Salt Lake City Union Depot & Railroad Company

(D&RGW/WP Salt Lake City passenger station)

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This page was last updated on June 18, 2022.

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"Incorporated May 18, 1907, in Utah, to construct a Union Depot at Salt Lake City, Utah. The site of the station is on 4th West Street, between Second and Fourth South streets; the building proper is 423 feet long, together with facilities necessary for use in connection therewith. Opened for public use in the fall of 1910. The cost of the land, buildings, tracks, etc., approximated $1,000,000. Line owned 1.66 miles, with 0.65 mile second track and 2.05 miles sidings. Gauge. 4 ft. 8/2 in. Rail, 85 and 90 pounds." (Poor's Manual of Railroads, 1929)

The following comes from ICC Valuation Docket 934, dated October 26, 1928 (149 ICC 95):

The final valuation of the property of The Salt Lake City Union Depot and Railroad Company, as of June 30, 1919: The Salt Lake City Union Depot and Railroad Company owns and operates a passenger station and appurtenant facilities at Salt Lake City, Utah. Its property includes 1.655 miles of first main track, 0.655 mile of second main track, and 2.069 miles of yard tracks and sidings, aggregating 4.379 miles of all tracks owned and used. The carrier is controlled by The Denver and Rio Grande Railroad Company, and it operates its property for the joint use of the controlling company and The Western Pacific Railroad Company under a joint-tenant arrangement.

The passenger station owned by the carrier is a modern brick structure with marble and terra-cotta trim, having large train sheds, platforms, and other facilities. The carrier owns its own heating plant.

The carrier owns no equipment.

It is controlled by The Denver and Rio Grande Railroad Company, through ownership of a majority of capital stock. The property of the carrier was operated by its own organization from August 20, 1910, the date its property was placed in operation.

The carrier was incorporated May 29, 1907, under the general laws of the State of Utah, for the purpose of constructing or purchasing and operating passenger terminal facilities at Salt Lake City, Utah. The date of organization was June 3, 1907.

The owned common-carrier property of the carrier comprising 1.655 miles of main-line railroad, 0.655 mile of second main track, 2.069 miles of yard tracks and sidings, a passenger station, and certain other terminal facilities at Salt Lake City, Utah, was acquired partly by purchase from The Denver and Rio Grande Railroad Company and partly by construction. The construction work of the carrier was performed by company forces during the period November, 1908, to August, 1910, but the property constructed is not separable from that purchased from the Denver and Rio Grande.

The terminal facilities are used jointly by the tenants under an agreement effective for a period of 60 years from December 16, 1908. The tenants pay the net expense of maintaining and operating the property, divided on a wheelage basis, and an annual rental, divided one half each.


September 23, 1899
An earlier corporation by the name of Salt Lake Passenger and Railway Depot Company, was proposed. The company was to take over Fourth West entirely between Second and Fourth South, and the intersection of Third West and Fourth South. Fourth West was to be taken up entirely by tracks, using the franchise already controlled by Rio Grande Western. Bancroft of the Oregon Short Line was also involved in the proposed company. OSL later pulled out and pursued its own franchise with the city. (Salt Lake Herald, September 23, 1899; Deseret Evening News, April 4, 1902)

January 31, 1906
The Salt Lake City council approved Rio Grande Western's request to vacate portions of Third West and Fourth West for the purposes of occupying the streets with tracks and a new passenger depot. RGW agreed to develop, open and convey to the city a new street to be called Rio Grande Street along the east side of the station grounds.

March 9, 1907
"Clearing The Ground. Making Way for the New Rio Grande Depot. Only a few of the old houses on the site of the new Rio Grande depot, Fourth West, between Second and Fourth South streets, remain standing and in a week's time the site will be cleared entirely. Many men and teams are at work and trees which interfere with the work of improvement are also being leveled. A spur has been run from the Rio Grande track on Fourth West onto the block at Fourth South, and construction material will be hauled direct to the site." (Salt Lake Tribune, March 9, 1907)

May 18, 1907
The Salt Lake City Union Depot and Railroad company was organized. The new company was to represent the construction of a joint terminal for the Gould roads. Western Pacific requested that the old plans be revised and enlarged. (Wall Street Journal, May 22, 1907)

May 29, 1907
Salt Lake City Union Depot and Railroad Company was formally incorporated in Utah.

(Read the Salt Lake City Union Depot & Railroad corporate information)

Construction started in 1907, under the name of Salt Lake City Union Depot & Railroad Co. (Utah corporation index 6383)

November 1, 1908
The original joint operating and ownership agreement between D&RG and WP was dated November 1, 1908. (ICC Finance Docket 14695, approved on October 25, 1944, in 257 ICC 816).

December 21, 1908
The property where the new union depot was built was formally transferred from D&RG ownership, to the new depot company. (Salt Lake Herald, December 22, 1908, "yesterday")

August 13, 1910
D&RG changed its old Salt Lake City depot to the new Salt Lake City Union Depot on August 13, 1910, a Saturday evening. The last train out of the old depot was Train No. 3; first train out of the new depot was the San Pete Local. (Eastern Utah Advocate, August 25, 1910, "Passing of Salt Lake's Old Depot") (LeMassena, p. 123)

October 25, 1944
D&RGW and WP renewed the joint operation agreement for the Salt Lake City Union Depot & Railroad Company. (ICC Finance Docket 14695, approved on October 25, 1944, in 257 ICC 816).

April 28, 1959
The following comes from ICC Finance Reports, Volume 307, page 803, "Cases Disposed Of Without Printed Report."

F. D. No. 20290, Western Pacific Railroad Company et al. Joint Control, Salt Lake City Union Depot Railroad Company. Decided April 28, 1959. (Embraces F. D. No. 20292)

F. D. No. 20292, Salt Lake City Union Depot Railroad Company Stock. Decided April 28, 1959. (Embraced in F. D. No. 20290)

December 31, 1978
D&RGW dissolved the Salt Lake Union Depot & Railroad Company, after buying WP's 50 percent interest on June 20, 1978. (Utah corporation index 15068)

Articles of Merger between Salt Lake Union Depot and Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad

To liquidate and dissolve wholly owned subsidiary effective December 31, 1978

Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad and Western Pacific Railroad acquired joint use of depot on December 1, 1944 (ICC Finance Docket 14695, dated October 25, 1944)

Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad to pay Western Pacific Railroad $125,000.00 for its 50% share of the Salt Lake Union Depot and Railroad Co., dated June 20, 1978

State Ownership

(Read the Wikipedia article about the former D&RGW Salt Lake City Depot)

(Read the National Park Service Register of Historic Places entry for the former D&RGW Salt Lake City Depot)

March 2, 1977
The Utah State Legislature voted to approve the purchase of the D&RGW Salt Lake City passenger station, for the price of $1.00. (Provo Daily Herald, March 2, 1977)

January 2, 1978
Salt Lake City agreed to deed ownership of the land under the D&RGW passenger station to the state. The land in question was the right-of-way for 300 South, which extends under the depot and tracks between 400 West and 500 West. (Provo Daily Herald, January 2, 1978)

(A review of available online newspapers for 1978 and 1979 does not find a specific date that ownership of the station building was formally transferred from D&RGW to the State of Utah. An estimate would be January 1, 1979, after the joint D&RGW and WP Union Depot company was dissolved on December 31, 1978, and before the legislature session in mid February 1979, when an initial $3 million bill approving the renovation of the station was being considered.)

August 24, 1979
A contractor was named for the $1.75 million renovation of the D&RGW depot to serve as a permanent home of the Utah State Historical Society. The renovation was to be completed within 240 days. (Salt Lake Tribune, August 24, 1979)

December 1980
The historical society, and other state agencies, moved into the renovated D&RGW depot beginning in late December 1980. Although the renovation was not fully completed, the move was forced due to the expiration of leased space serving as the historical society's temporary home in the Crane building at the end of the month of December 1980.

The historical society had previously been located in the Kearns mansion at 603 East South Temple street, but was forced to vacate the mansion to allow the state to renovate it as a new residence for the governor. The society moved to the Crane building at 307 West 200 South in March 1978, moving 40,000 photographs, 18,000 books, 12,000 bound periodicals, along with 19,000 pamphlets, shelves, containers, desks and other furniture. (Salt Lake Tribune, March 16, 1978)

August 21, 1981
The former D&RGW depot was formally dedicated as the new home of the state historical society at a ceremony on August 21, 1981.

April 24, 1983
D&RGW continued to use leased space in the depot for its Rio Grande Zephyr passenger train, until April 24, 1983 when the slide at Thistle, Utah, resulted in the train being discontinued and replaced by a new route for Amtrak's California Zephyr, which used the former Union Pacific depot in Salt Lake City.

(Read more about Amtrak in Utah)

October 1986 to July 1999
Amtrak's California Zephyr used the former D&RGW depot in Salt Lake City, then moved to the new Salt Lake Central "temporary" station one block west of the former D&RGW depot.

The former D&RGW depot belonged (and still belongs) to the State of Utah. It has always been occupied by the Utah State Historical Society, and at the time in 1986, their director was extremely upset to lose a part of the south wing, which they were using as storage space. They were forced to move most of their storage to the damp and dank basement. Amtrak was blamed for much of the woes of the historical society and many negative comments were made about Amtrak for many years after.

September 20, 2019
The "Rio Grande" sign on the roof of the former D&RGW passenger station was replaced by a new version with LED lighting and new sheet metal letters. The sign had been removed on August 12th. The old sign had become decayed and deteriorated, and the neon lights no longer worked properly.

March 18, 2020
A 5.7 magnitude earthquake shook Salt Lake City, resulting in damage to the former D&RGW passenger station. The building was essentially already unoccupied due to restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Engineering evaluations of the damage, and proposed remedies took more than a year, as well as funds being allocated for the repairs. During October and November 2021, all state agency offices and their materials were removed from the station, in preparation of needed repairs to the building. The state offices were moved to leased space in several locations in the Salt Lake City area, and employees continued to work remotely.

Grant Tower Interchange ("Interlocking")

Between 1944 and about 1951, D&RGW, UP, and WP worked together to construct a new interchange in downtown Salt Lake City.

(Read more about the "Grant Tower Interlocking")