A Utah Railroad Scrapbook, Introduction

Compiled and written by George E. Pitchard

Introduction and Foreword to the November 3, 1989 edition

Or should that be Forewarning? Whatever; this book is a rather hastily put-together thing, comprising quite a bit of the revision necessary to my earlier book. Please note that this is still NOT a picture book; that is somewhere in the future yet. This, like its predecessor, is a data book, especially devoted to the locomotives of the various roads covered, as they seem to be the one item most sought after (as regards information) on any railroad, and as good a place to start this Utah project as any other.

This was never intended, by me, to be a book in the first place. However, as I have unearthed quite a bit of material upon an obscured area (Utah, that is), it seems too bad not to circulate it in some form or another, pending the appearance of a 'real' book sometime in the future; soooo... I offer this sort of 'interim' book, hoping that it will be viewed in the spirit intended - NOT as a finished book, but as work in progress, somewhere between the research stage and the publisher, and amenable to correction.

I have been accused of being very rigid in my view of this railroad history, and of accepting my theories as facts. Not surprisingly, I don't think that to be the case. I do draw a number of conclusions herein, based upon what I have at the present time, and try to make it clear that I AM doing such a thing. All of this stuff being upwards of 90 years after the fact can make it very difficult indeed to find the 'correct' data, facts or whatever you want to call it. In several cases, very little (if any) authentic material is known to exist; so I theorize on the basis of data at hand. I would much prefer to have the facts; but if after nearly a century having passed and still these facts have not come t o light, what chance of it in my lifetime? When it comes to what I think about x, y or z, I am quite willing to be proven wrong, and in that sentence the operative word is PROVEN. I will NOT accept as proof any published book not having footnotes; and will accept a footnoted work only so far as the notes check out, and are not given to strained readings of the source. Quite acceptable as proof that I am wrong will be photographic material, especially those having captions contemporary with the picture; material from company records, a machine copy being best; material from letters and such of those persons involved with the railroad, again contemporary to the time in question being by far superior than later rememberings; and newspaper items, also of the time being the best. Such materials being received, bearing upon any area where I have fumbled the ball, will cause a revision; pointing out where I am at variance with a published book won't do much good at all. I already know that.

So, what you have now has progressed a bit from the beginning, but is by no means finished. I welcome correspondence upon this subject, especially if it contains something I need to know to plug a hole. I do not welcome correspondence from those who tell me that I don't know what I'm talking about, and let it go at that, or who have taken their own theories as fact and become quite insulting when I don't see it their way - a fellow in Minnesota comes to mind in that regard.

I don't know everything, and I want to know more - so write! Especially I am seeking pictures of Utah railroads in the 19th century; originals of the rare birds are not necessary, just a good, sharp copy will do quite nicely, for which I am prepared to pay the necessary dollars. However, gifts are always accepted with alacrity, you may be sure!

Permit me to say "Thank you" to you, for purchasing a copy of this book; it helps to know that others are as interested as am I in the railroad history of this region, so generally ignored heretofore.

Introduction to September 1987 and March 1988 editions

This book was put together in the first place at the urging of a number of the people locally with whom I am acquainted. It was not intended to have a large circulation, but as others have desired it I have made copies available. While quite obviously not a picture book (such pictures as are included herein are simply to show that such a thing does exist), and not a 'sit-down-and-read-it' sort of a book, either, it is the largest single accumulation of material on Utah railroads in the Nineteenth Century to appear to date. I recognize that this volume is rather deficient in general history, a circumstance arising from the fact that the original audience was more or less conversant with that history. A second volume is now in preparation to remedy that lack.

Fully half of this volume is material extracted from the newspapers of the day, which in many cases are the only records to be found of a number of more or less important events in the railroad history of Utah. These newspaper notes are also a primary source for equipment data, which is how all of this started. I desired to know more about the cars and engines that ran on the narrow gauge roads here in Utah, and it appeared that the old newspapers would be my only way of getting that information. There is a large collection of railroad material unfortunately in the hands of the Mormon Church, comprised of original records of a number of Utah companies, the magnitude of which I was not fully aware of until after the change in management, and access to this material has been denied to me. The very existence of this material is not officially conceded, and has been denied at least once that I am aware of. Some years ago, when yet a bit of rationality prevailed, I was able to get into the papers of John W. Young, which has helped the rosters of the roads he was connected with, especially the later ones. Nowadays, however, with the change in management it seems to me that those folks up in the great and spacious building are, in my opinion, very paranoid indeed, and quite impossible to deal with on any rational basis. I believe them to be fully as intolerant of differing attitudes towards history as they are of differing attitudes in other matters.

In closing, I would like to say that more information will be welcomed by this writer, especially if the data are documented. Photographs are also sought, especially 19th century stuff, and there is money available for those which will help the story along; either that or free copies of the next book!

And I thank you for purchasing a copy of this initial effort towards untangling Utah's interesting railroad history.

(Ed. Note: As of early 2003, George Pitchard is no longer actively researching Utah railroading, and no longer accepts correspondence on the subject.)