Western Pacific in Utah
Index For This Page
Everything WP, East of Wendover.
This page was last updated on October 19, 2018.
All WP mile posts west of Salt Lake City show two distances on the ICC valuation maps. One via Arnolds Loop, and another via "3% Cut Off". For example, Garfield was MP 913.056 via Arnolds Loop and MP 907.176 via 3% Cut Off. A difference of 5.88 miles. (WP Right of Way and Track maps on file at Utah State Archives)
March 3, 1903
Western Pacific Railway was organized in California to build from Salt Lake City to Oakland, and incorporated also in California on March 6, 1903. (Gilbert H. Kneiss "Fifty Candles for Western Pacific" in Mileposts [Western Pacific employee magazine], March 1953; see also LeMassena, Rio Grande to the Pacific, p. 265)
During early September 1905, construction of Western Pacific began with the completion of three miles of grade where the new railroad crossed the existing Nevada Northern Railway, at a new station to be called Shafter. The work was being done by Utah Construction Company of Ogden, Utah. (Deseret News, September 8, 1905)
In mid September 1905 work started on the WP at Garfield, adjacent to the new smelter being built at that location. (Deseret News, September 22, 1905, "Dirt Is Now Flying Out At Garfield Beach")
January 27, 1906
Salt Lake City granted Western Pacific a franchise to construct its railroad over and on certain city streets. (Deseret News, January 29, 1906)
Demolition of houses located on property purchased by WP for its route through Salt Lake City's west side began in mid February 1906. (Deseret News, February 15, 1906)
May 7, 1906
The first trainload (20 cars) of rails arrived at Salt Lake City from Colorado Fuel & Iron in Pueblo, Colorado. Tracklaying was to commence immediately. (Deseret News, May 8, 1906)
May 18, 1906
Tracklaying for Western Pacific began "this morning" at the Jordan River and was to extend toward the RGW mainline at Salt Lake City. By noon 1,500 feet had been laid within the city limits of Salt Lake City. The work force consisted of 60 men, mostly Greeks furnished by Leon Skliris, a well-known agent who supplied immigrant laborers for railroads and mining companies in Utah. (Deseret News, May 18, 1906)
May 24, 1906
"...tracklaying began at Oakland on January 2, 1906, and at Salt Lake City on May 24, 1906." (LeMassena, Rio Grande to the Pacific, p. 265)
June 13, 1906
"Western Pacific Busy -- That the Western Pacific is getting into its construction stride is in evidence everywhere on the west side today. The grade to Garfield has been practically completed and the tracklaying machine received from the east a few days ago is being set up in the Rio Grande yards preliminary to being put into commission. During the past ten days the Rio Grande has hauled no less than 42 car loads of gravel from the Riverton pits and delivered them to the Western Pacific for ballasting the track already laid." (Deseret News June 13, 1906)
June 25, 1906
'WP has laid three miles of tracks, from Salt Lake City to Buena Vista, where the company has completed a supply yard for construction materials and track laying supplies. During early July the tracklaying machine, recently assembled and now ready to go in the Salt Lake yards, will be put to work. Together with a force of 200 Greek, Italians and Austrians, the machine will lay one mile per day and will not let up for at least 100 miles." (Deseret News, June 25, 1906)
(There is no mention of the needed crossing of OSL/SPLA&SL just east of the Jordan River.)
August 7, 1906
Sixty carloads of rails arrived for Western Pacific. By the end of August the company will have laid 40 miles of track at the rate of 1-1/2 miles per day. (Deseret News, August 7, 1906)
Track laying completed as follows:
- August 30, 1906 -- MP 887, Timpie Quarry Spur
- September 14, 1906 -- MP 878.4, Delle
- September 29, 1906 -- MP 866.14, Low
- Source: WP track profile map, Timpie Quarry Spur to Low, Utah State Archives
November 12, 1906
Western Pacific recieved its first locomotives, delivered at Salt Lake City. (Myrick, Western Pacific, The Last Transcontinental, page 49 [photo])
During its construction west of Great Salt Lake near the Utah-Nevada state line, Western Pacific encountered a bed of pure salt 15 miles long and 8 miles wide. "They dug down six feet and still were in solid salt." (Davis County Clipper, January 4, 1907)
May 2, 1907
Western Pacific was completed between Salt Lake City and the Utah-Nevada state line. "The second cross-continental railroad now crosses Utah. The Western Pacific completed its main track to the Nevada state line May 2." (Deseret News, May 4, 1907, quoting a telegram sent from H. G. Bogue, chief engineer of Western Pacific, to Utah governor John C. Cutler.)
Freight service began on WP between Salt Lake City and Shafter, Nevada, interchanging with the Nevada Northern Railway, owned and operated by the new Nevada Consolidated Copper Co. (LeMassena, Rio Grande to the Pacific, p. 267)
November 8, 1908
Western Pacific's first timetable went into effect, covering only the trackage between Salt Lake City and Shafter, Nevada. (Jeff Asay, Track and Time, page 14)
November 10, 1908
Western Pacific began operations between Salt Lake City and the Utah-Nevada state line. (Davis County Clipper, November 13, 1908, "Monday")
August 2, 1909
Western Pacific began operations between Salt Lake City and Elko, Nevada. For the previous "several months" the railroad had been operating three to four trains per week between Salt Lake City and Shafter, Nevada where it connected with the recently completed Nevada Northern Railway. (Davis County Clipper, July 30, 1909; Jeff Asay, Track and Time, page 14)
WP laid the last rail for its line in Nevada at a point 160 miles west of Winnemucca. There remained six miles that needed ballast, Golconda and Winnemucca. (Carbon County News, November 5, 1909)
November 1, 1909
WP completed between Salt Lake City and Oakland, with the last spike being driven at Keddie, California. (LeMassena, Rio Grande to the Pacific, p. 267)
November 11, 1909
"The first train over Western Pacific arrived without fanfare from San Francisco yesterday afternoon." (Deseret News, November 10, 1959, "Remember When, 50 Years Ago")
December 1, 1909
Freight service was started between Salt Lake City and Oakland. (Gilbert H. Kneiss "Fifty Candles for Western Pacific" in Mileposts [Western Pacific employee magazine], March 1953)
Operation was by way of a three-percent alignment over Silver Zone Pass. Planning and construction soon began on a better alignment with a maximum grade of one percent, which was completed in May 1914.
D&RG and WP built Salt Lake City Union Depot in Salt Lake City. (LeMassena, Rio Grande to the Pacific, p. 123) Construction started in 1907, under the name of Salt Lake City Union Depot & Railroad Co., incorporated on May 29, 1907. (Utah corporation index 6383)
A first class passenger train was to begin operations on or about June 1, 1910 between Denver and San Francisco by way of D&RGW and the recently completed WP. (Carbon County News, March 11, 1910)
August 1, 1910
Passenger service began between Salt Lake City and Oakland. (LeMassena, Rio Grande to the Pacific, p. 267; Jeff Asay, Track and Time, page 10)
August 22, 1910
Regular passenger service began between Salt Lake City and Oakland.
The Western Pacific railroad, over which regular passenger traffic will commence on August 22, is a continuation of the Gould system of roads westward from Salt Lake City to the Pacific coast. Its length is 923 miles from this city to its terminal in Oakland. Starting from Salt Lake, the route is directly west to the shores of Great Salt Lake, where it skirts the shore as far as Timpie. It crosses the Nevada line near Wendover, passes through Winnemucca and Wells, Nevada, on to Sacramento, and from there to Oakland. Six divisions of the road have been established for purposes of operations, the Salt Lake division being from Elko to this city, 260 miles. The road was practically completed some months ago and regular freight service was maintained all winter, but the opening to passenger traffic was delayed until August 22. (Salt Lake Herald, August 7, 1910, "Development of Transportation in Utah")
On the same date, August 22, 1910, a new employee's timetable (No. 3) went into effect, showing trains 3 and 4 as WP's first regularly scheduled passenger train. (Jeff Asay, Track and Time, page 27)
WP's original mortgage prevented construction of branch and feeder lines until the mainline was completed. The reorganized company did not have that limitation and construction of branchlines soon began. (Gilbert H. Kneiss "Fifty Candles for Western Pacific" in Mileposts [Western Pacific employee magazine], March 1953)
News item about Utah Construction Company having been awarded the contract to build the Western Pacific's Tooele Branch, 16 miles. (Salt Lake Mining Review, Volume 18, number 17, December 15, 1916, p.34, "Trade Notes")
Utah Copper expanded its original tailings pond near Magna from the original 1500 acres to 5000 acres. This forced the Union Pacific (LA&SL) and Western Pacific tracks to be relocated to the north along a new alignment. As part of the 1917 line change between today's 5600 West and Smelter station, the two railroads created a new station named Garfield as a connection to Utah Copper's railroad. This Garfield station remained in place until replaced by a new Garfield created in 1997 when UP moved its mainline again to allow expansion of the Kennecott tailings pond. (Utah History Cyclopedia; Union Pacific condensed track profile)
December 28, 1917
Western Pacific came under federal USRA control. (Gilbert H. Kneiss "Fifty Candles for Western Pacific" in Mileposts [Western Pacific employee magazine], March 1953)
WP completed a branch from Burmester to Tooele Junction, to interchange with the newly completed Tooele Valley Railway. (LeMassena, Rio Grande to the Pacific, p. 269)
WP completed a branch from Ellerbeck to limestone quarries at Dolomite and Flux. (LeMassena, Rio Grande to the Pacific, p. 269)
March 21, 1918
The United States Railway Administration (USRA) took over the operation of America’s railroads (including WP) on March 21, 1918 to improve the efficiency of America’s railroads during World War I. It continued to operate and “administer” the railroads until March 1, 1920. One review has stated that over 100,000 freight cars and over 1,900 steam locomotives were built for the USRA, at a cost to the government of $380 million.
May 13, 1919
WP received Utah PSC approval to close the agency at Low. Used primarily for water and feed shipments for sheep ranchers, along with occasional ore shipments. (Utah Public Service Commission, Case 179)
March 1, 1920
The United States Railway Administration (USRA) returned control of the nation's railroads (including WP), from government control due to World War I, back to the railroad companies. Included in the enabling Esch–Cummins Act was a provision to allow the ICC to control the railroads profits and rate of return for investments.
D&RGW's Roper Yard in south Salt Lake City was designated as WP's Salt Lake City freight terminal. (Track and Time, Jeff Asay, page 140, based on date of WP employee Eastern Division timetable 12, dated June 9, 1929)
December 17, 1929
WP received Utah PSC approval to close the agency at Salduro, located 8 miles east of Wendover. The agency was opened in 1917 to serve a potash and salt plant, which has since closed. (Utah Public Service Commission, Case 1147)
(circa February 1932)
State Road Commission received Utah PSC approval to construct a concrete overpass over the Union Pacific Railroad and the Western Pacific Railroad for a new state highway, called the Garfield Cut-off. (Utah Public Service Commission, Case 1263)
October 19-22, 1943
"Work was scheduled to begin on a new Western Pacific Railroad Depot at Warner, Utah, according to an announcement. The modern building would be located at the North gate of the Tooele Ordnance Depot and would cost $25,000 to build. It was expected to take about 60 days to complete." (Tooele Transcript, October 19, 2018, Frontpage Flashback)
February 11, 1944
The D&RGW AFE for the line change that resulted in the Grant Tower automatic interlocking was approved. The documentation to support the AFE shows that there was a 17-lever mechanical interlocking at the combined WP/D&RGW and LA&SL/D&RGW crossing along 700 West and South Temple streets. The formal completion date for the line change was December 20, 1952, and for the tower building itself, the formal completion date is shown as May 20, 1950. (D&RGW AFE records on file at Colorado Railroad Museum) (more details are on this D&RGW page)
September 17, 1950
A pair of the Western Pacific's Budd Rail Diesel Cars (RDCs), known as "Zephyrettes," went into service as replacements for the discontinued Royal Gorge (trains No. 1 and 2) between Salt Lake City and Oakland. The RDCs entered service on the first eastbound trip on September 15, 1950, and September 17, 1950 on the first westbound trip. They remained in service until October 2, 1960. The RDCs replaced Train No. 1, which from March 20, 1949 to September 14, 1950 consisted of a single diesel locomotive, a tender from a retired steam locomotive, a baggage car, a couple day coaches, and a diner, which was reported as losing $85,000 per month. The cars were test run in January 1950, and purchased in February, and were reported as being the first self-propelled, single-car diesel trains in service in the nation. The trains left Salt Lake City on Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. Although the RDCs did not have diner service, there were meal stops in Elko, Nevada and Portola, California. (see also Trainorders.com, June 3, 2010)
(See also: D-Day On The Western Pacific, by Virgil C. Staff, pages 48, 49, 91)
(See also: Diesel Locomotives of the Western Pacific, by Joseph A. Strapac, pages 49, 53)
There were three tenders from retired steam locomotives assigned to the service. The tender was filled with about four feet of water at Oakland, which was enough water for the steam generator for the entire trip between Oakland and Salt Lake City. The extra water was needed because the F3 diesel locomotive assigned to the train did not carry more than 200 gallons. Contrary to popular railfan rumors, the tender did *not* carry extra fuel for either the locomotive or the steam generator.
The Royal Gorge, as WP trains 1 and 2, was a connection with D&RGW's Royal Gorge, also trains 1 and 2, which was discontinued on February 11, 1950 after being combined with D&RGW's Prospector, trains 7 and 8, west of Grand Junction. On March 22, 1950, D&RGW's newly equipped Prospector went into service between Denver and Salt Lake City.
The following comes from Railroad magazine, July 1953, page 47:
Q. What railroad has the greatest mileage of mainline controlled by CTC?
A. This distinction is now held by the Western Pacific. The Feather River Route last year  completed installation of Centralized Traffic Control on the 72 miles of main line between Delle and Salt Lake City. Now the railroad's entire 924-mile stretch of mainline between Oakland and Salt Lake City is equipped with CTC, with the exception of 178 miles of paired track in Nevada. WP thus has 746 miles of CTC-equipped mainline trackage.
WP installed centralized traffic control (CTC) between Wendover and Pollard Junction in Salt Lake City (Pollard Junction was where WP freight trains turned south at about 100 South and 700 West, to travel along D&RGW's main line to Roper Yard.) (Track and Time, Jeff Asay, page 140, based on date of WP employee Eastern Division timetable 52, dated April 26, 1953)
September 1, 1955
Western Pacific planned to start shipping loaded trailers on flat cars, known as "piggy-back," between the Bay Area and the Pacific Northwest, in cooperation with Great Northern. (Ogden Standard Examiner, June 30, 1955)
WP joined Trailer Train, the national trailer-on-flat-car (TOFC) pool. In that same year, WP started TOFC service, better known as "piggyback" service, between Salt Lake City and Oakland. WP, along with GN and AT&SF, had started piggyback service between Seattle and Los Angeles via the Inside Gateway by way of Bieber, California, in 1954. Competitors SP and UP joined Trailer Train in 1960, and WP's connecting road at Salt Lake City, D&RGW, joined in 1963. (The Tioga Group, Intermodal Timeline, 1954 to 1966)
April 25, 1960
Western Pacific announced that on June 1st, the railroad would discontinue its local diesel car service Between Salt Lake City and Oakland. The railroad was reported to have lost $225,000 on the operation of the trains during 1959. (Deseret News, April 25, 1960) (The trains had entered service on September 17, 1950)
October 2, 1960
Last day of operation for WP's Zephyrette, the self-propelled single-unit rail diesel car (RDC) between Salt Lake City and Oakland. The RDC was operated as WP train 1 and 2. (Track and Time, Jeff Asay, page 140)
Southern Pacific and Santa Fe each attempted to control Western Pacific. The action was begun in 1960 and ICC took until 1965 to hand down its decision against SP and AT&SF. (ICC report re. Southern Pacific request for control of Western Pacific, 1965, ICC Finance Docket 21314)
The following comes from the January 1965 issue of Modern Railroads magazine:
PLANS FOR 1965:
ENGINEERING . . . Convert separate single tracks of UP and WP between Salt Lake City and Garfield, Utah, into paired double-track operation. This will include a fully prestressed concrete bridge and laying continuous welded rail.
WP and UP completed a line change to allow the construction of today's I-80, west of Salt Lake City. Included was a new line for WP from about 1000 West, paralleling UP's LA&SL line west to Gladiola Street, at about 3200 West. WP's mainline was abandoned upon completion of the line change, which included a new location called "WP-UP Junction" at about 1100 West. The original WP/LA&SL diamond crossing at Navajo Street was abandoned and the tracks between the new WP-UP Junction and Smelter, 15 miles to the west, were operated as joint trackage. (Track and Time, by Jeff Asay, page 94)
WP-UP Junction, a double crossover at about 1100 West, was added in 1967 to replace the "Navajo Street" diamond-crossing at about 1400 West. As noted above, Jeff Asay wrote that the change was to put the WP and UP(LA&SL) lines west from Salt Lake City, on a common alignment in preparation for what today is I-80, and the new superhighway's crossing over the two rail lines at Cheyenne Street (about 1550 West). With the common ownership of both UP and WP lines after the 1983 merger, the need went away to crossover to WP-owned tracks before the ownership changed at the Jordan River, and the double crossover was moved several miles west to Orange Street, about a mile west of Redwood Road. (Google map of the area at WP-UP Junction -- including the abandoned WP route was used as the location for Interstate 80, and the later interchange between I-80 and the later I-215 Belt Route, completed in 1985-1986)
WP OUT, D&RGW AND SP IN, BUT TRIWEEKLY ONLY: Reasoning that Western Pacific's tonnage can't subsidize an essentially "sightseeing excursion," the ICC has allowed WP to drop its Salt Lake City--San Francisco leg of the California Zephyr (last runs: March 21). Rio Grande, which also wanted out, was ordered to run its Denver--Salt Lake City CZ link on a triweekly schedule; and Southern Pacific was permitted to reduce its Ogden--San Francisco end of the City of San Francisco from daily to triweekly frequency. D&RGW and SP trains must connect between Salt Lake City and Ogden over what is at present freight--only trackage of the former. (Trains magazine, April 1970, page 8)
December 1, 1970
Alfred E. Perlman became president of Western Pacific Railroad. (Pacific News, November 1970, page 14)
December 21, 1970
Western Pacific Industries was organized to control Western Pacific Railroad as a subsidiary. By June 17, 1971, the holding company had acquired about 95 percent of the outstanding stock of the railroad company.
January 1, 1973
R. G. "Mike" Flannery became President and CEO of Western Pacific Railroad. Mr. Flannery had come to WP from Penn Central along with A. E. Perlman as Perlman's first Executive Vice President.
July 28, 1974
For many years, the line from Wendover to Salt Lake City was labeled as Western Pacific's Eighth (8th) Subdivision. The 8th Subdivision was eliminated when the consolidated employee timetable (WP/SN/TS) No. 3, was issued with the date of July 28, 1974.
Other consolidated timetables included:
- No. 1, dated June 11, 1972 (8th Sub shown)
- No. 2
- No. 3, dated July 28, 1974 (7th Sub shown as Elko to Salt Lake City, with additional stations at Garfield, Buena Vista, Industrial Center Spur and North Yard.
- No. 4, dated April 25, 1976 (7th Sub shown as Elko to Salt Lake City).
- (Sources: emails from Thom Anderson and Bob Pecotich, October 5, 2009)
February 16, 1978
Western Pacific Railroad was sold to Newrail Company, Inc., a company organized by Western Pacific's management and officers, including the road's president and CEO R. G. Flannery, to buy the railroad from its parent holding company Western Pacific Industries, Inc. The parent company had announced in 1977 to sell its railroad subsidiary. The federal ICC approved the sale on January 26, 1979. (see also: Newrail Co. -- Purchase -- Western Pacific R.R. ("Newrail"), 354 I.C.C. 885, 899-901, 1979)
The sale was approved by the railroad's shareholders on November 1, 1978. Included in the sale was the assets and business of Western Pacific Railroad, Sacramento Northern Railroad, Tidewater Southern Railroad, and non-railroad subsidiaries Standard Realty and Development Corporation, Delta Finance Company and the WP Transport trucking company.
April 4, 1979
The sale of the assets and liabilities (but not the stock) of Western Pacific Railroad to Newrail took effect. On the same day, Newrail changed its name to Western Pacific Railroad, and the previous railroad company controlled by Western Pacific Industries changed its name to OldWestCo. WPI then owned only a railroad company with no assets.
July 24, 1979
A wreck at Mile Post 868, near Low (MP 866.14) involving WP 3516, 2010, 3067, and 3523, along with caboose 466. The wreck was between two trains; a four-car EMR (Ellerbeck-Marblehead-Rowley) Local, and a set of four locomotives running light. (Photos of the wreck at the WPRRHS web site) (wreck information from Trainorders.com)
Western Pacific adopted its new stylized feather logo. The first pieces of equipment to have the new logo were 100 boxcars to be delivered from Portland, Oregon during November 1979. The new logo was designed by Mark Gobe & Associates of San Francisco. (Deseret News, November 1, 1979)
January 23, 1980
Western Pacific's board of directors announced that they had accepted an offer from Union Pacific Railroad for the control of WP by UP. UP had announced on January 8, 1980, its intention to buy the Western Pacific.
September 15, 1980
UP and WP filed their request for UP control of WP with the federal ICC. The ICC accepted the application for merger and control on October 15th. Initial plans were for WP to remain independent and become UP's fourth operating district (along side UP's existing three districts: Eastern, Northwestern, and South-Central).
June 9, 1982
Robert C. Marquis became president and CEO of WP after R. G. Flannery left to become president and CEO of Missouri Pacific Railroad.
October 20, 1982
The federal ICC approved the control of WP by UP. The decision had been announced on September 13th.
January 1, 1983
Union Pacific's purchase and control of Western Pacific became effective. The sale cleared its last legal challenge and was approved by the U. S. Supreme Court on December 22, 1982, the date that is usually given as the date of the UP-WP "merger".
January 11, 1983
WP's board of directors met to confirm that Western Pacific's status as a subsidiary of the Union Pacific Railroad Company.
(See also Western Pacific History, WP Lives)
(All events on former WP trackage and locations after January 1983 are covered as part of the coverage for Union Pacific in Utah.) (Read more about for UP in Utah after 1983)
WP in Utah, Station Summary (including branch lines)