ross Clark) (Read the Wikipedia article about Senator William A. Clark)

Silas Wright Eccles

S. W. Eccles was part of Utah's railroads from the late 1880s through 1900. He held upper management positions with D&RGW, RGW, Union Pacific, and Oregon Short Line. He was involved with OSL when that road purchased the much smaller New East Tintic line, purely to keep RGW from doing the same thing, to control the mining traffic coming out of Utah.

Silas Wright Eccles was born in Illinois in January 1852, and died in Florida in December 1917, at age 65. He lived his life in Illinois, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, and California. From 1900 until his death in 1917, he lived in New York and was part of the Guggheim organization, and their control of mining, smelting and railroad interests throughout the West. His last few days were in Florida, where he had gone to recover from a recent illness.

A review of the Eccles family trees, both his tree and their extensive tree, shows that S. W. Eccles was not related in any way with the Eccles family who controlled so many banking and industrial companies in Utah. The Eccles family in Utah stemmed from David Eccles, who was born in Scotland in 1849 and immigrated to Utah in 1863. (David Eccles' parents had converted to Mormonism in 1842 and came to Utah with very little money. David Eccles later became Utah's first millionaire, and himself passed away in 1912.)

"S. W. Eccles, vice president of the American Smelting, Refining and Mining company, and who for many years previous to 1901, was a resident of Salt Lake, died suddenly in St. Augustine, Fla., yesterday." "For several years he was traffic manager of the reorganized Oregon Short Line and at the time of his death was president of Copper River & Northwestern railway, Mexican Union railway, the Nevada Northern railway and a number of other roads. At various times in his career in the West he occupied high positions in many railways of this section of the country, and was prominent in civic and club life of Salt Lake." "About sixteen years ago he became traffic manager of American Smelting, Refining and Mining company, since which time he has lived in the East." (Salt Lake Telegram, December 31, 1917) (Engineering & Mining Journal, January 5, 1918, Volume 105, Number 1, page 34, repeated most of the above information, adding that Eccles had gone to St. Augustine for his health.)

(All of the railroads mentioned above were controlled by the Guggenheim Exploration Co., and were later controlled by Kennecott Copper.)

The "Manual of Statistics, Stock Exchange Handbook," for 1909, showed Eccles as a vice-president and director of Nevada Consolidated Copper Co., located in New York. Nevada Consolidated had been organized in November 1904, with the Guggenheim Exploration Co. holding a large interest in the company. Eccles was also shown as a director of American Smelting & Refining Company.

The following comes from Railway and Marine News, July 1, 1912, Volume X, Number 12, page 12:

Silas Wright Eccles, who was recently elected president of the Alaska Steamship Co., has been identified with this and allied corporations for several years. He has been prominently connected with the Copper River & Northwestern Railroad and has been one of the big men of New York who has done much to assist in opening up Alaska. Only a short time ago Mr. Eccles was also elevated to the presidency of the Nevada Consolidated Copper Co. He has been identified with that corporation as its vice-president since organization and it is largely due to his extensive knowledge and persistency of effort that the Nevada Consolidated is able to produce copper at the lowest cost of any mining company in the world and is therefore one of the most successful and best paying.

Mr. Eccles, who is conceded to be one of the best informed men in the mining field, was born in Washington, Ill., on Jan. 3, 1852, the son of Joeeph C. and Susanna (Davidson) Eccles. He was educated in the public schools of his native state and began his business career in 1870 as station agent and telegraph operator with the Chicago & Alton Railroad Co. After two years' service with this company he accepted a similar position with the Missouri Kansas & Texas Railroad at Fort Scott. Kansas, and was next employed with the Kansas & Pacific Railroad at Kit Carson, Colo. In 1876 Mr. Eccles became identified with the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad at Pueblo, Colo. The year thereafter he filled the position of general freight and passenger agent for the same company and located at Denver, Colo. His next position was that of the general superintendent of the Denver & New Orleans Railroad. Then he became stationed at Salt Lake City, Utah, as general freight and passenger agent of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad. Mr. Eccles next advance was as general agent of the Union Pacific Railroad, at San Francisco.

In 1887 Mr Eccles' services were secured by C. P. Hutington as general freight and passenger agent for the Mexican International Railroad. In 1889 he again became connected with Union Pacific Railroad, and again located at San Francisco. He afterwards returned to Salt Lake City as traffic manager of the Union Pacific Railroad and subsequently filled the same position for the Oregon Short Line Railroad.

In 1900 inducements were offered Mr. Eccles to enter the smelting and refining business, and he accepted a directorship with American Smelting & Refining Co. He, however, does not entirely confine his well-known abilities to that line of industry. He also is president of the Copper River & Northwestern Railroad Co., and vice-president of the American Smelters' Alaska Steamship Co. Other prominent corporations also claim a portion of his attention.

Joseph G. Jacobs

J. G. Jacobs was the organizer of at least three railroads in Utah. Each company used Shay locomotives as its motive power, and included the Salt Lake & Mercur, the Copper Belt, and the Salt Lake & Alta companies.

(Read more about Joseph G. Jacobs)

Arthur A. Sweet

A. A. Sweet was shown as the president of Southern Utah Railroad when it was organized in 1907, with W. H. Sweet shown as one of the directors.

Arthur A. Sweet was the general manager of the Southern Utah Railroad. (Eastern Utah Advocate, December 10, 1908)

More Information

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