The History Of Utah's Railroads, 1869-1883

By Clarence A. Reeder, Jr.

(Return to Reeder Manuscript Index Page)

Chapter 4

The Utah Southern Railroad

After the successful completion of the Utah Central, Brigham Young was prompt in encouraging the construction of a railway south of Salt Lake City to serve central and southern Utah. There was much to be gained by such a venture. The broad valleys south of the capital city, irrigated by sparkling mountain streams and the Jordan River, boasted waving grain fields, shady orchards, acres of vegetables, and grasslands on which herds of cattle and sheep grazed. Small Mormon communities were scattered throughout this rich agricultural region and each served as the focal point for the social, cultural and religious activities of the devout farming folk living in the area. The Mormon meetinghouse or "ward" was the center of this activity for each community, and the bishop of the ward gave almost unchallenged direction to his people in all matters spiritual and temporal.

A railroad would provide the means by which the farmers could ship their farm and garden products to markets in return for much needed cash. It would also provide a rapid and inexpensive means by which the Mormon Church hierarchy in Salt Lake City could visit their people and maintain a closer surveillance of their activities in order to give adequate and wise guidance. The people, in turn, could travel easily to the capital city to partake of its many offerings.

These broad valleys were bounded on the east by the craggy, rugged Wasatch Mountains that rose abruptly to great heights, and on the west by the Oquirrh and Tintic ranges, of less stately splendor, but nevertheless standing well above the arid foothills and valley tablelands. The secret mineral wealth which these tall mountains had held in silence for ages had been discovered by searching prospectors in the 1860's and 1870's; and the once quiet canyons now contained lively towns filled with saloons, livery stables, assay offices, smelters and hundreds of miners, prospectors, teamsters, merchants and speculators who lived an adventurous life stark in contrast to the peaceful agricultural existence of the valley residents.

It was not until the advent of the transcontinental railroad that these mines could begin to realize full development, for prior to that time the bulky ore could not be shipped profitably to market. Once the transcontinental was available. less than a hundred miles away, wagons began carrying large quantities of ore.

The completion of the Utah Central Railroad shortened even more the distance that ore had to be carried by wagon to the track. This advantage encouraged the development of mines located close to Salt Lake City. The rapid development of the mines in turn encouraged the construction of mills and smelters so that the greatly increased amounts of ore could be processed locally; their construction, however, did not diminish the need for convenient freight transportation since great amounts of coal had to be brought to them for operation of the smelting furnaces.

A southern railroad with branch lines running into the mining canyons could be expected to do for the developing economy of the central and southern portions of the Territory what the transcontinental and Utah Central had done in the northern portion.[1]

The first step in realizing the benefits of a southern railroad was taken on January 17, 1871, when the Utah Southern Railroad Company was incorporated.[2] Articles of incorporation announced that the new company would construct and operate a railroad from the Salt Lake terminus of the Utah Central south to Payson, Utah. It was estimated that construction would cost $1,400,000. The road was to be routed through or near Draperville, Lehi, Provo, Springville and Spanish Fork; and branch lines were to be established to the mouths of Big and Little Cottonwood canyons. The projected main line was to be about sixty five miles in length, and the branches totaled another eight miles. To accomplish its goals, the company established a capital stock issue of $1,500,000 divided into 15,000 shares of $100 each.[3]

The principal stockholder in the company, with 500 shares, was Joseph A. Young, a son of Brigham Young. Nearly all of the other stock holders were prominent Mormons and included Daniel H. Wells, William Jennings, Feramorz Little, John Sharp, James Sharp, Christopher Layton, James T. Little, Jesse W. Fox, LeGrand Young, George Swan, Samuel H. Hill, Thomas W. Jennings and S. J. Jonasson.[4] A five-man board of directors was elected to manage the company; and that board initially consisted of Joseph A. Young, William Jennings, Feramorz Little, John Sharp and Daniel H. Wells.[5] At the first meeting of the board, William Jennings was elected president of the company; John Sharp, vice president; S. J. Jonasson, secretary; and James T. Little as its treasurer.[6]

The Salt Lake Tribune had this to say of the prospects of the road:

The Salt Lake Valley with its branching canyons forms one of the simplest and grandest systems of arrangement that occur in our country. From the main line the distance to the mining camps is from 15 to 25 miles and though the grades are heavy, and winter will be a season of blockade, the railroads can be built and will form an element in what promises to be a magnificent development of mining wealth. It is more than probable that rich canyons lie south of those already known and the Utah Southern may be able to lengthen out for a hundred miles through a line of canyons, which in the aggregate will present an accumulation of mineral wealth comparable to the great fields of Saxony, the Hartz Mountains and the Rhine.[7]

The company's initial plan had been to build a three-foot narrow gauge line because it was more economical to construct and operate than the standard four-foot, 8 1/2 inch gauge; but this plan was soon abandoned in favor of the standard gauge in order to gain the advantage of providing through passage for freight and passengers from the transcontinental and Utah Central railroads.[8]

A method of financing the road, in addition to the sale of capital stock, was necessary; and this was accomplished by allowing the stockholders in the Utah Central Railroad the opportunity to purchase bonds of the Utah Southern in proportion to the amount of stock they held. The first issue of bonds was sold at 80 percent of par value, or $800 for each $1,000 bond and paid 7 percent interest. Bonds were issued at the rate of $20,000 for each mile of track completed. The company netted $320,000 when on July 1, 1871, 400 bonds were issued for the first twenty miles.

The Union Pacific Railroad had purchased 5,000 shares of Utah Central stock from Brigham Young in April of 1872; and it, along with President Young who still held 2,600 shares, held the majority of the Utah Southern bonds. The Union Pacific Company paid for its bonds by providing rolling stock, sufficient track, fish plate, spikes and other iron to complete twenty miles of road--including sidings and switches.[9]

The officers of the Utah Southern lost no time in embarking on the building of the road. A survey under the direction of Chief Engineer Jesse W. Fox was undertaken to locate the exact route for the line, and plans were made to start work on the roadbed as soon as the weather permitted.

In the meantime, on March 16, 1871, Senator Sherman introduced a bill in the United States Senate to grant a right-of-way to the Utah Southern through public lands for the construction of a railroad and telegraph line. The bill allowed the company a right-of-way 200 feet wide on each side of the main road from Salt Lake City to Payson and along the branch lines which would run from the main track to the mouths of Big and Little Cottonwood canyons. Permission was granted by the bill to remove from adjacent public lands certain materials to be used in construction. The bill further authorized the right-of-way to be extended from Payson to the southern boundary of the Territory if at least fifty miles of road were constructed each year.[10]

To initiate construction, typical Mormon ground-breaking ceremonies were held in Salt Lake City on May 2,1871; and the occasion attracted a large crowd. President Brigham Young, George A Smith, Daniel H. Wells and George Q. Cannon of the Church Presidency and Council of Twelve Apostles were invited to participate. The ceremony was opened with a dedicatory prayer by Elder Cannon. This was followed by the removal of a shovel-full of earth by President Young and then subsequent ones by Daniel H. Wells, William Jennings and Feramorz Little. Speeches were presented by each of these church officials and by several officers of the railroad company wherein the virtues of the Church and the Mormon people were extolled and praise rendered for the progress they were making in building railroads.[11]

The people of Utah were united in their hopes for the success of this road since its completion would produce favorable economic consequences for everyone. Even the non-Mormon newspaper--the Salt Lake Tribune--extended a left-handed wish for the success of the road:

The Southern Extension Railroad was formally opened on Monday, with all the ceremonies attending the laying of the foundation of a church. We presume the tithes gathered from the faithful will build the road. We hope it will be pushed through with all reasonable speed, and be finished before the summer is past, whoever pays the shot.

. . . We have endeavored to find out its destination, but no one outside of the Priesthood seems to know. Some say it is to be built to Jackson County, Missouri; others think it will terminate in Dixie. Let its terminus be where it may, we wish it success. If the Priesthood will keep at railroad building, they will soon get rid of their fanaticism. It is healthy business for the kingdom, and the Prophet shows good sense for once.[12]

Grading of the roadbed and construction of the Utah Southern began immediately after the ground-breaking ceremonies. Feramorz Little was employed to direct the work as superintendent of construction. Mr. Little had supervised the construction of the Utah Central Railroad and served as the general superintendent of that road from its opening, and he brought this valuable experience with him.[13] His first goal was to complete the railroad as far south as Little Cottonwood Canyon where he anticipated a delay in progress while extensive trestle work was accomplished across the canyon.

Grading and bridge work were pushed toward completion as rapidly as possible. Inasmuch as track laying progressed much faster than the grading work, he employed only a small crew of track layers. They laid about a third of a mile of track a day; this was securely spiked, leveled and very well constructed, and it was capable of carrying heavy traffic immediately. Track construction was completed to Cottonwood, 7 1/2 miles south of the terminus at Salt Lake City, by July 15, 1871; and grading had been finished another seven miles beyond that.[14]

Timber for ties, trestles and bridges was obtained from two sources. The firm of Alexander Majors & Sons provided over a hundred carloads of timber. Majors had cut this timber for the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads but had been unable to deliver it before the transcontinental railroad was finished. A steam sawmill was also erected in the Sixth Ward, immediately west of the Old Fort in Salt Lake City, to cut additional ties for the road.[15]

Trestle work at Cottonwood was in the process of completion in the hot summer months of July and August, 1871. By riding to the "end of the track" at Cottonwood, one could witness the construction of 600 feet of pile and trestle work which rose twenty-four feet above the canyon floor. Further south at Dry Creek, another trestle, 200 feet long and at an elevation of thirty-seven feet, was under construction.[16] Superintendent Little encountered the expected delays and difficulties in completing these trestles; but the road was completed and in operation to Sandy Station, a distance of twelve miles, by September 6, 1871.[17] Two trains were scheduled for daily runs, and passenger fare was set at fifty cents to Big or Little Cottonwood stations and one dollar to travel the total length of the line to Sandy Station.[18]

(Editor note: "Cottonwood" was at the location of today's Murray, at about 4900 South where the UP line crossed Litttle Cottonwood Creek. UP's Murray station was at about 4800 South, meaning that the old Cottonwood station was where the line paused to allow the completion of the trestle, as noted above. "Dry Creek" was just south of today's Sandy, at about 10100 South, where the UP line crossed Dry Creek.)

To travel on the Utah Southern, passengers would board at the Utah Central depot and proceed south through Salt Lake City and then through meadowland where the track ran parallel to and about two blocks west of the State road. About twelve miles to the west was the mouth of Bingham Canyon, while the Wasatch Mountains rose a short distance away in the east. The line passed the Cottonwoods, swung eastward across the State road and reached the terminus of Sandy.[19]

Sandy was in its infancy when the Utah Southern began regular service. Two smelters had just been erected adjacent to the railroad track in the town, and huge piles of ore were being deposited there for processing.[20] One of the smelters had been built by the Saturn Silver Mining Company and was the largest smelter in the Territory, having a capacity for smelting fifty tons of ore a day in its three furnaces.[21]

In addition to the smelters, Sandy boasted several substantial buildings, a number of shanties, and many building lots that had been staked off and readied for sale to prospective buyers. The stage and freighting firm of Woods and Cutting had just completed a fine passenger and freight house for their large forwarding business which took freight from the railhead and distributed it to the surrounding mining and agricultural communities.[22] The Utah Southern was constructing its station house which was a handsome frame building twenty-two by twenty-five feet with a platform twelve feet in width built around it. The south end of the building was a passengers' waiting room, and the north end was a freight house. Between these two rooms was the ticket agent's office which was arranged to allow the agent to transact business with customers in either room.[23]

A narrow gauge railroad, the Wasatch and Jordan Valley, was under construction and wound up to the bench east of the town to penetrate Little Cottonwood Canyon in order to carry the rich ore from the mines to Sandy. Church officials were eager for the completion of this line which would provide a continuous track to carry the blocks of granite, being mined at the mouth of the canyon, to Salt Lake City where they were used in the construction of the Mormon temple.[24] As usual, the Salt Lake Tribune took advantage of the occasion to take a verbal jab at the Mormons:

Large blocks of granite are being received on the Temple Block via the Utah Southern. This is to fulfill prophecy. But how about the Cottonwood Canal that was projected by revelation for the same purpose? The Lord prefers railroads, it would seem, to canals, and like other folks reserves to himself the right of changing his mind.[25]

Five more miles of Utah Southern track were laid before the end of 1871, and the small farming community of Draper became the terminus for the winter.[26]

A second issue of bonds was necessary to fund the extension of the railroad beyond Draper, and 400 were issued for the next twenty miles of road. The Union Pacific officials again agreed to take these bonds and to furnish iron as payment for them. They did so only after considerable negotiation with the Utah Southern's representative, John Sharp, and with the knowledge that the competitive Central Pacific Railroad would buy the bonds if they did not. This agreement was not finalized until September of 1872, although some iron was shipped prior to that date.[27]

Early in 1872 grading was started again, and the work crews soon approached the "Point of the Mountain." Here the surrounding mountains come close together and then drop sharply to the bed of the Jordan River. The Territorial wagon road passed through this narrow opening , and there was insufficient room to grade for the railroad with out destroying the wagon road. Officers of the Utah Southern appealed to the Territorial Legislature and were granted authority to close the Territorial road for a period of nicety days. The act stipulated that at the close of the ninety-day period, the Utah Southern was required to construct a good wagon road on or near the present one.[28] The road was closed and grading began in late April. In May, while the grading around the "Point" was still in progress, the Utah Southern finished the new wagon road. Since the ninety days allowed for closing of the road had not expired, the company began charging fifty cents a wagon for the use of the road. This brought an immediate outcry from both the Mormon and non-Mormon press and extreme displeasure on the part of the citizens of Utah County.[29] Public pressure became so great that the Utah Southern officials quickly abandoned the toll; and they maintained a well-graded wagon road at no charge to the travelers during the remainder of the time they worked on the "Point."[30]

Construction during 1872 moved slowly. By August 10, the track had been laid around the Point of the Mountain; and the road then continued down the Utah Valley to a winter terminus at Lehi, less than forty miles south of Salt Lake City.[31]

This lack of substantial progress was disappointing to those who eagerly awaited the railroad; however, the road did extend far enough to permit other railroad corporations to build branch lines to three of the most promising of Utah's mining areas. These companies were the Bingham Canyon and Camp Floyd Railroad which built a line west from Sandy Station to the Bingham Canyon mines; the Wasatch and Jordan Valley Railroad which also built from the Sandy Station but pushed east into Little Cottonwood Canyon; and the American Fork Railroad which built a road into American Fork Canyon.[32]

The newspapers of the day spoke frequently of the need to push the Utah Southern further south as rapidly as possible, for there was great growth potential waiting to be unleashed by the railroad. Much freight was shipped to the end of the Utah Southern track where it was transferred to wagons to be transported to the thriving mining communities of Pioche in eastern Nevada or to Utah's Beaver and Iron counties where rich discoveries of ore had been made; but neither of these areas could realize its full potential until railroad service was available. Unfortunately, the hopes of the people that they would soon enjoy railroad service were not to be realized for a number of years.

The winter of 1872-73 found the Utah Southern Railroad ill equipped to deal with the heavy snows that fell along the road, and there were frequent stoppages caused from drifting snow or the pressure of ice on the track that made motion by the locomotives impossible. A snow blockade, caused by heavy drifting, occurred during the first week of January, 1873, at the Point of the Mountain. A crew of men, working behind a snow plow propelled by two engines, was attempting to clear the track when the plow struck a rock and was smashed. The engines collided and some fourteen men were thrown into the snow; several were injured, including Superintendent John Sharp.[33]

Despite these blockages and inadequate equipment to eliminate or overcome them, the road was kept open most of the winter; and freight and ore continued to move, although passenger traffic was light.[34] To combat the winter delays, the newly invented Erickson snow plow was purchased late in February of 1873, and it was delivered as the snow season ended. The Erickson plow was manufactured in Utah and was of heavy enough construction to withstand the beating that the earlier rail road plows could not take.[35] This plow and other improved equipment virtually eliminated the snow blockade problem on the Utah Southern after the winter of 1872-73.

In the spring of 1873, the people living south of Lehi looked hopefully to the Utah Southern Railroad officials for renewal of construction of the road; but no announcement of plans to push to the south had been made as March and April passed. An unconfirmed report appeared in the Salt Lake Daily Tribune alleging that the Utah Southern Railroad could not be extended further because the company had no funds for additional construction, and efforts to raise capital during the winter had not been successful. The Tribune lamented this delay and called to the public's attention the great number of new discoveries of coal and precious metals which had been made in southern Utah and southeastern Nevada but which could not be developed until railroad facilities were available. The paper also chastised the directors of the Utah Southern for their policy of extending the track only as fast as local business made such extension profitable. Expounding upon the fallacy of such a policy, the editors pointed to financial statements and reports presented by President Brigham Young which showed a profit on both the Utah Central and Utah Southern railroads; and they cited experiences in support of the conclusion that building the railroad had allowed the surrounding country to develop rapidly which in turn had created profitable local rail traffic.[36]

The month of May was almost over before indication was given of possible financial assistance from the East. W. W. Riter, who was employed by the company, had interested the directors of the Lake Shore and Michigan Railroad in coming to Utah to look at the prospects of investing in the Utah Southern.[37] The visit occurred, and it was reported--erroneously-- that an arrangement for financial assistance had been reached.[38]

Pressure for extension of the Utah Southern continued from residents to the south, as the following letter from the Tribune correspondent in Beaver, Utah, indicates:

. . . the railroads are, it is said, coming; but when? This is the pressing and all-important question with the people of Southern Utah. If we could only be assured that rail transportation within the next two years is a certainty, how many enterprises which are now allowed to rest would be pushed with the utmost vigor. There is in this country so much wind and so little work, so much building of roads on paper instead of legitimate track laying, that our faith in either the Salt Lake and Pioche or the Utah Southern reaching us at an early day is not very great. One thing, however, is certain--no country in the United States needs a road worse, and no one can pay the enterprise better when built. If asked what we can do for the road, I reply that we will do as much as the wealthy Bolivian offered to do for the navigation of the Amazon. He said if the United States would send the vessel he would load it. If anybody will send the cars we will load them with our minerals consisting of silver, lead, copper, iron and coal.[39]

June passed, and still there was no positive indication that construction beyond Lehi would be undertaken. Finally, in late July, apparently despairing of the possibility of obtaining any outside capital, the board of directors of the Utah Southern, encouraged by Brigham Young, called for meetings with the Mormon people in the communities of Utah County.[40] At these meetings the members of the church in the county were asked to undertake the grading of the roadbed, construction of trestles and bridges, laying of the track, providing the ties and timber, and the erection of necessary stations and other buildings to complete the road to Payson. In turn the railroad would purchase rails and equip the road. Payment for labor was to be made by issuing 3,700 shares of Utah Southern stock and distributing it to the laborers. Brigham Young was the principal speaker at a meeting held at Alpine where the offer was accepted. The work was to be accomplished by assigning each community in the county tasks proportionate to its population. A committee, consisting of one member from each community, was appointed o distribute the work and the stock.[41]

Bishop A. O. Smoot, Mr. John B. Milner and Mr. George Halliday were appointed as the Executive Committee and were assigned responsibility for deciding on the distribution. They allocated Provo 700 shares, Springville 450 shares, Spanish Fork 400 shares, Salem 75 shares, Payson 450 shares, Santaquin 100 shares, Goshen 100 shares, Pleasant Grove 250 shares, American Fork 400 shares, Alpine 100 shares, Lehi 400 shares, Cedar Fort 100 shares and Fairfield 75 shares.[42]

Once again the Mormon people united to build a railroad that would serve their needs, and they were to share in its ownership. The Deseret Evening News commented on this unity:

The action of the people in Utah County with regard to the building of the Utah Southern Railroad shows that they are growing in unity. It is pleasing to note that so much of the true spirit of co-operation exists among them, and there is no room for doubt that their efforts will be successful in this enterprise . . . and their course will probably act as an incentive for the people of other counties to emulate their example.[43]

Work was launched under the direction of the bishops of the Mormon wards; and, a s had been the case for the construction of the Utah Central Railroad, each ward was assigned a portion of the roadbed. Prominent citizens were appointed as general supervisors to complete the difficult tasks of securing timber, ties and lumber; and they also exercised supervision over the work crews from each war- who worked under the immediate direction of the ward supervisor.[44]

It was planned to finish the road as far as Provo before winter descended upon the valley.[45] Progress was not as rapid as was hoped for; but by September 24 the trains were running to American Fork, and October 21 marked completion of the road to the Provo bench. With good weather it was hoped that another week's work would finish track laying[46] to Provo. The weather held; but the arrival of rails had been unexpectedly delayed, and the road was still short of Provo by mid-November. Fortunately, it was possible to negotiate with officials of the American Fork Railroad for sufficient rails to finish the road to Provo; and, upon call from their bishops, large crews of local people turned out to complete the laying of the track.[47] Provo was reached on November 25, 1873; and on that day a celebration to commemorate the event was held.[48]

The articles in the local Mormon and Gentile newspapers describing the celebration give clear indication that all factions were pleased that the railroad had been pushed as far south as it had, but each side viewed the event differently. According to the Mormon newspaper, the Ogden Junction, a large and distinguished group of Salt Lake City citizens were transported to Provo on a special train and were warmly welcomed by the citizens of that community. The ceremony opened with a speech of welcome by Provo Mayor A. O. Smoot, and a response was given by President George A. Smith. An address prepared by President Brigham Young was then read by Colonel D. McKenzie in which Young traced .the progress of the Mormon people. He particularly lauded the Saints for settling the Utah Territory and for erecting the Deseret Telegraph which connected all communities by wire. He then pointed out that the Utah Central, the Utah Southern and the Utah Northern railroad had been or were being built without government subsidy as was construction of the Summit County Railroad from Echo to the coal beds above Coalville and the branch lines on the Utah Southern to the canyons of Little Cottonwood, Bingham and American Fork. This 170 miles of railroad, he stated, was just the beginning, and he looked forward to an early completion of the roads to the borders of Canada and Mexico and into Nevada and Colorado. He then heaped praise upon his people for their progress:

. . . in speaking of the acts of the children of men, it has been wisely said "By their fruits ye know them". A few of the fruits produced by this people, during the past forty years, have now been passed in a review . . . we are ever zealously laboring to the utmost for the most rapid improvement of all things conducive to the temporal and eternal welfare and happiness of mankind.

Friends and fellow citizens: Permit me to again congratulate you in now being in communication with all steam lines by sea and land throughout the world, and to wish peace, union and abundant prosperity, to your beautiful city, and to all who are laboring to promote true progress, and advance commendable improvements.[49]

The Salt Lake Tribune had its own view of things. It pointed out that the regular Utah Southern Railroad train of three coaches arrived in Provo on the morning of November 25 with a number of prominent Gentile friends on board, all of whom paid their own fare. The article described the arrival of the special train as the "dead head cars," which arrived about a half hour after the legitimate train and which carried only celebrating Saints, none of whom had paid his own way. The editor reported that Brigham's speech was read, and it appeared to bear none of the earmarks of the "Lion of the Lord's" style; and after the Mormon "fossils" had orated the proceedings were closed by prayer. The Tribune then pointed to the rousing meeting held by the Gentiles in the Methodist Episcopal Church and the party thrown by the Masons at which the youth and beauty (Gentile) turned out.[50]

It was now possible for the travelers to leave Salt Lake City at 7:00 a.m. and to travel on a well constructed, standard gauge railroad to Provo in just three hours and twenty minutes. In Provo the visitor alighted at a new railroad depot, and a walk through the town revealed many fine homes, a courthouse, an elegant meetinghouse and a cooperative store. A rather substantial group of buildings housed the Provo Woolen Mills which was the principal industry of the city.[51]

On the return trip to Salt Lake City, the traveler could view the smelters at Sandy Station which transformed crude ore from the mines in Little Cottonwood and Bingham into bullion. It was also a pleasant sight to gaze at the attractive engines and cars of the narrow gauge Wasatch and Jordan Valley Railroad as they rolled into the Sandy Station loaded with passengers and ore.[52]

The terminus of the Utah Southern remained at Provo during 1874 while negotiations were conducted for the sale of additional bonds to allow for extension of the road. Bishop John Sharp spent most of the summer in the East, unsuccessfully engaged in this task. Late in October, however, he succeeded in making arrangements for capital to extend the road another twenty-five miles.[53] He had obtained $125,000 for this purpose, and the citizens of Utah County were again called to work during the winter months of 1874-75. Cash was to be paid for labor on this section of the road, and this made a significant difference to the economy of the county that winter.[54]

Jesse W. Fox surveyed and staked the route, and grading of the roadbed began despite the lateness of the season. By November 6 the first shipments of iron from the East began arriving, and 150 men were employed in grading the road.[55] By the 10th day of December, the roadbed had been prepared to Payson; and track had been laid three miles beyond Provo.[56] By December 23 the road had been completed to Spanish Fork.[57]

Work on the Utah Southern continued into the new year, and the road reached Payson by January 23, 1875.[58] This was the terminus that had been specified in the company's charter; but construction was continued southward through Santaquin, six miles south of Payson, and to York, a small mail station one mile into Juab County. Here, the supply of rails was exhausted; and York, seventy-five miles south of Salt Lake City, became the terminus of the Utah Southern for the next two years.[59] On February 25, 1875, regular passenger and freight service between SaltSalt Lakey and York was initiated, and the passenger fare from terminus to terminus was $4.00.[60]

The articles of incorporation of the Utah Southern Railroad authorized the company to lay its track only as far as Payson; but as noted, the road had been built beyond that point to York. An amendment to these articles could have been filed to legalize these additional miles, but this was not done. Instead a new company was organized and articles of incorporation filed for it on December 29, 1874. It was appropriately named the Utah Southern Railroad Extension Company, and its road was to be constructed from the legal terminus of the Utah Southern Railroad at Payson, south through Utah, Juab, Sanpete, Millard, Beaver and Iron counties to a point at or near the boundary line of Washington County. This was a distance of about two hundred miles.[61] The stockholders of this company were the same men as those who then held stock in the Utah Southern Railroad.

Missing from the list of stockholders was Joseph A. Young who had sold his stock in the old road to Brigham Young, William Jennings and William H. Hooper.[62] Directors and officers of the new company were: William Jennings, President and Director; William H. Hooper, Vice President and Director; James T. Little, Secretary and Treasurer; John Sharp, Feramorz Little, Horace S. Eldredge, John Sharp, Jr., and James Sharp, Directors.[63]

At the time of its incorporation, the "Extension" had no rolling stock or other equipment with which to operate a railroad; and no provisions had been made for the company to purchase the road south of Payson from the Utah Southern. The latter railroad, therefore, continued to operate trains to York despite the absence of a charter.[64]

The first action of the Utah Southern Railroad Extension was a survey conducted by William Jennings and John Sharp to determine the most feasible route for a road. They investigated the value of the coal fields in Sanpete County to determine if their significance was great enough to justify routing the line through Salt Creek Canyon to reach them--even if that proved to have fewer construction advantages than other routes might have.[65] After careful study, the survey party recommended that the main line be routed to the southwest through Millard County and that a narrow gauge railroad branch line be constructed from a junction at Nephi through Salt Creek Canyon to the coal fields in Sanpete. A recommendation was also made for a second narrow gauge branch to be routed to the valuable mines of the Tintic Mining District in Juab County west of Nephi.[66] This survey is all that was ever accomplished by the Utah Southern Railroad Extension Company chartered in 1874.

Upon failure of the "Extension," articles of incorporation of the Utah Southern Railroad Company were amended on January 13, 1877, to recognize York as the official southern terminus of that road.[67]

In the meantime, Jay Gould, Sidney Dillon and other officers of the Union Pacific Railroad had become anxious to extend the track of their company to the Pacific coast in order to compete with the Central Pacific Railroad for the coast trade. The local papers, upon learning of this, voiced strong support in favor of the extension, predicting that a second road would force a reduction in the high freight rates that were charged by the Central Pacific.[68] In June of 1875 several of the officers and directors of the Union Pacific purchased enough stock in the Utah Southern Railroad to gain a controlling interest in the road. It was then announced that the new stockholders hoped to use the Utah Southern as a part of the extension of the Union Pacific to California.[69]

In July President Sidney Dillon and other officials of the Union Pacific came to Utah and examined the Utah Southern and the Utah Central railroads. After this visit, Major C. H. Hempstead, the Salt Lake attorney for the Union Pacific, reported that Jay Gould and Sidney Dillon were determined to see the Utah Southern pushed southwestward to Collville at the head of navigation on the Colorado River, in hopes that one of the several railroad companies in California could be completed as far eastward as Collville.[70] Announcement of the Union Pacific's plans created considerable enthusiasm in Southern California; and early in 1876, a California corporation--the San Diego and Utah Southern Railroad Company--proposed to construct a track from the Bay of San Diego to Collville and a junction with the Utah Southern.[71] Financial problems prevented immediate construction by either road however, and at the close of 1877 the Utah Southern terminus was still at York.

Failure of the Utah Southern officials to extend the railroad during the years from 1875 to 1878 was a source of great disappointment to the businessmen and investors with mining interests in Beaver and Iron counties. In April of 1878, after losing confidence in the Utah Southern's ability and desire to extend the track, a number of these men took action on their own to build a railroad. They sponsored a survey from York south to Chicken Creek, and from there down Sevier Canyon to Frisco to determine the best route for a narrow gauge railroad.[72] These men felt that the great mineral wealth of southern Utah and eastern Nevada would provide adequate freight revenue to make a railroad profitable and at the same time provide the means of inexpensive transportation that would permit the further development of the mines in the area.

The richest mines were around Frisco where there were many mining properties, mostly underdeveloped but holding promise of great wealth. The Bonanza Mine alone was estimated to have enough ore actually in sight, by measurement, to produce 150 tons of base bullion every day for ten years. It was a whole mountain of lead ore containing 50 to 500 ounces of silver to the ton.[73]

Action beyond the survey was never taken by this group because the officials of the Union Pacific Railroad renewed their interest in extending the Utah Southern in 1878. That year , Jay Gould, John Sharp, Sidney Dillon and other Union Pacific officers purchased a large interest in the Horn Silver Mine at Frisco.[74]

In June of 1878 the directors of the Utah Southern Railroad Company, which included Sidney Dillon, Jay Gould and S. H. H. Clark, decided that the road would be extended sixteen miles beyond York to Nephi. It was announced that this was not to be a permanent stopping place and that the road would gradually be extended southward as sufficient capital became available.[75] Nephi was a thriving town, the center of an agricultural and grazing region and the gateway to Sanpete Valley with its coal beds, productive grain fields and extensive ranges. It was hoped that when the Utah Southern was completed to Nephi, it would encourage completion of a partially graded, narrow gauge railroad that had been started through Salt Creek Canyon into Sanpete County in 1875 and then abandoned.[76]

In October, 1878, John Sharp, acting as a member of the board of directors of the Union Pacific, met in Salt Lake City with directors of the Utah Southern Railroad. They agreed to scrap the plans for a terminus at Nephi and to attempt to convince the Union Pacific board of directors to finance the extension of the Utah Southern all the way to Frisco, 150 miles south of York.[77] They were successful in their endeavor; and on December 27, 1878, it was announced that construction would begin as soon as weather permitted.[78] The agreement called for the existing Utah Southern Railroad Company to complete the road as far as Chicken Creek, thirty miles south of York; and a new company was to be organized to construct the road from there to Frisco.[79] In keeping with this decision, the articles of incorporation of the Utah Southern Railroad were amended to move the southern terminus of the road from York to Chicken Creek in Juab County, 105 miles south of Salt Lake City.[80]

To complete the road to Frisco, the Utah Southern Railroad Extension Company was incorporated on January 11, 1879, with a capital stock of $1,300,000. This company had no connection with the inactive company of 1874 that had carried the same name. The estimated cost of the road was fixed at $1,950,000. The route was projected from Chicken Creek westward through Sevier Pass and then south through the counties of Juab, Millard and Beaver to or near Milford. Frisco was to be reached by a branch road built west from a point on the main line at or near Milford. The proposed length of the railroad, including the branch line, was 130 miles.[81]

Eight directors were elected by the stockholders to manage the affairs of the company. These were Allen G. Campbell and Matthew Cullen of Frisco; William Jennings, Feramorz Little and John Sharp of Salt Lake City; Sidney Dillon and Jay Gould of New York; and S. H. H. Clark of Omaha, Nebraska.[82] L. S. Hills was elected treasurer, and James T. Little was chosen as secretary.[83]

Twelve individuals subscribed for stock in the new company; of these, eight held stock in the old Utah Southern Railroad Company. They were Sidney Dillon, Jay Gould, John Sharp, William H. Hooper, W. S. Eldredge, William Jennings, Feramorz Little and James T. Little. Two other stockholders in the new company, Allen G. Campbell and Matthew Cullen, owned or controlled considerable mining property at Frisco. S. H. H. Clark of the Union Pacific Railroad was the eleventh stockholder and the name of the twelfth, who was from Salt Lake City, is not legible.[84]

The Utah Southern began work on the thirty miles of roadbed between York and Chicken Creek on the first day of March, 1879; this was under the direction of John Sharp who was also employed to direct the construction of the Extension Railroad. Grading proceeded throughout March; and track laying was begun in early April by a sixty-man crew who, by the 1st of May, had laid track six miles beyond Nephi.[85]

In mid-May contracts were let for grading the first 16 1/2 miles of the Extension to what was known as "Church House." Construction was to begin as soon as the Utah Southern line was completed to Chicken Creek.[86]

At Nephi a depot was being built on twenty acres that had been set aside by the City Council; this acreage was in the shape of two city blocks. It was decided that the depot would serve both the Utah Southern Railroad and the Utah Southern Railroad Extension, and that each line would lay its track as near as possible-to the center of-the grounds.[87]

On June 5, 1879, the road was completed to Chicken Creek, and regular service to that point began on June 13.[88] At that time the rather undignified name of Chicken Creek was changed to Juab--"a much nicer name."[89] Juab experienced rapid growth and development in its new role as a railroad town. The railroad installed pipes to carry water from a spring located about a mile and a half from the station, and a large engine house was built. The number of business houses and private dwellings in the town increased and business was soon brisk.[90]

Track laying on the Utah Southern Extension progressed rapidly, and the rails were steadily extended south of Juab through Sevier Canyon where they reached the town of Deseret in late October. On December 19 regular service was initiated to Deseret where stages and wagons met the train and carried passengers and freight the remaining seventy miles to Frisco.[91]

In the early months of 1880, the track was extended south from Deseret over the uninhabited and sage-covered desert to Milford and then continued on without delay to Frisco. The final rails were located in place at Frisco at a few minutes past four o'clock on Wednesday, June 23, 1880, and shipment of ore began the next day.[92] Shortly after the road was completed to Frisco, a spur was run to the Horn Silver Mine. This was the most productive of Frisco's mines and, as noted earlier, was largely owned by some of the offices of the Union Pacific Railroad Company.[93] Frisco was still the terminal point of the road when both the Utah Southern and Utah Southern Extension railroads were consolidated under Union Pacific control as part of the Utah Central Railway on July 1, 1881.[94]

Operations and Earnings

The record of earnings of the Utah Southern Railroad Company are incomplete; however, the following tables reflect the information which is available.

Statement of Income
For the Years 1871, 1872 and 1873

Month 1871 1872 1873
January   4,427.15 11,792.91
February   3,939.90 7,113.23
March   5,145.40 11,054.66
April   5,789.40 14,026.12
May   8,327.05 17,101.37
June   8,012.15 15,593.55
July   11,060.25 16,542.04
August   12,945.19  
September 951.90 14,687.84  
October 2,152.70 20,243.71  
November 2,795.25 17,836.97  
December 3,091.85 15,282.32  
TOTAL 8,991.70 127,697.33 94,123.88

Source: Statement, Secretary George Swan, August 5, 1873, John W. Young Railroad Letter File, L.D.S Church Historian's Office.

Operations for the Year Ending December 31 1878

From Passengers. . . . . . . . . . . $ 79,392.95
From Freight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 172,098.36
From Mail & Express . . . . . . . . . . . 5,388.90
From Miscellaneous . . . . . . . . . . . . . 640.00
From Other . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 205.00

TOTAL Earnings . . . . . . . . . . . $ 247,725.21

Operating Expenses. . . . . . . . . . 130,190.95
(52.15% of Earnings)

NET EARNINGS . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117,534.26

Interest on Bonds . . . . . . . . . . . 105,000.00

UNEXPENDED BALANCE . . . . . . . $ 12,534.26

Source: Henry V. Poor, Manual of Railroads in the United States for 1879 (New York: H.V. & H. W. Poor Co., 1879) pp. 923-924.

Operations for the Year Ending December 31 1880

From Passengers . . . . . . . . . . . . $ 81,374.23
From Freight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 300,356.56
From Mail & Express . . . . . . . . . . . 13,154, 31

TOTAL Earnings . . . . . . . . . . . . $ 394,885.10
($3,760.81 per mile)

Operating Expenses
Maintenance of Way . . . . . . . . . . . 66,332.32
Rolling Stock . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59,163.00
Transportation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51,812.77

TOTAL Expenses . . . . . . . . . . . . . 177,380.09
($1,685.80 per mile)

NET EARNINGS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 217,577.01

Surplus from 1879 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29,404.95

TOTAL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 246,981.96

Interest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 130,340 .00
Dividends on Stock . . . . . . . . . . . . 90,000.00
Other Payments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10,652.79

TOTAL Payments . . . . . . . . . . . . 230,992.79

BALANCE: SURPLUS . . . . . . . . . . $ 15, 989.17

Source: Poor, Manual of Railroads, 1881 (1881), pp. 794-795.

The most significant value of the Utah Southern Railroad and the Utah Southern Railroad Extension is not found in the profit and loss columns of the financial records, but rather in the great agricultural and mining development in central and southern Utah that came about as a result of having access to railroad transportation. The value is also found in the social and cultural advantages that were afforded the people by providing them with a rapid and economical transportation system to go out and view the world and to bring the people of the world to them.


[1] Salt Lake Daily Herald, August 22, 1871.

[2] Utah Southern Railroad Company Articles of Incorporation, January 17, 1871, Utah State Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah.

[3] Utah Southern Railroad Company Articles of Incorporation.

[4] Utah Southern Railroad Company Articles of Incorporation.

[5] Utah Southern Railroad Company Articles of Incorporation.

[6] Ogden Junction, January 21, 1871; Deseret News (SLC), January 25, 1871.

[7] Salt Lake Daily Tribune, November 9, 1872.

[8] Salt Lake Daily Tribune and Utah Mining Gazette (SLC), May 15, 1871; Ogden Junction. May 20, 1871.

[9] Letter, John Sharp to Brigham Young, Omaha, Nebraska, October 22, 1871, L.D.S. Church Historian's Office, Salt Lake City, John Sharp Letter File. U. S. Congress, Senate, Pacific Railway Commission Hearings, Testimony of John Sharp, Exec Doc #51, 50th Cong., 1st sess. (1877-1888), pp. 2155-2156.

[10] U. S. Congress, Senate, A Bill Granting to the Utah Southern Railroad Company a right of way through the public lands for the construction of a railroad and telegraph, S. 229, 42nd Cong., 1st sess., 1871. pp. 1-3; Ogden Junction, March 1, 1871; Deseret Evening News (SLC), August 12, 1871.

[11] Ogden Junction, May 3, 1871.

[12] Salt Lake Tribune and Utah Mining Gazette, May 3, 1871.

[13] Salt Lake Tribune and Utah Mining Gazette, May 15, 1871; Ogden Junction, May 20, 1871.

[14] Salt Lake Tribune and Utah Mining Gazette, June 15, 1871; Ogden Junction, June 24, July 15, 1871; Salt Lake Daily Herald, June 23, 1871.

[15] Corinne Daily Journal, June 8, 17, 1871; Deseret News (SLC), June 14, 1871.

[16] Salt Lake Tribune and Utah Mining Gazette, June 15, 1871; Ogden Junction, June 24, July 15, 1871; Salt Lake Daily Herald, June 23, 1871.

[17] Ogden Junction, August 30, September 6, 1871; L.D.S. Millennial Star (Liverpool), October 3, 1871; Salt Lake Daily Herald, September 5, 1871.

[18] Ogden Junction, August 30, September 6, 1871; L.D.S. Millennial Star (Liverpool), October 3, 1871; Salt Lake Daily Herald, September 5, 1871.

[19] Salt Lake Daily Herald, November 4, 5, 1871.

[20] Salt Lake Daily Herald, November 4, 5, 1871.

[21] Salt Lake Tribune and Utah Mining Gazette, November 16, 27, 1871.

[22] Salt Lake Herald, November 4, 5, 1871.

[23] Salt Lake Herald, November 4, 5, 1871.

[24] Salt Lake Herald, November 4, 5, 1871.

[25] Salt Lake Tribune and Utah Mining Gazette, January 27, 1872.

[26] Salt Lake Herald, November 4, 5, 1871.

[27] Letters, John Sharp to Brigham Young, April 6, June 26, September 29, 1872; John Sharp to S. H. H. Clark, June 26, 1872, L.D.S. Church Historian's Office, John Sharp Letter File. Secretary's report, Utah Southern Railroad, June 24, 1874, L.D.S. Church Historian's Office, Utah Southern Railroad Letter File. Pacific Railway Commission Hearings, John Sharp Testimony, pp. 2155-2156.

[28] Utah, An Act authorizing the Utah Southern Railroad Company to close the State Road at the Point of the Mountains, Utah Session Laws, 20th sess. (1870), chap. 4, p. 6.

[29] Salt Lake Tribune, May 30, 1872; Deseret Evening News (SLC) March 11, 1872. The Salt Lake Daily Tribune and the Utah Mining Gazette became separate publications after April 13, 1872.

[30] Salt Lake Tribune, June 6, 1872.

[31] Ogden Junction, January 4, 1873; Salt Lake Herald, August 6, 10, 1872.

[32] Salt Lake Tribune and Utah Mining Gazette, March 26, April 3, 1872.

[33] Salt Lake Tribune, February 21, 1873.

[34] Salt Lake Tribune, February 21, 1873.

[35] Salt Lake Tribune, February 21, 1873.

[36] Salt Lake Tribune, April 25, 1873.

[37] Letter, W. W. Riter to John W. Young (not dated), L.D.S. Church Historian's Office, W. W. Riter Letter File.

[38] Salt Lake Tribune, May 27, 1873.

[39] Salt Lake Tribune, June 14, 1873.

[40] Ogden Junction, July 26, 1873.

[41] Salt Lake Herald, July 31, 1873.

[42] Deseret Evening News (SLC), July 28, 1873. This was evidently common rather than capital stock.

[43] Deseret Evening News (SLC), July 28, 1873.

[44] Deseret Evening News (SLC), July 28, 1873.

[45] Salt Lake Tribune, September 4, 1873.

[46] Ogden Junction, October 22, 1873; Salt Lake Herald, September 24, 1873.

[47] Salt Lake Tribune, November 16, 1873; Salt Lake Herald November 1, 1873. Both the Tribune and the Herald reported that rails were obtained from the American Fork Railroad. This seems questionable, however, since the American Fork was a narrow gauge line; and the rails for their road would only weigh about one-third as much as standard gauge rails. There is no evidence to dispute the newspaper claims nor is there any available record. explaining how rails were purchased for the 1873 construction. A letter from John Sharp to Brigham Young, from New York and dated September 25, 1873, in the John Sharp Letter File at the L.D.S. Church Historian's Office implies that the Union Pacific again purchased bonds for rails.

[48] Deseret Evening News (SLC), November 25, 1873.

[49] Ogden Junction. November 29, 1873; Deseret Evening News (SLC), November 25, 1873.

[50] Salt Lake Tribune, November 27, 1873.

[51] Ogden Junction, December 6, 1873: Deseret Evening News (SLC), November 20, 1873.

[52] Ogden Junction, December 6, 1873: Deseret Evening News (SLC), November 20, 1873.

[53] Salt Lake Herald. November 1, 1874.

[54] Salt Lake Herald, November 8. 1874.

[55] Salt Lake Tribune, November 19, 1874; Deseret Evening News (SLC), November 3, 6, 1874.

[56] Salt Lake Tribune, December 10, 1874.

[57] Salt Lake Tribune, December 23, 1874.

[58] Ogden Junction, January 23, 1875.

[59] Deseret Evening News (SLC) , November 30, 1875.

[60] Deseret Evening News (SLC) , November 30, 1875.

[61] Utah Southern Railroad Extension Company, Articles of Incorporation, December 29, 1874, Utah State Archives, Salt Lake City. Salt Lake Herald, December 31, 1874.

[62] Utah Southern Railroad Extension, Articles of Incorporation. Brigham Young became the principal holder of capital stock in the Utah Southern in 1872 when Joseph A. Young relinquished all of his stock. The list of stockholders of capital stock as reported by George Swan, Secretary of the Utah Southern, on May 24, 1872, listed Brigham Young with 5,000 shares. This was 50 percent of the capital stock. Other large shareholders included Feramorz Little, 792 shares; William Jennings, 833; John Sharp, 500; and George Q. Cannon, 500. Mr. Swan's report of June 24, 1874, listed the same large shareholders with the addition of William W. Hooper with 834 shares and the elimination of George Q. Cannon as a shareholder. Reports are in the Utah Southern Railroad Company Letter File in the L.D.S. Church Historian's Office.

[63] Utah Southern Railroad Extension, Articles of Incorporation.

[64] Salt Lake Herald, February 20, 1875.

[65] Deseret Evening News (SLC), February 4, 1875.

[66] Ogden Junction, January 6, 1875; Salt Lake Herald, December 31, 1875; Deseret Evening News (SLC), January 2, 1875.

[67] Utah Southern Railroad Company, Amendment to the Articles of Incorporation, January 13, 1877.

[68] Corinne Daily Mail, June 28, 1875; Deseret Evening News (SLC), July 6, 1875; Ogden Junction, July 14, 1875; Salt Lake Herald, December 21, 1875.

[69] Salt Lake Tribune, June 27, 1875. This change in stockholders is further evidenced by examining the stockholders listed on an amendment to the articles of incorporation of the Utah Southern Railroad that was filed on January 10, 1877. More than three-fourths of the stock of the company had to be represented to amend the articles. Listed as stockholders were: Brigham Young, William Jennings, William H. Hooper, Feramorz Little, Horace S. Eldredge, Jay Gould, Sidney Dillon, Oliver Ames, John Sharp, E. H. Rollins, Jesse M. Fox, John Sharp, Jr., James Sharp, James T. Little and the Union Pacific Railroad Company. Gould, Dillon, Ames, Rollins and John Sharp were all officers or directors of that company. Further evidence is found in the selection of board directors for the road which was controlled by Union Pacific men after 1876.

[70] Corinne Daily Mail, June 28, 1875; Deseret Evening News (SLC), July 6, 1875; Ogden Junction, July 14, 1875; Salt Lake Herald, December 21, 1875.

[71] Deseret Evening News (SLC), February 8, 1876.

[72] Salt Lake Herald, February 22, 1876.

[73] Salt Lake Tribune, April 6, 1878.

[74] Henry Cummins, Horn Silver Mine, Report of the Manager, April 20, 1879, p. 20; John Sharp Testimony, pp. 2157-2159.

[75] Salt Lake Herald, June 14, 15, 21, 1878, November 21, 23, 1878; Deseret Evening News (SLC), June 13, 1878.

[76] Salt Lake Herald, June 14, 15, 21, 1878, November 21, 23, 1878; Deseret Evening News (SLC), June 13, 1878.

[77] Salt Lake Herald, November 21, 23, 1878.

[78] Deseret Evening News (SLC), December 27, 1878.

[79] Salt Lake Herald, January 10, 11, 1878.

[80] Utah Southern Railroad Company, Amendment to the Articles of Incorporation, February 24, 1879.

[81] Utah Southern Railroad Extension Company, Articles of Incorporation, January 11, 1879, Utah State Archives.

[82] Utah Southern Railroad Extension Company, Articles of Incorporation.

[83] Salt Lake Herald, January 12, 1878.

[84] Utah Southern Railroad, Amendment to the Articles of Incorporation, February 24, 1879. Utah Southern Railroad Extension, Articles of Incorporation, January 11, 1879.

[85] Salt Lake Herald, March 1, 29, April 9, May 18, 1879; Ogden Junction, May 3, 1879.

[86] Salt Lake Herald, March 1, 29, April 9, May 18, 1879; Ogden Junction, May 3, 1879.

[87] Salt Lake Herald, March 1, 29, April 9, May 18, 1879; Ogden Junction, May 3, 1879.

[88] Salt Lake Herald, May 25, June 5, 12, 13, 1879.

[89] Ogden Junction. June 21, 1879.

[90] Salt Lake Herald, August 14, 1879.

[91] Salt Lake Herald. July 19, August 2, 10, 12, 1879, October 9, 18, 1879, December 19, 1879; Ogden Junction, December 24, 1879.

[92] Salt Lake Herald, June 25, 1880.

[93] Salt Lake Herald, August 29, 1880.

[94] Utah Central Railway Company, Articles of Incorporation, July 1, 1881, Utah State Archives.