John W. Young’s Utah Railroads, Chapter 5

Index For This Page

By Marlowe C. Adkins, Jr.

(Return to Adkins Manuscript Index Page)

Chapter 5

Railroad Finances

The financing of railroads was complex. Initial subscriptions, issuance of stocks and bonds, establishing means of revenue, and maintaining the proper flow of money to cover expenses represent the obvious. Less prominent, but of equal importance, is the ability of the promoters to establish confidence in their enterprise through financial, social, and political contacts. This chapter, therefore, is concerned with the activities of John W. Young, his contacts, and very briefly, his predecessors.[1]

Even as a railroad was organized, money had to be a tangible factor. Under the provisions of territorial law for Utah Territory, stock in the amount of one thousand dollars per mile was to be subscribed, with ten percent of the value paid in cash, when a railroad was organized.[2] Thus the original incorporators of the Salt Lake and Fort Douglas Railroad declared their intention of constructing twenty miles of railroad, subscribed $20,000 worth of stock, but only had to raise $2,000 in cash. However, these same men established a capital stock issue of $360,000, anticipating the actual expenses to reach at least that figure.[3] In essence, a railroad was organized for just a fraction of the anticipated cost.

John W. Young followed this same accepted procedure when he took over the Salt Lake and Fort Douglas Railroad. He subscribed to 291 shares of $100 stock, paying in cash $2,910. All other stockholders were limited to a single share of stock per person, although the authorized stock issue was for a half million dollars.[4] This same basic policy of limiting stock issuance to others was followed when the Salt Lake and Eastern and the Utah Western railroads were organized.[5] In this manner, Young maintained absolute control over the activities of the railroads. Unfortunately for his ambitions, such control did not mean that he had the money to cover the cost of construction. John W. Young was not unique in his shortage of funds for, the railroads. The United States economy, as a whole, was in the midst of a cyclical monetary contraction as he became involved with the Salt Lake and Fort Douglas. Foreign investors, who heavily invested in railroad securities, began to doubt the management of United States railroads and withdrew sufficient capital to affect the market.[6] Nonetheless, the Salt Lake and Fort Douglas Railroad required hard money if it was to proceed beyond the drawing board stage.

The fall of 1884 was a period which witnessed the initial attempts to raise funds to construct the Salt Lake and Fort Douglas Railroad. The first sources sought were private investors located in the east. Letters were sent to them, inviting them to "take hold" in the S. L. & F. D.[7] When these attempts failed to generate the hoped for results, another source closer to home was investigated.

On October 15, 1884, John W. Young and George Q. Cannon, then First Counselor to President John Taylor of the Mormon church, engaged in conversation concerning the financing of the Salt Lake and Fort Douglas. The following day Young formalized the discussion on paper and sent it to Cannon. In essence, he desired church financial support in building the initial line between the city and the quarry in Red Butte Canyon, a distance "of about ten miles." Once that was completed, both parties were to share in future expansion except for the "Cottonwood Branch" which Young wanted to develop and run by himself. If, after the first section was completed, he had "not gained the confidence of President Taylor," he agreed to "step down and out."[8] Having taken pains earlier to ensure that he held the controlling stock, why was John W. Young now making such an offer?

In purchasing the Red Butte lands and additional real estate in Emigration Canyon, John W. Young had gone into debt for $27,500. By the time he engaged in conversation with George Q. Cannon, about half of this sum had been paid, and he had given his personal note for the balance.[9] With this financial burden upon him, the delay in receiving a franchise from the city, and a lack of success in obtaining private investors, he was in an awkward position. Church backing had assisted him in earlier years, now he looked again in that direction for financial resources. However, in the previous instance his father had been in the position of church president. Matters were now much different.

When the offer to invest in the Salt Lake and Fort Douglas Railroad was received, it caused some hard thinking within the church leadership. One aspect of their decision making process was committed to paper. Reproduced in full as Appendix A, it reveals a distrust of the railroad and a concern that it is the effort of "a monopoly" to gain greater control over the railroad affairs of the area. Relative to John W. Young’s arrival and involvement is the question: "Has he paid for it or is the cats-paw of the original proprietors?" If he does indeed owe allegiance to others, another question is presented: "... where is the Monkey?"[10]

These and other questions must have been answered to the satisfaction of the questioners, for the church presidency responded in a favorable manner. The response, unsigned and undated but on the stationery of the Office of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is carefully worded and quite specific. (See Appendix B.)

Of significance is a condition which passed control of the railroad to the church. Stating that the church would pay half of the original investment cost, i.e., $13,750, it continues: "We should then put in something more to give us controlling interest."[11] There is no statement about Young managing the railroad, sharing in future development, or maintaining an independent Cottonwood branchline; simply "give us controlling interest." There was no further discussion of a church and John W. Young partnership in railroad ventures. Young had to go elsewhere for money.

John W. Young’s eastern business interests gave him an advantage in making potential financial contacts.[12] Vice president of the North American Exchange Company, Limited, his offices were at No. 57 Broadway, across the street from the New York Stock Exchange.[13] This placed him in close proximity to many of the acknowledged business and financial greats of the day. John D. Rockefeller, for instance, maintained offices at No. 26 Broadway.[14]

Young was also accepted as a gentleman and astute businessman by his eastern contemporaries. He was welcome in their restaurants and clubs in New York City.[15] With such influences present, dealers in securities and bonds on a world-wide scale, it is not surprising that his initial means of raising funds was that of bonding.

The bonding of railroads as a means of financing construction and initial operation began almost with the construction of the first American railroad.[16] The issuance of bonds contained inherent advantages and disadvantages. If continued control of the railroad by a specific person or group was of paramount importance, bonds provided a distinct advantage. Whereas buying stock granted a share of control to the investor, a bond did not. In exchange for the use of a bondholder’s money, the railroad was under obligation only to pay a predetermined amount of interest at given periods, and return the original amount upon the maturity of the bond. In no way was the bondholder given any control, specified or implied, in the operation of the railroad.[17] By December 1884, bonds had been printed for the Salt Lake and Fort Douglas Railroad.

On December 1, 1884, John W. Young was again seeking money from Mormon church President John Taylor. Unlike his previous attempt, this time he sought to have Taylor, or the church, purchase a block of ten $100 bonds, or loan him $1,000 with the bonds as security.[18] There is no record of a direct reply to this offer, but over the next few months there is a record of a series of receipts for sums of $500 to $1,000 issued to James Jack by the Salt Lake and Fort Douglas.[19] Whether this money came from Jack personally, or whether it originated with the church, is unknown. Whichever the case may be, some money was being invested or loaned to the railroad.

Some money, but not enough. In January and early February 1885, John W. Young was financially embarrassed. Rails and other supplies were arriving for the Salt Lake and Fort Douglas, but there was no money available to pay for the grading of the roadbed. Supplies were arriving as a result of an arrangement made with the Central Pacific and Southern Pacific railroads. The C. P. sold $31,823.60 worth of materials and shipped them to Ogden at a cost of $1,135.98 with the understanding that Young secure his personal note with $24,700 worth of S. L. & F. D. bonds.[20] This was not an unusual practice and allowed the holders of the bonds to collect the interest on them until i they were redeemed through the payment of the note. If other bonds were sold rapidly, generating money to pay off the note, the security bonds were recovered with a very low interest rate being paid. If other bonds sold slowly, the materials were still available for use at the cost of the interest on the bonds used as collateral.

The Central Pacific was destined to collect the interest on the bonds. Although Young spent most of 1885 in the east actively seeking financial investors, conditions in Utah placed obstacles in his way. The problems had nothing to do with his railroad, but were intimately concerned with his religion.

National attention had been focused on Utah Territory due to the Mormon practice of polygamy.[21] As the anti-polygamist efforts intensified, both factual and fabricated accounts of affairs in the Great Basin were sensationalized by the eastern press. The effect upon potential investors was understandably negative.

John W. Young’s search for financial backing suffered due to the anti-polygamy movement. Through his own words we can witness the difficulties presented:

My absence in the East was prolonged many months beyond the time it would have been but for the peculiar state of affairs here. Several times I had about completed arrangements to place my securities, but each time, before the money could be paid, the sensational despatches which the miserable politicians hatched up here to influence public opinion, so alarmed the parties with whom I was negotiating that each time they withdrew from their favorable overtures.[22]

In addition to his financial problems, John W. Young was also in danger of arrest as a polygamist. To protect his railroad, he did not complete the transaction for the supplies purchased from the Central Pacific Railroad in the spring until October of 1885. By this time he was able to write that "notwithstanding the general depression and the unsettled state of affairs here I now feel secure."[23]

Secure enough that he might take control of the railroad supplies without fear of their being confiscated.[24] He found, though, that the risk was still great enough that the C. P. now required $47,000 worth of Salt Lake and Fort Douglas bonds as security on his note.[25] Through bond sales and expenditure of his private funds, progress on the railroad was made. The Salt Lake Tribune, which took a distinct anti-Mormon stance during this period, eventually had to admit that the Salt Lake and Fort Douglas was not such a "toy railroad" after all.[26]

Although slow fn starting, and in a precarious financial state throughout the construction phase, as the railroad took shape investors were more likely to risk their capital. John W. Young felt optimistic enough to risk even more of his.

The Salt Lake and Fort Douglas Railroad, and later the Salt Lake and Eastern Railroad, was not Young’s sole means of livelihood. As noted earlier and in Chapter I, he was actively engaged in other ventures, the most important of which was the North American Exchange Company, Limited.[27] How much money he derived from this concern is unknown, but it was enough to meet his personal expenses with some left over. During the development-period of the Salt Lake and Fort Douglas, money was expended but none was earned, and the interest payments on bonds sold still fell due. To meet the latter obligations, Young paid the interest out of his own pocket rather than lose the railroad to creditors.[28] The mixing of personal and company funds and obligations in this manner may be considered poor business by some, but his faith in the prospects of the S. L. & F. D. was such that he felt his risk justified. Other investors and their agents agreed.

Beginning in early 1885 Young had attempted to interest James W. Barclay, a member of Parliament, a principal in the Colorado Mortgage and Investment Company of London, Limited, and the banking concern of Barclay, Bevans and Company, in the Salt Lake and Fort Douglas Railroad.[29] Barclay had declined to participate at that time. His reluctance is understandable since a money contraction cycle was just ending, this being a financial phase which had discouraged foreign investors. Furthermore, anti-polygamy agitation was increasing and the S. L. & F. D. was a very small enterprise located in the heart of the polygamy conflict. It is not surprising that this initial attempt was not successful, and Young had to try again later.

The Salt Lake and Eastern Railroad, providing a link between the Park City mines and the Salt Lake area smelters, was a potential high profit endeavor in the eyes of foreign investors. At some point in 1888, after the S.L.&E. was organized, Barclay arranged for Young’s railroad bonds to be offered in England. The overseas investors may have been disappointed when they received a delayed interest payment in mid-1889, but by January 1, 1890, nearly 1,350 had been paid to investors in England.[30] Young was certainly doing his best to encourage Barclay’s efforts.

Writing to Barclay, Young placed a very optimistic picture before English investors:

In regard to these roads that we are constructing, I ask myself: What other elements for traffic exists in that country that we do not control; for it seems as if we have every requisite as a substantial basis for our expectations,-we control all the building materials for a growing, important commercial city ... we control mountain resorts and places for mountain towns ... we practically control all the points where the largest quantities of fuel is used ... control the only material in all that country suitable for macademizing our broad streets and great therofares; we practically control all the available approaches to Salt Lake City ... including the only pass through the mountains that is a feasible route for an eastern road to reach the great basin. We reach the grandest mining districts in the west ... with the shortest route to get good coal, and will control the only extensive timber belt within reasonable distance.[31]

With this glowing account, Young failed to mention to Barclay that another railroad was already serving Park City, the Union Pacific controlled Echo and Park City Railroad.

John W. Young had previously sought a deal with the Union Pacific Company relative to the Park City traffic. Traveling from his New York City office to the one in Salt Lake City, he spent the night at Omaha, headquarters of the U. P. Meeting with some of the railroad’s executives, "I gave this impression to them that I did not wish to work against the interests of the Union Pacific in building to Park City, and told them that I had no doubt, if they chose to so arrange it, but what we could divide the freight satisfactorily to both."[32] While this proposed arrangement was not implemented, the receipt of such a letter offered a balm to badly needed New York investors.

For awhile railroad investors throughout the nation needed as much comfort as they were able to find. America’s love of the steam train, the hope for immense profits, and a post-1885 expanding money market resulted in a severe over-building of railroads that culminated in 1888. The major consequence was a railroad depression in 1889 which directly affected the availability of money to complete Young’s railroads, particularly the line into Park City.[33] Once again foreign investors were sought.

One such person, a gentleman from Spain, has become the central figure in a local legend. Recent recorders of the legend do not agree on either his name or the conclusion of the tale, but their stories do agree that Young was capable of making lofty promises to obtain funds.

Basically, as the story goes, John W. Young was traveling in Europe and became acquainted with a wealthy Spaniard. In return for the latter investing his money in the formers railroads, a major town along the Salt Lake and Eastern route was to be name, or re-named, in his honor. When the investor came to visit Young in Utah, Young, to avoid embarrassment, had a town plat drawn up showing what the town did (or would, depending upon the version of the story used) look like.[34] The tale does not place John W. Young in a very favorable light, nor does it concur with the facts.

John W. Young did make promises, but they were of a more realistic nature. In New York City he became acquainted with a Senor E. Gogorza who invested his money in the Salt Lake and Eastern Railroad; however, the amount of the investment is unknown. In a letter to Gogorza dated October 12, 1889, Young stated that "the best station between Salt Lake City and Park City will be called Gogorza." No mention of a town, simply the "best station." Young had plans to build resort towns in Parleys Canyon, and he inferred that other locations were to be named for other investors. In the same letter to Gogorza, he continued:

One of the two towns that will be built next summer ... will be called Canda, and a beautiful mountain peak, under the shadow of which I shall build a hotel, will be called Mount Jordan. So you see I am preparing to remember my best friends ... please make my peace with Mr. Jordan, Mr. C. J. Canda, and Mr. F. E. Canda.[35]

John W. Young carried out most of his statement, although on a somewhat reduced scale. Current maps published by the U. S. Geological Survey show the misspelled name of Gorgoza (vs. Gogorza) located east of the summit of Parleys Canyon with a few structures. Old railroad maps show sidings named Canda and Barclay.[36] Only Jordan is missing from the list of place names. But investors, no matter how flattered, expected more than their names on maps in return for their money.

How much did John W. Young’s railroads earn? This is the great mystery. None of the financial record books from any of the railroads discussed are available. The only hard income facts are bits and pieces found scattered throughout his correspondence. We do have good clues, however, of how the income was derived.

Small businesses provided freight hauling income well before the major goal of the stone quarries was reached by the Salt Lake and Fort Douglas Railroad. As early as November 1886, the S. L. & F. D. rails were being used to transport coal to an unnamed business, and other businesses were serviced as the rails were laid.[37] How much clear income was received is unknown, but because the motive power was rented from the Denver and Rio Grande Western, it in all probability was minimal. What such low-profit arrangements did accomplish was to get the customers acquainted with the advantages of rail service, including the transportation of rock.

In December 1886, the Salt Lake and Fort Douglas Railroad negotiated with the Denver and Rio Grande Western for the use of a locomotive to haul between 3,000 and 3,500 tons of sandstone from the area of the east bench to the Hot Springs at the north end of Salt Lake City. Even though the rock had to be hauled from the quarries to the end of the track by wagon, the D. & R. G. W. cooperation enabled the S. L. & F. D. to "capture this few hundred dollars of. trade."[38] Once the quarries were reached, and using their own locomotives, the situation for the Salt Lake and Fort Douglas improved.

By November 1888, the Salt Lake and Fort Douglas Railroad was moving at least eight car loads of rock per day from the Red Butte quarries.[39] What percentage of the total freight income this represented is unknown, but total freight receipts between November 1 and 15, 1888, totaled $107.90.[40] The following month a larger amount was realized, $862.25 on freight traffic between Salt Lake City and Emigration and Red Butte canyons. The "Cottonwood Branch" serving Sugar House handled $1,006.95 worth of freight, but this figure is misleading since it included freight charges on materials being hauled to construct the Salt Lake and Eastern Railroad.[41] Once completed, this latter railroad became an integral part of the income picture. Nonetheless, I l one potential source of freight revenue eluded the railroads.

The freight business of Fort Douglas was in line with the other supplementary revenues sought by the Salt Lake and Fort Douglas. As its tracks already crossed the forts land, spurs were constructed to the warehouse and coal yard areas. In May 1888, preliminary overtures were made to bid on the coming fiscal year freight contract.[42] The bid was too late for the 1888-89 year, but the next year brought a new attempt.

In January 1889, John W. Young again instructed that information be gathered for bidding against the present teamsters who held the forts freighting contract.[43] He was not going to reduce his rates too much, not even to gain an initial "foot-in-the-door" type contract. "I will cut under the wagon prices as little as possible, and charge a good round sum, as I intend them to pay us for our trouble that we have been to."[44] The final bid was 90 cents per ton for coal and grain, and $1 per ton for merchandise.[45] Once the bid was made, there was absolutely no response from the fort. Young was not the type of businessman to wait patiently, especially in the light of rumors around Salt Lake City to the effect that the contract had been let.

John W. Young contacted a military acquaintance, General Stewart Van Vliet, U. S. Army Quartermaster Corps, retired. Restating his bid and the fact that tracks had been laid to serve the fort, he was very disturbed that the contract might have been let out.[46] The rumors to that effect were more than rumors, they were fact.

Official confirmation was finally received that the freight contract had been let to Edwin R. Clute, a teamster that had held previous contracts with the fort. Although Young’s bid was lower, he failed to indicate if there was to be any drayage charges associated with transferring the cargoes from the standard gauge freight cars to his railroad’s narrow gauge cars.[47] Young responded by sending a letter of protest to Van Vliet, claiming religious persecution.[48]

Persecution or not, this action did not aid the railroad in making any more money, and money was what was needed.

While dollar figures are not available, we do have some quantity figures that indicate the amount of freight traffic on the Salt Lake and Fort Douglas and the Salt Lake and Eastern railroads at the end of 1891. The S. L. & F. D. handled an average of 30 carloads of stone per day out of Red Butte and Emigration canyons, plus 200 carloads of goods per year from the Salt Lake brewery and Wagener’s brewery combined. Quarries on the S. L. & E. provided an average of 40-50 carloads of stone per day. This line also transported 1,200 carloads of lumber, 100 carloads of grain and flour, and unlisted amounts of ice and bricks per year. This activity, plus the ore from the Park City mines, resulted in 33,837,320 pounds of freight from Park City to Salt Lake City, and an additional 45,367,280 pounds moving in the opposite direction during the year.[49]

Passenger traffic also played a distinct, but smaller, role in the revenue producing aspects of these railroads. As soon as Fort Douglas was reached, a regular time-table was published for passenger service.[50] People were able to travel from any point served in Salt Lake City to Fort Douglas, and later to Wagener’s brewery, via Fuller’s Pleasure Gardens, for 25 cents Or, if their interests were elsewhere, they could travel to the territorial penitentiary near Sugar House for the same fare.[51] This destination became quite popular, especially on visiting days, as many wives and families came to visit the incarcerated polygamists. On one day during the summer of 1888, over 300 passengers made this Journey, much to the financial delight of the railroad.[52] Other passenger journeys, however, were of a lighter vein.

The railroads provided an inexpensive means whereby the heat of the Salt Lake Valley might be forgotten for a day in the cooler mountains near Park City. Similarly, residents of Park City were able to enjoy day-long shopping trips in Salt Lake City. For those who desired a cool drink with a view of the valley, rail service was available to Wagener’s brewery where the canyon breeze and cool brew countered the effects of a hot summer day.[53] After Park City was reached by the Salt Lake and Eastern, and through an agreement with another narrow gauge railroad, the Utah and Nevada, the residents of the mountains (and valley) traveled to the beaches of Black Rock, a resort on the south shore of the Great Salt Lake.[54] Nevertheless, passenger and freight income notwithstanding, money problems continued.

John W. Young used a number of devices to moderate the railroad’s expenses and outflow of cash. Following a practice dating from the mid-1860s, he formed a construction company to build each of the railroads by subcontracting the work.[55] Since the railroad was not turned over to the parent company by the construction company until the railroad was completed, all revenues were deposited to the construction company account.[56] This enabled Young to honestly report that the railroad companies were not earning a profit. This served to moderate city taxes and the chances of creditors confiscating equipment. And, interestingly, none of the railroads were ever completely finished. Additionally, and as already described earlier in this chapter, bonds were used as securities in lieu of immediate cash payment. But no matter what devices were used, some cash had to be paid out.

The lack of ready cash in December 1888, brought about some very tense moments on the Salt Lake and Eastern Railroad. Workers, grading and laying track in Parleys Canyon, were nearly through for the winter and anxious to be paid. After being put off, their mood grew nasty as described by their foreman, William Black, writing from the construction camp.

Dear Brother. Hell is poping here in camp today; I was surrounded by a mob of men this morning demanding their pay; to quell the trouble I have promised to pay them on the 15th. I have had to make arrangements for a lot of them to be boarded at the Valley House, please see Mr. LeGrand Young; that money can be deposited in the Deseret National Bank to meet these payments, to get me out of this trouble. If not done it will create an injury to me and to the progress of the road for they have treatened to advertise it.[57]

Responding to the threat of having his financial problems "advertised", John W. Young telegraphed money from his New York office. Another contractor, who did not make threats, was not so fortunate and remained unpaid into the following summer.[58] Young was quite sensitive about maintaining a good business reputation, but his financial problems continued into 1889.

The lack of operating income and reluctance of investors forced a reorganization of John W. Young’s railroads. The initial discussion of this need came in late 1889, while the Salt Lake and Eastern was still building between Parleys summit and Park City, and the Utah Western was a rail-less roadbed.[59] It resulted in a consolidation of resources and a new railroad.

The Utah Central Railway Company was organized on April 8, 1890. This company assumed all of the assets of the Salt Lake and Fort Douglas, the Salt Lake and Eastern, and the Utah Western railroads except for the tracks extending from Ninth South and Tenth East to Red Butte and Emigration canyons.[60] This latter trackage, with associated equipment, remained as the Salt Lake and Fort Douglas Railroad. This act of consolidation was a well thought out reorganization designed to attract fresh investors.

John W. Young retained the majority of the stock but surrendered his presidency of a railroad. Joseph Richardson, the president of the North American Exchange Company, Limited, and a long time business associate, became the new president of the Utah Central. Young retained the presidency of the Salt Lake and Fort Douglas Railroad, and became the vice president of the Utah Central.[61] The fact that Young was willing to take this subordinate position gives a definite impression that there were severe financial strains at this point, but he was still in a position of control.

The name Utah Central came about through both luck and good business sense. In June 1889, the Union Pacific Railroad had undergone a reorganization that consolidated a number of railroads under the single company of the Oregon Short Line. In Utah, five U. P. controlled lines were affected, the Utah and Northern, the Salt Lake and Western, the Utah and Nevada, the Ogden and Syracuse, and the Utah Central.[62] The resulting abandonment of these corporation names provided the luck, for the name Utah Central was now free for use by others. Young saw in the name an asset, for the Utah Central was familiar among investors in the east, associated with the Union Pacific system, and had a reputation of stability.[63] Thus the Utah Central was reborn and it was under this name that the track into Park City was completed. Few, if any, of those who witnessed the creation of the Utah Central for yet another time could have guessed the strange twist of events to follow.

John W. Young’s attention was diverted from the Utah Central by his interest in a new railroad for northern Mexico. A proposed 1,400 mile line, initially called the Mexican and Northern Pacific Railroad and later re-named the Mexican Northwestern Railroad, sent Young traveling to England and Europe for new financial backing.[64] The Utah Central and the Salt Lake and Fort Douglas railroads had lost their glamour for him, with unfortunate results for all concerned.

While John W. Young was seeking $25 million for the Mexican railroad, a thousand tons of steel rails that might have been placed on either the roadbed leading to the Great Salt Lake or to Kamas was auctioned off to meet freight and storage charges. The Denver and Rio Grande Western had held the shipment, along with eighty-eight freight and flat cars, consigned to Young as long as they were able. In November 1891, they had to take action. The freight and storage charges came to $19,666.82 on the rails, and $15,259.36 on the cars.[65] The loss of these materials might have been prevented if Young’s ambitions had not been diverted, but the next blow was beyond the control of any one person.

In the early 1890s, in a near repeat of the 1882-1885 money contraction, foreign investors once again questioned the United States' ability to remain on the gold standard. This time, however, there were two other factors present: the devaluation of gold on the world market, and intense pressure within the United States to open up the coinage of silver. Instead of a period of inconvenience, this time the factors combined to create the dread of a capitalistic society--depression![66]

The depression of 1893 reduced the output of the Park City mines to a trickle.[67] This, in turn, reduced both the economic prosperity of the region and drastically affected the income of the Utah Central. The Salt Lake and Fort Douglas, with an even weaker economic base, was equally hard hit. As bond interest payments came due, and without sufficient income to meet even operating expenses, the inevitable happened.

Under pressure from creditors and bond-holders, the Utah Central was placed in receivership late in November 1893.[68] The Salt Lake and Fort Douglas shared the same fate two months later, on January 30, 1894.[69] Through the actions of the Third District Court, Territory of Utah, in ordering receivership, John W. Young’s railroading dreams, plans, and work were removed once and for all from his hands.


[1] Primary sources relative to John W. Young and his railroads financial conditions are very sketchy. Ledgers for the railroads are not extant and what information is known has primarily been extracted from letters and telegram.

[2] The Compiled Laws of Utah Territory (1876), 203-204.

[3] Corporation File No. 246. State Archives.

[4] Corporation File No. 246. State Archives.

[5] Corporation Files No. 487 and 536. State Archives.

[6] Milton Friedman and Anna Jacobson Schwartz, A Monetary History of the United States 1867-1960 (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1963), 99-101.

[7] John W. Young to John F. Dillon, August 26, 1884 and John W. Young to Thomas L. Watson, September 11, 1884. JWY papers.

[8] John W. Young to George Q. Cannon, October 16, 1884. JWY papers.

[9] To John W. Young, undated, unsigned, on letterhead of the Office of the President, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. JWY papers.

[10] Unsigned, undated document. Same letterhead as above. JWY papers.

[11] To John W. Young, undated, unsigned, on letterhead of the Office of the President, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. JWY papers.

[12] See Chapter I.

[13] Jessee, Letters of Brigham Young, 93.

[14] Josephson, Robber Barons, 278.

[15] John M. Whitaker, daily journal. Western Americana.

[16] Stover, The Life and Decline of the American Railroad, 32-33.

[17] Josephson, Robber Barons, 63-64.

[18] John W. Young to John Taylor, December 1, 1884. JWY papers.

[19] John W. Young papers, December 13, 1884 through March 12, 1885. James Jack functioned as the treasurer for the Mormon church during this time period, hence the uncertainty as to the original money source.

[20] Timothy Hopkins to John W. Young, March 18, 1885. JWY papers.

[21] A good discussion of this period in Utah history is found in Larson, "Americanization" of Utah.

[22] John W. Young to Timothy Hopkins, October 9, 1885. JWY papers.

[23] John W. Young to Timothy Hopkins, October 9, 1885. JWY papers.

[24] The Edmunds Act, then in effect, provided for five years imprisonment and/or a $500 fine. Additionally, another six months and/or $300 might be awarded for unlawful cohabitation. See Larson, "Americanization" of Utah, 95. Young feared that were he arrested, legal entanglement might lead to the confiscation of his property. John W. Young to Timothy Hopkins, October 9, 1885. JWY papers.

[25] Receipt signed by Timothy Hopkins to John W. Young, October 21, 1885. JWY papers.

[26] Salt Lake Tribune, November 25, 1887.

[27] John M. Whitaker, daily journal, 1887-1890. Western Americana. Also Jessee, Letters of Brigham Young, 93.

[28] John W. Young to Edwin Bartram, September 18, 1888. JWY papers.

[29] Salt Lake Tribune, September 14, 1885.

[30] John W. Young to James W. Barclay, May 11, 1889. Also statement sheet dated January 1, 1890. JWY papers. Also Salt Lake Tribune, September 14, 1889.

[31] John W. Young to James W. Barclay, April 16, 1889. JWY papers. The "great basin" referred to was the Uinta Basin and the proposed point where Young’s railroad would meet with one coming from Colorado.

[32] John W. Young to Joseph Richardson, October 18, 1888. JWY papers.

[33] John M. Whitaker, daily journal. Western Americana. Also John W. Young to James W. Barclay, May 11, 1889. JWY papers. Also Herald, January 2, 1890.

[34] Different versions of this legend can be found by comparing Noal C. Newbold and Bea Kummer, Silver and Snow: The Story of Park City (Salt Lake City, Utah: Parliament Publishers, 1968), 21, with George A. Thompson and Fraser Buck, Treasure Mountain Home: A Centennial History of Park City, Utah (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1968), 42-44. In fact, Young did not go to Europe until late 1890.

[35] John W. Young to E. Gogorza, October 12, 1889. JWY papers.

[36] Denver and Rio Grande Western maps on file, Salt Lake City Engineers Office.

[37] Arthur Stayner to John W. Young, November 26, 1886. JWY papers.

[38] Arthur Stayner to W. H. Baueroft, December 28, 1886. JWY papers.

[39] Herald, November 3, 1888.

[40] John M. Whitaker to John W. Young, November 15, 1888. JWY papers.

[41] Trial balance sheet dated December 13, 1888. JWY papers.

[42] John W. Young to Colonel Osborn, Commanding Officer of Fort Douglas, May 15, 1888. JWY papers.

[43] John W. Young to John M. Whitaker, January 24, 1889. JWY papers.

[44] John W. Young to John M. Whitaker, January 24, 1889. JWY papers.

[45] John W. Young to Stewart Van Vliet, May 4 and 8, 1889. JWY papers.

[46] John W. Young to Stewart Van Vliet, May 4, 1889. JWY papers. Van Vliet had first come into contact with the Mormons in Utah when he entered Salt Lake Valley in advance of the U. S. Army expeditions in 1857. He was then a junior officer in the Quartermaster Corps, seeking the necessary supplies to billet the army. Van Vliet had been favorably impressed by the Mormons, which may account for Young turning to him at this time. See Norman F. Furniss, The Mormon Conflict 18501859 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1960), 69, 05-07.

[47] Quartermaster General to John W. Young, May 24, 1889. JWY papers.

[48] John W. Young to Stewart Van Vliet, June (?), 1889. JWY papers.

[49] Salt Lake Tribune, January 1, 1892. The mail contract to Park City was also obtained, which provided some additional income. Park Record, September 6, 1890.

[50] Herald, June 27, 1888.

[51] Salt Lake Tribune, September 16, 1888.

[52] Charles W. Hardy to John W. Young, June 5, 1888. B. Y. U.

[53] Tullidge, Tullidge’s Histories, Northern Utah, 534-540.

[54] The earliest account of these excursions dates from May 1890. The standard Park City-Salt Lake City fare was $2 one-way and $3 round-trip. Park Record, May 24, June 14, 1890, and March 21, 1891.

[55] Kirkland, Industry Comes of Age, 53. Also Athearn, Union Pacific Country, 37,57, 123ff.

[56] (blank, called out but not used in original document)

[57] William Black to John M Whitaker, December 12, 1888. Western Americana.

[58] John W. Young to John M. Whitaker, December 13, 1888. JWY papers. Young criticized Black for not employing the "right kind of men." Some of the "right kind" must have been the firm of Collister and Melville who undertook the grading of the Utah Western in.the summer of 1889 even though they still had not been paid for their work on the Salt Lake and Eastern. James A. Melville to John M. Whitaker, February 7, 1889. Western Americana. Collister and Melville to John W. Young, June 27, 1889 (telegram). JWY papers.

[59] John W. Young to LeGrande Young, January 8, 1890. JWY papers.

[60] Corporation Files 536 and 4325. State Archives. Because of the ponderousness of too many railroad names, and the opportunity of confusion, the Utah Central Railroad organized in April 1890, has not been referred to previously. In fact, it was under the name of the U. C. that the original Salt Lake and Eastern was completed into Park City. The term Utah Central used prior to this point refers strictly to the Union Pacific controlled railroad. Henceforth, unless otherwise stated, the name applies only to the consolidated Salt Lake and Eastern, Utah Western, and portions of the Salt Lake and Fort Douglas railroads.

[61] Corporation File No. 4325. State Archives.

[62] Salt Lake Tribune, June 9, 1889. Some of these railroads were in actuality very short spurs but kept under a separate name.

[63] There was also sentiment involved, for Young claimed to have conceived the name originally two decades earlier when he was involved with the building of the original Utah Central. John W. Young to New York Security and Trust Company, March 4, 1890. JWY papers.

[64] Salt Lake Tribune, March 23, September 14, 1891, January 1, 1893.

[65] Salt Lake Tribune, September 30, October 11, and November 29, 1891.

[66] Friedman and Schwartz, Monetary History, 104-112.

[67] Park Record, July 15, 1893.

[68] Park Record, December 2, 1893.

[69] Salt Lake Tribune, January 31, 1894.