D&RGW Park City Branch
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This page was last updated on May 26, 2019.
The Sugar House Branch was constructed by Rio Grande Western Railway in 1901 as a cutoff to allow Park City-bound trains direct access to the Park City Branch which ran east of Sugar House. Previously, access to the Park City Branch was via trackage of the former Salt Lake & Fort Douglas Railway in Salt Lake City, along 800 South, then to Sugar House by way of a route along today's McClelland Street. Continued suburban growth in Salt Lake City's southeast quadrant was making railroad operations difficult, leading to construction of the new Park City Branch between Roper and Sugar House in 1900. Traffic was reduced in 1946 when D&RGW abandoned its line to Park City, at which time the line was reduced from a "Branch" to a "Spur", ending at LeGrand station, 0.4 mile down-canyon from the cement quarry. In January 1956 the line between Sugar House and the cement quarry (about five miles) was abandoned due to Utah's highway department wanting the right of way to expand U. S. 40 in Parleys Canyon. After the 1956 changes, rail traffic was centered in Sugar House itself with customers such as Granite Furniture and their regular "carload" sales.
The branch was sold to Utah Transit Authority in 2002 for potential use in the agency's mass transit plans. The branch was formally abandoned in 2005 and was torn up in 2008. Construction began on UTA's Sugarhouse 'S' Line in May 2012. Service began on the 'S' Line in December 2013.
- Roper (MP 0.00) (yard)
- U. P. Crossing (MP 0.7)
- Sugar House (MP 2.8) (yard)
- Le Grand (MP 7.6)
- Cement Quarry (MP 8.0) (9 car side track)
- Dale (MP 10.5) (18 cars side track)
- Barclay (MP 14.7) (16 car side track)
- Tunnel No. 6 (1,132 feet long)
- Altus (MP 18.8) (12 car side track)
- Gogorza (MP 23.5) (22 car side track)
- Stoven (MP 26.0) (20 car side track)
- Snyderville (MP 28.3) (4 car side track)
- Park City (MP 32.2, end) (yard)
- Initial construction in 1889 as narrow gauge (3 feet) by Salt Lake & Eastern Railway
- Completed to Park City in April 1890.
- Salt Lake & Eastern reorganized as Utah Central Railway, April 1890.
- Utah Central Railroad organized in December 1897 to purchase the property and assets of the bankrupt Utah Central Railway.
- Utah Central Railroad leased to RGW on January 1, 1898.
- Converted to standard gauge in July 1900.
- New line from Roper to Sugar House completed in March 1901.
- In 1932, Salt Lake City extended 13th East across the "Penitentiary Fields" (today's Sugar House Park), which included a short concrete tunnel structure under the new fill.
- Abandoned from Cement Quarry to Park City in 1948.
- Abandoned from Sugar House to Cement Quarry in 1956; tunnel structure under 13th East was blocked with dirt fill.
- Trackage east of 1300 East Street was removed in 1956-1957 after the former state prison grounds were sold to Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County for the purposes of public space; Sugar House Park was created in July 1957. The park was not fully developed for another ten years.
- Abandoned from Roper to Sugar House in 1995.
- The line from Roper to Sugar House was purchased by Utah Transit Authority in 2002; plans were announced in 2008 for the construction of a street car route that would end on the west side of Highland Drive; ground was broken in May 2012; service started on December 7, 2013.
- In 2013, the tunnel structure under 13th East was discovered during excavation for a new bicycle/pedestrian passage under 1300 East.
Salt Lake & Eastern Railway
September 21, 1888
The Salt Lake & Eastern Railway Company was organized yesterday, its initial objective being Park City via Parley's Canyon. (Salt Lake Herald, September 22, 1888, "yesterday")
February 1, 1890
SL&E stockholders are to meet March 6,1890, to consider the idea of merging the three lines into the Utah Central Railroad. (Park Record, Park City, February 1, 1890)
Utah Central Railway
April 5, 1890
Articles of Incorporation filed "today" for Utah Central Railway. (Salt Lake Evening Times, April 5, 1890)
(The official date of incorporation was April 8, 1890.)
The new company was a consolidation of John W. Young's Salt Lake & Eastern Railway, and his Utah Western Railway. His Salt Lake & Fort Douglas Railway was not included.
(This Utah Central was John W. Young's reorganization of his previous Salt Lake & Eastern railroad, under construction up Parleys Canyon toward Park City.)
- Salt Lake & Fort Douglas Railway completed to Fort Douglas in June 1988
- Salt Lake & Eastern Railway incorporated on September 21, 1888 (Utah corporation index 487)
- Salt Lake & Eastern Railway reorganized as Utah Central Railway on April 8, 1890 (Utah corporation index 4325)
- Utah Central Railway completed to Park City in April 1890
June 26, 1897
"Hail to the Rio Grande Western." "About the best news received in Park City in many a day was the announcement on Thursday that the Rio Grande Western had purchased the Utah Central road." This, of course, to be of great benefit to Park City, "...and it will result in the building of a depot in Park City, a concession that the Utah Central people studiously failed to grant." (Park Record, Park City, June 26, 1897)
Utah Central Railroad
December 29, 1897
Utah Central Railroad incorporated by RGW interests to purchase the property, rights and interests of the Salt Lake & Fort Douglas Railway, the Salt Lake & Eastern Railway, and the Utah Central Railway in and around Salt Lake City and up Parleys Canyon to Park City. The new Utah Central did not include the portions of the original Salt Lake & Eastern that had been graded east and south of Park City towards Kamas, which were transferred to the new Utah Eastern, also organized by RGW. (Utah corporation index 2146)
According to LeMassena, p. 101, the newly acquired Utah Central Railroad consisted of the following:
- Salt Lake City to Fort Douglas, Red Butte Quarry, Emigration, and Mill Creek, 11 miles of narrow gauge (the former Salt Lake & Fort Douglas)
- Mill Creek to Park City, 29 miles of narrow gauge (the former Utah Central Railway)
- Mill Creek to Wilford, one mile of three-rail combined narrow gauge and standard gauge track
(Mill Creek would likely be today's Sugar House, with the Utah Central line being along and on today's Highland Drive. Wilford was likely the location of the Interstate Brick plant at 3300 South, the location of today's Brickyard Plaza shopping center.)
(The Parleys Canyon extension of the Salt Lake & Fort Douglas, known as Salt Lake & Eastern, was reported to be along the bank of the Salt Lake & Jordan irrigation canal, which is the alignment followed by today's McClelland Street, at about 1050 East between 800 South and 1700 South, then along today's Highland Drive. At 2100 South, the canal is located at 1250 East. The canal was completed in July 1882.)
February 1, 1898
"Utah Central Change." "The Road Now Operated by the Rio Grande Western." "With the ringing of the bells last midnight the Utah Central passed into the hands of the Rio Grande Western." That is, at 12:01am, February 1, 1898. At present, the only real change is to be the arrival and departure of Utah Central trains from the R.G.W. depot on Second South. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, February 1, 1898)
July 31, 1908
August 1, 1908
Denver & Rio Grande Railroad (Consolidated) was organized and incorporated. Rio Grande Western Railway was merged with Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, along with Carbon County Railway, Castle Valley Railway, Copper Belt Railroad, San Pete Valley Railway, Sevier Railway, Tintic Range Railway, Utah Central Railroad, and Utah Eastern Railway. (LeMassena, pp. 115, 117)
Park City Branch
D&RGW received Utah Public Utilities Commission approval to discontinue train numbers 101 and 102 between Salt Lake City and Park City. The trains would be replaced with mixed train service. (Utah Public Service Commission case 964)
March 3, 1929
The last remainder of the old Utah Central/Salt Lake & Eastern line in Sugar House, the coal spur to the state prison, was abandoned in March 1929. This abandonment was needed as part of Salt Lake City's extension of 1300 East Street across Parley's Canyon, between 2100 South and a connection with Highland Drive at 2700 South Street. A large fill of 55,000 cubic yards of material was to be created as part of the project, along with an underpass for the tracks of D&RGW's Park City Branch, and a concrete flume for Parley's Creek. The abandonment of the prison coal spur took away the need for a second underpass. (Salt Lake Telegram, March 3, 1929)
December 3, 1931
The Salt Lake City Commission, as part of the project to extend 13th East Street between 21st South and Highland Drive, approved plans for a concrete "viaduct" for D&RGW's Park City Branch, and the adjacent Penitentiary Spur that served Hygeia Ice and several warehouses along the south side of 21st South. This viaduct was to be built in two sections, one for the spur, and the other for the mainline of the Park City Branch. (Salt Lake Telegram, December 3, 1931)
The crossing of Utah Light & Traction tracks along State Street with D&RGW's Park City Branch, at about 2200 South, was removed in December 1933. (D&RGW engineering drawing, dated October 9, 1944, in support of changes to Park City Branch tracks serving Bennion Gas and Oil Co., and P. V. Coal Yard No. 3, on the west side of State Street.)
February 18, 1941
State Road Commission received Utah Public Utilities Commission approval to construct an underpass of D&RGW's Park City Branch at Altus, east of the summit of Parley's canyon, as part of the improvement of U. S. 40. (Utah Public Service Commission case 2446)
D&RGW received Utah Public Utilities Commission approval to close the agency at Park City. Only eleven empties were received and eleven loads were shipped from Park City during December 1943. (Utah Public Service Commission case 2757)
May 21, 1945
D&RGW received Utah Public Utilities Commission approval to construct a spur to serve the plant of Otto Buehner & Company, on the Park City Branch, at 6th East in Salt Lake City. (Utah Public Service Commission case 2854)
September 9, 1946
D&RGW received ICC approval to abandon 24.10 miles of the Park City Branch, between Cement Quarry and Park City, including 2.5 miles of joint trackage in Park City with UP. (ICC Finance Docket 15259, in 267 ICC 802)
F. D. No. 15259, Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad Company Trustees Abandonment. Decided September 9, 1946. Certificate issued permitting (1) abandonment by the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad Company and Wilson McCarthy and Henry Swan, trustees, of a portion of a branch line of railroad extending from a point near Cement Quarry to the end of the line at Park City, 24.10 miles, (2) abandonment of operation by said railroad company and trustees of a branch line of railroad extending easterly and southeasterly from a connection with the line at Park City to the end of the track at I. C. C. station 93 plus 10, with a sidetrack terminating at I. C. C. station 79 plus 94, a total distance of about 2.55 miles, all in the State of Utah. Conditions prescribed. W. Q. Van Cott for applicants. G. N. Davis for Utah Public Service Commission. Robert L. Cranmer for protestants.
(LeMassena, p. 161, says that the portion of the Park City Branch from Cement Quarry to Park City [24.3 miles] was removed in 1946, adding that "Although the branch did have a small amount of traffic, part of its right of way was needed for a multi-lane highway.")
The following comes from Bill Lapp, via email:
When I was 4 years old in 1931, our family moved to a house on Crandall Ave. in Salt Lake City from which the tracks of the Sugar House Branch could be seen; so I grew up with the sights and sounds of the trains as a part of everyday life. In the middle 1030s, the Sugar House Local (usually an 1100 2-8-0 steam engine) would work the Interstate Brick Branch at least once a day six days a week. Sometimes at 11:00 or 12:00 at night, the Park City engine would back down the Interstate Branch and rattle the windows of our house because it would be a 3300 class 2-6-6-0 or 2-6-6-2 steam engine. I have many regrets that in the years I lived there (until 1958), I never had the foresight to take pictures. Whatever made me assume that it would always be there. (Bill Lapp, email to Utah Railroading Yahoo discussion group, January 9, 2003)
September 23, 1946
D&RGW Park City Branch Abandonment. The following comes from the September 26, 1946 issue of the Deseret News newspaper:
Washington, D. C., Sept. 16 — The Denver & Rio Grande Western railroad Monday (September 23, 1946) was authorized by the interstate commerce commission to abandon the 24-mile stretch of its Park City branch extending from cement quarry to Park City and also to abandon operation of the two and a half mile Ontario branch, the latter to be taken over and operated exclusively by the Union Pacific railroad now half owner of the Ontario branch.
In granting this authorization the commission found that the Park City branch is in bad state of repair and that it would require $121,500 for necessary improvements. The commission finds that service over the Park City branch is limited to freight and that there is furnished upon demand about one train a week. The 2500 people living in Park City, and another 500 living near by now are adequately served by buses and trucks.
Trucks operate over the main highway connecting Salt Lake City and Denver, which road the Utah highway commission is proposing to make a four-lane highway. Abandonment of the railroad would make available much of the present right-of-way for highway purposes and would eliminate six grade crossings. Stages serve Park City three times daily and daily truck freight is maintained between Salt Lake and Park City.
The commission found that the chief freight handled over Park City branch is ore outbound and coal inbound for Park City. The decline in the volume of ore shipments according to testimony at the hearing likely is to continue. As for inbound coal it can be handled by the Union Pacific or by trucks.
The Utah Metal Mine Operators Assn., including operators and shippers in the Park City area, did not oppose the abandonment provided it does not result in an increase in freight rates. Park City protestants against abandonment offered no witnesses but through counsel expressed apprehension that abandonment might be followed by increasing freight rates to and from Park City, especially on coal.
October 8, 1946
The following comes from a letter dated October 8, 1946, from D&RGW Salt Lake Division Superintendent B. H. Decker, to "All Agents."
Under ICC authority we will discontinue operation of that portion of our Park City Branch extending from a point just east of the Cement Quarry to Park City and the Ontario Branch which extends from Park City, Utah to Ontario Mine, Utah.
The stations affected are:
Gorgorza Ice Pond, Utah
Euclid Quarry, Utah
Metropolitan Quarry, Utah
Mackintosh Junction, Utah
Park City, Utah
Ontario Mine, Utah
Please see that no business is accepted for this territory that cannot reach destination, be unloaded and the empty cars moved out by October 19, 1946.
October 22, 1946
The last train operated to Park City on October 22, 1946. The remainder of the Park City Branch was designated as within yard limits, matching the existing yard limits already in place between Roper and the penitentiary near Sugar House, and between Dale and Alexander. The next timetable was to reflect the change of name from Park City Branch, to either Sugar House Branch, or Cement Quarry Branch. (D&RGW internal communication, Office of Superintendent, Salt Lake Division)
October 25, 1946
Park City Branch was re-designated as the "Sugarhouse Spur." (D&RGW internal communication, Office of Superintendent, Salt Lake Division)
March 15, 1947
The Park City Local was discontinued and the last run was on the night of March 15, 1947. From that day, all work on the Sugarhouse Spur was handled by the "Ping Pong," which also handled work at Murray and Midvale. (D&RGW internal communication, Office of Superintendent, Salt Lake Division)
May 20, 1948
D&RGW completed removing its Park City Branch between the cement quarry in lower Parleys Canyon (MP 8.19), and Park City (MP 32.29).
The following was found by Jerry Day while doing research at Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden, Colorado (Jerry Day, email dated September 8, 2012):
Authority for Expenditure: 1060
Location: MP 8.19 to MP 32.29 -- Park City Branch and entire Ontario Branch.
Date Work Begun: May 18, 1947
Date Work Completed: May 20, 1948
Abandonment and retirement of Park City Branch from MP 8.19 to MP 32.29 and sale of 3039.1 feet of trackage and 2.20 acres of land to the Union Pacific RR, Trustees Deed #u-3640.
Retirement and sale of D&RGW Co's undivided one-half interest in the jointly owned D&RGW RR Co and UP RR Co's Ontario Branch.
January 4, 1956
D&RGW operated the last train to the lime rock cement quarry in Parleys Canyon on the old Park City Branch, on Wednesday January 4th. The quarry was owned by Utah Portland Cement, and the rock was hauled by D&RGW to the company's cement plant on Ninth (900) South. The end of operations was on a three-mile segment of the branch and was needed to support the beginning of construction of a new highway in the canyon. The branch was to have a new end-of-track at Alexander, at the mouth of the canyon, under the Stillman Bridge. The last train was made up of five loaded GS gondolas, a caboose, and an F-M switcher. Almost immediately after the last train, Utah Department of Transportation contractors bulldozed 18 feet of fill dirt over the tracks as part of the new highway construction. (Deseret News, January 5, 1956, with photo)
The last train to operate in Parleys Canyon, east of Sugar House, was on Wednesday, January 5, 1956. That last train operated over the six miles of line between Sugar House and the lime stone quarry of Utah Portland Cement Co., and was made up of a D&RGW Fairbanks-Morse switcher, five gondola carloads of lime rock, and a caboose. Within hours, bulldozers began covering the tracks at the loading station at the quarry, in preparation for the improvement of U.S. 40 in Parleys Canyon, which would see the track buried by 18 feet of fill. After that last train, service was only to Alexander, at the mouth of the canyon, below the Stillman Bridge, where the cement company was to haul its lime rock by truck to a new loading station at that point. The engineer was Clarence Morandi and the conductor was Golden Calloway, both of whom had apparently been making the same trip every day since 1946. (Salt Lake Tribune, January 5, 1956)
January 20, 1956
The following comes from a bulletin from the Office of Superintendent of the Salt Lake Division, dated January 24, 1956, posted to D&RGW trainmen and enginemen register books:
Effective 12:01 AM, January 25, 1956, trackage and facilities between MP 5 plus thirty-five hundred fifteen (3,515) feet, Sugar House Spur to end of track at LeGrand are abandoned.
Remaining trackage, Sugar House Spur, will be that trackage Roper Yard to Mile Post 5.7.
D&RGW removed the portion of the Park City Branch between Sugar House and Alexander, at the mouth of Parleys Canyon. (LeMassena, p. 175)
The Park City Branch became the Sugar House Branch with the removal of trackage east of 1300 East Street in 1956-1957 after the former state prison grounds were sold to Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County for the purposes of public space; Sugar House Park was created in July 1957.
January 28, 2002
"On January 28, 2002, the Utah Transit Authority (UTA), a noncarrier, filed a notice to acquire from the Union Pacific Railroad Company (UP) several railroad rights-of-way and related improvements located in Davis, Weber, Salt Lake and Utah Counties, UT. Consummation of the transaction is expected to occur on or about May 30, 2002. UTA concurrently filed a motion to dismiss the notice of exemption, claiming that the transaction, as described in the notice and as set forth in the trackage rights agreement and quitclaim deed attached to its motion, is not subject to the Board's jurisdiction. We agree and will grant the motion to dismiss. Accordingly, UTA will not become a common carrier as a result of this transaction." (Surface Transportation Board, Finance Docket 34170, decided May 17, 2002, service date May 22, 2002)
September 20, 2002
A ceremony was held on the steps of the state capital, for the signing of the $185 million check to Union Pacific. In attendance were Utah governor Mike Leavitt, U. S. congressmen Jim Matheson and Chris Cannon, Union Pacific chairman, president and CEO Richard Davidson, and UTA general manager John Inglish. (BYU NewsNet, September 19, 2002; Deseret News, September 19, 2002; Union Pacific press release dated September 20, 2002) The sale was formally closed on September 23, 2002. (UTA press release dated September 23, 2002)
The UTA sale included what was then known as the Sugar House Industrial Lead, or the Sugar House Spur:
"Sugar House Spur: from milepost 0.00 at Roper, to milepost 2.74 in Sugar House (former D&RGW Sugar House Branch)"
June 22, 2005
UP received federal Surface Transportation Board approval to abandon its rail operations on the Sugar House Branch between milepost 0.0 near Roper Yard, and the end of the branch at milepost 2.74 in Salt Lake City's Sugar House district. The abandoned line was to become a rail-trail, with UTA reserving the right to reactivate or reconstruct the line for future rail service. UP had made its application on March 4, 2005. On March 5, 2005, UTA applied to use the line as a rail trail. (STB Docket AB-33, Sub 195X, decided on June 16, 2005, service date June 22, 2005)
On March 4, 2005, Union Pacific Railroad Company (UP) filed with the Surface Transportation Board a petition to abandon a line of railroad, known as the Sugar House Branch, from milepost 0.0 near Roper to the end of the branch line at milepost 2.74 near Sugar House, a distance of 2.74 miles in Salt Lake County, UT.
In 2002, the line served two customers, Harbison Walker Refractories (Harbison) and Burton Lumber Company (Burton). Harbison received cars in 2002 and then relocated off the UP railroad network in 2003. Burton was an active shipper until it relocated to another UP served location in Salt Lake City in October of 2003. Therefore, there is no customer impact associated with the proposed abandonment. The line has not been a route for overhead traffic and is not in service at the present time.
The UTA requests, in a letter of March 5, 2005, issuance of a Notice of lnterim Trail Use (NTIU) for the rail line. UTA seeks rail banking and interim trail use on the line. A request for a NITU was filed March 24, 2005, by UTA, with the Board.
The last rail business on the branch was apparently in late 2003 to Burton Lumber Co., and to Harbison Walker Refractories, which both relocated their rail business to other sites with access to UP's rail network. UP sought to abandon the line because of the changing nature of the neighborhoods along the line (away from light industrial uses), together with low rail activity and low profitability of serving businesses along the line.
The following comes from James Belmont, message posted to Trainorders.com on October 10, 2008.
The last few miles of the former D&RGW Sugarhouse Branch are being scrapped by A&K Railroad Materials, Inc. They started at Roper Junction and are currently at 8th East in Sugarhouse. The history fans will be interested to know this spur was once a busy D&RGW branch that extended up Parley's Canyon (where I-80 is today) all the way to the silver mines at Park City.
The line was cut back to Sugar House around 1960. The "Ping Pong Local" continued to serve Interstate Brick on the spur until about 1970. After that a local switch job served Granite Furniture and Burton Lumber yard until 1993 when the line was cut back to Main Street in South Salt Lake. The line was abandoned all together by UP a few years ago when a new team track was built at Roper.
Apparently the City of Sugarhouse hopes to operate a trolley line connecting with UTA's existing light rail at Central Point station (21st South). We shall see if that ever does materialize. This former D&RGW right of way is now owned by the Utah Transit Authority.
May 9, 2012
Construction of the UTA Sugarhouse streetcar line started with a groundbreaking ceremony, including the ceremonial removal of a twenty-foot piece of rail and tie structure of the former D&RGW branch along the same route. (Progressive Railroading, May 9, 2012; Salt Lake Tribune, May 10, 2012; Railway Age, May 10, 2012)
December 7, 2013
The Sugar House streetcar began carrying customers on Saturday December 7, 2013. UTA reported that 2,300 persons rode the new streetcar during the public hours of 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Regular paying service started the following day Sunday December 8th. (Railway Age, December 4, 2013; Progressive Railroading, December 6, 2013; UTA press release dated December 9, 2013)
D&RGW Park City Branch -- A Google Map of the railroads that served Park City, Utah.
Salt Lake & Fort Douglas/Salt Lake & Eastern -- A Google Map of the Salt Lake & Eastern Railway (and later, Utah Central), and its associated Salt Lake & Fort Douglas Railway.
See also: the railroad portion of History of Transportation in Parley's Canyon.