Union Pacific - 1983 to Today

This page was last updated on August 25, 2015.

(Return to the Ogden Rails Index Page)

(Updated from text originally published in 1997 as part of the book, Ogden Rails, first edition; minor updates added in 2005 for the book's second edition)

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

The December 1982 merger in which Union Pacific took over Missouri Pacific and Western Pacific radically changed railroading in Ogden. Until the merger, UP and SP cooperated closely in their Overland Route operations. Many trains were handed off between the two railroads at Ogden, with SP locomotives operating as far east as UP's North Platte yard in Nebraska, and UP locomotives operating deep in SP's California territory. When Union Pacific acquired the Western Pacific Railroad main line from Salt Lake City to Oakland, California, in 1982, it then had its own direct route to northern California and no longer needed an interchange with SP. After the UP-WP merger, Union Pacific and Southern Pacific met several times in an attempt to come to terms with operation of Ogden Union Railway & Depot Co. Finally, an agreement was made, with a color-coded map showing specific track ownership as a visual aid.

Following the 1982 merger, Western Pacific was immediately absorbed in UP's operations, but MoPac was operated separately for another three years. On January 1, 1986, the operating departments of UP and MoPac were consolidated. One result of that consolidation was a reorganization of UP's operating divisions. As of 1 July 1986, the Utah Division of UP's Western Region was eliminated. The Idaho Division was expanded south from McCammon, through Ogden south to Sandy (15 miles south of Salt Lake City) and Smelter (10 miles west of Salt Lake City). The expanded Idaho Division included the Park City, Cache Valley, Malad, and Little Mountain Branches. (Pacific Rail News, October 1986, p. 27)

The summers of 1983 and 1984 saw much flooding in the areas around the shores of Great Salt Lake. Among the many railroad lines affected was the single track Denver & Rio Grande Western line between Salt Lake City and Ogden, especially the portion west of Centerville and Farmington. A quick fix allowed D&RGW and connecting Southern Pacific trains to detour over the adjacent double-tracked Union Pacific line. The temporary fix soon became a long term solution. In the meantime, UP was finding it difficult to justify the expense of keeping up its Salt Lake City-to-Provo line for the once-daily train it was seeing. Thus, in October 1985, the two companies swapped trackage rights, allowing Rio Grande and SP trains to use Union Pacific's tracks between Ogden and Salt Lake City, and UP trains to use D&RGW's tracks between Salt Lake City and Provo. (Pacific Rail News, March 1986, p. 31)

This change brought Rio Grande and SP trains into Ogden over UP's tracks, entering the yard at Bridge Junction at the west end of the 30th Street wye. Since D&RGW trains interchanged only with Southern Pacific, they either terminated in the SP yard or continued on as Southern Pacific trains, without even entering D&RGW's own Ogden yard.

Changes will continue, especially with the merger of Union Pacific and Southern Pacific that went into effect on September 11, 1996. Ogden is now a one-railroad town. By early 1997, all Union Pacific and former Southern Pacific operations in Ogden were expected to be consolidated in Riverdale Yard, leaving only a double-track main line in place of the old main yard between 30th Street and 20th Street. The general plans were for trains bound to and from northern California to be operated direct through Ogden, and west over the former SP Great Salt Lake causeway, and trains bound to and from southern California will pass through Ogden to Salt Lake City, then south through Utah and Las Vegas.

During 1999 these plans to improve the Ogden yard became firm as Union Pacific continued to make changes to its far flung railroad network, and Ogden's place in that network became increasingly important. The dwell time that trains sat in the terminal began to become more apparent, and plans were made to reduce those vitally important times. Construction began on a change in the track configuration for mainline trains that ran straight through Riverdale Yard, and west on to the former SP causeway across the Great Salt Lake. The new configuration included the removal of the former SP yard, and in its place, a full double-track main line with full Centralized Traffic Control. Although trains began to use the new tracks as soon as they were completed in late 2000, formal acceptance and full operation did not begin until the CTC circuits and signals became fully operational on March 13, 2001.

(Read more about Union Pacific in Ogden in the years after 1999; Union Pacific in Utah, 1996 to Today; search on Ogden)