D&RGW Utah Roundhouses
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This page was last updated on June 10, 2022.
D&RGW Salt Lake City Roundhouse
There were two roundhouses in Salt Lake City. One was an 18-stall brick structure built in 1883-1884. The second roundhouse was an eight-stall corrugated structure built in 1917. In 1943, three of the 18 stalls in the brick roundhouse had been assigned for the repair of diesel locomotives.
The original roundhouse was a nine-stall round house. This roundhouse faced east toward the turntable. There were tracks on the east of the roundhouse leading into the blacksmith shop, and were used to rebuild tenders (or tanks) shop but the tracks were not covered. As the blacksmith shop was expanded with more machinery, the tender rebuild was moved to the three uncovered tracks, which were then covered with a brick extension of the roundhouse. An additional nine stalls was added on the west side, making for an 18-stall roundhouse. At some point there was another eight-stall stand-alone roundhouse added to the east of the turntable with very short lead tracks. The original roundhouse was a brick structure, but the later roundhouse on the east of the turntable had a wooden frame and was covered with sheet corrugated metal. The brick three-stall tender shop was all that remained after the roundhouse was demolished in 1954, and remained until the entire shop complex was demolished by UTA in 2019.
March 16, 1889
Bases for standard gauge rails were being put into D&RGW's Salt Lake City roundhouse. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, March 16, 1889)
May 16, 1889
To allow engines to enter as narrow gauge, and leave as standard gauge, D&RGW completed laying rails to allow both narrow gauge and standard gauge locomotives to be repaired in Salt Lake roundhouse. The new arrangement had narrow and standard gauge tracks, using four rails (narrow gauge inside of the standard gauge rails). (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, May 16, 1889)
April 30, 1891
"A forty-pocket coal chute, to cost about $8000, is now being erected by the Rio Grande Western just below Fourth South street. It will have a large storage bin just above the ground." Each pocket had six-tons capacity. (Salt Lake Tribune, April 30, 1891; September 24, 1891)
January 1, 1892
A "40-pocket coal chute" was completed at Salt Lake City during the previous year. (Salt Lake Tribune, January 1, 1892; summary of events during 1891)
May 31, 1893
RGW car and paint shop being put up south of the roundhouse and west of the coal chutes; to be 40 x 252 feet in overall size; also an addition to the machine shop, 60 x 144 feet. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, May 31, 1893)
November 23, 1894
Doors of the RGW roundhouse in Salt Lake City were about to be 14 inches wider and two feet higher than at present, so all classes of engines will clear. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, November 23, 1894)
May 8, 1900
RGW was planning on building a new eight-stall roundhouse in Salt Lake City, directly east of the present roundhouse, but will face the existing turntable. (Salt Lake Tribune, May 8, 1900)
April 27, 1903
About half of the RGW's coal chutes at Salt Lake City were destroyed by fire. The bins had just been filled by the late night shift of workers. Four adjacent loaded coal cars were also destroyed. (Salt Lake Herald, April 27, 1903)
June 18, 1913
A fire in buildings adjacent to the roundhouse destroyed the paint shop, as well as the blacksmith shop, planing mill, pattern shop, car foreman's office and all records, and 25 box cars and six passenger cars that were in the paint shop at the time of the fire. (Salt Lake Daily Herald, June 19, 1913)
September 28, 1917
D&RG completed the installation of a 300-ton Ogle coaling station at its Salt Lake City roundhouse. (Salt Lake Herald Republican, September 28, 1917)
May 1, 1951
Eimco took possession of the D&RGW steam locomotive erecting shop in Salt Lake City. The sale was announced on April 20, 1951. The purchase included 200,000 square feet of shop space, along with all equipment, such as lathes, cranes, rolls, shears and derricks. D&RGW announced that after the sale, all steam locomotive repair work would be done in the roundhouse. (Salt Lake Tribune, April 21, 1951)
The locomotive erecting shop ("back shop") in Salt Lake City was closed in June 1951. All heavy overhauls on both steam locomotives and diesel locomotives were moved to Denver shops. D&RGW 3614, an L-132 class 2-8-8-2, was the last steam locomotive to receive heavy repairs at Salt Lake City. (Stagner, page 13)
November 25, 1953
Eight stalls of the roundhouse were retired on November 25, 1953 (not including the "tank" house). The remaining nine stalls were retired in May 1954. The entire roundhouse was vacated by July 1954.
Retire 8 stalls of Salt Lake City roundhouse
Approved November 25, 1953, completed July 3, 1954
A related AFE 3581 was approved on May 20, 1954; to retire 9 stalls of Salt Lake City roundhouse. No completion date was shown for this AFE.
May 16, 1954
D&RGW demolished the remaining portion of the Salt Lake City roundhouse. The portion demolished had been erected in 1890. (Salt Lake Tribune, May 16, 1954)
July 25, 1955
Construct Roper diesel house
Approved on July 25, 1955, completed in 1956
August 11, 1955
The use of steam locomotives by D&RGW in Salt Lake City came to an end, with the retirement of five 2-8-0 Consolidation type locomotives on Thursday August 11, 1955. (Deseret News, August 11, 1955)
(This was the last daily use of steam switching locomotives. The use of mainline steam locomotives had come to an end in June 1954.)
D&RGW opened the new diesel shop at Roper Yard. (Salt Lake Tribune, September 30, 1956)
The former D&RGW shops in downtown Salt Lake City were sold to Utah Transit Authority in 2002 as part of the larger property acquisition for rights of way along the Union Pacific tracks in northern Utah. UTA continued to develop possible and proposed plans for the large facility, but the cost of retrofitting the buildings continued to be a delaying factor. Finally, in July 2019 the shops were demolished in favor of building an all-new bus maintenance facility.
UTA broke ground on its new "clean fuel" facility that was to incorporate a major portion of the former D&RGW locomotive backshop.
The former D&RGW shops in Salt Lake City were sold to Utah Transit Authority in September 2002 as part of the larger property acquisition for rights of way along the Union Pacific tracks in northern Utah. UTA continued to develop possible and proposed plans for the large facility, but the cost of retrofitting the buildings continued to be a delaying factor. Finally, in July 2019 the shops were demolished in favor of building an all-new bus maintenance facility.
D&RGW Roundhouses In Utah
Mark Hemphill shared the following from D&RGW's 1883 annual report.
The Report of J.A. McMurtrie, commencing on page 36, says The Rio Grande Western Construction Company turned over to The Denver & Rio Grande Western Railway the following, on August 1, 1883:
P.V. Junction, 2 stall engine house
Clear Creek, 3 stall engine house, frame
Provo, 2 stall engine house
Bingham Junction, 2 stall round house
McMurtrie said that in order to properly equip the railway, there should be constructed:
Green River, 6-stall round house
P.V. Junction, 11 stall brick round house
Salt Lake, 22 stall brick round house
Ogden, 2 stall engine house
The D&RGW Official Roster No. 11 (1923) shows roundhouses (or engine houses) at the following locations in Utah.
- Cuprum (engine house)
- Green River (engine house)
- Helper (engine house)
- Marysvale (engine house)
- Park City (engine house)
- Salt Lake City
- Spring Canyon (engine house)
- Soldier Summit (engine house)
- Thistle (engine house)
Clear Creek (Tucker)
Three-stall wooden engine house, in place by August 1883.
October 24, 1886
"A coal chute is to be erected at Clear Creek, on the Western. Workmen began yesterday putting in the foundation." (Salt Lake Tribune, October 24, 1886)
(Clear Creek was changed to Tucker in June 1899)
(Tucker abandoned as a location after 1913)
Two-stall wooden engine house, in place by August 1883.
April 14, 1883
As Pleasant Valley Junction: A brick roundhouse with six stalls was under construction. (Ogden Standard, April 14, 1883)
May 3, 1892
As Pleasant Valley Junction: The "round houses and shops were removed to Helper." (Salt Lake Herald, May 3, 1892)
(Pleasant Valley Junction was changed to Colton in June 1898.)
August 23, 1924
D&RGW retired and demolished the five-stall roundhouse at Colton. (D&RGW AFE 1705, dated August 23, 1924, courtesy of Jerry Day)
Cuprum Engine House
The Cuprum engine house was completed in 1907 at the same time as the Bingham Low Grade Line. The Cuprum yard was located high on the mountainside above the town of Bingham, deep in Bingham Canyon.
D&RGW sold its former Copper Belt tracks in the canyon above Bingham, and a major portion of the in-canyon Low Grade Line to Utah Copper in September 1925, and in 1928 the site at Cuprum was where Utah Copper built one of its early precipitation plants.
Green River Engine House
Mark Hemphill shared the following about Green River.
Green River was an off-and-on engine district terminal. It appears from the annual reports and the history of Emery County and Carbon County, that Green River was an engine district end point between Grand Junction and P.V. Junction from 1883 to 1892, and 1908 to 1929. Between 1892 and 1908 it was run through. The roundhouse and engine service facilities didn't disappear in those years, but it would have only been used for engines on locals, work trains, and the like.
The 1883 D&RGW Annual Report says completed in that year was a frame roundhouse and iron turntable at Green River. The William Henry Jackson photograph of 1890 shows this to be a six-stall roundhouse.
In 1908 the railroad erected an eight-stall roundhouse, per the Emery County History. I don't know if this replaced the six-stall at that time, or if the six-stall had been torn down previously. I think most likely the former.
April 14, 1883
"At Green River there will be a round-house with eleven stalls, a shop 50x120 feet, with power and machinery." (Ogden Standard, April 14, 1883)
January 1, 1892
A "20-pocket coal chute" was completed at Green River during the previous year. (Salt Lake Tribune, January 1, 1892; summary of events during 1891)
October 6, 1906
"Another change scheduled is that making Green River a division point on the road, and erecting an eight-stall roundhouse and machine shop at that place. The coal chutes at Green River will be enlarged." (Salt Lake Herald Republican, October 6, 1906)
June 3, 1907
Work began by RGW construction crews on a turntable and eight-stall roundhouse at Green River. (Salt Lake Tribune, June 5, 1907; Emery County Progress, June 29, 1907)
August 1, 1907
The new machine shop at Green River was ready for use, and work was about to begin on the roundhouse and depot. (Sun Advocate, August 1, 1907)
The Green River roundhouse was completed at a cost of $26,564.69. (RGW 1908 Annual Report, courtesy of Mark Hemphill)
January 7, 1909
Green River was to replace Helper as the division point. "The company is preparing to erect a roundhouse and other buildings at Green River." "The work of building a roundhouse at Green River is to be pushed to completion." "Work on the yards at Green River is almost completed, and at an early date work on the roundhouse will begin." (Salt Lake Telegram, January 7, 1909; Sun Advocate, January 14, 1909; Salt Lake Tribune, February 15, 1909)
May 6, 1909
"A beautiful new passenger station has been erected at Green River and numerous other improvements are being made there. A new roundhouse has been built and the old one at Helper has been dismantled." (Richfield Reaper, May 6, 1909)
February 15, 1914
"It is reported that the D.&R.G. has appropriated $12,000 for the construction of an automatic all-steel coal chute which will be built immediately at Green River, Utah." (Salt Lake Mining Review, February 15, 1914)
A photo dated 1915 shows a wooden-frame four-stall engine house at Green River.
December 20, 1919
"A new coal chute is in the process of erection and recent operating changes necessitate increased facilities at Green River. (Emery County Progress, December 20, 1919)
September 18, 1922
At Green River, a fire destroyed the roundhouse, coal chutes, a small engine and freight cars, four of which were loaded with company coal. A month later it was reported that work would begin at once on modern shops and coal chute to replace those destroyed by fire. (Ogden Standard Examiner, September 18, 1922; Moab Times-Indepndent, October 26, 1922)
December 15, 1922
An architect from Denver was in Green River making arrangements for the construction of a modern coal chute to replace the one recently destroyed by fire. The work was to be completed within 90 days. (Sun-Advocate, December 15, 1922)
January 25, 1923
"Work On Modern Round House and Chute Starts -- Green River. Jan. 22 -- S. L. Racy, D&RG division superintendent, announces that the contract for the new round house and coal chutes has been awarded and that work will commemce at once. The old coal chute was destroyed by fire last fall. The new chute will be equipped with electricity, and it will be modern throughout, of fireproof construction." (Moab Times-Indepndent, January 25, 1923)
February 15, 1923
A crew of about 20 men had started the work on the new roundhouse and coal chute. The roundhouse was to have four stalls, and was to be built of non-flammable material. (Moab Times-Indepndent, February 15, 1923)
April 10, 1923
The new coal chute at Green River was to be furnished by Fairbanks-Morse, and would have 200 tons capacity. The new "engine house" was to be larger and modern in every way. Both would be completed by summer. (Salt Lake Telegram, April 10, 1923)
June 5, 1923
A new coal chute and a new "engine house" had been completed at Green River. (Ogden Standard Examiner, June 5, 1923, "Improvements by D.&R.G.")
Helper Engine House
Fifteen-stall brick roundhouse replaced by eight-stall wooden-frame engine house.
A photo in "Rails Around Helper" (page 121) shows the brick roundhouse still in place, south of the rectangular engine house.
November 27, 1889
RGW was building a new engine house and facilties at a site four miles below Castle Gate, for 'helpers'. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, November 27, 1889)
January 1, 1892
A 15-stall roundhouse was completed at Helper during the previous year, along with a "20-pocket coal chute." (Salt Lake Tribune, January 1, 1892; summary of events during 1891)
August 25, 1912
"A new roundhouse is being built at Helper." (Salt Lake Tribune, August 25, 1912)
May 23, 1956
D&RGW demolished most of the engine house in Helper, Utah, retaining two stalls of the engine house to allow servicing of the diesel locomotives assigned to Helper. The work started on April 1st, and "was completed recently." (Deseret News, May 23, 1956)
March 7, 1968
D&RGW demolished the last portion of the Helper engine house. The building originally had 16 stalls, eight of which ran through the building. "The beginning of the end for the roundhouse actually began about 15 years ago when the structure was cut down to approximately half its original size." "The building first served the Rio Grande in Soldier Summit but was moved to Helper when the terminal was transferred here in 1930. The walls of the original structure were transported to helper and a new roof constructed over them. The moving process began in 1929 and was not completely finished until 1931." (Sun Advocate, March 7, 1968)
Marysvale Engine House
The engine house at Marysvale, at the south end of the Marysvale Branch, was retired and removed. (D&RGW AFE 2582, information from Jerry Day via email dated September 4, 2012)
October 29, 1894
New two-stall engine house to be built at Bingham Junction, of a frame construction, covered in corrugated iron. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, October 29, 1894)
July 19, 1910
The six-stall roundhouse at Midvale was demolished and the turntable moved to Salt Lake City. The roundhouse was built in 1909, but was not needed after the division point was moved to Welby. (Salt Lake Tribune, July 19, 1910)
May 5, 1911
A new eight-stall roundhouse was just completed at Midvale. "Ten switch engines are employed at the smelters at Garfield, Bingham and Midvale." D&RG has found that the shortage of water at Welby is a problem. (Salt Lake Tribune, May 5, 1911)
The original Ogden roundhouse was completed in about 1885. It was replaced in 1893 by a four-stall brick roundhouse, which was torn down in about 1955.
May 21, 1893
Work commenced "during the coming week" on Rio Grande Western's new locomotive roundhouse in Ogden. Work was being done by the railroad's own forces. (Ogden Standard, May 21, 1893)
Salt Lake City Roundhouse
Scofield Engine House
September 7, 1894
RGW is putting up a new two stall engine house in Scofield, of corrugated iron, to replace the one that burned in February. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, September 7, 1894)
Soldier Summit Engine House
Eight-stall brick and concrete engine house built in 1920. Originally announced in November 1919 as being a 24-stall roundhouse.
December 20, 1919
The new terminal at Soldier Summit had it formal opening on November 1, 1919. (Deseret News, December 20, 1919)
April 15, 1929
"Virtual assurance that the shops, yards and roundhouse of the Denver and Rio Grande Western at Soldier Summit will be removed to the vicinity of Price was the result of a survey last week by officials of the railroad company." "Plans have been virtually completed for the removal of the shops and yards to Maxwell station, one and one-half miles west of Price." (Ogden Standard Examiner, April 15, 1929)
September 14, 1930
An extra crew of 80 men had been put on to complete the new tracks at Helper, to allow the move of the roundhouse from Soldier Summit to Helper. The placement of the car shops was under way, and moving the roundhouse would soon follow, although no date had yet been set. (Salt Lake Tribune, September 14, 1930)
Springville Engine House
September 16, 1894
RGW engine house at Springville, two stalls, burned on the morning of September 13th. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, September 16, 1894)
Thistle Engine House
Six-stall brick roundhouse replaced in 1937 by a three-stall wood-frame engine house
January 1, 1892
A roundhouse was completed at Thistle during the previous year. (Salt Lake Tribune, January 1, 1892; summary of events during 1891)
August 25, 1912
"New coal chutes are being put in at Thistle." (Salt Lake Tribune, August 25, 1912)
September 17, 1937
The D&RGW's roundhouse, shops and coal chute at Thistle were destroyed by fire in the early evening of September 17, 1937, causing an estimated $40,000 in damage. A total of six buildings were destroyed, but railroad emloyees were able to safely remove four locomotives and 20 railroad cars before they were damaged. "Destroyed completely were the machine shop, engine room, roundhuse, coal chute, 250 tons of coal, engine hoist sand house and two livestock cars." (Salt Lake Tribune, September 18, 1937; September 19, 1937)
Work began in mid October to rebuild the D&RGW Thistle roundhouse and coal chute. Work was to be complete by the end of December, and the formal opening was held on December 25th. (Smithfield Sentinel, October 15, 1937; Provo Daily Herald, November 30, 1937; Helper Journal, December 16, 1937; Salt Lake Herald, December 23, 1937)
January 2, 1938
The new buildings that replaced those destroyed by fire had been completed and after an inspection on January 3rd, were placed into service on Tuesday January 4, 1938. The replacement buildings stood on the same site as the old 42-year-old buildings that burned. "The new roundhouse, built entirely of lumber, has many improvements over the old metal building." "The new coal chute, constructed of lumber and steel, is equipped with a modern electric hoist and is so constructed that both east and west mainline trains can bve coaled from it at the same time. The chute will hold 350 tons of coal, while the new sandhouse also boasts larger housing facilities, being constructed to hold 125 tons of sand." (Salt Lake Tribune, January 2, 1938)
January 30, 1938
"The D.&R.G.W railroad in 1937 expended at least $45,000 in the construction of new shop buildings at Thistle. These replaced those destroyed by a fire. These included a roundhouse, machine shop and coal chute." (Salt Lake Tribune, January 30, 1938)
Construct Welby engine facilities
Approved in 1910
-- Roundhouse (6 stalls); Turntable; Coal chute (6 pockets); Ash pit
-- Drop pit added in 1917
All retired in 1925
At Welby D&RGW had a wye, yard, and engine facilities, built after D&RG took control of the Copper Belt line in Bingham Canyon, and built two new lines. First was a new line into Bingham Canyon to replace the existing but steep, combined RGW/Copper Belt line at the bottom of the canyon. The new line was known as the "Low Grade Line" and started climbing outside of the canyon and used a loop near Lark and where today's Salt Lake County green recycle facility is. It entered the canyon on the south flank, about halfway up, and continued climbing to a new yard that was called Cuprum. The new line connected to the existing Copper Belt line higher in the canyon, very near the new Utah Copper mine.
The second new line in 1905-06 was a branch to the new Garfield smelter being built by the American Smelting, Refining Company on the south shore of Great Salt Lake, and connected to the Bingham Branch at the new Garfield Junction station (changed to Welby in 1909). This new RGW line connected with the new Utah Copper mill at Magna and the new Boston Consolidated mill at Arthur. The two mills and the smelter were all under construction at the same time as the RGW Garfield Branch. RGW was doing all this to serve the explosive expansion of copper mining in Bingham Canyon that started with the organization of Utah Copper in 1903, and its development of the open-cut mining method.
"Shortly after the line went into service, it was discovered that the existing maintenance and service facilities in Midvale were inadequate to serve the 25 locomotives operating out of Welby, and plans were made for new facilities at Welby. In 1909, sixteen additional acres were purchased from the Malmstroms and construction of a roundhouse, machine shop, and a boiler shop began. The railroad also built a telegraph station." (Michael Lehmitz, "Welby: A Salt Lake Valley Ghost Town")
RGW built engine facilities at Welby to service the planned increase in trains and locomotives that it foresaw with the expansion of mining in the canyon, and located them at the junction as a central location for trains operating in the area. Welby had a six-stall roundhouse, 75-foot turntable, and sunken ash pit. As of mid 2021 the foundations are all still there, although they are slowly being overcome by nearby development.
D&RG's complete failure to provide the needed service was why Utah Copper built its own line Bingham & Garfield Railway in 1911 between Bingham and the Magna and Arthur mills. Rio Grande's failure was likely due to the changes coming from the 1908 reorganization that formed the consolidated D&RG, and the deterioration of rail service for Utah Copper simply got lost in the shuffle of George Gould's grand plans for a transcontinental railroad to compete with E. H. Harriman's combined UP and SP.
D&RGW Turntables In Utah
The D&RGW Official Roster No. 11 (1923) shows turntables at the following locations in Utah (all standard gauge).
- Bingham, 50 feet length, 70,000 pounds capacity
- Cuprum, 86 feet length, 340,000 pounds capacity
- Helper, 80 feet length, 280,000 pounds capacity
- Ogden, 67 feet length, 220,000 pounds capacity
- Salt Lake City, 80 feet length, 280,000 pounds capacity
- Thistle, 67 feet length, 220,000 pounds capacity
- Welby, 90 feet length, 340,000 pounds capacity