The History Of Utah's Railroads, 1869-1883

By Clarence A. Reeder, Jr.

(Return to Reeder Manuscript Index Page)

Chapter 7

Rails West From Salt Lake City

The Salt Lake, Sevier Valley and Pioche Railroad

Interest in a railroad west from Salt Lake was first shown in 1871 by local Gentile businessmen and mine owners who had substantial investments in the many mines in western Utah, particularly those located near Tooele and Stockton, about fifty miles from Salt Lake City. These mines, though still in their infancy, were already producing sizeable quantities of ore. If a railroad could be built to serve them, it would expedite their development; not only the businessmen and speculators with investments in the mines but also the merchants, who provided merchandise and supplies for them stood to realize large profits. Business on a western railroad could be expected to be substantial from the beginning and to increase as fast as the road was extended because the route, in addition to reaching the numerous mines, would traverse a fine agricultural region attractive to new settlers. It was also expected that the line would increase the value of farms already established within its vicinity and would add importance not otherwise obtainable to the small towns along the route.[1]

On May 2, 1872, a group of Eastern investors and Salt Lake businessmen formed the Salt Lake, Sevier Valley and Pioche Railroad, projected to reach the promising western Utah area. Articles of incorporation of the company provided for the construction of a narrow gauge railroad from Salt Lake City, by way of Lake Point on the southern tip of the Great Salt Lake, to Stockton and southwest through the Sevier Valley to a point on the western boundary of the Territory of Utah near the 380 parallel of north latitude in Iron County. The estimated distance was 300 miles, and the cost of construction was fixed at $20,000 a mile. The amount of capital stock authorized was $6,000,000 and was divided into shares of $100 each. Those initially subscribing to stock were:[2]

Name Residence No.
of Shares
H. S. Jacobs Salt Lake City 586
John Leisenring Mauch Chunk, Pa. 586
William Lilley Mauch Chunk, Pa. 586
John Thomas Mauch Chunk, Pa. 586
A. W. Leisenring Mauch Chunk, Pa. 586
H. R. Duke Salt Lake City 10
E. M. Barnum Salt Lake City 10
E. H. Duke Salt Lake City 10
James Campbell Ogden, Utah 10
Jeter Clinton Salt Lake City 10
Patrick Edward Connor Salt Lake City 10
Thomas P. Akers Salt Lake City 10
John Crowberry Tooele, Utah 10
Juab Lawrence Salt Lake City 10
John T. Lynch Salt Lake City 10

H. S. Jacobs was the principal promoter of the road and had engineered the purchase of the majority of the stock by Eastern businessmen.[3] He had also gained the support of the Salt Lake City investors in the company by assuring them that all the capital needed to build the railroad was to be provided by these Eastern investors, and he was asking the Utah people to join him in the company only to satisfy the territorial law which required that two-thirds of the stockholders be Utah residents.[4]

John Leisenring, William Lilley, Juab Lawrence, Patrick Edward Connor, Jeter Clinton, Thomas P. Akers, John Thomas, ' H. S. Jacobs, John. Rowberry, James Campbell and H. R. Duke were named as directors.[5]

On the day after incorporation, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that the board of directors had elected John Leisenring to be president of the railroad; H. S. Jacobs, vice president; and E. M. Barnum, secretary. The paper also clarified the route of the road. It was to run from Salt Lake City westward to Lake Point, Tooele and Stockton, then pass through Rush Valley to Ophir and Camp Floyd and south to the Tintic Mining District. From Tintic the proposed route swung down the Sevier Valley on the west side of the Sevier River and Sevier Lake and southwest through the Star Mining District in Beaver County. It then extended to the western boundary of the Territory in Iron County where it entered the State of Nevada at or near where the Salt Lake and Pioche wagon road crossed the line. The paper also reported that there was great interest in the proposed road in Pioche, Nevada. The citizens of Lincoln County, Nevada, in which Pioche was located, had already subscribed $300,000 in county bonds to build the road from Pioche to the Utah territorial line as a demonstration of this interest.[6]

Shortly after incorporation, Jacobs arranged to have a right of-way bill introduced in Congress by Representative Packer of Pennsylvania, a friend of the Eastern stockholders of the company. The bill provided for a right-of-way along the proposed route to the western boundary of Utah Territory and extended beyond that to Pioche.[7]

Repeated attempts to interest investors from the East, Salt Lake City and in the towns along the proposed line in investing in the railroad were unsuccessful during 1872, and it was not possible to begin construction that year because of insufficient capital.

A fairly successful attempt to raise money was made in the town of Tooele, Utah Territory, on January 15, 1873, where a meeting with the townspeople was held. About eight hundred people attended and listened to General E. M. Barnum and H. S. Jacobs explain the many benefits that a railroad would provide the citizens of Tooele County. The audience was enthusiastic and subscribed to about $30,000 of stock, mostly in labor and materials to be furnished when called for.[8]

Adequate funds with which to sponsor construction were raised by the spring of 1873; and ground-breaking ceremonies for the Salt Lake, Sevier Valley and Pioche Railroad were held April 14, 1873. They were accompanied with all the pomp and festivity that could be expected if it had been the occasion of ground breaking for a railroad sponsored by the Mormons. The ceremonies took place on South Temple Street near the Utah Central Railroad depot. General E. M. Barnum, secretary of the road, presided and was joined on the platform by General Patrick Edward Connor, recently appointed treasurer of the company, Colonel H. P. Kimball, a newly appointed director, and others interested in the road. Two or three hundred spectators were on hand to witness the proceedings. General Barnum enlightened those present about the character of the ceremony of ground-breaking and traced its origin back at least 2, 000 years to the time when the Romans laid out a city. The method they used of defining the limits of the city was to cut a bull's hide into strips, stretch it out on the ground and then plow around it. Barnum then announced it was proposed to break ground for the railroad by plowing a double furrow on either side of the track, which was done. The first furrow was plowed by General Connor at the handles of the plow, and Colonel H. P. Kimball as the driver. The other furrow was plowed by Colonel Akers and Mr. Len Wines. Next, six prominent citizens were selected to shovel dirt from that turned over by the plow. Finally, Barnum spoke at length about the benefits of the road and promised its completion as far as Stockton by autumn.

He called upon the miners, mine owners and farmers to come forward and subscribe for stock to assist in the grading and 'tieing' of the road, and he assured the crowd that the iron and rolling stock had already been purchased by Mr. H. S. Jacobs who was in New York completing arrangements. Barnum concluded his speech by promising that the first rail would be laid in six weeks' time. At the close of these remarks, the ceremony terminated.[9]

During the period of time between incorporation in May of 1872 and ground-breaking in April of 1873, there had been several changes in the officers of the railroad. The available records are rather vague on these changes, but apparently H. S. Jacobs replaced John Leisenring as president; John W. Young replaced Jacobs as vice president; and, as already noted, General Patrick Edward Connor became treasurer. Connor and Jacobs were sent East in February of 1873 and were successful in obtaining assurances that capital would be provided for fifty miles of iron, two locomotives and five cars for the road.[10]

Grading of the road was begun in several different places between Salt Lake and Lake Point after the ground breaking, and the company began driving piles to build a bridge across the Jordan River. Progress seemed to be satisfactory when compared to that made by other railroads in Utah.[11]

While grading progressed during the spring of 1873, a party of engineers, under the direction of M. T. Burgess, surveyed possible routes through Utah to Pioche, Nevada, and arrived there in late June. They traveled through Tooele, Rush, Tintic, Sevier, Beaver and Hot Springs valleys and determined that they had located a satisfactory route which generally followed the one originally proposed in the articles of incorporation.[12]

During the early part of May of 1873, as the initial five miles of roadbed were nearing completion, the first annual stockholders, meeting was held in Salt Lake City. Elected directors for the ensuing year were Patrick Edward Connor, H. P. Kimball, T. P. Akers, E. M. Barnum, H. S. Jacobs, W. R. Judd, John Rowberry, Amos Woodward, Abel Parker, John Cunningham and Jeter Clinton. The directors, in turn, elected H. S. Jacobs, president; Patrick Edward Connor, vice president and treasurer; E. M. Barnum, secretary; and H. P. Kimball, general superintendent. It was noted that Connor replaced John W. Young as vice president at the latter's request; Young declined re-election due to the press of his other business.[13]

The month of July, 1873, held promise for the future prospects of the Salt Lake, Sevier Valley and Pioche Railroad. Early in the month the first locomotive arrived; a sixteen ton engine with six driving wheels of three-foot diameter set for the three-foot narrow gauge road. Built by the Brooks Manufacturing Company it was artistically ornamented and symmetrically proportioned, and it immediately won applause for its fine appearance. Upon its arrival in Salt Lake City it was christened the Kate Connor, for General Connor's daughter. In addition to the locomotive, two box cars, two hand cars, and some scrapers, plows and other implements for use in grading the road also arrived.[14] Furthermore, General Connor, who had gone East on behalf of the road, reported good news. He had secured and paid for 300 tons of iron, and the initial shipment was already on the way.[15]

Work was also progressing rapidly on the roadbed in July. The grading west from the terminus in Salt Lake City had been contracted by H. P. Kimball and W. C. Rydalch and had been completed to the Jordan River where a bridge had been constructed. The piles on which the bridge rested were driven into the ground fourteen feet below the river bed by a steam pile driver, and the top of the piles extended four feet above the high water mark. By mid-July a little more than eight miles of grading and been completed; and a large force of men, under the direction of W. R. Judd of Tooele, was pushing the road west. Another party was working east from Little Cave about three miles west of Lake Point and had graded about two miles. The two parties expected to meet the first part of August. Grading was generally easy requiring only a few cuts, and the most difficult part of the work was in building fills across the dry lakes and salt beds. Mr. William Eddington had a contract for 60,000 ties, the first 10,000 of which were delivered in late July. As July closed, everything looked most encouraging for the "little railroad."[16]

In August the local newspapers reported that iron had started to arrive, and the September papers reported that track laying had begun.[17] The papers then fell silent regarding the progress of the railroad, and nothing more was mentioned in 1873 until an article in the Ogden Junction in December reported that it was hoped that the road would be in operation to Lake Point during the winter.[18] Then, silence again.

Some time between the stockholder's meeting in May and early August of 1873, H. S. Jacobs was removed from the presidency of the railroad and was replaced by General Connor.[19] No explanation for this change can be found in the newspapers of 1873; but the story came to light in the spring of 1874 and offers some explanation as to why the expectations of the early completion voiced in July and August of 1873 were not fulfilled. On April 29 and 30, 1874, the Salt Lake papers carried an open letter addressed to the directors of the Salt Lake, Sevier Valley and Pioche Railroad from several Eastern businessmen, some of whom were prominent in railroad affairs. The letter, dated April 14, 1874, urged that for Utah's good, Colonel H. S. Jacobs be reinstated as president of the railroad. It asserted further that Colonel Jacobs, under instruction from the board of directors, had arrived in New York City in May of 1873 to negotiate for capital and the cooperation of experienced railroad men who could assist him in placing the bonds of the Salt Lake, Sevier Valley and Pioche Railroad in the European money market. The letter noted that Colonel Jacobs had arrived at a most inopportune time but after diligent effort during the month of July, had succeeded in obtaining 1,000 tons of iron rails which were promptly shipped. Further, he had interested Colonel Todd in the railroad and had gained his assurance of a loan of $50, 000 to be secured by company bonds. Colonel J. Condit Smith, a prominent railroad man, had also been interested and had sent a competent engineer to Salt Lake to examine the feasibility of the project. The engineer had rendered a satisfactory report upon his return to New York. Upon receipt of this report, Colonel Smith had started to make arrangements for money to construct and equip the entire road. But just when all of these negotiations neared finalization, the word came that Colonel Jacobs had been removed as president of the company by board action; and the gentlemen who had been negotiating with Colonel Jacobs withdrew their proposals. Thus, the writers claimed, just when the untiring efforts of the good Colonel had provided enough rails for twenty-two miles of road and had secured a loan of $50,000, the board through its action had "made a corpse" of the enterprise. The letter encouraged Colonel Jacobs' reinstatement as the only means by which the railroad could be saved. It was signed by eighteen individuals including John L. Baldwin and H. G. Brooks of Orange, New Jersey, prominent manufacturers of locomotives; T. Knowland, General Freight Agent of the Union and Central Pacific Railroads; M. B. Jefferds, President of the Grand Rapids and Alpine Railroad; and Charles Willis, Secretary of the LS&MSRR of New York.[20]

The directors were prompt to defend their actions in their own open letter. They acknowledged the concern of their correspondents from the East for the well-being of the Salt Lake, Sevier Valley and Pioche Railroad but assured the Eastern writers that their concern was in no way as great as that of the directors since only the directors had invested money in the railroad. They recognized that Mr. Jacobs had commenced negotiations for rails, but pointed out that this action could not be completed until General Connor and H. P. Kimball had given their personal endorsements to the rail contract because Jacobs' credit was not good. Further, they noted that Jacobs had negotiated for rails at $90 per ton on four months' credit when it would have been possible to purchase the rails at $80 per ton with a twelve month credit on the same security. With respect to the $50, 000 to be advanced by Colonel Todd, the company had not been informed of any such arrangement; and the first knowledge of this was in the open letter.

It was stated that Jacobs had always been vague in his allusions to raising funds and had never mentioned any specific creditors by name. In regard to the alleged engineer that Colonel J. Condit Smith had sent, no such person had every presented himself to the company. The only person the directors were aware of, who had come to Salt Lake City on behalf of Colonel Smith, was his secretary who had come to look after the Colonel's mining interests. He had called upon some of the directors of the railroad but not in the capacity of an agent or engineer empowered to examine the prospects of the railroad. Further, the directors had not summarily removed Colonel Jacobs from the presidency as alleged, the fact being that he had resigned as indicated by a letter of resignation which read:

Fifth Avenue Hotel
New York, August 1st, '73

To the Board of Directors of the Salt Lake,
Sevier Valley and Pioche Railroad Company:

Gentlemen: I hereby tender my resignation as President of your Company, and beg that you will immediately accept the same.

Yours respectfully,
H. S. Jacobs.[21]

The directors further stated that a letter from Jacobs had accompanied the resignation requesting that he be made vice president of the company at an annual salary of $5,000. This was rejected by the board members since they felt that the company's interests had been compromised by Mr. Jacobs' conduct and incompetence while acting as their financial agent. As an example, they pointed out that Jacobs, while treasurer of the Salt take, Sevier Valley and Pioche Railroad, had sworn that he had received over $30,000 in cash, a sum that had neither been received nor accounted for from the sale of stock. This stock had allegedly been sold to a second company of which Jacobs was president. Further, he had received twelve of the company's bonds worth $12,000 face value which had not been accounted for, and it was rumored that seven of them had been sold for $3,000, another sum which the company had never received. The purpose of issuing these bonds to Jacobs had been to have him pay the company's bills in the East, none of which had in fact been paid except for $617 paid in Chicago. They closed their letter with the following testimony to Jacobs' financial ability:

. . . In order to show the incapacity--to say the least of it-of your friend "Col." Jacobs, whom we congratulate on his promotion from captain of a Salt Lake steamboat, stern wheeler, to his present rank--we will mention this single fact, that he purchased and sent forward a locomotive and two box cars and hand cars, before the road had been graded a mile, and before negotiations for the rails and ties had assumed any shape or hardly commenced. A freight bill of $1,700 had to be paid on their arrival as the first step of his economic business management for the benefit of the Company. We might mention many other stupid or unaccountable transactions of your protege, but will not detain the public eye over our indiscretion in electing such an "Able"(!) man as an active officer of our Company. In closing this article, we can only express the hope that if you ever incorporate a similar enterprise, you will not meet the misfortunes which have been encountered in the election of such a "responsible and weighty character."

We regret that some of the signers of the above named letter with whom we are personally acquainted did not look into the official acts of the renowned "Col." and make more inquiry as to his manifestations before signing such a misrepresentation of facts.

In conclusion we beg to assure you that the road will be built without the aid of that great failure Col. H. S. Jacobs.

P. E. Connor, President
H. P. Kimball, Gen Supt., and Treas.
John Cunningham, Director
Thos. P. Akers, Director[22]

This letter was dated April 29, 1874.

In the meantime, on April 25, Jacobs had written a letter from New York which appeared in the Salt Lake Herald on May 5, 1874, in which he defended his efforts on behalf of the company and alleged that the present officers of the railroad had reached their positions "surreptitiously." He stated that General Connor and Mr. T. P. Akers had recently called upon him in his New York apartment and had informed him that he was causing great disharmony in the company. They asked him to step down from the presidency, which he agreed Lo do if it were for the good of the railroad, and he thereupon gave General Connor a letter of resignation. However, he agreed to do this only after assurance from the General that the resignation would not be submitted unless the board appointed him vice president with an annual salary of $5,000 and he gave General Connor a second letter, to be presented to the board, stipulating this. He accused Connor of violating his honor and trust by not securing his appointment or presenting his second letter to the board.[23]

General Connor wasted no time in responding to Jacobs' letter. He acknowledged that he had received both the letter of resignation and the second letter but stated that on presenting the letter requesting that he (Jacobs) be appointed vice president, the board would not hear of it; and a member called the directors' attention to the stipulation in the articles of incorporation which gave the board the power to remove officers, agents and employees of the company. At this point, in the face of certain removal by the board, he consulted with General Barnum, and it was decided that in order to save Jacobs the embarrassment of being removed from office, the resignation would be presented. This was done and accepted by the board. These facts were collaborated by a statement submitted by Barnum.

Connor then delivered a scathing indictment of Jacobs which provides the best account of the business and organization of the railroad available. He noted that the enterprise was promoted by Mr. Jacobs who had alleged that his firm wanted to build the railroad and had all the money they needed for the purpose. He wanted, however, a few of his friends to subscribe to a nominal amount of stock to enable him to incorporate. Several local businessmen, including Connor, did subscribe for ten shares of stock each; and Mr. Jacobs in his own name and the name of several Pennsylvania gentlemen subscribed for the balance of the capital stock. At this point the Salt Lake, Sevier Valley and Pioche Railroad company was organized, and Judge Leisenring of Pennsylvania was elected president and Jacobs vice president and treasurer. On the same day Jacobs drew a check for $30,300 on the H. S. Jacobs Company payable to H. S. Jacobs, 'treasurer of the railroad, and then created an affidavit affirming that the money had been paid in cash. "To this day," claimed General Connor, "Mr. Jacobs has failed to account for the thirty thousand three hundred dollars which he stated on oath was paid to him in cash on behalf of the railroad."[24]

The General then produced numerous excerpts from letters written by Jacobs, on file in the company records, which continually contradicted each other as to the progress he was making in raising money and which finally acknowledged in June of 1874 that no progress had been made at all. Upon receipt of that message the board sent Connor to New York to obtain Jacobs' resignation. These letters also established Jacobs' awareness that the endorsements of Connor and Kimball were required before the rails he had negotiated for would be shipped.[25]

Jacobs answered this letter and tried to show that Connor's statements were not true, but the letter adds nothing to the controversy.[26]

As the charges and countercharges involving Jacobs were being aired, the railroad was moving towards bankruptcy. Its rails were sold to the Utah Northern Railroad Company at a loss, and the locomotive, the Kate Connor, was purchased by the Eureka and Palisade Railroad of Nevada.[27]

(ed. note: The Salt Lake, Sevier Valley and Pioche Railroad's locomotive, Kate Conner, was in fact sold to the successor road, Utah Western Railway as their no. 1, "Oquirrh") (Read more about Utah Western locomotives)

The Utah Western Railway

The unfavorable publicity resulting from the Jacobs controversy made it impossible for the Officers of the Salt Lake, Sevier Valley and Pioche Railroad to interest Eastern or foreign capitalists in their enterprise; and they failed to secure the necessary means to finish the road. But H. P. Kimball, the general superintendent of the defunct company, was again able to interest John W. Young in a western road. Young's interest stemmed, in part, from his association with the Great Western Iron Mining and Manufacturing Company. This company had discovered large iron deposits in Iron County and could only realize the full potential of these discoveries if a railroad were built to connect Iron County with Salt Lake City and the rest of the nation.[28]

Young agreed to join with Kimball in replacing the Salt Lake, Sevier Valley and Pioche Railroad with a new company whose eventual goal would be to reach the rich iron deposits of southern Utah. The first step in this plan was to charter the Utah Western Railway Company on June 15, 1874, to run from Salt Lake City to Stockton in Tooele County, a distance of forty-five miles, at an estimated cost of $576,000. The charter provided for an issue of $900,000 capital stock, and the initial stockholders were:[29]

Name Residence No. of Shares
H. B. Clawson Salt Lake City 6
S. D. Connor Salt Lake City 6
George W. Thatcher Salt Lake City 6
John W. Young Salt Lake City 366
Heber P. Kimball Salt Lake City 15
A. C. Pyper Salt Lake City 15
W. C. Rydalch Tooele 15
Jeter Clinton Salt Lake City 15
Seymour B. Young Salt Lake City 3
John N. Pike Salt Lake City 3

All ten of the initial stockholders were elected as directors of the company; and John W. Young was appointed president; H. B. Clawson, vice president; John N. Pike, secretary; H. P. Kimball, treasurer and superintendent; and George W. Thatcher, assistant superintendent,[30] Heber P. Kimball, John W. Young, Jeter Clinton and John Pike had been associated with the Salt Lake, Sevier Valley and Pioche Railroad. The new company was primarily a Mormon enterprise.

The Utah Western authorized the issue of $720,000 worth of $1,000 bonds in order to finance the construction of the road. John W. Young entered into a contract with the Utah Western in which he agreed to construct and equip the road to Clinton's Landing, a distance of twenty-one miles, for $336,000 worth of the bonds and 3,570 shares of stock in the company. Young further contracted to construct and equip the twenty-four remaining miles from Clinton's to Stockton for the balance of the bonds and an additional 4,080 shares of stock. He thereupon used the stock and bonds to provide the money needed to purchase the necessary rolling stock, iron, ties and other supplies required to construct the road and to pay for labor.[31]

The officers of the Salt Lake, Sevier Valley and Pioche Railroad agreed to transfer their claims to the right-of-way, roadbed, bridges, buildings and remaining construction equipment to the Utah Western in return for stock in the new company and for assuming the old company's remaining debts.[32]

Young went East immediately after the Utah Western was chartered to obtain rolling stock and rails. He was successful in con-acting for enough iron for twenty-one miles of road. Kimball remained in Salt Lake to supervise the repair of the old roadbed and bridges; and to complete all of the new construction necessary to begin operations at the earliest date possible. This preparation was completed between the Utah Central Railroad depot in Salt Lake City and Clinton's at Lake Point on the south shore of the Great Salt Lake, twenty-one miles west, early in September; and work was stopped until rails arrived.[33]

In mid-September the first of the rolling stock arrived in the farm of a locomotive and two cars. The cars were manufactured by Jackson, Sharp and Company of Wilmington, Delaware. One was an elegant passenger car which bore the name "Mauch-Chunk." One of its three sections was furnished with sofas and chairs adequate to accommodate eight passengers; the central section, of the car contained a dressing compartment and seats with hinged desks, while the third and largest section had a dozen seats each large enough to accommodate two passengers and finished with crimson velvet cushions and ornamented nickel arms. The second car was a smoking and baggage car.[34]

The first seven carloads of rails and additional rolling stock arrived on November 10, and track laying got underway on November 12. Every effort was made to lay as much track as possible while good weather continued, and the crews under Kimball's direction laid an average of one-half mile of track a day.

By December 13 rails had been laid for eleven miles; and the company began regular service on December 14 to "Point of the Mountain" where a connection was made with the stage for Clinton's, Tooele and Stockton. On the first day of regular business, twenty three passengers, -the United States mail, Wells Fargo and Company's express and two car loads of ore were carried.[35] Ore shipments from Stockton immediately became the principal commodity shipped over the road, and ten tons or more were shipped every day from the time the road opened for business.[36]

By January 10, 1875, track had been laid to Black Rock just 2 1/2 miles from Clinton's which was to be the end of the line for winter. Clinton's was reached and became the railroad terminus on February 7. One train ran each way daily on a schedule of one hour and forty-five minutes.[37]

In the first two months of 1875, the Utah Western ordered a second engine and ten flat cars. The cars were to be built by the Great Western Iron Company of which John W. Young was vice president. It pleased the local Mormon population that these cars would be manufactured completely by Utah people and from Utah material. The iron for the cars came from Iron City in Iron County, and the lumber was grown in Utah forests.[38]

There was only a slight winter delay before the railroad was pushed west again. The people of Tooele, who had supported a western railroad from the first, feared that the road might be built around their city to avoid the climb that was necessary to reach them.

In an attempt to influence the decision that had to be reached in regard to the route, they held a mass meeting, subscribed a considerable amount of stock in the Utah Western, offered a right-of-way through the town, exempted the railroad from city taxes for five years, offered to build a depot and encouraged the officials of the Utah Western to push the road ahead with all haste to their city.[39]

On March 23, 1875, grading was again initiated; and hopes ran high for an early completion of the road to Stockton. By March 27, W. C. Rydalch, who contracted the work, reported that grading to Half-Way House, 4 1/2 miles beyond Lake Point, had been completed. Track was laid that far by March 31, and regular passenger service began on April 1.[40] In addition to the extension of the road, growth was seen by the arrival of two more passenger cars, two box cars and four flat cars.[41]

The first fatal accident on the road occurred on June 15, 1875. John Burns, a construction worker, was on the last car of the construction train while it was backing. The car hit a cow, and Burns was thrown from the car and crushed to death beneath the wheels.[42]

In late June the company's surveying party completed a survey, and it was announced that the plans to route the road through Tooele City were not practical because of the increased operating costs that would occur from the steep grade leading into that community. Instead, the route would proceed from Half-Way House to the west and pass about three miles north of Tooele and then to Stockton. About one mile to the east of Stockton a tunnel 1,000 feet long would have to be built. This announcement naturally raised the immediate wrath of the people of Tooele. The angry residents of Tooele felt that the company's decision, being based upon the opinion that a grade of ninety feet to the mile would shorten the life of the equipment and would burn too much fuel, was totally unreasonable. It was noted that ore discoveries were being made in the hills just to the south of town, and in the near future large quantities of ore from this area would add to the business of the Utah Western. If the railroad chose to ignore the goodwill of the population of Tooele and route their line three miles to the north, the citizens promised to boycott the railroad and withhold their patronage. "After all, railroads are supposed to be built for the benefit of the people."[43]

Shortly thereafter the citizens of Dry Canyon and Stockton were also at odds with the company. The people of Dry Canyon, which was located about two miles from Stockton, were angered on two counts. On August 1, 1875, the Utah Western Railroad had changed its time table such that the daily train left Salt Lake at 11:00 a.m. rather than at 7:30 a.m.[44] This meant that the stage which met the train at Half-Way House arrived at Dry Canyon between ten and midnight rather than between four and five o'clock in the afternoon. They accused the officers of the company of running their train for the benefit of business at Clinton's hotel in Lake Point where large numbers of bathers were being carried. They then agreed to seek the establishment of a stage and fast freight line to serve their community from Salt Lake City, which they vowed they would patronize. Further, they claimed there was no justification for raising the passenger fare from Salt Lake City from $4.00 to $4.50, which also took place on August 1. An attack was also made on the directors for their "stupidity" in running the line three miles north of Tooele. They closed their attack as follows:

. . . Tooele City is the leading town in the county. . .and consequently has business relations with every other town in the county. . .What do we care for. . .this narrow gauging arrangement if it don't come within reasonable distance of our business? As stated before, we have got along for a long time without and can do so again, rather than be imposed upon. If a few of those corpulent and dyspeptic chaps of Salt Lake City, do hanker after bathing in the briny fluid at Lake Point, it is certainly no good reason why whole communities out here in this Republic should be basely imposed upon. Mining communities are the back-bone of support to all railroads traversing Utah, and if railroad companies disregard the interests of the miners, they (the miners) should retaliate by withholding support to the railroad companies - something that we will certainly proceed to do, from this time forward.[45]

The Stockton correspondent to the Tribune joined the fray, attacking the officers of the Utah Western, particularly Mr. Kimball, for running a railroad exclusively in the interests of lake Point and for planning the route of the railroad three miles north of Tooele. He predicted that there was no one in Stockton who would side with the railroad except for two or three citizens who were suspected of holding passes.[46]

Despite the opposition of the people of Tooele County, the proposed route of the Utah Western remained unchanged. The time table also remained unchanged until the summer season ended, at which time the train began leaving Salt Lake City at 8:30 a.m. Thereafter, trains were run on a schedule convenient to both the citizens of Tooele County and the bathers.[47]

The western terminus of the railroad remained at Half-Way House during 1875. In the early spring of 1876, fourteen miles of grading were completed to the location of the proposed tunnel one mile east of Stockton. Unfortunately, however, John W. Young was unable to raise the necessary capital to purchase iron for the road until December of 1876; and the rails were not delivered until June of 1877. Track gangs went to work shortly after that, and rails were laid to the Tooele station three miles north of that community by early August; and the Stockton tunnel was reached before the 10th of September.[48] This construction was completed under the direction of W. W. Riter who succeeded H. P. Kimball as superintendent in January of 1876. Riter had considerable experience in railroading prior to this assignment. He had constructed the Salt Lake City Street Railroad, served as superintendent of that road and the Summit County Railroad and had raised money in the East for several Utah railroads.[49] The Utah Western had completed its road from Salt Lake to Stockton, as was called for in its charter, by June of 1877;[50] but, unfortunately, the company was crumbling financially. John W. Young had sold in excess of $500,000 of bonds to construct the road, and the earnings of the railroad had not been sufficient to pay operating expenses and the interest on the bonds. Brigham Young came to the aid of the road by paying the $24,500 interest that was due in July of 1877;[51] but other notes were due, and at least three suits were entered against the company in late 1877. Two of these were for the collection of principle and interest on notes for money loaned to the Utah Western Railroad. The third was filed by John Leisenring, the first president of the Salt Lake, Sevier Valley and Pioche Railroad, for payment of principle and interest on the purchase of the lake steamer "City of Corinne" which had been renamed the General Garfield,[52] and was used by the Utah Western to carry excursionists on the Great Salt Lake. These cases were still pending when the interest on the bonds came due in January of 1878, and payment could not be met. With this crisis before them, the directors of the Utah Western agreed to allow the trustees for the bond holders, Royal M. Bassett and E. F. Bishop, to take possession of the railroad, which they did on April 16, 1878. The trustees employed W. W. Riter to serve as agent in charge.[53]

In July of 1880, Royal M. Bassett and E. F. Bishop, representing the bond holders of 700 $1,.000 bonds, brought suit against the Utah Western for a decree of foreclosure to obtain the principle and interest of $875,640 on these bonds.[54] The court ordered the sale of the road and it was purchased by Theodore S. Bassett for $36, 000 at a foreclosure sale on November 14, 1880.[55]

The Utah and Nevada Railroad

Royal M. Bassett, W. W. Riter and others felt that a western railroad could be a profitable venture if the volume of the road's business could be increased. This could be done, they believed, by extending the present railroad into the Tintic Mining District in Juab County. That extension should have the effect of more than doubling the revenue of the old Utah Western at very little increase in operating expense.

They undertook to do this by promoting the incorporation of the Utah and Nevada Railroad for the purpose of purchasing the Utah Western and extending the line from Stockton to Tanner Springs in the Tintic Mining District of Juab County. The total distance of the projected road was approximately fifty miles, and purchase and construction costs were fixed at $1,000,000. The company issue $2,000,000 of stock of 20, 000 shares of $100 each The initial stockholders were composed of a large group of Utah and Eastern businessmen.[56] Theodore M. Bassett held the largest amount of stock, 2,514 shares, as a result of selling the Utah Western Railroad to the Utah and Nevada for stock in the new company.[57] Eleven directors were selected from among the stockholders and were:[58]

Royal M. Bassett Birmingham, Connecticut
E. F. Bishop Bridgeport, Connecticut
T. L. Watson Bridgeport, Connecticut
Cyrus W. Field New York, New York
Benjamin Richardson New York, New York
W. W. Riter Salt Lake City, Utah
LeGrand Young Salt Lake City, Utah
James Sharp Salt Lake City, Utah
Abram Gould Salt Lake City, Utah
P. L. Williams Salt Lake City, Utah
Bolivar Roberts Salt Lake City, Utah

Shortly after the Utah and Nevada was incorporated, the Union Pacific made known its desire to gain control of the road with the idea of extending it to San Francisco as a competitor to the Central Pacific. Accordingly, on April 1, 1881, they purchased 600 of the 700 bonds of the old Utah Western Railroad that Bassett had been holding at the time of sale of that road.[59] They then exchanged these bonds for $438,500 of the $555,860 outstanding stock of the Utah and Nevada Railroad and gained control on August 20, 1881.[60]

At the first annual stockholders' meeting of the Utah and Nevada held on April 29, 1882, the Union Pacific voted its stock to elect the directors of their choice for the road. These were Sidney Dillon, New York; Elisha Atkins, F. Gordon Dexter, F. L. Ames and E. H. Baker, Boston; W. W. Riter, James Sharp, Bolivar Roberts, LeGrand Young and A. F. Doremus, Salt Lake City; and W. B. Doddridge, Evanston, Wyoming. Sidney Dillon became president of the company, W. W. Riter, secretary and general agent and James N. Hand of New York, treasurer.[61]

The Utah and Nevada was permitted to operate as an independent railroad by the Union Pacific until its consolidation as part of the Oregon Short Line Railroad in 1889. Construction beyond Stockton was not attempted during this time.[62]

Operations of the Western Railroad

The Utah Western-Utah and Nevada, which shall be referred to in this section as the Western, was the only Utah railroad, outside of city street car lines, to show a larger income from passenger service than from freight during much of its operation. This was because of the extensive passenger business it carried between Salt Lake City and the beaches of the Great Salt Lake.

In the spring of 1875, as track laying was being completed to Lake Point on the Western, John W. Young purchased the lake steamer "City of Corinne" for the railroad and renamed it the "General Garfield." He then advertised excursions by Utah Western Railroad to Lake Point and return and a three-hour lake trip on the General Garfield, all for only $1.50.[63] Large numbers of people took advantage of this trip during the next few years, including many nationally and internationally known people. Many others took advantage of evening bathing trains that offered the would-be bather a ride to Lake Point and return, with a two- or three-hour layover, for a fare ranging from fifty cents to one dollar.[64]

A classic description of an excursion to the Great Salt Lake is found on the pages of the Ogden Daily Junction of July 14, 1875:

Yesterday morning, by invitation, we took a ride on the Utah Western railroad, in company with the editorial excursion party which has been "doing" Salt Lake and the surrounding region. Starting from Salt Lake City at 7 a.m. we moved along, smoothly and pleasantly, in the handsome cars of the U.W. westward for a distance of twenty-one miles, which brought us to Lake Point on the southern shore of the "Dead sea of America." . . .

Alighting at Lake Point the company repaired to the Clinton House, where the genial Doc. was waiting to receive them. We were surprised to see so fine a hotel at this once "out of the way" place. It is a substantial stone structure, 55 x 80 feet, three stories high. . . .The house contains forty rooms and a fine dancing hall, 26 x 36 feet.

The lake steamer, "General Garfield, " was moved to the pier, and while the hands were firing up, the company inspected the boat, and a portion of them indulged in a bath, the beautifully clear and sparkling saline waters, seeming to invite the visitors to leap into their cool embrace. Bathing suits and bathing houses are ready at this charming spot for persons of both sexes, and the depth of the water is suitable for either swimmers or waders. Those who took a dip in the briny deep, experienced a new sensation, and declared it the most exhilarating swim of their lives.

Steam being up the General Garfield glided out into the lake, steadily and swiftly, while courteous attendants handed round ice cream and pastry of excellent quality and rich profusion. .

After a run northward about six miles, the boat was put about for the return, all on board having much enjoyed the pure breeze and the magnificent scenery. Lake Point was reached in about one hour from the time of starting which shows that the General Garfield can make good time. The boat is of 125 feet keel and 26 feet beam and its length overall is 150 feet. . .

It has eight staterooms, a gents' and ladies' cabin, a fine dining room, and convenient wash house. It is being used now for excursion parties . . .[65]

The Western continued to run special bathing trains to the lake well into the twentieth century, and the number of patrons remained large. In 1878 over 16,000 people were carried to the lake for a cool, refreshing dip.[66]

Records of operation and earnings of the Utah Western Rail road could not be located except for two reports of the early period of operation which are as follows:

Report of Receipts - July, 1875

Passenger Account . . . . . . . . . .$3,061.70
Freight Account . . . . . . . . . . . . .1,632.26
Mail Account . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .37.29
Express Account . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36.91

Sundry collections on steamer in
addition to amount included in
passenger account . . . . . . . . . . . . 526.29

TOTAL RECEIPTS . . . . . . . . . . . $5,318.95

Source: Operating Statement, Utah Western Railway, August 5, 1875, L.D.S. Church Historian's Office, Utah Western Railway Letter File.

Memorandum of Receipts & Actual Running Expenses

Total Receipts
Dec. 19, 1874 - Aug. 26, 1875 . . . . $34,033.35

Interest on Bonds . . . . . . . . $19,712.24
Total Running Expenses . . . . . 11,260.58

Expenses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30,972.82

Balance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$3,060.53

Source: Financial Statement, Utah Western Railway, L.D.S. Church Historian's Office, John W. Young Railroad Letter File.

The financial operations and earnings records of the Utah and Nevada are contained in the following tables.

Operations Summary for Six Months Ending December 31, 1881

Earnings . . . . . . . . . . . $26,631.91
Operating Expenses . . . . . 12,061.93

Net Earnings . . . . . . . . . $14,569.98

Sundry Payments . . . . . . . 2,804.81

Balance Surplus . . . . . . . $11,765.17

Source: Poor, Manual of Railroads, 1882 (1882), p. 858.

Financial Statement December 31, 1881

Capital Stock . . . . $555,860.00
Sundry Account . . . . 29,483.66

Total . . . . . . . . . $585,343.66

Construction . . . . $441,448.56
Equipment . . . . . . . 93,810.00
Real Estate . . . . . . . 2,206.25
Other Assets . . . . . . . . 432.84
Current Accounts . . 12,061.93
Cash . . . . . . . . . . . 35,384.08
Total . . . . . . . . . $585,343.66

Source: Poor, Manual of Railroads, 1882 (1882), p. 858.

Operations For The Year Ending December 31, 1883

Passenger Service . . . . . . $24,665.12
Freight Service . . . . . . . . . .8,825.12
Mail, Express, Etc. . . . . . . . 1,930.84

TOTAL EARNINGS . . . . . . .$35,421.08

Operating Expenses: . . . . .$22,739.97

NET EARNINGS . . . . . . . . $12,681.11

Source: Poor, Manual of Railroads, 1884 (1884), pp. 875-876.

The year 1883 closes this study; however, it is interesting to note that in 1884 passenger revenue continued at or near the same level while freight revenue fell drastically.[67] In 1885 this situation changed, and freight revenue climbed to $27,447.34; in 1886 it rose to $48, 740.05. Passenger revenue for the same two years was $26,265.40 and $30,828.50.[68] The sharp increase in freight revenue was due to the opening of new mines in the Tooele area which assured the Utah and Nevada a profitable business for an extended period of time.


[1] Salt Lake Tribune, April 15, 1873.

[2] Salt Lake, Sevier Valley & Pioche Railroad Company, Articles of Incorporation, May 2, 1872, Utah State Archives.

[3] Jacobs was also the owner and captain of the lake steamer "City of Corinne" and an officer and director of the unsuccessful Utah, Idaho and Montana Railroad. For Jacobs' dealings with the UI&MRR see Chapter VI.

[4] Salt Lake Herald, May 10, 1874.

[5] Salt Lake, Sevier Valley and Pioche Railroad, Articles of Incorporation.

[6] Salt Lake Tribune, May 3, 8, 1872; Salt Lake Herald, May 4, 1872.

[7] Salt Lake Herald, January 26, 1873. The bill is printed in full in this issue.

[8] Utah Mining Journal (SLC), January 18, 1873; Salt Lake Herald, January 1873.

[9] Deseret Evening News (SLC), April 14, 1873; Salt Lake Tribune, April 15, 1873; Salt Lake Herald, April 15, 1873.

[10] Utah Mining Journal (SLC), February 3, 1873; Salt Lake Herald, February 12, March 29, 1873; Corinne Daily Recorder, March 29, 1873; Salt Lake Tribune, April 15, 1873.

[11] Deseret Evening News (SLC), April 25, 1873; Salt Lake Tribune, June 4, 1873.

[12] Ogden Junction, June 28, 1873.

[13] Salt Lake Herald, May 13, 1873; Deseret Evening News (SLC), May 14, 1873; Salt Lake Daily Tribune, May 14, 1873.

[14] Ogden Junction, July 16, 1973; Deseret Evening News (SLC), July 10, 1873; Corinne Daily Reporter, July 7, 1873.

[15] Salt Lake Herald, July 19, 28, 1873.

[16] Salt Lake Herald, July 19, 28, 1873.

[17] Salt Lake Herald, August 21, 1873; Salt Lake Tribune, August 23, 1873; Deseret Evening News (SLC), September 15, 25, 1873.

[18] Ogden Junction, December 3, 1873.

[19] Deseret Evening News (SLC), August 11, 1873.

[20] Salt Lake Herald, April 29, 1874; Salt Lake Tribune, April 30, 1874.

[21] Salt Lake Herald, April 30, 1874.

[22] Salt Lake Herald, April 30, 1874.

[23] Salt Lake Herald, May 5, 1874.

[24] Salt Lake Herald, May 10, 1874.

[25] Salt Lake Herald, May 10, 1874.

[26] Salt Lake Tribune, June 23, 1874.

[27] Salt Lake Tribune, June 23, 1874; David F. Myrick, Railroads of Nevada and Eastern California (Berkeley: Howell-North, 1963), p. 889. The Kate Connor was renamed the Eureka when it was sold.

(ed. note: The Salt Lake, Sevier Valley and Pioche Railroad's locomotive, Kate Conner, was in fact sold to the successor road, Utah Western Railway as their no. 1, "Oquirrh") (Read more about Utah Western locomotives)

[28] Deseret Evening News (SLC), June 24, 1874. Joseph Richardson, who was the financial backer of the Utah Northern Railroad, and his brother Benjamin Richardson of New York had also invested in the Great Western Iron Mining and Manufacturing Company. They purchased a considerable number of the Utah Western bonds that were issued in 1875. Their interest in the railroad was great enough that Joseph Richardson was elected to the board of directors on June 19, 1875. Benjamin Richardson also held 680 of the 3,142 shares of stock that had been issued as of Marcy 5, 1875. See, Report, Secretary John N. Pike, Utah Western Railroad, June 21, 1875, John W. Young Railroad Letter File, IDS Church Historian's Office, Salt Lake City, Utah.

[29] Utah Western Railroad Company, Articles of Incorporation, June 15, 1874, Utah State Archives.

[30] Daily Ogden Junction, December 15, 1874.

[31] Contract, John W. Young. with Utah Western Railroad Company, June 22, 1874, L.D.S. Church Historian's Office, John W. Young, Railroad Letter File.

[32] Contract of Sale and Legal Opinion, Salt Lake, Sevier Valley and Pioche Railroad Company with Utah Western Railroad Company, prepared by Williams, Young & Shuks, Attorneys, October 24, 1874; Salt Lake Herald, August 30, 1874; Deseret Evening News (SLC), August 31, 1874.

[33] Salt Lake Herald, August 30, September 3, 1874; Deseret Evening News (SIC), August 3:., 1874.

[34] Deseret Evening News (SLC), September 12, October 29, 1874.

[35] Salt Lake Herald, November 3, 11, December 15, 1874; Deseret Evening News (SLC), December 10, 1874. The "Point of the Mountain" on the Utah Western route was not the same as the location of the same name situated south of Salt Lake City on the Utah Southern route.

[36] Salt Lake Tribune, December 17, 1874.

[37] Salt Lake Herald, January 10, February 7, 1875.

[38] Deseret Evening News (SLC), January 27, 1875; Ogden Junction, January 30, 1875; Salt Lake Tribune, February 26, 1875.

[39] Deseret Evening News (SLC), March 20, 1875; Salt Lake Herald, March 25, 1875.

[40] Salt Lake Herald, March 23, 27, 31, April 16, 1875.

[41] Ogden Junction, May 5, 1875.

[42] Salt Lake Tribune, June 16, 1875.

[43] Salt Lake Tribune, August 14, 1875.

[44] Salt Lake Herald, July 29, 1875.

[45] Salt Lake Tribune, August 14, 1875.

[46] Salt Lake Tribune, August 22, 1875.

[47] Ogden Junction, October 2, 1875; Salt Lake Herald, April 23, 1876.

[48] Salt Lake Tribune, December 17, 1876, June 7, August 10, 1877; Salt Lake Herald, May 17, September 9, 1877; Deseret Evening News (SLC), August 1, 1877.

[49] William W. Riter Transcript, Bancroft Library, Berkley, California, Utah Collection. Mr. Riter was still superintendent of the successor railroad to the Utah Western at the time he dictated this transcript in 1886.

[50] Salt Lake Tribune, December 16: 1876, June 7, August 10, 1877; Salt Lake Herald, May 17, September 9, 1877; Deseret Evening News (SLC), August 1, 1877. A two-foot wide tramway had been constructed from the mines in Dry Canyon to Stockton by the mine owners to carry ore to the Utah Western at the same time that track was being laid to the Stockton Tunnel. Oquirrh Railway Company, Articles of Incorporation, August 9, 1877, Utah State Archives.

[51] Salt Lake Tribune, October 30, 1877; Utah Western Railroad Account, Brigham Young University Library Archives, Brigham Young Cash Ledger Books, vol 3, p. 261. The cash books list several purchases of bonds made by the President. The revenue from these sales would have provided enough cash to pay the interest on the Utah Western bonds in July of 1877. Unfortunately, these records are not complete enough to allow any firm statements regarding either President Young's involvement in the road on his own behalf or as trustee for the Mormon church.

[52] Warner v. Utah Western Railroad Company, case 3338, Utah 3rd Dist. (1877), Utah State Archives; Noble County National Bank v. Utah Western Railroad Company, case 3337, Utah 3rd Dist. (1877), Utah State Archives; Leisenring et al. v. Utah Western Railroad Company, case 3422, Utah 3rd Dist. (1878), Utah State Archives.

[53] Deseret Evening News (SLC), April 17, 1878.

[54] Bassett v. Utah Western Railroad Company, case 4478, Utah 3rd Dist. (1877), Utah State Archives.

[55] Bassett v. Utah Western Railroad Company; Oregon Short Line Railroad Company, Corporate History, p. 26.

[56] Utah and Nevada Railway Company, Articles of Incorporation, February 16, 1881; Amendment, Articles of Incorporation, August 17, 1881, Utah State Archives.

[57] Salt Lake Herald, February 17, 1881; Oregon Short Line Railroad Company, Corporate History, p. 26.

[58] Utah and Nevada Railway, Articles of Incorporation.

[59] Poor, Manual of Railroads. 1881 (1881), p. 718.

[60] Poor, Manual of Railroads. 1885 (1885), pp. 751, 852, 853; U. S. Interstate Commerce Commission, Valuation Report, Union Pacific Railroad Company, Valuation Docket no. 1060 (1933), p. 423.

[61] Poor, Manual of Railroads. 1882 (1882), p. 858.

[62] U. S. Interstate Commerce Commission, Valuation Report, Union Pacific Railroad Company.

[63] Salt Lake Tribune, April 3, 1875; Salt Lake Herald, June 6, 1875.

[64] Salt Lake Herald, May 10, 1877; Deseret News (SLC), August 1, 1877.

[65] The Clinton House was owned by Doctor Jeter Clinton who was one of the directors of the Utah Western Railroad Clinton evidently did an excellent business until 1882 when the Union Pacific purchased Black Rock and developed it into a resort and forced him out of business. See the Salt Lake Herald, May 17, 1882.

[66] Salt Lake Tribune, September 25, 1878.

[67] Poor, Manual of Railroads, 1885 (1885), pp. 852-853.

[68] Board of Directors, Union Pacific Railroad, Report of the Directors, Annual Report 1886 (Boston, 1887), p. 74