Utah Industries and Utah Railroads
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This page was last updated on June 17, 2021.
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(Salt Lake City)
Located on the south bank of Mill Creek at the point the creek was crossed by the Territory Road (today's State Street) at about 3000 South. The course of Mill Creek was straightened between the Territory Road (State Street) and the point the creek passed under the Utah Southern Railroad, matching the rail spur that was built along the creek's south bank to reach Huslers Mill on the Territory Road.
(Read more about Salt Lake County's early street names)
Huslers Mill was opened by George Husler in about 1860 as one of the pioneering flour mills in the entire Utah Territory, and was one of the first industries south of Salt Lake City to receive its own rail spur when Utah Southern was built through Salt Lake County during the summer of 1871 (ground breaking was on May 1, and the line reached Sandy in early September). The 1890 city directory shows George Husler as the proprietor of the Utah Cracker Factory, and of the Wasatch Roller Mills on the State Road. The 1880 U.S. census shows George Husler, age 42, born in Switzerland, working as a miller in the Mill Creek Precinct.
With the coming of rail service south of Salt Lake City, local businesses started to be developed taking advantage of both rail service and the paralleling Territory Road. In April 1885, George Husler became a partner with Henry Wallace in the startup of Utah Cracker Company. Wallace bought out Husler's interest in April 1892, and Utah Cracker Company became American Biscuit & Manufacturing Company. American Biscuit was a major component in the 1898 formation of National Biscuit Company (Nabisco), and the cracker factory at Huslers remained a big customer of UP rail service throughout the time of its location on State Street.
Husler's flour mill remained in the Husler family until about 1907 when it was sold to Colorado Milling & Elevator Company of Denver. These companies, the flour mill and the cracker factory, give indication of just how important the growing of wheat and other grains were at one time to the farmers of Salt Lake County.
Huslers remains today as a location on UTA's line between Salt Lake City and Sandy, although it is no longer a siding. Throughout its history, both the siding, the spur itself, and numerous other spurs in the immediate area were a source of traffic for UP. Several rail-related businesses grew up around the area along Mill Creek, and between the State Road and the UP line. Located at mile post P-795.60 on UP's Provo Subdivision, as late as 1985 there were as many as 11 separate spurs that served local businesses.
It was a hub of activity that required daily switching service for UP's local trains along the Provo Sub. The spur was the location of one of UP's team tracks in the Salt Lake Valley. Located between Main Street and West Temple Street, the Huslers Team Track was provided by UP as a loading area for customers, including a loading dock and ramp, who did not have their own spur or siding.
Purity Biscuit Company
(Salt Lake City)
The Purity company's first location in Salt Lake City was at 471 West Fifth South, completed in 1916. (Salt Lake Telegram, March 29, 1929)
The Purity Biscuit Company was incorporated "recently" with capital of $150,000. (American Machinist, Volume 43, Number 1, July 1, 1915, page 76)
June 7, 1916
The formal dedication of the new factory of Purity Biscuit Company was held on on Wednesday June 7, 1916, with 108 local grocers and their families in attendance. The company produced Poinseta-brand crackers and cookies. (Ogden Standard, June 9, 1916)
Control of the Purity Biscuit Company of Salt Lake City was sold in March 1929 to the United Biscuit Company, which had recently acquired numerous smaller companies, and which was one of the country's major biscuit and cracker manufacturers. (Salt Lake Telegram, March 29, 1929)
United Biscuit Company was formed in November 1925 by a group of investment bankers. The first bakeries included the Sawyer Biscuit Company of Chicago, and the Union Biscuit Company of St. Louis. (Salt Lake Telegram, November 22, 1925)
March 29, 1929
Purity Biscuit Company was sold to United Biscuit Company of America, with headquarters in Chicago. The purchase price was reported as exchanging 1500 shares of Purity for 10,000 shares of United, along with $180,000 cash. During 1928, Purity had $659,000 in total sales, with $56,000 in earnings. (Ogden Standard, March 29, 1929)
By 1931, United Biscuit Company was the third largest cookie, cracker, and biscuit baker in the country, operating 15 separate bakeries, with warehouses and distribution centers located between Salt Lake City and Philadelphia. (Salt Lake Telegram, August 6, 1931)
June 20, 1936
Purity Biscuit Company announced a new five-story addition to its existing factory at 471 West 5th South. The addition was to have a front 30 feet wide facing 5th South and extend 140 feet into the block. The addition was to include new ovens. A new shipping department was to have a 70-foot front and also extend 140-feet into the block, making the new addition approximately 100 feet by 140 feet. Total cost of $102,000. (Salt Lake Tribune, June 21, 1936)
December 16, 1959
"Verne A. Tracy -- Death this week of Verne A. Tracy, president of the Purity Biscuit Company closes the career one man who followed a Horatio Alger pattern to success. Mr. Tracy started working at the age of 12, left school at 14, and was completely on his own in Denver at the age of 18. After some considerable business experience in Colorado, he came to Salt Lake City and established the Purity Biscuit Company in 1915. From small beginnings this developed into an enterprise distributing its products throughout 11 states, with plants in Pocatello and Phoenix as well as Salt Lake City. Although the business was sold to United Biscuit Company in 1929, Mr. Tracy continued to manage it and became a director of the parent concern." A total of 150 employees would be affected by the closure. (Salt Lake Tribune, December 16, 1959)
March 22, 1960
Purity Biscuit announced that they would discontinue production of bakery goods, including crackers, in Salt Lake City in 1961. Company officials stated that the Salt Lake City location was no longer competitive, being limited by the lack of space to expand. Competing companies had, over the past ten years, also closed their Salt Lake City locations in favor of larger facilities that included modern production facilities, along with space for research, engineering, and quality control. The parent company, United Biscuit, wanted to consolidate operations in other locations closer to national transportation and marketing centers. (Salt Lake Tribune, March 23, 1960)
November 29, 1960
Purity Biscuit announced that the date that production in Salt Lake City would be transferred to other locations, had been moved forward and would be on February 1, 1961. (Salt Lake Tribune, November 30, 1960)
During the first week of February 1961, Purity Biscuit advertised in the classified ads for a warehouse space of between 20,000 and 25,000 square feet, with a truck loading dock. During the first week of July 1961, Purity Biscuit advertised a liquidation sale of all remaining machinery located in its location at 471 West 5th South, including office equipment, copper kettles, storage tanks, blending machines, and stitching and stapling machines.
In 1966, United Biscuit Company, including the former Purity Biscuit company, took the trade name of Keebler Company, named for company founder Godfrey Keebler, who opened his bakery in Philadelphia in 1853.
(Read the Wikipedia article about the Keebler company)
In addition to the Purity Biscuit company in Salt Lake City, the consolidation that created the United Biscuit company in 1925-1929 included regional names such as Strietmann Biscuit Company of Mariemont, Ohio, Hekman Biscuit Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Bowman Biscuit company in Denver. Founded in April 1906 as the Merchants Biscuit company, the Bowman company became part of United Biscuit in 1927 and was renamed Bowman Biscuit on January 1, 1950 in honor of its founder, Clinton A. Bowman. Located just west of D&RGW's North Yard in Denver, the Bowman company became famous among railroad enthusiasts for the D&RGW Cookie Box boxcars of the late 1950s and 1960s.
(Read more about the D&RGW "Cookie Box" boxcars used to ship baked goods from the Bowman-Keebler bakery in Denver)