Bamberger Railroad In Ogden

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This page was last updated on February 13, 2017.

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(Updated from text originally published in 2005 as part of the book, Ogden Rails)

Ogden Rails, A History of Railroading At The Crossroads Of The West
(Union Pacific Historical Society, 2005)

The Bamberger was a good example of an interurban railroad company that was financed, built and managed by local interests. Built as a steam road and later converted to an electric interurban line, the Bamberger was promoted, financed and developed by the Bamberger family of Salt Lake City, who also had interests in coal mines, namely the Weber Coal mine near Coalville, and other mines in Carbon County. (Hilton, George W. and John F. Due. The Electric Interurban Railways In America, p. 198)

The trains of the Bamberger Railroad first came to Ogden under the banner of a predecessor company, the Salt Lake & Ogden Railway. SL&O was itself an extension of Simon Bamberger's Great Salt Lake & Hot Springs Railway, a suburban line built in 1891 between downtown Salt Lake City and Beck's Hot Springs, north of the city.

Within a year of the completion of the line to Hot Springs in 1891, Bamberger expanded his vision with plans to extend his Great Salt Lake & Hot Springs line to serve his coal mine at Coalville (paralleling Union Pacific east up Weber Canyon), with a 10-mile branch line to Ogden. In addition to transporting coal from his mine, Bamberger wanted to provide service for the local business traveler, providing more frequent service than either Union Pacific or Rio Grande, which did not offer conveniently timed passenger service between Ogden and Salt Lake City. Construction of the new extension began north from Beck's Hot Springs, four miles north of Salt Lake City, and the railroad reached Bountiful in 1892, Centerville in 1894 and Farmington in 1895. Financial difficulties followed, and the company was reorganized in October 1896 as the Salt Lake & Ogden Railway. To provide a destination for travelers while the company was recovering financially, Bamberger purchased a swampy area just north of Farmington, drained it and built the Lagoon Resort, for residents of Salt Lake City who sought recreation outside of the city. (Lagoon remains today as one of the largest resort parks in the West.) The end of track remained at Lagoon from 1896 through 1902, when construction resumed, with Kaysville as the goal. (Swett, Interurbans of Utah, p. 9)

Kaysville and Layton were reached in 1906, Kaysville on May 30 and Layton on September 4. (Kaysville-Layton Historical Society. A History of the Bamberger Railroad, p. 3)

The plans for serving the Coalville coal mines were soon dropped due to a business slump in 1907, but SL&O construction crews finished the line to Ogden in late July 1908, with passenger service between Salt Lake City and Ogden beginning on August 8, 1908. The depot was located at 31st Street and Lincoln Avenue. (Swett, Interurbans of Utah, p. 9)

Although the Salt Lake & Ogden Railway was powered by large steam locomotives, it was still known as "the Dummy Line" because of its 1890s start with dummy streetcars, small steam locomotives that were built with bodies that resembled regular electric streetcars. (Kaysville-Layton Historical Society. A History of the Bamberger Railroad, p. 2)

From the very beginning, Bamberger knew that if he wanted to compete with the much larger Union Pacific and D&RGW for high-speed passenger movements between Salt Lake and Ogden, and for freight traffic that would generate needed revenue, he would have to operate a first-class, well-engineered railroad. He constructed his railroad to steam-railroad standards, with wide sweeping curves and the lowest possible rate of climb, using standard 85-pound rail, gravel ballast, and standard-length pine ties. It was expensive to build the railroad with large curves and a relatively easy ascending grade of 1.1 percent (1.1 feet of rise for every 100 feet of route). To construct a railroad with these engineering features, many large cuts and fills were needed. But Bamberger knew that these high initial costs would be repaid many times over by his locomotives being able to pull more cars, at higher speeds. He also avoided the expedient use of franchises that would allow him to locate the railroad along public roads and highways. This feature alone would later save the company much grief and money by not having to move its tracks when these same public roads were widened and paved. Of course, these same improvements would eventually spell the death of the line, and its privately maintained right-of-way, as trucks and automobiles soon took away both its passenger and freight traffic, using right-of-way built and maintained entirely by public funds. (Swett, Interurbans of Utah, p. 9)

With the completion of the line in 1908, Bamberger began giving thought to joining the wave of interurban railroads (railroads that inter-connect large urban areas) that were modernizing their lines by electrifying them, using electric power to replace steam locomotives. The Salt Lake & Ogden Railway seemingly had all the requirements for a profitable interurban railroad: large cities at either end of the line (with large central city terminals) to provide both passengers and freight; a prosperous rural countryside between to supply more of both; and a well-engineered route that would allow operation of high-speed, electric interurban trains. (Swett, Interurbans of Utah, p. 9)

In 1910, the electrification was completed by stringing overhead trolley wire and purchasing new equipment, along with constructing electrical substations along the line. Since Bamberger also owned several coal mines, it seemed proper to also construct a coal-fired power plant, and one was built at Farmington to furnish all of the needed current for the railroad. The first day of electric operation was May 28, 1910. (Article, plans, and photos of Salt Lake & Ogden electrification in Street Railway Journal, Volume 37, Number 16, April 22, 1911, pp. 700-707)

SL&O's first electrically powered cars came from the Jewett Car Co. of Newark, Ohio. Later in 1910, Bamberger purchased three trailers secondhand from Washington, Baltimore & Annapolis, which had recently upgraded its system and no longer needed the unpowered cars. (Hilton, p. 60-61)

Other trailer cars were purchased from the Niles Co. The electric cars were modern and fast. Bamberger adopted the slogan, "Every Hour, On The Hour, In An Hour," reflecting the high speeds which the cars were capable of. ("Abandonment Report: Bamberger Railroad", Short Line Railroader, p. 4)

When electrification was completed, there were 10 trains running in each direction every day, all of which stopped at every station between Ogden and Salt Lake City.

The original Bamberger depot was located at 31st Street, where passengers found it necessary to seek other means to get themselves downtown, six blocks north. With the conversion to electric operation, Salt Lake & Ogden received a franchise to construct a double-track line along Lincoln Avenue from 31st Street to the site of the new station yards just north of 24th Street. This brought SL&O cars to within two blocks of the heart of the business district and greatly increased the new railroad's popularity. In 1914, SL&O made an agreement with the newly built Utah Idaho Central Railroad that allowed the new terminal facilities to be shared by both interurbans; UIC then erected a station building which was used jointly. Also in 1914, Salt Lake & Ogden rebuilt its route into Ogden. The new line was raised high enough to cross over the Union Pacific tracks at 31st Street, and included new steel bridges over the Weber River and over the UP tracks. (Ogden Standard Examiner, December 28, 1958, photo caption)

Throughout its early years, the Salt Lake & Ogden Railway was known as "the Bamberger." In August 1917, the name was changed officially to the Bamberger Electric Railroad, accepting the road's nickname. Also in 1917, Simon Bamberger was elected governor as the Progressive Party candidate. Ironically, it was the improved road and highway system that he developed while in office that brought about the eventual demise of the interurban railroad system in Utah, from the Cache Valley on the north to Payson on the south, with his own Bamberger line in between. As people became more mobile and better able to get around in their own cars using the publicly funded highways, they were less prone to take Bamberger's electric-powered trains. The public road system also allowed bus companies to offer passenger service, and allowed the trucking companies to offer more competitive rates, and they gradually took the lucrative package express business away from the interurban lines. To better compete with these rising new motor carriers that used the public roads, Bamberger on May 15, 1927 started a subsidiary bus service between Salt Lake City and Ogden under the name of the Bamberger Transportation Co. Beginning in 1927, the Bamberger was able to compete with the truck lines by offering its own trucking services for door-to-door delivery between the same cities that they also served with electrified railroad service.

By the mid 1920s almost all of the less-than-carload (LCL) traffic on the Bamberger was vulnerable to competition from the trucking industry. More and more of the paralleling highways were being improved and paved by the use of federal highway dollars made available by the Transportation Act of 1920. The interurban railroads at first tried to cooperate with the new trucking companies in making joint rates. The railroads and the truckers both soon realized that there was little point in restricting freight to the railroads considering the limited service that the railroads could give, and still compete with trucks. The trucks main advantage over the railroad was in the door-to-door service that trucks could provide. When Bamberger began offering its LCL truck service in 1927, they were just three years behind the Boston & Worcester line (in 1924), one of the first interurbans to begin its own truck line, which allowed it to use trucks to pick up and deliver LCL freight, but still use the rails for the major portion of the journey. One of the reasons Bamberger began its own truck line was newly hard surfaced highway that paralleled its entire route from Ogden to Salt Lake City. (Hilton, p. 133)

Although the railroads fought the general movement of increasing truck competition, they lost their battle based on the trucks' ability to provide better service, and by the thinking that, at least in Utah's case, the regulating agencies should not stand in the way of progress by limiting truck competition to parallel railroad routes. (Hilton, p. 178)

On May 7, 1918, flames consumed the entire Ogden car house and adjoining substation. Twenty-one cars were destroyed, more than half the company's roster - a blow that was doubly crippling at the time because of wartime restrictions on obtaining critical materials needed for rebuilding the car fleet. (Article, with photos, of Bamberger car house fire in Ogden in Electric Railway Journal, Volume 52, no. 6 August 10, 1918, pp. 239, 240)

The company recovered and began the struggle to repair the $500,000 damage. Slowly over the next couple years, the less severely damaged cars were repaired and returned to service, but it was a long time before the Bamberger line regained all the ground lost because of the fire.

When the federal government's United States Railway Administration took over operations of the nation's railroads in 1919, it swept aside the established practices that kept much of the steam road freight traffic off the Bamberger's line. From this time on, Bamberger became an important freight hauler for business between Salt Lake City and Ogden. From World War I until the end of its passenger operations in 1952, freight revenues always exceeded passenger revenues. (Salt Lake Tribune, August 17, 1952)

The freight included coal that was interchanged at Salt Lake City with the Salt Lake & Utah interurban line, bound for points on the Utah Idaho Central. In 1924, both Union Pacific and Rio Grande accepted the existence of the 36-mile road and published joint freight rates for points on the Bamberger's line. During 1938, the railroad handled a total of 6,695 cars (just over 18 cars per day), 1,548 of which were coal, along with 3,672 cars of manufactured goods, 829 cars of agricultural products, 621 cars of forest products, and 25 cars of animals and animal by-products. Between 1934 and 1938, 65 percent of all revenue was derived from freight. Of the 37,464 carloads handled during that four year period, 92 percent was interchanged with connecting lines. (233 ICC 303, 307)

In 1933, the railroad was forced into bankruptcy, emerging in 1939 as the reorganized Bamberger Railroad, dropping the word "Electric" from its name. When it was built, the route of the Bamberger was nearly all double track between Ogden and Salt Lake City. Much of the second track was removed in the late 1930s as part of the belt-tightening following the reorganization. This move saved the railroad $9,000 per year in maintenance costs. At the same time, the railroad adopted a limited number of automatic block signals. (Hilton, p. 49)

During the 1939 reorganization, Bamberger owned 84 freight cars, four freight locomotives, 29 passenger cars, two express cars, a line work car, and two highway buses. (Motor Coach Age, June-July 1987, p. 4)

In March 1939 the company purchased five high-speed, streamlined cars that were capable of 75 miles per hour. The new cars were quickly dubbed the "Little Cars," comparing them to the "Big Cars," the full-sized, heavy cars that Bamberger was operating. The electric cars of the Bamberger were always known for their speed.

Bamberger was somewhat unique among interurbans in that the railroad, along with other western lines, averaged over 20 miles per hour in the operation of their trains. The trains operating over the 36 miles between Ogden and Salt Lake City took an average of 1 hour and 20 minutes, an average of 45 miles per hour, compared with connecting Utah Idaho Central's average of 52 miles per hour over its 95 mile route from Ogden to Preston, Idaho, and the Salt Lake & Utah's 44 miles per hour over its 67 mile route between Salt Lake City and Payson. (Hilton, p. 93)

As late as September 1950, in a speed test, one of the little cars was clocked at 75 miles per hour, proving that 10 years later, they could still do it. (Salt Lake Tribune, August 7, 1952)

The military build-up in 1940 and 1941 to support America's allies in the war in Europe saw the construction of several War Department facilities in Utah, including the Naval Supply Depot at Clearfield, along with the Ogden Arsenal, and Hill Army Air Field, both of which were located directly on Bamberger's route. The construction of these military installations made for a considerable increase in its freight traffic.

The increased military traffic included troop trains that were operated by Bamberger into the Ogden Ordnance Depot (Ogden Arsenal) and Hill Army Air Field (Hill Field, also known as the Ogden Air Depot). At first, the Bamberger used its electric locomotives as motive power. But during the winter, when steam was needed to heat the passenger cars, the road borrowed a small steam locomotive from Union Pacific, most likely a 2-8-0. The 1940 construction of railroad trackage on the military bases at the Arsenal and at Hill Field, for which Bamberger would be doing the on-base switching, did not include the overhead wire needed for Bamberger's electrified operations. The government's own small diesel switcher locomotives were not large enough to pull an entire troop train, so Bamberger went shopping for an appropriate locomotive. In his search, Julian M. Bamberger, the railroad's president, was looking for a locomotive with 1,000 horsepower, enough power that could be used on both the freight trains and the troop trains being run over his 36-mile railroad. To fill the need for a more powerful locomotive for the new government traffic, Bamberger initially made arrangements to purchase Illinois Terminal Railroad four-truck Class D locomotive number 70. But the big puller would have been too much for the line's system of power substations, including the three newly installed, secondhand automatic substations. With the added costs of upgrading its entire power system, the plans to purchase the IT locomotive were shelved, and the company began looking at the purchase of an appropriate diesel locomotive. (Interview with Gordon Cardall, October 18, 1996.)

The diesel locomotive was purchased to take care of growing amounts of freight traffic, without having to rebuild the company's already overloaded electrical system, needed by its electric cars. (Ogden Standard Examiner, February 19, 1950)

Bamberger's first stop was the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors, because he owned stock in GM and preferred GM products. Unfortunately, EMD didn't make a 1,000-horsepower road switcher, so Bamberger had to settle for a model RS-1 from the American Locomotive Co. (Alco). Because of the high priority military traffic Bamberger would be moving, the Office of Defense Transportation gave the railroad authorization to buy two RS-1s, but the production of RS-1s was soon commandeered to operate the Trans-Iranian Railway in the Middle East. With this limitation, Bamberger was able to purchase just a single example of Alco's highly successful 1,000 horsepower road switcher. To satisfy the need for a steam generator to provide steam heat for the troop trains, the railroad had purchased an oil-fired steam generator when there were still plans to buy the Illinois Terminal all-electric locomotive. After the RS-1 was delivered on June 1, 1943, this steam generator was installed in its short hood, with the steam being furnished to adjacent cars by means of a hose through the end door of the locomotive. (Interview with Gordon Cardall, October 18, 1996.)

The initial production of RS-1s was commandeered by the U. S. Army to operate the Trans-Iranian Railway in the Middle East. The first RS-1 was built in March 1941. It and 12 companions built between March 1941 and June 1942 were requisitioned by the Army, and 44 more were built between November 1942 and February 1943 specifically for this military service overseas. (Extra 2200 South, Issue 58, October November December 1976, pp. 22,26)

This new locomotive, painted orange and given road number 570, would modernize the line's freight operations, being capable of pulling 40 loaded freight cars at a time. The railroad was justifiably proud of its new $100,000 purchase, putting it on display at Salt Lake City on June 1 and at Ogden on June 2. The next day, the new Alco went to work. According to the local press, the diesel was purchased to take care of growing amounts of freight traffic, without having to rebuild the company's already overloaded electrical system, needed by its fleet of electric cars that were used on passenger trains. (Salt Lake Tribune, June 1, 1943)

With the arrival of the diesel, the Bamberger was able to return its interurban cars and eight overworked electric locomotives to their normal duties, the diesel being used to provide any service required by the military bases.

Locomotive 570 sported a feature unusual to diesel units - it was equipped with a trolley pole at each end to trip the Nachod-type traffic-controlling block signals that were actuated through the trolley wire. The block signals were used along two stretches of single track, between Centerville and Farmington and between Layton and Clearfield. (The other pieces of single track on the railroad were controlled by automatic block signals, actuated through the track.) During World War II, the railroad was well known for its five- and eight-car "Arsenal" trains, hauling war workers from Ogden to the station at Arsenal, adjacent to the west gate of today's Hill Air Force Base.

Another effect of World War II was the federal Office of Defense Transportation's suspension of all Bamberger Transportation Co. bus services, forcing even more passengers onto the trains. Bus service resumed after the war.

During World War II, the Bamberger operated commuter trains for the United States Army’s Ordnance Department. The trains ran between the interurban terminal in downtown Ogden and the Army’s Ogden Arsenal (the location of the West Area of today’s Hill Air Force Base). The Army purchased five large all-steel cars second-hand from Southern Pacific’s East Bay Electric Lines (formal name: Interurban Electric Railway) on San Francisco's East Bay. Bamberger used its own locomotives to move the trains, which were lit from a small electric generator rigged up to a small gasoline engine in the baggage compartment of one of the cars. Stoves were added for heating, and large sliding gates were added to the exit doors for safety. The arsenal trains continued to run until the end of the war, by which time the cars had lost the cumbersome exit gates and had been repainted from khaki green with light blue lettering to dark blue with white lettering. The trains started up again during the Korean war and ran until December 1952, three months after Bamberger itself stopped operating its own passenger trains.

In 1946, because of the heavy usage that number 570 saw during World War II, the locomotive needed a complete overhaul, which the road performed itself in its own shops at North Salt Lake. After the rebuilding, the Alco returned to road freight service between Salt Lake and Ogden. After another four years, the unit needed rebuilding again. The first overhaul for 570 had been difficult for the little road to do itself, so Bamberger approached General Motors about converting the locomotive to an Electro-Motive product. EMD agreed to do the conversion. The Bamberger unit was EMD's third repowering job at its factory in La Grange, Illinois, in suburban Chicago. While the 570 was away being rebuilt, the Bamberger Railroad operated two of its electric locomotives, numbers 525 and 526, normally the Ogden switchers, in multiple-unit configuration for a combination of 900 horsepower. At times, Bamberger's number 550 was also used, depending on the number of cars to be moved. When the 570 returned from EMD in December 1951, it still had its 1,000 horsepower, but used an EMD diesel engine rather than the original Alco diesel engine. The EMD factory representative who delivered the locomotive informed Bamberger that it had the best of both worlds, EMD's diesel engine connected to the Alco's original General Electric electrical gear.

The rebuilding worked out so well that in June 1952, Bamberger purchased two additional diesel locomotives, and gave the business to EMD. They were 800-horsepower model SW8 locomotives, given road numbers 601 and 602. One of them, number 601, was equipped with a single trolley pole so that it could serve as an alternate for the 570, the regular road engine, whenever it was out of service for regular maintenance. The other SW8, number 602, was assigned as the switcher in Salt Lake City, and did not require a trolley pole.

On March 11, 1952, fire struck the Bamberger again. This time it was the North Salt Lake shops, where all of the company's repair work was done. The fire destroyed only repair machinery, but only after several pieces of rolling stock was successfully removed from harm's way. (Salt Lake Tribune, March 12, 1952)

During mid-April, just a month after the fire, the company applied to the state Public Service Commission to abandon all passenger railcar service, which operated just three round-trips between Salt Lake City and Ogden, reduced on March 30 from the 11 trips per day before the fire. Bamberger proposed to replace all rail passenger service with bus service. (Deseret News, April 2, 1952)

The March 30 "emergency" schedule change had increased the number of bus runs to 20, four of which were "stub" runs, or one-way trips. On April 19, after many protests by Davis County residents, the PSC ordered the Bamberger to increase its railroad operations to five trains per day, and reduce its bus runs to 18, including three one-way trips per day. (Deseret News, April 21, 1952)

The railroad continued to pursue changing its passenger service from trains to buses. On July 10, 1952, Bamberger formally applied to state authorities for permission to abandon all of its rail passenger service. In the application and later public hearing, the railroad said that although it had earlier denied that it planned to abandon rail service, the cost of rebuilding the North Salt Lake shops, together with a recent fire adjacent to its facilities in Ogden (at the Royal Canning Co.) made the expense of continued passenger operations simply too high. The change was needed, the company argued, "in the public interest." (Salt Lake Tribune, July 10, 1952; Deseret News, July 10, 1952)

On August 21, the state Public Service Commission agreed. To support the expected changes, the railroad had purchased for its subsidiary, Bamberger Transportation Co., 17 new, modern buses. The buses came in two configurations: 33 seats and 45 seats, nicknamed by the crews as "little buses and big buses," much the same way that the original rail cars were the "big cars," and the five streamlined cars of 1939 were the "little cars." The company stated that the public would be better served by the bus routes, with 78 potential stops, than by the railroad, with its 27 stops. (Salt Lake Tribune, August 31, 1952)

In the hearing, the costs of both rail operations and bus operations were given, with 85 cents per mile for rail and a bit less than 42 cents per mile for bus. Throughout the abandonment proceedings, Bamberger stated that freight operations would remain unchanged, except that they would be operated solely with diesel power rather than using the electric locomotives. (Deseret News, July 30, 1952)

The last day of electric passenger operations came on September 6, 1952, when Bamberger passenger car 322 and trailer 436 left the Salt Lake City depot bound for Ogden. Among those on board were the motorman, James Nelson, and Julian Bamberger, along with his wife, and his married daughter. (Salt Lake Tribune, September 7, 1952)

The opposing final run between Ogden and Salt Lake City used car 351, with motorman Gordon Cardall at the controls. After already driving two bus round-trips that day, Cardall had swapped assignments with a fellow employee in order to operate that last Ogden-to-Salt Lake run. The return leg of the schedule put Cardall in the driver's seat of one of Bamberger's buses. (Interview with Gordon Cardall, October 18, 1996.)

While this was the end of scheduled rail passenger operations, Bamberger continued to operate for another three months a daily, two-car train between Ogden and Arsenal in the mornings and return in the evenings for defense workers at the Ogden Arsenal and Hill Air Force Base.

In a move to continue narrowing its focus on freight operations, Bamberger Railroad on June 26, 1953, sold its bus subsidiary, Bamberger Transportation Co., to the Lake Shore Motor Coach Lines Co., newly organized for the purpose. Lake Shore's president and organizer, Dale Barratt, was general manager of Salt Lake City Lines, the local bus company that had taken over the streetcar lines in Salt Lake City. Barratt was also regional director of the parent company, National City Lines. (Salt Lake Tribune, June 27, 1953)

The sale became effective on July 3, when Lake Shore took ownership of Bamberger's 17 buses. In a side note about later bus operations, Barratt sold Lake Shore to Salt Lake City Lines in 1965 and left Utah. In August 1968, Barratt returned and purchased all interests in Salt Lake City lines, which he sold to the new Utah Transit Authority in August 1970. The former Lake Shore (ex-Bamberger) operations were split off from Salt Lake City Lines in May 1969 and sold to Cook Transportation of Logan. (Motor Coach Age, June-July 1987, pp. 4-6)

Some historians of the Bamberger and its operations lament the loss of the electric passenger trains, saying that there was plenty of patronage to support continued operation. The truth most likely was that the cost of continued electric operations was rising, and passenger revenues were falling, due to the paralleling public highways. Only the freight traffic held any potential for growth. The electric freight locomotives were old, expensive to operate, and were all in need of serious rebuilding to make them more powerful. The end of electric passenger operations, caused in part by the losses of the North Salt Lake shops fire, allowed the Bamberger to replace its electric locomotives with diesel versions, remove the electric wire, and concentrate on freight operations as a regular short line railroad. Julian Bamberger was, at the time, vice president of the American Short Line Railroad Association. The future of the railroad was on the horizon. With the North Salt Lake fire, as convenient as it may have been in bringing on abandonment of passenger operations, Julian Bamberger, president, and Hugh L. Balser, vice president and general manager (and Bamberger's brother-in-law), took the opportunity to improve their company and ensure its future.

Unfortunately, even with the changes that took place in 1952, revenues did not meet expectations. Julian Bamberger was reaching retirement age (he retired in August 1956), and had devoted his entire adult life to operating the railroad. In 1910, he had been asked by his father, Simon Bamberger, to take the place of his brother, Sidney Bamberger (who had died unexpectedly) in managing the railroad. By 1956, and after 46 years of service (40 years as president), it was time for Julian to end his involvement while he and the other owners still could benefit financially. In a sale that was effective on August 23, 1956, the Bamberger Railroad was sold to the Murmanill Corp. of Dallas, Texas. The new owners announced that no changes would take place in the operation of the now-all-freight railroad, which was operating three daily trains between Salt Lake City and Ogden. The decision to sell was not up to Julian alone. The railroad was, and always had been, a family operation. Julian's father, Simon Bamberger, had built it, and by the time of the sale in 1956, two of Julian's sisters still held considerable interests. (Deseret News, July 20, 1956; Salt Lake Tribune, July 29, 1956)

The Bamberger heirs (Simon Bamberger died in October 1926) held 66-2/3 percent share in the company, with 140 other stockholders holding the rest. Murmanill paid a reported $2.5 million for 100 percent interest in the line. The Murmanill name was a combination of the company's principle owners: Clint Murchison and Gerald C. Mann, both of Dallas. Murchison was a wealthy a Texas oilman and industrialist. (Salt Lake Tribune, August 2, 1956)

There was open speculation in the local press that the Murmanill Corp. was working closely with other Texas investors to acquire control of the Missouri Pacific and Western Pacific railroads (which had once jointly owned Rio Grande) to aid New York investor Robert R. Young in expanding his newly acquired New York Central into a transcontinental operation. The Bamberger would provide a connection between Salt Lake City and Ogden for this new group of railroads. At the very least, it would be a sought-after prize should Southern Pacific decide to expand south to Salt Lake City, or Western Pacific expand north to Ogden. (Salt Lake Tribune, August 2, 1956)

Whatever the reason for the purchase by the Texas investors, they soon started to sell off pieces and parts of the railroad to regain their investment. First to go, in February 1957, was the Ogden freight depot, located at the interurban terminal that stood between 23rd and 24th streets, and between Lincoln and Grant. It was sold to the Ogden Iron Works, which planned to construct a steel warehouse on the property. The new Bamberger owners announced that they planned to erect a replacement freight depot on property the company owned at 31st Street and Grant. (Salt Lake Tribune, February 3, 1957)

By the end of the year, negotiations were under way to sell major portions of the railroad at Ogden to Union Pacific, and other portions in north Salt Lake City to D&RGW. The then-president of the Bamberger, Lee Aikin (sometimes, Aiken), stated that the principle reason the new owners were disposing of the historic rail property was "that it wasn't making any money." He further said, "As you know, railroad revenues generally are off some 16 percent in the nation. The Bamberger cannot exist under its present revenues. We bought this railroad to operate it. But the past year and three months we have lost money. We have done everything in our power to make money." (Salt Lake Tribune, November 26, 1957)

(Later research has found that Lee Aikin was the 'A' of A&K Railroad Materials. Aikin, together with Kern Schumacher, the 'K' of A&K, organized A & K Salvage in Oakland, California in 1959 to salvage the State Bridge Railway over which the Interurban Electric Railway (SP system), the Sacramento Northern and the San Francisco, Oakland & San Jose Railway (Key System) reached San Francisco from Oakland.)

In early December 1958, the Interstate Commerce Commission approved the sale of portions of the Bamberger to UP and Rio Grande. The middle 25 miles would be abandoned and torn up. Union Pacific purchased the northern 13 miles, between Ogden and Hill Air Force Base, including the re-engined locomotive 570. D&RGW purchased the southern seven miles between Salt Lake City and "refinery row" at 20th North. Both sales were reported to be for a half million dollars each. (Ogden Standard Examiner, December 3, 1958)

The last run over the portion to be abandoned took place on December 31, 1958. The last train left Salt Lake City at 1 p.m., arriving in Ogden at 31st Street and Grant Avenue at 5:25 p.m., pulling a string of about 20 rail cars picked up on the way north. Goodbyes and farewells were said by a large group of business and community leaders upon its arrival. It then returned to Salt Lake City, picking up empty cars, including the last coal cars at Smith Milling in Bountiful and the empty car that had held the last shipment of automobiles to Bountiful. The eulogy given by the Ogden newspaper the next morning was that "The Bamberger Railroad died yesterday, the victim of a 'collision' with the family automobile," perpetuating the myth that Bamberger's sole source of revenue had been its passenger operations. (Ogden Standard Examiner, January 1, 1959; Davis County Clipper, January 2, 1959; Salt Lake Tribune, February 12, 1959)

In February 1959, the remainder of the railroad, including the two remaining switchers and all of the remaining rail, track hardware, and rolling stock and equipment, were sold for $300,000 for salvage to Morse Brothers Machinery of Denver, and Commercial Metals Co. of Dallas. (Salt Lake Tribune, February 12, 1959)

Removal of rail began immediately. From Clearfield, the salvage crews moved south at the rate of two miles per day. By mid-March 1959, just over 25 miles of rail had been removed and stacked in rows in Salt Lake City, just south of the Beck Street overpass. (Deseret News, March 18, 1959)

Because it was directly in the path of the planned Interstate Highway 15, the depot and adjacent right-of-way at Clearfield was sold to the Utah State Road Commission, and the depot was demolished during December 1959. (Ogden Standard Examiner, December 14, 1959)

After the Bamberger ended operations on December 31, 1958, locomotives 601 and 602 were sold. Both survive today [1997] after passing through a couple of different ownerships. As already noted, UP bought locomotive 570, along with the portion of the line between Ogden and Hill Air Force Base. Union Pacific moved the locomotive to its Omaha, Nebraska, shops, and repainted and renumbered it as UP 1270. The unit was used by UP for another 12 or so years in the Omaha area and other points in Nebraska until it was retired and traded to EMD on an order for SD40-2 road diesels in 1972.

More Information

Bamberger Railroad -- Timeline chronology with updates and new research.