The History Of Utah's Railroads, 1869-1883

By Clarence A. Reeder, Jr.

(Return to Reeder Manuscript Index Page)

Chapter 9

The Coal Railroads

The people of Utah experienced a fuel shortage almost from the time that the first Mormon pioneers made their way into the valley of the Great Salt Lake. This was because there was a limited supply of timber, and no coal deposits had been unearthed near enough to the population centers to be freighted by wagon in sufficient quantity to meet the demands of the settlers. This shortage grew progressively worse through the 1850's as the population grew and industry began to develop.

In the autumn of 1859, the first discovery of coal near Salt Lake City occurred east of Coalville on Chalk Creek in Summit County. Coalville was located about five miles south of Echo in Weber Canyon and fifty wagon road miles east of Salt Lake City.[1] Coal mines were opened immediately, and coal was wagon-freighted to the fuel starved people of Salt Lake City and other Utah communities.

Coalville was first settled on May 7, 1859, by Bishop Henry B. Wilde and a small group of Saints from the Sugar House Ward of Salt Lake City. At the time of settlement, the town was named Chalk Creek; its name was changed to Coalville when it was incorporated by the Utah Territorial Legislature on January 16, 1867.[2]

When the Union Pacific Railroad was completed in 1869, it passed just five miles north of Coalville; and with the construction of the Utah Central Railroad in 1870, it was possible to carry coal by rail all but the first seven miles from the Coalville mines to Salt Lake City.

It was obvious to Brigham Young that the construction of a branch line from Echo to Coalville and then to the mines just two miles above the town would have very favorable economic results. Such a road would facilitate the movement of coal to Salt Lake in sufficient quantities to meet the peoples' needs, and the owners of the railroad could expect to realize a reasonable profit on their investment. Furthermore, a railroad would contribute to increased development of the coal mines and thus to Utah's home industry. Therefore, President Young, in the autumn of 1869, encouraged Bishop W. W. Cluff to organize the members of the Summit County Ward to construct a railroad from Echo to Coalville. Young had just completed negotiations with Union Pacific officials for rails to construct the Utah Central Railroad, and he calculated that there would be an adequate quantity of extra iron to build the Coalville road. Bishop Cluff was given assurance that this iron would be available for the proposed coal road if the people of Summit County would assume the responsibility for preparing the roadbed and supplying the ties.[3]

Eager to reap the benefits a railroad was expected to provide and encouraged by the counsel and assurance of assistance that was tendered by President Young, the people of Summit County accepted the responsibility for the building of the road.[4]

Bishop Cluff assumed authority for the project, and he directed the organization of the Coalville and Echo Railroad Company in October of 1869.[5] A stock issue of $250,000 divided into 5,000 shares of $50 each was offered. Much of this stock was to go to the people of Summit County in return for their labor on the road; the remainder was to go to the church in payment for rolling stock, iron and rails. Elected to the board of directors of the road were Bishop W. W. Cluff, who also served as president, Bishop H B. Wilde, W. H. Smith, A. L. Smith and S. S. Phippen.[6]

Typical Mormon ground breaking ceremonies were conducted on October 20, 1869; prayers and speeches extolled the virtues of the Mormon people and their religion, and speakers implored the Lord's blessings on the project. A survey by J. Fewson Smith had been conducted prior to the ceremonies, and a route 4 2/3 miles long from Echo to Coalville had been staked. Work began immediately under the general direction of Bishop Cluff. Other supervisory positions were filled by ecclesiastical leaders of the area who had been called to their positions at church meetings and sustained by the people.[7]

The grading work progressed rapidly due to the united efforts of the people and the favorable terrain. The grade was gradual and the only large fill required was at Echo Creek; it was about 300 feet long by 25 feet deep. By the first of December grading work was finished, except for the mentioned fill, and the last of the necessary ties were being hauled in and distributed by the six companies of men assigned to the task.[8] Once again it became evident that the Mormon people could unite under their spiritual leaders to accomplish a temporal project. However, in this instance those united efforts proved to be of little avail.

Brigham Young certainly must have regretted the necessity of having to inform the people of Coalville that the Union Pacific Railroad had failed to provide the quantity of iron agreed upon, and there were no rails available for the Coalville road.

Efforts to obtain rails from another source were not made by the Mormon church leaders for two reasons. First, vast deposits of coal had been discovered by the Union Pacific Railroad near Rock Springs, Wyoming, and this coal was being shipped to Utah by that road, in adequate quantities to eliminate the urgent need for Coalville coal.[9] Second, without the supply of rails from the Union Pacific, the church would have to borrow money; and it was felt that since a new supply of coal was currently available, a railroad for Summit County was a project that could wait until the church was in a stronger financial position.[10]

During the period of time that the Utah Central Railroad was under construction, articles appeared in the local newspapers that encouraged the readers to believe that coal prices would be greatly reduced when that railroad reached Salt Lake City. Coal had apparently been selling in the capital city for $25 to $35 per ton. Inasmuch as Ogden was already receiving coal by rail from the Union Pacific mines at Rock Springs for $9.00 a ton,[11] the price of coal in Salt Lake City was expected to drop to $10.00 or $11.00. The Union Pacific, however, held a monopoly on the coal market since the Coalville mines were the only deposits, other than the Rock Springs mines, available to the area. The U.P.R.R. could therefore dictate the freight rates and, if desiring, restrict the number of cars allowed for shipment from the competing Coalville mines. They took full advantage of this monopoly; and when the Utah Central was completed, they increased their freight rates, thereby keeping the price of coal near that of the pre-railroad period. At the same time they charged a differential rate on coal loaded on their cars at Echo which had been freighted by wagon from the Coalville mines. This high, short-haul charge prevented the Utah miners from offering their coal for a lower price than the Union Pacific's.[12]

This situation and the desire to have the Mormons develop their own industries caused President Young to again request the people of Coalville and Summit County to begin construction of a railroad. A new corporation was chartered on November 29, 1871, and named the Summit County Railroad. Directors of the new company were Joseph A. Young, William W. Cluff, George Crismons, F. A. Mitchell and LeGrand Young. They proposed to build a railroad from Echo via Grass Creek, Coalville, Unionville. and Wanship, through Silver Creek Canyon and on to the Uinta Mining District (Park City), a distance of about twenty six miles at a cost of $660,000. A stock issue of $660,000 divided into 6,600 shares of $100 each was offered for sale.[13]

The names of the stockholders and the number of shares they purchased revealed that Joseph A. Young, son of Brigham Young, was the principal stockholder with 250 shares. The other stockholders were Mormon businessmen from either Salt Lake or Coalville and included:[14]

LeGrand Young Salt Lake City 5 shares
F. A. Mitchell Salt Lake City 25 shares
W. W. Cluff Coalville 50 shares
Charles Crismons, Jr. Salt Lake City 25 shares
George Crismons Salt Lake City 25 shares
S. B. Young Salt Lake City 3 shares
Charles Richins Coalville 10 shares
S. J. Jonasson Salt Lake City 2 shares
O. P. Arnold Salt Lake City 2 shares
H. G. Parke Salt Lake City 5 shares
Brigham Young Salt Lake City 4 shares
Charles Crismons Salt Lake City 25 shares

Bishop Cluff, who had been on a mission for the church to Europe since the abandonment of the proposed Coalville and Echo Railroad, was again asked to supervise construction and to employ the people of Summit County as laborers to be paid in stock. Joseph A. Young obtained a contract from the company to purchase the rails and rolling stock in return for the railroad's bonds. Agreement was reached for the new company to purchase the roadbed and materials of the Coalville and Echo line by exchanging stock of that company for the Summit County Railroad's at the rate of five shares in the old company for six shares in the new.[15]

Work began in the spring of 1872 when Bishop Cluff directed work crews to repair the old grade between Echo and Coalville. Other required preparations were completed to allow for the laying of track for a narrow gauge railroad, and by mid-August final grading and bridge building had been finished to Coalville and on the branch line to the mines on Chalk Creek. W. W. Riter, as an agent for Joseph A. Young, had gone East to purchase rails and rolling stock but by mid-August had not been successful in obtaining sufficient iron to complete the road. Some iron did arrive in November, but it was too late in the year to complete the line before the winter of 1872-73 stopped work; and again, a severe coal shortage was suffered by the people of Salt Lake City.[16]

On January 1, 1873, W. W. Riter sold bonds valued at $135, 000 and purchased rails and rolling stock.[17] The track was delivered; and by April 7, 1873, it had been laid to Coalville. Branch lines to the mines were completed by June 15, at which time the -road began regular operation under the supervision of Bishop Cluff.[18]

Construction costs of the road were:[19]

Grading and Ties . . . . . . . . $ 33,424.67
Depot and Depot Grounds . . . . . 2,300.00
Surveying and Engineering . . . . 2,486.34
Bridges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 761.67
Track Laying . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3,281.76
Expense . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,853.44
Iron and Equipment . . . . . . . . 92,599.36

Total . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $ 138, 672.68

The company's business, which was almost exclusively that of hauling coal,[20] was carried on with one locomotive manufactured by the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia. This locomotive was known as a Mogul and was named the "Weber." It had a large boiler capacity which provided the power to climb the steep grades between Coalville and the mines.[21] The "Weber" pulled three or four empty cars up grades that reached 310 feet to the mile; any number of loaded cars could be taken down the grade by the use of the brakes and reversing the locomotive's steam.[22]

During 1873 the company made no effort to extend its road toward Wanship as was called for in the charter. The little road's only task was to carry coal from the mines to the coal dump at Echo for subsequent shipment on the Union Pacific.

As previously mentioned, the Summit County Railroad was not completed before the arrival of the winter of 1872-73; and that winter the people of Salt Lake City suffered from inadequate quantities of coal. The lack of coal was due to a shortage of Union Pacific coal cars; the coal that was delivered by the Union Pacific was sold, according to the newspapers, at "outrageous prices."[23] In the face of this calamity, a group of non-Mormon businessmen of Salt Lake announced that they were making plans to build a narrow gauge railroad from Salt Lake City directly to Coalville and then on to Echo. To accomplish these plans, the Salt Lake and Echo Railroad was incorporated on January 25, 1873, when ten men each subscribed for $20,000 of stock.[24] The purpose of the proposed road was twofold. First, it would guarantee an adequate supply of coal to the residents of Salt Lake City; and second, it would force the Union Pacific and Utah Central railroads to operate at competitive prices and pay closer attention to the needs and desires of their patrons.[25]

Unfortunately, the plans of the company were never realized nor was further mention of the road made by the newspapers, and the Union Pacific Railroad continued to hold a monopoly on the coal supply for Utah communities.

There was no coal crisis during the winter of 1873-74 since the Union Pacific supplied an adequate quantity of coal and, much to the delight of Utahns, lowered freight rates considerably. Coalville coal was transported from Echo to Ogden for $1.50 per ton and could be purchased at the railroad car for $8.00 a ton.

This economic relief, however, did not eliminate the desires of the people to break the Union Pacific coal monopoly; and the Utah Eastern was incorporated on June 11, 1874, to build a railroad from Salt Lake to Coalville through Parley's Canyon and the new silver mining community of Park City. The stockholders in this enterprise were principally Mormon businessmen. They were George W. Thatcher, Jabez G. Sutherland, Hirum B. Clawson, George C. Bates, Heber P. Kimball, John N. Pike, Enoch Reese, William Clayton, Hirum B. Clawson, Jr., and Nicholas Groesbeck. The first seven of these men served as directors of the road.[26]

Two days later on June 13, the Salt Lake and Coalville was incorporated to construct a railroad over the same route. The principal stockholders in this company included several prominent Gentile railroad promoters. Among them were Hugh White, who had been president of the Bingham Canyon and Camp Floyd Railroad Company, and C. W. Scofield, who had purchased that road from White, was serving as its president, and would very shortly purchase the Wasatch and Jordan Valley Railroad. Others were B. W. Morgan and William B. Welles (Scofield's associates in his railroad enterprises), John W. Kerr, B. M. DuRell, Warren Hussey, Joab Lawrence, George M. Scott, Frank Fuller and J M. Burkett. The fact that some of these men had already succeeded in the railroad business lent promise to the new company's ability to complete the road.[27]

The chartering of two companies, one by Mormons and the other by non-Mormons, to build railroads over the same route resulted in a brief but bitter contest. There is little material available on the political and legal maneuvers that occurred as officials of the two railroads fought for the right-of-way. Brigham Young interceded on behalf of the Mormon group and his influence was sufficient to persuade the officers of the Salt Lake and Coalville to withdraw from the contest in September.[28]

The Utah Eastern now had the field to itself, but the officers were unable to obtain the necessary capital to build the road and soon dropped the project. The Salt Lake Tribune claimed that President Young had forced the Salt Lake and Coalville Railroad Company to withdraw and had then made a compact with the Union Pacific not to build the Utah Eastern, thus perpetuating the Union Pacific monopoly.[29] These charges could not be substantiated and seem unlikely; nevertheless, the Utah Eastern was not constructed.

Even as these two projected roads of 1874 were disintegrating, a move by the Union Pacific showed the wisdom of a competitive line to Coalville and simultaneously prompted great excitement and a loud outcry in the Utah newspapers. The Union Pacific, on June 30, without notice, raised its freight rate on coal carried between Echo and Ogden destined for Salt Lake City from $1.50 a ton to $3.80 a ton.[30]

In a letter appearing in the Salt Lake Herald, a "citizen" called the action of the Union Pacific an outrage and asked:

. . Shall a community of 50,000 people, a great city with all its innumerable channels of business, a mining interest of unlimited extent, smelters, amalgamators, refiners, crushers, mills of every kind and description that use coal, be paralyzed by this act of prohibition on the part of a great monopoly, as the U. P. Co. have clearly demonstrated themselves to be . . .[31]

Accusations were leveled at the Union Pacific that their actions were intended to force the independent Coalville mines out of business.[32]

The people of Utah responded to the freight increase by threatening to haul their own coal by wagon. Although they realized that they could not hope to adequately supply the mining and industrial needs in this way, they did have most of the summer and the autumn to haul in a large supply for personal use and prevent the hardships of another coal famine in the coming winter. In addition, the Utah Central and the Central Pacific railroads refused to receive Union Pacific coal for forwarding; and supplies began stockpiling at Ogden. The Central Pacific's officials aligned themselves with the Utah people because freight rates on coal shipments destined for the West Coast had also been raised by the U. P. The newspapers persisted in the excoriation of the Union Pacific and made personal attacks on the supervisory personnel employed on the Utah Division of the road.[33] [34]

Local pressures were not adequate to force the Union Pacific to relent however, and U.P. officials countered by establishing their own coal yards in Ogden and Salt Lake City and by threatening to refuse the sale of coal to other dealers.[35] On July 10 the Ogden Junction announced that the Central Pacific was again accepting coal consignments and had apparently made a deal with the Union Pacific.[36] However, the Utah people continued their opposition, and the conflict was still in progress as July ended.

The "coal war of 1874" came to an end on August 8, when the Union Pacific lowered its rates to $1.75 per ton--just twenty-five cents more per ton than the original rate--and the people of Utah claimed a victory.[37]

There were no apparent reasons to force the Union Pacific to capitulate to the demands of the people. Leonard Arrington pointed out that:

The Union Pacific Railroad was in a strategic economic position. It owned low cost, high quality mines at Rock Springs, Wyoming, and the connecting railroad; . . .It owned the road from Echo to Ogden, without the use of which Summit County coal could not be economically delivered to Salt Lake City . . . .By the use of its rate setting powers, and by the allocation of coal cars, the Union Pacific could control the quantity of Summit County coal which moved to Sal Lake and Ogden as well as the price at which it would sell.[38]

Nevertheless, the Union Pacific relented. Why? Certainly the pressure of public opinion was of considerable concern to them. The Union Pacific officials obviously knew that the Mormon people could and would unite to accomplish remarkable tasks. They had watched as the Mormons, under the direction of their ecclesiastical leaders, completed their contracts on the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads and constructed the Utah Central, Utah Southern, Utah Northern and the Summit County railroads. They probably had no doubts that, if forced to do so, the Mormons would also build the proposed road from Salt Lake to Coalville and thus break the Union Pacific monopoly.

During 1875 there appeared to be no attempt on the part of the Union Pacific to exert their monopoly, and the road even received some praise by the local press as the "rich and prosperous company, however powerful it may be, (that) is not disposed to use its power to the injury of the people who consume coal in our Territory."[39] In late February of 1876, there were a few tense days when it was reported in the Salt Lake papers that the Union Pacific was not providing sufficient cars at Echo to transport the Coalville coal to Ogden. The cry for a competing railroad was again raised as the indignant citizens of Summit County held a protest meeting. However, the crisis passed in less than a week when the Union Pacific restored unlimited service, claiming their actions had been due to a temporary shortage of coal cars.[40]

The same situation repeated itself in December of 1876. The Union Pacific adopted a policy of utilizing its coal cars to haul coal from its own mines in Wyoming and provided such cars at Echo to pick up the Summit County coal only if they were not required for their own needs. Only enough cars to carry about one-third of the coal mined at Coalville were furnished; and, as a result of the Summit mines being forced to limit their production, more than two hundred miners were laid off. Once again the people resolved to build a competing railroad, but in this crisis the Salt Lake Herald opposed the action on the grounds that the Union Pacific could force any competing road into bankruptcy.[41]

In December of 1876 the Union Pacific strengthened its coal monopoly when the president of the company, Sidney Dillon, purchased the church-owned coal mines at Chalk Creek and also purchased the controlling interest in the Summit County Railroad.[42] They then forced the independent Coalville mine owners into a contract in November of 1877 by threatening to close the Summit County Railroad; under that contract the U.P. agreed to purchase all the coal the mines produced but with the stipulation that coal could not be sold to anyone else.[43] Once this contract was signed, they regularly decreased the number of cars available to carry Summit coal, claiming a scarcity.[44] By July of 1878 the Union Pacific was allowing only enough cars to carry about fifty tons of coal a week from the competitive mines in the area.[45] These controls continued throughout the winter of 1878-79 and forced the Summit mines to lay off most of their employees. An economic depression crippled Summit County; and because of the contract--which limited sale of coal to the Union Pacific exclusively--many families, who had previously obtained their coal by trading farm products at the mines, were now prohibited from doing so and suffered from lack of fuel that winter.[46]

The people tolerated these practices until the winter of 1879-80 when they again took action to try to break the Union Pacific coal monopoly. On December 26, 1879, a number of Salt Lake businessmen met and organized the Utah Eastern Railroad. The charter called for a narrow gauge line to run from Salt Lake City through either Parley's or Emigration Canyon, Parley's Park, Park City and Wanship to Coalville. An issue of $700,000 of capital stock divided into 7,000 shares of $100 each was offered. Only $51,000 of this stock was purchased at the time of incorporation. The initial stockholders were:

Robert Harkness Salt Lake City 50 shares
Edmund Wilkes Salt Lake City 50 shares
A. S. Patterson Salt Lake City 50 shares
Henry Dinwoody Salt Lake City 50 shares
R. T. Burton Salt Lake City 50 shares
John A. Groesbeck Salt Lake City 50 shares
George M. Scott Salt Lake City 50 shares
Joseph M. Cohen Salt Lake City 50 shares
James McGregor Salt Lake City 50 shares
R. C. Chambers Salt Lake City 50 shares
Francis Armstrong Salt Lake City 50 shares
Henry Wagener Salt Lake City 50 shares

These stockholders elected Robert C. Chambers, George M. Scott, Henry Dinwoody, Francis Armstrong, Edmund Wilkes, John A. Groesbeck, Joseph M. Cohen, Robert Harkness and Robert T. Burton as directors.[47] Five of the nine directors were non-Mormons.[48]

The announcement of plans to build the Utah Eastern was favorably received by the people. The Salt Lake Herald, however, again sounded a warning that the road, if built, would soon be forced out of business by the Union Pacific. That great monopolistic railroad could and would, it was felt, cut prices on coal in Salt Lake City, even if they suffered a financial loss, until the local road was driven from the scene or its stockholders forced to sell out to the Union Pacific. It further warned that even the most community-spirited men would sell their stock if they could see nothing but losses on their investment. The only way to prevent a sell-out and thus prevent a monopoly from being re-established would be for the community to own the road and thus operate it for the good of all the people.[49]

The directors of the Utah Eastern recognized the dangers that the Herald had pointed out and immediately took measures to prevent a possible take-over by the Union Pacific. The first step was to intro duce a bill in the Territorial Legislature which would authorize county governments to purchase stock in the Utah Eastern.[50] The bill passed both houses but was vetoed by Governor Emery who had, it was insinuated, acted under pressure from the Union Pacific Company.[51]

When the bill failed, the stockholders elected three trustees to hold 4,000 shares, or a majority of stock, for them. This stock could be sold, but the trustees would retain the right to vote the stock for fifteen years. It was hoped that this would preclude a Union Pacific take-over. Two Mormons, John R. Winder and Leonard W. Hardy, and one non-Mormon, Fred W. Auerbach, were elected as trustees.[52] By taking this action, so stated the Deseret News, the people would stand to gain either by making a profit on their investments in the road or, if the Union Pacific dropped the price of coal to force the Utah Eastern out of existence, they would obtain inexpensive coal.[53]

The 7,000 shares of stock not subscribed at the time of incorporation were placed on the market. Of these, the trustees were to hold 4,000. A brisk campaign was conducted to encourage the people of Salt Lake County to buy the stock which was valued at $100 a share but was offered for $50 per share with 10 percent down and 10 percent due each thirty days. This plan made it possible for numerous small investors to invest in the road.[54]

The Union Pacific officials did not stand idly by as the people of Utah schemed to break their long protected coal monopoly. Even though they controlled the Summit County Railroad and could already carry coal from their line at Ogden to Salt Lake via the Utah Central, they felt it necessary to build a competing road to the smelters at Park City. To do this they amended the articles of incorporation for the Summit County Railroad and made plans to construct a standard gauge road.[55] In October of 1880 the Summit County Railroad was sold at public auction for failure to pay the interest on its bonds and was purchased for $75,000 by Sidney Dillon.[56]

After a route survey had been conducted by Edmund Wilkes, who had earlier built the American Fork Railroad, grading of the Utah Eastern began at Coalville in early May, 1880. The Union Pacific controlled Summit County Railroad commenced work about a month later, and the construction crews of the two would-be competitors worked side by side as grading progressed through the summer.[57]

The first track on the Utah Eastern was laid on November 5 just as one of the worst winters on record began to make itself felt. The crews worked in zero degree weather and by December 10 had laid twenty-two miles of track and were just a mile and a half short of Park City. Even though the grading work for the Summit County line had begun one month later than that for the Utah Eastern, they were approaching Park City at the same time. It appears that the Eastern crews had been slowed down because the Union Pacific had conveniently delayed the delivery of Utah Eastern rails; but even though the Summit County had laid about half of its total track before the Eastern crews even received rails, it was to Edmund Wilkes' credit that they had managed to catch the Union Pacific sponsored line.

Park City practically became a railroad center on December 12, 1880, when both roads were laid to the city. About noon on that day the Utah Eastern track gang passed the planned terminus of the Summit County which was located about a half mile from town; at that time the Union Pacific track gang was still some 300 yards from their terminus. The Eastern men pushed on to the city limits where they were met by a delegation of local citizens who set up beer for the crews. After a respectable delay, track laying was resumed and the Utah Eastern reached its terminus at about 5:00 p.m.[58]

Both railroads began hauling coal immediately. The narrow gauge Eastern was reported to be carrying about forty tons a day to Kimball's junction where it was sold for $4.00 a ton for shipment by wagon to Salt Lake City. It was also carrying another sixty tons a day to Park City, primarily for use by the Ontario and Empire mining companies.[59] The standard gauge Summit County Railroad was carrying large quantities of coal to Park City for $6.00 a ton. It also enjoyed most of the passenger traffic that came from Salt Lake City via the Utah Central to Ogden, thence on the Union Pacific to Echo and finally on the "Summit" for the remaining twenty-six miles to Park City. The round trip fare was $ 9.00 per person.[60]

On January 14, 1881, the Summit County Railroad ceased to exist as a result of the incorporation of the Echo and Park City Railroad Company. This road, which was controlled by the Union Pacific, was chartered to purchase the Summit County Railroad. It will be recalled that Sidney Dillon of the Union Pacific had purchased the Summit and he now sold his interest to the Echo and Park City Railroad for 510 first mortgage $1,000 bonds, 4,660 of the 5,000 shares of stock that were issued, and $30,600 in credit on the new company's books. Dillon controlled all of the stock issued except eleven shares which were held by the eleven other incorporators. He soon disposed of all but 329 shares to other Union Pacific officials. The new road's directors were Dillon, John Sharp and James T. Clark, all officers or directors of the Union Pacific Railroad Company; Abram Gould, the U.P.'s Salt Lake coal dealer and brother of Jay Gould; and LeGrand Young.[61] This change affected nothing in the operation of the Union Pacific's branch to Park City except the name.

The narrow gauge Utah Eastern apparently had all the business its limited number of cars could carry through the first winter of its operation; and the local papers reported, on several occasions, that the Eastern could be expected to push on to Salt Lake City in the spring. Spring came to Salt Lake but the Utah Eastern did not. In 1881 the road's only construction was a short branch line to the Home Coal Company mines above Coalville.[62]

Two explanations for the lack of construction toward Salt Lake City were given. The first was that while the little narrow gauge was receiving adequate income to meet operating expenses and even showed a slight profit, it could not possibly continue operations and support the cost of building twenty-five miles of railroad to reach Salt Lake City. The only way the Eastern could begin construction would be to sell additional stock or bonds, and it was felt that the available money market for Utah railroads had been exhausted.[63]

The second reason was the interest that the Denver and Rio Grande Western Construction Company had expressed in building a line from Salt Lake to Park City . In the spring of 1881, the Western, as it was often referred to, had purchased the vast Pleasant Valley coal fields which had been unearthed in Spanish Fork Canyon, and it was completing a railroad from there to Provo. The road was to be extended to Salt Lake City by the end of 1882. This new enterprise, which had received much attention in the local papers, held promise of providing coal by rail from a Utah source other than the Coalville mines. The Western was also interested in competing with the Union Pacific for the Coalville and Park City trade. George A. Lowe, the Western's manager in Utah, evidently reached an agreement with the Utah Eastern's officers, providing for the Western to build a line from Salt Lake City to a junction on the Utah Eastern's line at or near Park City.[64] To accomplish this the Salt Lake and Park City Railway Company was incorporated on May 26, 1881, with George A. Lowe as president, director and principal stockholder.[65] Just two months later it was consolidated as an independent branch of the newly formed Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad.[66]

Grading for this road up Parley's Canyon was begun in June but soon ceased, and the road was never completed. The Denver and Rio Grande Western was experiencing serious financial difficulties and did not provide the support necessary to finish the line.[67]

The Utah Eastern continued its operation between Coalville and Park City and earned $379,056.00 from December of 1880 to December of 1883; this provided sufficient money to meet operational expenses and pay the interest on its bonded indebtedness.[68] The road's major client was the Ontario Mining Company of Park City which had issued a contract to the Eastern to carry fifty to sixty tons of coal a day to its smelters and ore processing plant. It also carried an additional forty tons of coal daily to Park City and Kimball's junction for wagon shipment to Salt Lake City.

The Eastern might have continued in operation indefinitely had not the Union Pacific found a way to gain control of the road. Unfortunately, only 1,648 shares of stock were sold in 1880 during the time the road was being constructed to Park City. This provided income of only $82,400 which was inadequate to purchase rails or rolling stock for the company. Director Robert R. Chambers bonded the road for $186,000 to the firm of Haggin and Tevis of San Francisco with the stipulation that they would be given sufficient bonus stock to control the road. Mr. Haggin was also president of the Ontario Mining Company and guaranteed, by contract, a large amount of coal business for the Eastern. Chambers agreed to the transaction and transferred 2,232 shares to Haggin; this amount was more than the total of all other shares issued. This whole transaction was completed without the knowledge of the other officers, directors or the trustees (who had been appointed to hold the 4,000 shares of stock to prevent a Union. Pacific takeover) of the Utah Eastern. By autumn of 1883, the Union Pacific had secretly been able to purchase the 2,232 Haggin shares and enough other stock to hold 2,600 shares. At the Utah Eastern stockholders' meeting on November 19, 1883, the Union Pacific personnel were able to dominate the elections. They elected their own set of directors, of course, and thus gained control of the company. The new directors promptly closed the line, transferred its books to Omaha, its business to the Echo and Park City Railroad, and its equipment to the Utah and Northern Railroad Company.[69]

The stunned stockholders of the Utah Eastern took legal action to regain control of the road in 1884 but failed. In 1887 the Union Pacific was able to buy the Utah Eastern, which had not operated since 1884, for $ 25, 000. They promptly dismantled the track and transferred the remaining equipment to other Union Pacific roads.[70]

The Union Pacific's monopoly on coal ceased in 1883 at about the same time that they had halted operations of the Utah Eastern. In that year the Denver and Rio Grande Western completed its railroad through the rapidly developing coal fields of Carbon County to Salt Lake City from Denver, after which coal supplies for the populated Utah areas were not only plentiful, but prices were competitive.


[1] Ogden Junction, May 25, 1870.

[2] Utah, An Act Incorporating Coalville City, Utah Session Law, 15th sess. (1867), chap. XVII, pp. 17-19.

[3] Tullidge, History of Northern Utah, p. 131.

[4] Deseret Evening News (SLC), October 26, 1869.

[5] Deseret Evening News (SLC), October 26, 1869. The Articles of Incorporation for this road are not on file in either the Utah State or the National Archives.

[6] Deseret Evening News (SLC), October 26, 1869.

[7] Deseret Evening News (SLC), September 28, October 26, November 9, December 1, 1869.

[8] Deseret Evening News (SLC), September 28, October 26, November 9, December 1, 1869.

[9] Leonard J. Arrington, "Utah's Coal Road in the Age of Unregulated Competition," Utah Historical Quarterly, vol. 23 (1955), p. 38.

[10] Leonard J. Arrington, "Utah's Coal Road in the Age of Unregulated Competition".

[11] Salt Lake Telegraph, September 29, November 30, 1869.

[12] Ogden Junction, June 6, September 27, October 18, 1871.

[13] Summit County Railroad, Articles of Incorporation, November 29, 1871, Utah State Archives.

[14] Summit County Railroad, Articles of Incorporation.

[15] Letter, William W. Riter to Brigham Young, October 14, 1875, L.D.S. Church Historian's Office, W. W. Riter Letter File. John Boyden served as trustee for the shareholders of the Coalville and Echo Railroad stock and was responsible for distributing the new stock to the shareholders in the old company.

[16] Salt Lake Herald, March 13, August 29, 1872; Deseret Evening News (SLC), August 16, 1872.

[17] Arrington, "Utah's Coal Road," p. 39; William W. Riter Transcript, Bancroft Library, Berkeley, California, Utah Collection.

[18] Salt Lake Herald, March 28, April 26, May 4, 1873; Deseret Evening News (SLC), April 7, 1873; Ogden Junction, June 14, 1874.

[19] Letter, William W. Riter to Brigham Young, October 25, 1875, L.D.S. Church Historian's Office, William W. Riter Letter File.

[20] Salt Lake Herald, July 9, August 17, 1873; Deseret Evening News (SLC), October 22, 1873.

[21] Salt Lake Herald, March 28, April 26, May 4, 1873; Deseret Evening News (SLC), April 7, 1873; Ogden Junction, June 14, 1873. A second engine and a number of new cars were added to the rolling stock of the line in October of 1875 at a cost of $9,989.20. See letters, William W. Riter to Brigham Young, October 13, 25, 1875, L.D.S. Church Historian's Office, William W. Riter Letter File.

[22] Ogden Junction. June 18, 1873. Apparently mules were used on the up run, at least to some extent. The Ogden Junction, March 14, 1874, reported that three mules were being used to pull each car up to the mines above Coalville at that time.

[23] Salt Lake Tribune, November 26, 1872.

[24] Salt Lake and Echo Railroad Company, Articles of Incorporation, January 25, 1873, Utah State Archives.

[25] Utah Mining Journal (SLC), December 8, 1872.

[26] Utah Eastern Railroad Company, Articles of Incorporation, June 11, 1874, Utah State Archives.

[27] Salt Lake and Coalville Railroad Company, Articles of Incorporation, June 13, 1874, Utah State Archives.

[28] Salt Lake Tribune, September 10, 1874.

[29] Salt Lake Tribune, October 31, 1874.

[30] Deseret Evening News (SLC), June 30, 1874; Salt Lake Herald, July 1, 1874. Ogden, it appears, was already paying a higher price as transportation charges for coal going to Ogden had been set to equal the combined costs of the Union Pacific and Utah Central rate to Salt Lake City.

[31] Salt Lake Herald, July 1, 1874.

[32] The Union Pacific's coal fields in Wyoming were believed to be greater than the anthracite coal fields of Pennsylvania. They extended along the route of the railroad for miles, and their discovery had been a primary reason for the conversion from wood to coal as fuel for the locomotives of many of the western railroads. Salt Lake Tribune, April 4, 1875.

[33] (blank, not used in original document; used here to retain sequence of footnote numbering)

[34] Deseret Evening News (SLC), July 1, 1874; Salt Lake Herald, July 3, 1874; Daily Ogden Junction, July 3, 1874; Salt Lake Tribune, July 22, 1874. Some part of the "coal war" was discussed nearly every day in all of the local papers. The references listed above summarize the issues and actions taken.

[35] Ogden Junction, July 22, 1874.

[36] Daily Ogden Junction, July 10, 1874.

[37] Salt Lake Herald, August 8, 1874.

[38] Arrington, "Utah's Coal Road," pp. 42-43.

[39] Daily Ogden Junction, November 9, 1875.

[40] Salt Lake Herald, March 1, 3, 1876; Daily Ogden Junction, March 2, 1876; Deseret Evening News (SLC), March 3, 1876.

[41] Salt Lake Herald, December 3,1876; Salt Lake Tribune, December 2, 1876.

[42] Salt Lake Tribune, December 30, 1876, March 31, 1877; Summit County Railroad Account, p. 461, Brigham Young University Library Archives, Brigham Young Cash Ledger Books, vol.3; Letter, W. W. Riter to Brigham Young, July 28, 1876. Mr. Riter's letter informed the Mormon President that the Union Pacific was interested in acquiring the church-owned coal mines near Coalville and advised him to hold out for a good profit in the sale. The Cash Ledger Books show the receipt of $60,000 on March 10, 1877, from the Union Pacific Railroad for the stocks and bonds of the Summit County Railroad and the Summit County coal land.

[43] Deseret News (SLC), October 31, November 21, 1877.

[44] Arrington, "Utah's Coal Road," pp. 44-45. He bases his statement on a Deseret News article of April 10, 1878, which states that the number of cars of coal coming from Coalville had been cut to two. In the same issue of the News, however, a second article notes that the "two" was an error and should have read "twenty."

[45] Salt Lake Tribune, July 9, 20, 1878; Deseret News (SLC), July 24, 1878.

[46] Arrington, "Utah's Coal Road," pp. 44-47.

[47] Utah Eastern Railroad Company, Articles of Incorporation, December 27, 1879, Utah State Archives.

[48] Salt Lake Herald. December 4, 1881.

[49] Salt Lake Herald, December 28, 1879, January 21, 1880.

[50] Utah, Territorial Legislative Assembly, 24th Session (Salt Lake City, 1879), p. 104.

[51] Deseret Evening News (SLC), May 7, 1880.

[52] Utah Eastern Railroad, Amendment, Articles of Incorporation, July 7, 1880; Trustees Agreement, Utah Eastern Railroad, L.D.S. Church Historian's Office, Utah Eastern Railroad Letter File; Deseret Evening News (SLC), May 19, 1880.

[53] Deseret Evening News (SLC), May 19, 1880.

[54] Salt Lake Herald, May 14, 1880; Deseret Evening News (SLC), May 19, 1880; Account Book, Utah Eastern Railroad, L.D.S. Church Historian's Office, Special Collection. The account books list a large number of small shareholders. They also show that 1221 9/10 shares of stock were sold for $61,497.50 as of December 28, 1882.

[55] Summit County Railroad Company, Amendment, Articles of Incorporation, April 28, 1880, Utah State Archives.

[56] Union Trust Company v. Summit County Railroad, case 4511, Utah 3rd Dist. (1880).

[57] Salt Lake Herald, January 1, May 9, June 9, 12, 20, July 29, 1880

[58] Salt Lake Herald, December 16, 1880.

[59] Salt Lake Herald, December 15, 24, 1880.

[60] Salt Lake Herald, December 25, 30, 31, 1880.

[61] Echo and Park City Railroad Company, Articles of Incorporation, January 14, 1881, Utah State Archives.

[62] Salt Lake Herald, November 22, 1881; Ogden Daily Herald, August 16, 1881.

[63] Arrington, "Utah's Coal Road," p. 55; Salt Lake Herald, June 12, December 4, 1881.

[64] Salt Lake Herald, June 12, 23, August 18, 1881; Ogden Daily Herald, August 16, 1881.

[65] Salt Lake and Park City Railroad Company, Articles of Incorporation, May 26, 1881, Utah State Archives.

[66] Owen Meredith Wilson, "A History of the Denver and Rio Grande Project, 1870-1901" (Unpublished PhD dissertation, Univ. of California at Berkeley, 1942), pp. 146-147.

[67] Robert G. Athearn, Rebel of the Rockies (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1962), pp. 132-133.

[68] Arrington, "Utah's Coal Road," p. 55.

[69] Arrington, "Utah's Coal Road," pp. 55-58.

[70] Arrington, "Utah's Coal Road," p. 62.