Southern Pacific in Utah
This page last updated on March 24, 2022.
(This is a work in progress; research continues.)
November 26, 1879
The Central Pacific is busy putting up a roundhouse and shops, at Ogden. (Ogden Junction, November 26, 1879)
October 18, 1883
In an item lifted from the Ogden Pilot, it is reported that the Central Pacific railroad is changing the color of its "cabooses" to a bright metallic red color, which can be seen a long distance. (Salt Lake Daily Herald, October 18, 1883)
May 3, 1884
"The railroads throughout Utah, and the city of Salt Lake, adopted standard time on the 1st. The time is twenty-seven minutes faster than Park City time." (Park Mining Record, Park City, May 3, 1884)
February 14, 1885
Southern Pacific Company leased all of the Central Pacific property in the Territory of Utah, for a period of 99 years, $1.2 million per year rent. (Box Elder County Abstracts, Book B, p.219, line 17) Poor's Railroad Manual for 1929, page 353, states that the so-called "Omnibus" lease took effect on March 1, 1885.
Southern Pacific Company was incorporated in Kentucky on March 17, 1884. (Poor's Railroad Manual, 1929, page 353)
January 23, 1890
The Central Pacific received last evening, via the Union Pacific, a 'rotary' snow plow, from Wells French Car Co., Chicago. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, January 23, 1890)
SP added a new yardmaster's office at Ogden, 16 feet by 32 feet. (SP ICC Structure Valuation Index; SP headquarters, research completed July 26, 1995)
November 19, 1892
Southern Pacific erected new ice houses, located near its shops, replacing the previous ice houses that were located near those of Union Pacific. (Ogden Standard Examiner, November 19, 1892)
Southern Pacific began talks with Ogden city officials concerning a "bonus" to encourage SP to move its shops from Carlin, Nevada, and Terrace, Utah, to Ogden. Local newspapers carried regular editorials pointing out the benefits of increased employment. Southern Pacific asked for a $30,000 bonus from the Chamber of Commerce, and $10,000 was raised from one source alone. The proposed site was inspected by SP officials on November 22, 1892. (Ogden Standard Examiner, November 18, 1892; November 20, 1892; November 23, 1892)
January 8, 1893
The president of the Ogden Chamber of Commerce returned from San Francisco with news that the new Southern Pacific shops in Ogden were to be made larger than previously planned. Bricks for the new shops were arriving daily, at a rate of four carloads each day. (Ogden Standard Examiner, January 10, 1893; January 26, 1893)
April 30, 1893
Reported as being the deadline for bids, contracts were to be signed in time for work to commence on May 10, 1893, for construction to begin on Southern Pacific's new locomotive shops in Ogden. The final plans for the shops were approved and released in April. The bids were opened in San Francisco on May 15th, and the contract for the foundation work was signed on May 16th. Contracts for wood, iron, steel and roofing were to be signed within a week. (Ogden Standard Examiner, April 1, 1893; April 23, 1893; April 26, 1893; May 16, 1893; May 17, 1893)
May 22, 1893
Excavation work began for SP's new shops in Ogden. Work was being done by Corey Brothers. (Ogden Standard, May 22, 1893)
September 13, 1893
The contract for the wood and iron work at the SP shops in Ogden was signed, and work commenced on September 19th, after three carloads of lumber arrived at the work site. By October 1st, five cars of timbers and materials, along with three cars of brick were arriving at the work site. The final contract, for painting, was signed on October 3rd. Six carloads of rails, for use inside the shops, and its approaches, along with several additional cars of materials, shipped from Sacramento, were received on October 9, 1893. (Ogden Standard, September 14, 1893; September 20, 1893; October 1, 1893; October 4, 1893; October 10, 1893)
December 1, 1893
The SP Salt Lake Division Master Mechanic, W. G. Small, moved his office from Terrace, Utah, to Ogden, to take charge of the new shops. On December 18th, all of the shop equipment and tools being moved from Terrace was to transferred to Ogden. (Ogden Standard, December 2, 1893; December 17, 1893)
December 31, 1893
Electric power and steam power at the new Ogden shop complex was turned on, and the first machinery was placed in operation. (Signor, Southern Pacific's Salt Lake Division, page 135)
July 29, 1899
Central Pacific Railroad was reorganized as the Central Pacific Railway. (ICC valuation drawing V2/33)
March 18, 1900
Pullman has bought the S.P. interest in the sleepers, and will buy the U. P. interest as well. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, March 18, 1900)
August 15, 1900
"C. P. Huntington Dead" at his summer camp in the Adirondacks, near midnight on Monday night-Tuesday morning (13th - 14th). (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, August 15, 1900)
March 23, 1901
Southern Pacific announced in San Francisco that they would build a new 105-mile line in Utah, to be known as the "Great Lake Cut-Off". The line is to be built between Ogden and Lucin, allowing the abandonment of the old Central Pacific 146-mile line between Ogden and Lucin by way of the Kelton and Promontory mountains. The cost was projected as being $3,000,000, with a total savings of 41 miles of line to be the result. The new line will be almost flat, with no grade greater than 0.4 percent. It will cross the upper Great Salt Lake in two places. (Ogden Standard Examiner, March 23, 1901)
April 23, 1901
The contractors for the Ogden-Lucin Cut-Off will be Kirkpatrick Bros. & Collins, and D'Huer. The contracts were let two weeks previously and various subcontractors had begun arriving in Ogden to commence work. The D'Huer company has had all the contracts for Southern Pacific improvements on the coast. The Kirkpatrick company representatives had been in Ogden for the past two weeks, and were at that time loading their "immense railroad constructing machinery" at Cheyenne, which had most recently been used for work on Sherman Hill. Work has begun on quarry operations at Promontory Point to supply fill for the new line. The surveyors are actively at work along the projected route. (Ogden Standard Examiner, April 23, 1901, April 26, 1901)
August 7, 1901
The last needed land purchase has been completed for the new Ogden-Lucin Cut-Off. The projected route is west from Ogden by way of Marriotts, Warren, and West Weber. Kirkpatrick Bros. & Collins will sublet most of the needed work to subcontractors. (Ogden Standard Examiner, August 7, 1901)
February 1, 1902
The following comes from the Basalt (Colorado) Journal, February 1, 1902 (courtesy of Tom VanWormer, email dated May 23, 2009):
WILL BRIDGE SALT LAKE
Gigantic Scheme of the Union Pacific Management
A News special from Omaha says:
The report that the Union Pacific system will spend $20,000,000 in improvements west of Ogden this year was officially verified by Julius Kruttschnitt, fourth vice president and general manager of the Southern Pacific railway. The statement is the first official confirmation of the rumors and was issued following an all day conference with President Burt. Mr. Kruttschnitt said:
"I am here direct from Mr. Harriman for the purpose of conferring with President Burt relative to the plan for improving the western portion of the Union Pacific system. It is now definitely decided that work of enormous extent will be begun at once."
"The plan now finally determined upon is to make the entire line from Ogden to the coast as good as that part from Omaha to Ogden. To accomplish this grades and curves will be either eliminated or reduced and new steel and ties will be laid all the way."
"The most important feature of the whole project, however, is that the cut-off from Ogden to Lucin is finally to be built, extending directly across the north end of the Great Salt Lake."
Work began on the Ogden-Lucin Cutoff. Contracts had been let in February. (Signor, Southern Pacific's Salt Lake Division, page 72; Ogden Standard Examiner, February 22, 1953)
The train load of rails reached the work site at the lake. (Ogden Standard Examiner, February 22, 1953)
August 19, 1902
Work began on the trestle portion of the Ogden-Lucin Cutoff. (Signor, Southern Pacific's Salt Lake Division, page 74)
August 21, 1902
Pile driving started for the trestle of the Ogden-Lucin Cutoff. (Bob Burton, presentation to Railway & Locomotive Historical Society annual meeting, Ogden, Utah, May 9, 1987)
February 23, 1903
SP announced that the company would add a machine shop to their Ogden shops complex, which already had a 20-stall roundhouse. The additions were to include a 10-stall addition to the existing roundhouse, as well as a new machine shop measuring 123 feet by 250 feet. Half of the new machine shop would have 11 engine inspection pits, and a 100-ton overhead crane, while the other half, 60x250 feet, would be filled with various machines needed to maintain locomotives. The additions were to be completed within the current year. (Ogden Standard Examiner, February 23 1903)
March 19, 1903
The Promontory Branch from Ogden to Corinne was abandoned in 1903 when the SP began using the UP line between Ogden and Corinne. Westbounds out of Ogden operated over the Oregon Short Line track to Brigham City, then on the new cut-off to Corrine," and the old Ogden-Corrine line is abandoned. (Weekly Independent of Elko, March 27, 1903, citing the previous Friday's daily issue for March 20th, "beginning yesterday"; courtesy of John Sweetser, email dated April 23, 2003)
(From July 1903 until July 1904, all SP trains operating west of Ogden ran by way of OSL trackage rights north from Ogden to Brigham City, then over OSL's Brigham City Cutoff from Brigham City to Corinne Junction.)
July 16, 1903
Malad Valley Railroad completed 14.57 miles of line from Corinne and Garland. The company was incorporated on November 25, 1902. (OSL corporate history) (Utah, 4050) Construction had begun on April 6 at Corinne, at a connection with the Central Pacific's line to Promontory. In November 1902 OSL completed construction of the 4.09-mile "Brigham City Cut-off", between Brigham City and a connection with the Central Pacific line at Corinne Junction, about 1.5 miles east of Corinne. (source not recorded)
July 26, 1903
OSL and Central Pacific signed a trackage rights agreement that allowed OSL to operate trains over the 1.55-mile section of the Central Pacific's main line between Corinne Junction and Corinne. (Also in July 1903, the SP began operating over the new Ogden-Lucin Cut-off, directly across the Great Salt Lake, making the Promontory line a secondary one.) (OSL corporate history, page 50)
(On July 1, 1903 OSL began service to Garland sugar factory, operating over their own line between Brigham City and Corinne Junction, over the Central Pacific between Corinne Junction and Corinne, and over the Malad Valley Railroad between Corinne and Garland.)
(The Utah Sugar Company completed the construction of a sugar factory at Garland in 1903 and in July 1907 the plant came under the ownership of the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company.)
(Union Pacific bought the 1.55-mile Corinne Junction to Corinne portion of the old Central Pacific from SP on November 14, 1947 after the Southern Pacific Promontory Branch was abandoned.)
October 26, 1903
Pile driving ended for the trestle of the Ogden-Lucin Cutoff. (Bob Burton, presentation to Railway & Locomotive Historical Society annual meeting, Ogden, Utah, May 9, 1987)
November 13, 1903
The track laying crews from east and west met in the middle of the lake. (Ogden Standard Examiner, February 22, 1953)
November 26, 1903
A last spike ceremony was held upon the completion of the Ogden-Lucin Cutoff. E. H. Harriman drove the ceremonial last spike, and the spike was withdrawn and awarded to him as a souvenir. A special banquet was held at the Alta Club in Salt Lake City. (Ogden Standard, November 21, 1903; November 26, 1903)
March 8, 1904
The first through freight train used the newly completed Ogden-Lucin Cutoff. The first train was an eastbound train made up of 35 cars, with "Asiatic" freight, taking seven hours less time to travel between Lucin and Ogden. That afternoon, the first westbound train departed Ogden and traveled across the lake. (Salt Lake Tribune, March 9, 1904; the same news story was carried by numerous newspapers across the nation, with the same March 8th date and identical wording.)
June 14, 1904
A party of Ogden businessmen returned from a three-day excursion along the route of the new Ogden-Lucin Cutoff. One of the excursionists, Mr. Schageter of Ogden Packing Company, stated "that the work was rapidly nearing completion. There were still about 1,500 men engaged in the work of filling-in and rip-rapping and freight trains were being run over the line. The freight trains consist of 60 cars and they cross from Lucin to Ogden in seven hours. These 60 cars would make two trains by the old route and it would take 15 hours in time from Lucin to Ogden." (Ogden Standard, June 14, 1904)
July 1, 1904
SP operated the last (through) train over the old Promontory Line. (Nevada State Herald of Wells, August 24, 1906; courtesy of John Sweetser, email dated April 24, 2003)
September 18, 1904
SP began operating passenger trains over the new Ogden-Lucin Cutoff. Freight trains began using the new line "months" before. (Central Nevadan of Battle Mountain, September 15, 1904; courtesy of John Sweetser, email dated April 24, 2003; also from the Omaha Daily Bee, September 16, 1904; Topeka Daily Herald, September 19, 1904)
24th Street Viaduct built in 1909, 25 feet wide by 2,106 feet long. (SP ICC Structure Valuation Index; SP headquarters, research completed July 26, 1995)
Oil as a locomotive fuel was first tested on SP as 1894. The design of efficient fireboxes and burners did not come until 1900. New locomotives were being converted upon delivery at about the same time, with the conversions becoming routine by 1903. In September 1901 the railroad announced that oil fueling stations would be built all along its 1500-mile route from Ashland in southern Oregon to El Paso. Southern Pacific lines across Nevada, from Sparks to Ogden used coal exclusively until 1909, after which conversion of locomotives and construction of oil fueling stations began. Oil became the exclusive fuel on SP in Utah and Nevada by 1912. (See "The Great Transformation" in SP Trainline, Issue 85, Fall 2005)
February 1, 1913
Union Pacific control of Southern Pacific ended. (see also: "E. H. Harriman's Dream" by Don Hofsommer, in The Streamliner, Volume 10, Number 2, pages 27-31)
100-foot standard pony truss turntable, built in 1915. (SP ICC Structure Valuation Index; SP headquarters, research completed July 26, 1995)
Blacksmith, Tin and Tank Shop, 94 feet by 234 feet, built in 1915. (SP ICC Structure Valuation Index; SP headquarters, research completed July 26, 1995)
March 21, 1918
The United States Railway Administration (USRA) took over the operation of America’s railroads (including SP) on March 21, 1918 to improve the efficiency of America’s railroads during World War I. It continued to operate and “administer” the railroads until March 1, 1920. One review has stated that over 100,000 freight cars and over 1,900 steam locomotives were built for the USRA, at a cost to the government of $380 million.
Easement granted to Ogden Packing and Provisioning Company, May 1918. (SP ICC Structure Valuation Index; SP headquarters, research completed July 26, 1995)
March 1, 1920
The United States Railway Administration (USRA) returned control of the nation's railroads (including SP), from government control due to World War I, back to the railroad companies. Included in the enabling Esch–Cummins Act was a provision to allow the ICC to control the railroads profits and rate of return for investments.
February 6, 1923
ICC authorized SP control of CP, including provisions of previous agreement for preferential treatment with UP through Ogden.
This was the start of the Ogden gateway case because it allowed (forced) SP to solicit traffic for interchange with UP at Ogden that originated on SP north of Santa Margarita and Caliente, California, and south of Kirk, Oregon. This was essentially the same lines of separation line as an earlier internal agreement between UP and SP under Harriman control that decided which gateway would be used, Ogden for UP traffic or El Paso for SP traffic.
May 23, 1928
SP received Utah PSC approval to close the agency at Lemay. (Utah Public Service Commission case 1028)
April 18, 1929
Cinder pit at roundhouse was retired on April 18, 1929, AFE 78346. (SP ICC Structure Valuation Index; SP headquarters, research completed July 26, 1995)
August 26, 1929
SP received Utah PSC approval to close the agency at Cecil Junction, the junction with the Promontory Branch, 0.9 mile north of Ogden. (Utah Public Service Commission case 1133)
June 18, 1930
SP received Utah PSC approval to close the agency at Promontory Point, halfway on the Ogden-Lucin Cut-off over the Great Salt Lake, 23.8 miles from Ogden and 23.3 miles from Lakeside. The agency was opened to receive materials for the double-tracking of the Ogden-Lucin Cut-off. The project was complete and the telegraph operator there was no longer needed. (Utah Public Service Commission case 1164)
June 20, 1930
SP added a second track between West Weber and the Great Salt Lake trestle, at a cost of more than $250,000. (Davis County Clipper, June 20, 1930, "Utah Weekly Industrial Review")
August 20, 1930
SP received Utah PSC approval to close the non-agency at Surbon, located on the Promontory Branch, 22 miles from Corinne and 44 miles from Kelton. (Utah Public Service Commission case 1285)
October 18, 1930
SP received Utah PSC approval to close the non-agency station at Carver. The siding was used only for sugar beet loading for the Amalgamated Sugar Company, which had dismantled all of its beet loading equipment. (Utah Public Service Commission case 1192)
December 16, 1930
Natural gas installed in roundhouse, to make firing of steam locomotives easier and more effficient. (SP ICC Structure Valuation Index; SP headquarters, research completed July 26, 1995)
December 16, 1930
Natural gas installed in Machine Shop and Blacksmith shop. (SP ICC Structure Valuation Index; SP headquarters, research completed July 26, 1995)
March 31, 1937
SP received Utah PSC approval to discontinue service on the Promontory Branch between Kelton and Water Cress. (Utah Public Service Commission case 1918)
June 12, 1939
SP received Utah PSC approval to close the agency at Kelton. Only one train per week on the Promontory Branch. (Utah Public Service Commission case 2227)
June 11, 1942
The federal ICC approved SP's abandonment of the Promontory Branch between Corinne and Lucin. (252 ICC 805, Central Pacific Railway Company Et Al. Abandonment; "Cases Disposed Of Without Printed Report")
F. D. No. 13655, Central Pacific Railway Company Et Al. Abandonment. Decided June 11, 1942. Certificate issued permitting (1) abandonment by the Central Pacific Railway Company of the part of its Promontory branch between Lucin and Corinne, Utah; and (2) abandonment of operation by the Southern Pacific Company (a) over the Promontory branch between Lucin and Corinne Junction, and (b) over the Oregon Short Line Railroad between Corinne Junction and Ogden, in Box Elder and Weber Counties, Utah. Condition prescribed.
Dismantling began immediately and an "undriving" of the last spike ceremony was held at Promontory on September 8, 1942.
SP sold several buildings at Corinne in 1942, including the depot and the agent's dwelling. The agent's dwelling was sold in November 1942, and the 30-foot by 80-foot passenger and freight depot, built in 1870, was sold in December 1942, and removed from railroad property. (Documentation in support of Union Pacific Work Order 4902, September 20, 1956, retirement of 30' x 80' frame passenger and freight depot.)
March 16, 1945
OSL leased, with right to purchase, all of the trackage, facilities, and right of way of SP's line from Corinne Junction to Corinne. OSL purchased the line on October 16, 1947. SP had removed their tracks from Corinne Junction to Ogden in 1942, except for a 962 foot stub at Corinne Junction, which they sold to Utah Idaho Sugar Company. OSL bought the spur from the sugar company on April 21, 1950. (Union Pacific engineering department records)
SP had been running their Promontory Branch trains over OSL between Ogden and Corinne since about 1903. In an unsuccessful 1936 request for abandonment of the Promontory Branch SP stated that most of their trackage between those two points was "gone, removed by parties unknown". (ICC Finance Docket 9791, 212 ICC 402)
October 30, 1945
Circle rail in turntable pit changed from 90-pound rail to new 110-pound rail, during general reinforcement of turntable. (SP ICC Structure Valuation Index; SP headquarters, research completed July 26, 1995)
December 31, 1946
SP received Utah PSC approval to abandon and remove the spur at Marriott, 2.3 miles west of Ogden on the Lucin Cut-off. The spur was built for the Amalgamated Sugar Company for sugar beet loading. It was sold to SP in 1939 and the railroad has since used it only for car storage. (Utah Public Service Commission case 3070)
September 30, 1947
Southern Pacific Company was originally a Kentucky corporation, since 1884. On September 30, 1947, following some changes to the corporate tax laws in Kentucky, and a subsequent suit by SP, Southern Pacific Company was incorporated as a Delaware corporation. (Hofsommer, page 221)
November 14, 1947
OSL took possession of the 1.55-mile portion of the SP Promontory Branch (originally the 1869 Central Pacific main line) between Corinne Junction and Corinne. Union Pacific had used the line under trackage rights since July 1903 as part of the operations of the Malad Branch. SP had abandoned their Promontory Branch in 1944. (Union Pacific engineering department records)
SP had dieselized the Salt Lake Division by 1949. By June 1951 there were 25 four-unit sets of EMD F7 locomotives assigned to the division. By the same time, there were still 17 2-10-2 steam locomotives assigned to freight and helper service, and 17 4-8-2 and 4-8-4 steam locomotives assigned to passenger service. (John Signor, "Southern Pacific's Salt Lake Division," published in 2007, page 242-247)
February 13, 1951
SP sold a 16.5 foot right of way (8.25 feet on each side of the center line) along the 34.01 miles of the original CP mainline from Ogden to Corinne Junction to the Salt Lake Pipeline Company, for the use of a natural gas pipeline to southern Idaho. (Box Elder County Book of Deeds 59, p.613)
From Ogden (Cecil Junction, Station 729+60, MP 820.78) to Corinne Junction (Promontory Branch Station 1796+09) (OSL Corinne-to-Brigham City line, Station 3+85).
May 10, 1952
The Golden Spike Association held its first reenactment of the driving of the golden spike at Promontory, Utah. The rails of the SP's Promontory Branch had been removed in 1942, but there was a monument at the site.
The following comes from Railway Age:
$4 Million Expansion Planned at Ogden, Utah -- "To handle the heavy volume of traffic arising from the national defense effort and the rapidly expanding industrialization of the west," the Union Pacific and the Southern Pacific, through their jointly owned Ogden Union Railway & Depot Co., and Pacific Fruit Express, will spend $4 million on new and enlarged yard facilities at Ogden, Utah.
One of the major features of the project is expansion of the Ogden Union's East yard to permit handling all eastbound traffic. The present main yard will be used for westbound traffic. Plans call for 111,900 feet of new yard trackage; an overhead viaduct for the Bamberger Railroad; an overhead viaduct for highway traffic at 31st street; two yard office buildings; a diesel fueling station; two control towers; floodlights for both East and Main yards; a pneumatic tube system; radio and paging communication facilities; and a 15,0-ton track scale.
Parallel improvements planned by P. F. E. call for construction of an island-type icing platform with a capacity of 220 cars. Of two present island-type icing platforms, one of 70-car capacity will be retired while one of 66-car capacity will be retained for service.
Plans also call for three mechanical icing machines; a public address system; and a 500-ton ice storage facility with an ice conveyor system connecting it with the platform.
At the same time the UP will construct a four-track car repair yard with an auxiliary shop, office, locker room and storehouse building. (Railway Age, July 20, 1953, courtesy of Thornton Waite, photocopied article received on March 26, 2011)
"A 71x114 feet addition to the Ogden Shops machine shop has been completed, utilizing the tilt-up method to erect prefabricated walls. The walls were cast nearby and hoisted by SP crane. The three-track structure will serve as the diesel shop." (January 1954 Southern Pacific Bulletin, pg. 44; courtesy John Sweetser via email dated July 11, 2005)
February 20, 1956
Contract for new Salt Lake Causeway awarded to Morrison-Knudsen. Scheduled for completion on February 20, 1960. (October 1957 mimeographed history of M-K project)
March 19, 1956
"Southern Pacific awarded a $45,000,000 contract to Morrison-Knudsen Company for 13-mile fill across Great Salt Lake, Utah; embankment will replace wooden trestle which has carried trains across lake since 1904; total cost of project, including engineering, will be about $49,000,000; completion scheduled for early 1960." (Railway Age, March 19, 1956)
"Southern Pacific is at work on a 40-million-dollar solid fill to bypass its famous trestle across Great Salt Lake. Decision was undertaken because repairing bridge would have required 6 hours out-of-service time a day for 6 years even if 200-year-old trees needed for piling were in good supply -- which they're not." (Trains magazine, March 1956, page 12)
May 4, 1956
A fire on Friday May 4, 1956, consumed 645 feet of the Salt Lake trestle near the Midlake station and caused a closure of six days. Trains were detoured over D&RGW Ogden to Salt Lake City, then the WP between Salt Lake City and Alazon, Nevada. The trestle reopened on Thursday May 10, 1956. (Salt Lake Tribune, May 5, 1956; Ogden Standard Examiner, May 10, 1956, "today")
On Friday, May 4, 1956, the SP Salt Lake trestle caught fire and burned a 645-foot section, at a cost of $300,000. The fire was put out within a day and a 300-man crew from Morrison Knudsen went to work immediately completing the needed repairs. The M-K crews were already located at Promontory Point due to the on-going contract to build the causeway. The fire destroyed the rails, ties, and stringers of the trestle, but the pilings themselves were not damaged. The trestle reopened on Thursday, May 10th. During the repairs, SP trains were detoured over the D&RGW from Ogden to Salt Lake City, then over the WP from Salt Lake City to Alazon, Nevada.
"The fire was caused by a hotbox, whose burning waste wasn't extinguished properly. Thereafter, SP created a rule that crew members in such situations would be held personally responsible for controlling such fires." (Bob McKeen, Rails Through The Wasatch Facebook group, April 20, 2020)
November 30, 1956
Last of steam on SP
Here is what Robert Church wrote on page 213 of his "Cab-Foward" book:
On November 30, 1956, engine 4211 (an AC-10 Cab Forward) came into Roseville on a caboose hop after setting out cars at Davis from a freight that originated at Oakland. This was the very last freight revenue trip with an AC as power. (John Sweetser)
Tom Dill wrote on December 9, 2006:
Possibly the last use of REGULAR SP steam on a MAINLINE freight was on December 1, 1956. Photos show 2-8-0 No. 2833 leaving Oakland in the afternoon with train #418. No. 2754 also went out that afternoon on an Extra to San Jose. It is not known at this time which tied up last, thus ending regular steam service. Photos and old timebooks show that steam was still active on yard jobs at Mission Bay and Bayshore, other than the commutes, until at least mid December, possibly a little longer. There were other exceptions after these dates, but I wouldn't say they would come under the heading of REGULAR freight operations.
"The new shop switcher remained in service until it too was replaced in 1957, this time by a GE 44-ton center cab diesel switcher, number 1652, which SP had leased from its Pacific Electric subsidiary in 1954. Although PE 1652 appeared in Ogden in March 1957, SPMW 569 was not formally retired and scrapped (by National Metals in Ogden) until September 1959." (Ogden Rails, page 118)
April 21, 1959
The merger of Central Pacific Railway and Southern Pacific Company was approved by the federal ICC. (Interstate Commerce Commission Finance Docket 20445, reported in 307 ICC 806; also cited in ICC Finance Docket 2613, page 472)
June 22, 1959
SP began laying rail across the new Great Salt Lake causeway, and expected to finish the installation of CTC by the end of July. (Trains magazine, October 1959, page 12)
June 30, 1959
Central Pacific was merged with Southern Pacific. (Guy L. Dunscomb, A Century of Southern Pacific Steam Locomotives, page 375)
July 27, 1959
First revenue freight train crossed over the new Salt Lake Causeway. (Hofsommer, page 249)
August 19, 1959
Southern Pacific began operating passenger trains over the new Salt Lake Causeway. Work began on the causeway in March 1956. (Ogden Standard Examiner, January 3, 1960)
SP joined Trailer Train, the national trailer-on-flat-car (TOFC) pool. SP's connecting road at Ogden, UP, also joined Trailer Train in 1960. Competing road WP started TOFC service, better known as "piggyback" service, in 1959 between Salt Lake City and Oakland. D&RGW joined in 1963. (The Tioga Group, Intermodal Timeline, 1954 to 1966)
In anticipation of the changing of interchange rules at Ogden, allowing direct interchange between SP and D&RGW, the two roads proposed a connection between their two lines by way of a new bridge over the Weber River, and new connecting track northwest of the two lines' 90-degree crossing, where the east-west D&RGW line crossed the north-south SP line. (Southern Pacific Company. C. E. Drawing 33502, November 3, 1963, revised April 1, 1964.)
"In 1964, the Salt Lake Division was combined into the Sacramento Division. The Sacramento Division extended from its namesake to Ogden, the Modoc Line as far as Wendell, California (with WP trackage rights between Weso and Flanigan), and the Shasta route from Davis and Roseville to Dunsmuir. In the mid-1970s, the San Joaquin Division was split between the Sacramento and Los Angeles Divisions, with the trackage as far south as Fresno also added to what became a very large and sprawling chunk of railroad." (Bob McKeen, message to Facebook, Rails Through The Wasatch, July 10, 2016)
July 14, 1965
Southern Pacific railroad purchased 8,000 acres in the vicinity of the mineral extraction site. The purchase was from Basin Land and Livestock Company, which had been using the land for sheep and cattle grazing. (Ogden Standard Examiner, July 14, 1965)
(In June 1965, the U. S. Congress had approved the transfer of all Great Salt Lake shorelands from federal control to state control, allowing the state to lease minerals around the lake. This was the basis for the development of a large minerals extraction industry.)
December 31, 1966
The ICC approval for the curtailment of Ogden Union Railway & Depot Company freight operations became effective, allowing UP and SP to divide the freight operations of the joint company. At the same time, SP was allowed to build a direct connection with D&RGW at Ogden, opening the Ogden gateway. (Ogden Standard Examiner, December 6, 1966)
During the late 1960s, the interchnage between SP and D&RGW at Ogden changed. Rich Coleman wrote the following summary in 2005:
Westbound, there was a train on the Rio Grande called the FMS (Forwarder Merchandise Special - later called train #87), that arrived in Ogden at 5:40 pm. I am assuming that this is the same FMS that is shown on page 118 of "Southern Pacific's Historic Overland Route", by Tom Dill. The pictures (dated 9/1969) show the train westbound at Montello in the late afternoon sun, which would match with the arrival time of the D&RGW train in Ogden.
Eastbound, there were two trains called the SPD and SPF which both left Salt Lake City at 3:10 AM and arrived in Grand Junction, CO at 11:10 AM (Probably run as a combined train). They then continued on to Denver and Pueblo, respectively, on separate schedules. The schedule describes these as "SP Forwarder".
There was another set of trains: ADV/SPD and ADV/SPF which were very similar to the above, but departed Salt Lake City at 1:45 AM. They were later to become train #54 (splitting in Grand Junction into 54-6 and 54-8, respectively).
July 10, 1967
SP stopped using its Alco passenger locomotive (Model PA and PB) on its City of San Francisco streamlined passenger train. These locomotives had been delivered in 1948 and were replaced in this assignment by newly delivered EMD SDP45 passenger locomotives. The last set of Alco units arrived in Ogden on July 10, 1967, and were immediately placed in storage and were soon scrapped at Ogden. (Comments by Bob Mckeen on Rails Through The Wasatch group on Facebook, January 13, 2018)
October 12, 1967
Southern Pacific completed its 1-1/2 mile spur serving the new Great Salt Lake Minerals and Chemicals Corporation complex at Little Mountain. The rail spur was initially to be used to deliver construction materials as the new industrial complex was being built. (Ogden Standard Examiner, October 11, 1967)
(Union Pacific completed its own 13-mile spur to serve the industrial complex in September 1971, and all eastbound shipments then moved over UP, instead of SP to Ogden then east via Union Pacific. SP continued to interchange some limited eastbound traffic with D&RGW at Ogden.)
(Read more about the building of UP's Little Mountain Branch; including the appeal by SP and D&RGW to the U. S. Supreme Court to stop the UP spur.)
October 11-12-13, 1967
The U. S. Post Office discontinued Railway Post Office service between Omaha, Ogden and San Francisco. RPO service was discontinued specifically on SP mail trains 21 and 22 between Ogden and San Francisco, and UP mail trains 5 and 6 between Omaha and Ogden, along with trains 101 and 102 (City of San Francisco) and trains 103 and 104 (City of Los Angeles). (U. S. Post Office letter dated September 21, 1967, from Postmaster in Ogden, Utah, to all affected employees, courtesy of Bob McKeen)
The last trip of RPO "Mobile Unit" service was on the following dates, on the following trains:
- October 11, 1967 -- Train 102; departing eastbound from Lovelock, Nevada
- October 12, 1967 -- Train 22; departing eastbound from Lovelock, Nevada
- October 12, 1967 -- Train 101; departing westbound from Ogden, Utah
- October 12, 1967 -- Train 5; departing westbound from Cheyenne, Wyoming
- October 12, 1967 -- Train 103; departing westbound from Cheyenne, Wyoming
- October 12, 1967 -- Train 6; departing eastbound from Ogden, Utah
- October 12, 1967 -- Train 104; departing eastbound from Ogden, Utah
- October 13, 1967 -- Train 21; departing westbound from Ogden, Utah
January 8, 1968
The first train to be directly interchanged between SP and D&RGW at Ogden moved over a new connection, completed for the purpose.
New Rail Link is Opened -- A new rail link between the Southern Pacific and Rio Grande Railroads was accomplished when the first eastbound Southern Pacific freight train arrived at the terminus west of Ogden at 3:43PM, Jan 8 and departed at 4PM with Rio Grande crews aboard.
Officials from the Southern Pacific and the Rio Grande were on hand as were representatives of the press and television media for the initial train to take to the rails.
Shippers will benefit in this direct connection between the two railroads with faster service and delivery for their products.
The expediting of traffic in this manner has been under consideration for many years. Officials of both railroads are jubilant and are looking forward to the prospect of faster service between east and west on the Southern Pacific and Rio Grande.
Southern Pacific power will run with Rio Grande crews from the So. Pac. connection into Roper where it will be serviced and turned. So. Pac. power will then be used on freights going to Southern Pacific points. (D&RGW Green Light, January 1968; courtesy of Keith Hahn)
March 24, 1968
The following comes from the Ogden Standard Examiner, March 24, 1968:
"Today," Mr. McIntyre [M. A. McIntyre, Southern Pacific general manager] says, "the transfer of trains here [Ogden] is made in minutes, not hours." As an example, Southern Pacific and Denver & Rio Grande Western trains move through Ogden with only a momentary stop to change crews. They do it by a pair of devices called "blocking" and "power pooling."
Blocking, Mr. McIntyre explains, is the practice of putting together traffic bound for a single point in one unit, so that it can be turned over to a connecting railroad intact. Pooling power means that the railroads agree to use each others locomotives over their own tracks, rather than changing them at connecting points.
"For example," Mr. McIntyre said, "locomotives of either railroad may pick up a train in Salt Lake, on the D&RGW, and haul it through to Roseville, California. or Eugene, Oregon. on the SP. The same applies in the opposite direction. We change crews at Ogden, as we always have, but we don't waste time breaking the trains down and building the up again."
November 26, 1969
Southern Pacific Company was reorganized on November 26, 1969 as the Southern Pacific Transportation Co., a subsidiary of the new corporate holding company that took the former Southern Pacific Company name. (Hofsommer, page 275; See also: Railroad Retirement Board Employer Determination)
WP OUT, D&RGW AND SP IN BUT TRIWEEKLY ONLY: Reasoning that Western Pacific's tonnage can't subsidize an essentially "sightseeing excursion," the ICC has allowed WP to drop its Salt Lake City--San Francisco leg of the California Zephyr (last runs: March 21). Rio Grande, which also wanted out, was ordered to run its Denver--Salt Lake City CZ link on a tri-weekly schedule; and Southern Pacific was permitted to reduce its Ogden--San Francisco end of the City of San Francisco from daily to tri-weekly frequency. D&RGW and SP trains must connect between Salt Lake City and Ogden over what is at present freight--only trackage of the former. (Trains magazine, April 1970, page 8)
The following comes from Bob McKeen, posted to the Rails Through The Wasatch group on Facebook, August 26, 2018:
SP 1829, an Alco model S4 switcher, was one of the last six S4s to operate anywhere on SP. As the S4 ranks dwindling due to age and pollution regulations on places like the Bay Area, those that remained gravitated to Ogden, where they made their last stand.
By the early months of 1975, only 1792, 1810, 1820, 1829, 1839 and 1842 were still running. 1810 went first, some time around February. Thereafter 1829 and 1839 followed in quick succession, sometime in late March or early April. Next to go was 1792 at some point in April.
That left only 1820 and 1842 to soldier on, which they in May, 1975. 1842 was retired first, somewhere around the middle of the month. That left 1820 to bring down the curtain, somewhere around Memorial Day. The last picture I have of it in revenue service was May 24, 1975, no more than a week away from retirement.
24th Street viaduct retired in 1976. (SP ICC Structure Valuation Index; SP headquarters, research completed July 26, 1995)
SP ran the last train across the Great Salt Lake trestle. Quoting Bob McKeen in an email to the Espee discussion group, dated June 10, 2006:
I don't have the exact date but do know that the last train that ever used the trestle was Amtrak #6, sometime in the summer of 1977. The fireman who was on board for that run, told me that a freight had a minor derailment on the fill so the dispatcher ran #6 across the trestle. Although the trestle had always had a degree of sway to it, that night, it swayed so badly that he and the engineer were genuinely concerned about what would happen to their train. Upon reaching Ogden, they relayed their concerns. The next morning, an MoW crew inspected it and condemned it on the spot. Thereafter, it was used to store surplus cars at times, but never again carried a train across its full length.
Motive power changes -- In 1979-1980, the Alco RSD-12 road switchers that had replaced the earlier Alco S2s and S4s assigned to yard switching in Ogden, were themselves replaced by EMD SD7 road switchers in the 1500-series that had been upgraded from 1400-series units.
The interchange at Ogden between D&RGW and SP changed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, with the settlement of the Ogden Gateway case. By 1980 SP and D&RGW were interchanging traffic by of the FMS (Forwarder Merchandise Special), which Rio Grande later called Train 87. Wesley Fox wrote in 2002:
RG 87 was the FMS-RG connection. RG 95 was the WCM-RG's connection. Eastbound, OVE-RG and OS-RG cars were shuttled between Ogden and Roper and added to the various eb schedules. With the alpha change, the FMS-RG became the RGSFF, but rarely ran to SF. Rather, it terminated in Roseville or Oakland and its cars forwarded to the City on other trains. The WCM-RG became the RGRVY and handled the steel block from US Steel Geneva to their Pittsburg, CA plant.
This changed in 1980 when the steel had its own train, OGPIL and the "pigeon" (PIOGN) for the empties. This was a competitive train between the UP-WP(SN) and the RG-SP. The train had its own tariff and the rates were the same between railroads. Service counted. In 1980, the SP-RG-BN put on a super hot CHOAT/OACHT ( aren't they all when they start?) pig train Chicago and Oakland. By the end of 1981, it was just another drag on the SP with lots of Odgen fill. The OACHT in 1982 had lots of perishable trailers mixed in with its regular pig traffic during that summer. The well known UP-SP locomotive pool began in the 1968, but a lessor known pool with the DRGW started at that same time, only DRGW Geeps and SD-9s turned back at Sparks rather than going through to Roseville and Northern California and Oregon.
It wasn't until 1983 that Grande power came over the California border on the SP. There were a few instances between 1968 and 1983 that Grande power came to Roseville, but a regular pool didn't start until 1983.
April 1, 1983
SP reorganized its operating divisions. The old Pacific Lines and Texas/Louisana/SSW regions were done away with. They were replaced by the Eastern, Southern, and Western Regions. The Salt Lake Division into Utah was part of the new Western Region. (part from CTC Board, July 1983, page 4)
December 23, 1983
Santa Fe Industries (parent company of AT&SF Railway) and Southern Pacific Company (parent company of Southern Pacific Transportation Co.) merged to form the Santa Fe Southern Pacific Corporation, with an effective date of December 31, 1983.
The Santa Fe Southern Pacific Corporation was formed on December 23, 1983, with the merger of the parent companies of the SP and AT&SF, but the railroads themselves were not joined at the time because of the need to follow Interstate Commerce Commission procedures. On March 23, 1984, the SFSP filed a merger application with the ICC to form a new railroad to be named the Southern Pacific & Santa Fe, headed by Lawrence Cena, currently president and CEO of the AT&SF. SFSP Chairman John J. Schmidt said that "No major line abandonments are anticipated in the application. The operating plan involves shifting of traffic over the most direct routes to expedite service, but there are no plans to cancel service to any community currently being served." The ICC has 31 months to act on the merger proposal. (Railfan & Railroad, July 1984, page 26)
August 1, 1984
A 300 feet long section of SP's Salt Lake causeway was breached to allow the lake to equalize its low north arm with the higher south arm. The causeway separated the two arms of the lake when it was completed in 1959, but the passageways provided at the time had not been allowing the south arm, fed by excess runoff waters due to high snowmelt, to flow fast enough into the north arm, which has no inlet. (CTC Board, October 1984, page 5)
Lucin Cut-off Breached ... At 12:03 p.m. on August 1, a 300-foot section of the causeway across the great Salt Lake was breached so that a bridge could be erected across the gap, helping to speed the process of equalizing the water level of the lake between the two halves divided by the causeway. Record run-off the last two years has raised the level of the lake to its highest level in the last 106 years.
The $3.2 million project is being paid for by the state of Utah. Witnessing the event was Utah Governor Scott Matheson, SP Chairman Denman K. McNear, and more than 200 members of the media, and state and local governments. Everything seemed to be working as planned, the level of the lake variance between the north half and south half decreased from 37 inches on July 31 to 23 inches on August 15.
April 2, 1986
"A vicious storm April 2 on the Great Salt Lake closed the Lucin cutoff across the lake for four days, forcing the SP detour around the lake on the UP. Several dozen washouts were reported to have occurred. At the time of the storm, the lake level was at 4,210.5 feet, the third highest recorded level ever." (CTC Board, May 1986, page 43)
The greatest depth in the lake is 40 feet with the average depth being 14 feet. The historic low level of the lake has been 4,193 feet which occurred in 1963 and the historic high elevation is 4,212 recorded in 1987. Daily average minimum for 2004 measured 4193.9 feet and was 18 feet lower than the lake's historic high, but still 3 feet above the historic low. This appears to be the low point for the most recent downward trend from 1999 through 2004. This low was reached again in 2008.
SP's operations across the Great Salt Lake was affected by high lake levels. (CTC Board, June 1986, pages 18, 19)
SP Battles The Great Salt Lake -- Now with the level of the Great Salt Lake exceeding its recorded historical high point of 4,211.6 feet above sea level, the SP is now seriously thinking about completely abandoning its 33 miles of railroad that crosses the north end of the Great Salt Lake in Utah. In the past four years, the SP has spent over $85 million in trying to keep their line above water, and the necessary repairs after each storm passes through the Salt Lake area. The railroad has also threatened to no longer do any maintenance on the Great Salt Lake causeway, which carries the mainline, once the level of the lake exceeds 4,212 feet above sea level. This lake level may be reached as early as June as the massive snow pack in the mountains east and north of the Salt Lake Basin melts.
So far in 1986, the SP has had to detour over the UP's former WP mainline between Wells (Alazon), Nevada and Salt Lake City four separate times, in just two months. Between April 2 and April 5, 30 trains were detoured, while between April 12 and April 14, 15 trains were detoured due to the causeway being heavily damaged from storm generated waves. Another detour between May 3 and May 5 found six eastbound trains and nine westbound trains detoured. The storm of May 21, which was characterized by waves in excess of six feet generated by winds gusting to 86 mph, caused more detours. This storm damage, plus a derailment of 19 air-dump cars in a work train at Saline, which is near the midpoint of the causeway, kept the SP's line closed until May 24.
As the Great Salt Lake was exceeding its historical high point in mid-May, the state of Utah was finally getting serious about a proposal to lower the lake level. After waiting four years for "normal" weather to return to the Salt Lake area, the state government is finally convinced that something must be done. The state is now pushing ahead with a $55 million plan that will see water pumped from the Great Salt Lake to the Great Salt Lake Desert, sometimes referred to as the Bonneville Salt Flats, which is four feet higher in elevation than the current lake level. If approved, the pumping scheme could not be implemented for 12 to 14 months and that's if construction was started tomorrow. An impact on the lake level would then be realized within one year. Also included in the plan is money for raising the SP's roadbed across the Great Salt Lake Desert, and part of the current lake.
The state's proposal is as follows: First, the SP's 14 mile causeway between Lakeside and Hogup would be increased in height and strengthened at a cost of $4.75 million, as this would keep the water from flowing out onto the Air Force training grounds in the desert between the Lakeside and Hogup Mountains. Then a bridge would be built into this causeway to span a canal that would bring lake water to the pumping station at the base of the Hogup Mountains. The pumping complex, which is expected to cost $15.4 million, would have the capacity of 900 cubic feet of water per second up the 17 feet to Hogup Ridge.
As the water flows down the west side of Hogup Ridge in a 200 foot wide, 50 foot deep canal, it would pass under the SP mainline on a second new bridge. The water would flow naturally onto the desert north of the SP line. This means that the 20 miles of SP line across this stretch of desert between Hogup and Jackson sidings would also be raised at a cost of $6.5 million. A third trestle would be needed toward the west end of the stretch near Jackson, which would allow the water to flow southward toward Wendover and where both I-80 and the UP's former WP mainline cross this desert. Parallel to and just a few hundred feet north of I-80, another dike would be built across the Bonneville Salt Flats to keep the water north of this point, and protect the freeway during times of stormy weather. This proposed "west pond" is expected to cover 500 square miles of desert with around two and one half feet of water. If and when this plan is put into operation, the level of the Great Salt Lake is expected to be reduced 14 to 16 inches the first year and then seven to eight inches each year thereafter.
For the SP, these plans may come too late to save the Overland Route. A series of severe wind storms hit the Great Salt Lake during the first two weeks in June washing out the causeway in several areas. The worst storm, which hit the area on Saturday, June 14, has dealt a severe blow to the SP by washing away most, if not all of the Great Salt Lake causeway. The last train on the fill, a work train powered by five GP9s, just barely got off the fill before it went under water on the 14th. The waves, driven by sustained winds of 50-60 mph, have undermined and washed out several areas of the fill between Lakeside and Strongknob (five miles worth) and totally obliterated the main fill between Strongknob and Hogup, a distance of nine miles. As this column goes to press, it was unclear if the causeway was even going to be repaired. The SP has stopped doing any maintenance on the the entire causeway between Little Mountain (MP 767.2) and Hogup (MP 720.7) and with the water level still rising it seems unlikely that the causeway will ever see another SP train. So far, the SP has only been able to get an agreement from the UP for use of their line around the south end of the Great Salt Lake on an emergency, temporary basis. With the SP's line now closed, for what could be permanently, some long term arrangement with the UP will have to be arrived at if the Overland Route is to survive.
The detouring of SP trains over the UP has made the UP's line from Salt Lake City to Alazon, Nevada a very busy piece of railroad with UP's regular traffic, SP's regular traffic and UP's work trains (trying to shore up UP's lakeside trackage against the rising waters) all vying for the same trackage.
In Ogden, things look pretty grim for SP employees. After the loss of the causeway on June 14, all mechanical and clerical personnel in Ogden were furloughed and train crews were being ferried down to Salt Lake City to board their trains. It seems as though a potentially devastating problem has come to a head in Utah for the SP and the Overland Route. (Blair Kooistra, Vinnie Ventosa, Staff)
Going Under For The Third Time -- In early June a powerful wind storm dealt the Southern Pacific what might be a final blow to the causeway across the Great Salt Lake. As a result, the fill carrying the Southern Pacific's mainline across the lake has been taken out of service (see this month's SP column for more details). The importance of the SP and the Overland Route to the D&RGW cannot be overstated, as every merchandise and TOFC/COFC train, east or westbound on the railroad is either received or delivered to the SP at Ogden. As of the end of May, an average of fourteen to twenty trains every twenty four hours were being interchanged.
The Southern Pacific currently has no estimate as to when the causeway could be repaired, if ever. Adding to the problem is the snow pack in the Wasatch Mountain range, which has just begun to melt.
Now and for the foreseeable future, the SP is running all of its traffic over the Union Pacific under the general managers agreement, and interchange is made at Salt Lake City with the Rio Grande using Roper Yard. The UP is fighting its own battle with the Lake, as the fill its tracks sit on is the last piece of property holding back the flood waters from overflowing and closing Interstate 80. (CTC Board, June 1986, page 44)
Closures of the Salt Lake causeway. (Pacific RailNews, September 1986, page 24)
Salt Lake Tribulations
On June 7, Utah's Great Salt Lake was hit by a major storm in addition to its current high water problem. Rain and winds gusting more than 50 miles per hour caused SP to close its 27-mile-long causeway across the lake that afternoon. A subsequent engineering inspection of the fill structure revealed that 11.5 miles of track were out of line, under water, or actually washed out. SP presently estimates that the causeway will be out of service until around August 18, and SP trains will be detoured over the former WP trackage of the Union Pacific to Salt Lake City, around the south end of the lake. With no railroading being performed at Ogden, SP invoked a clause in its labor agreement and furloughed most (121) of its employees at that location on Friday the 13th.
Even before the storm, the lake level had risen so much that in places water was nearly lapping at the ties. The lake reached its highest level in modern history on June 6, when it rose to 4,211.85 feet above sea level; it has risen 3.5 feet since last November. To put this in perspective, SP rails in the area average 4,213.5 feet above sea level, less than two feet above the lake!
In late June, an interesting development in the causeway story was the announcement that the state of Utah and the Southern Pacific have signed a $17.25 million agreement to reconstruct the railroad embankment and build an access road from Lakeside to Hogup. This is no small feat in itself. Hogup is the site of a massive pumping station that is part of the huge state-sponsored project to pump water from the lake into the barren desert land to form Lake Bonneville. The pumping project is not expected to be operational before February 1987. SP would also be involved with excavation work for the pumping plant site, building two trestles and excavating for an outlet canal. A subsidiary of the Reno, Nevada.-based Helms Construction Co. will do the work for the SP. The project does need the cooperation of the SP, which owns the only right-of-way access to the pumping station. SP spokesman L. Ridd Larson commented that the railroad does not guarantee it will resume service on the causeway, but it is a favorable indication.
On June 27, Union Pacific announced an offer to SP to permit it to detour over UP tracks. This would continue until August 18, when the SP hopes to have its line restored to service. If this is not possible, UP has also offered a proposal for handling SP traffic on a permanent basis. SP would pay UP for its costs of handling the detoured trains, which would be handled by SP locomotives with SP crews. The addition of SP traffic on the UP line complicates matters, as UP is continuing to work to raise the level of its line (see UP column).
The wild card in all of this is the future of the SP's Overland Route, with rumors flying around about possible trackage rights, or even outright sale to the Denver and Rio Grande. That road is watching all of the Great Salt Lake developments with keen interest, as its traffic is turned over in greatest proportion to the SP at Ogden. The addition of Rio Grande as a paying partner in the project could be seen as an asset by the UP, which has spent over $20 million on keeping its tracks above water in the last four years. In any event, the water problem is not going away soon, and considerable resources must be committed to the project to ensure continued operations. We will have additional details in upcoming issues. (Ken Meeker, Union Pacific, Pacific RailNews)
August 23, 1986
SP reopened its line across the Great Salt Lake, after a 78 day closure due to damage to the causeway. (CTC Board, September 1986, page 14)
The Lucin Cutoff across the Great Salt Lake was reopened for traffic at 18:00 on August 23 after a 78 day closure due to washouts and flooding caused by a massive storm on June 7. A maintenance-of-way window is in effect seven days a week now between the unlikely hours of 16:00 and 06:00. This allows the SP to run the majority of its priority trains over the cutoff without delaying them or having to take the costly detour over the Union Pacific. There still are some trains continuing to detour over the UP now, from two to four trains per day, depending on the day of the week. (Dave Martinez)
August 23, 1986
SP reopened its line across the Great Salt Lake. (Pacific RailNews, November 1986, page 6)
Southern Pacific restored its water-damaged route across the Great Salt Lake at 6:00 p.m. on August 23. Due to a series of 10-mph slow orders on 40 miles of the temporary trackage, SP received permission to continue detouring two of its hot trains over the Union Pacific's main line along the south shore of the lake until its line can be returned to normal operating condition.
At least initially, the detouring trains were the CHOAT and OGOAT westbound and the OACHF and RVAST eastbound, handling piggyback and time-sensitive merchandise. During the first week after the line was returned to service high winds again forced the SP to close the line twice when water and debris were blown over the track in a number of locations. In early September work crews were scheduled to work in the evening and early morning hours (4:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.) in order to better accommodate the scheduling and handling of SP trains. (Ken Meeker)
Water level of Great Salt Lake was expected to be lower due to less snowpack. The new pumps arrived to lower the level of the lake. (Pacific RailNews, March, 1987, page 41)
News from the Great Salt Lake area finds that as of early February, snowpack in the Wasatch Mountains is less than 60 percent of normal, which is good news for the SP and everyone in the area. Even with this "dry" year, it is predicted that the Great Salt Lake will peak at 4,212.5 feet above sea level, which is just under a foot higher than the historic highpoint of 4,211.85 feet established last year when the SP's causeway across the lake was heavily damaged. The project to pump water from the Great Salt Lake into the "western desert" continues to move ahead, but nearly two months behind schedule. The first of the three giant Ingersoll-Rand pumps that will pump an average of one million gallons per minute out of the Great Salt Lake arrived at Lakeside on January 12 (by truck from New York). Even though the project is designed to reduce the level of the lake by one foot per year, the pumps will not be in full operation before May when the high point will be reached.
The following comes from the July 1987 issue of CTC Board, page 17:
Great Salt Lake Update . . . Even though the level of the Great Salt Lake has begun to recede slightly, SP is still having its problems with storm damage to the fill of the Lucin Cutoff across the lake. On June 22, high winds again caused heavy damage to the fill, washing it out in nine locations and closing it for more than a day and a half. The line was closed at midnight on June 22, when high winds whipped waves and debris onto the fill, washing it out in nine places between mileposts 740 and 754. Eight rail lengths were washed out and left hanging in the air at one location and the track was washed out and mis-aligned at three other locations. The line was reopened at 18:00 on June 23, but not before a total of four eastbound and four westbound trains were detoured over the Union Pacific between Ogden and Alazon.
If UP had granted SP permanent trackage rights back in 1986 during the high lake levels, there were rumors that SP was prepared to abandon the entire line from Little Mountain to Alazon in Nevada.
In response, a retired SP engineering manager wrote:
In conversations with Mike Mohan (former President) he told me the opposite, the SP had no choice but to re-open the GSL line.
The ICC had forced the UP to accept SP trains as an emergency diversion and that was not going well. It was taking two or three crews to get to Carlin, the first crew sometimes not getting past Salt Lake City. The cost for the detours was high. Although I don't recall whether it was Mike Mohan or Bill Lynch who told me, it was highly likely that forcing the UP to accept the SP traffic permanently would trigger a massive suite of capital investments for where the SP would run; longer sidings, maybe triple track from Ogden to Salt Lake City and west to Smelter, etc. Also the old WP across the south end of the lake needed more raise due to the increasing water level.
Mr. Mohan said that the goal at the time was to re-create a valuable transcontinental route so the SP would have a good set of assets to sell with the Overland, Sunset, and Golden State all in play. He could see that the SP needed a merger due to the UP/MP/WP merger. Also there was a considerable amount of revenue freight originating in northern Nevada.
The person who was perhaps most opposed to the Great Salt Lake repair was W. J. (Bill) Lacy, either VPO or GM at the time. He was a Texan (and a really deeply rooted one, with doubts about anyone from north of Dallas or west of El Paso) who wanted the Sunset and Gulf Coast to thrive as the most attractive parts of the SP. He had witnessed the decline of the once-vaunted SP business of west coast auto plants, produce and forest products. Killing off the Overland was just the natural course of history in his mind.
Additional comments come from a professional railroad industry consultant:
Lacy was right. SP never, ever, invested properly in the Gulf Coast and it haunts UP deeply to this day. They've given up a lot of business to trucking as a result. SP was always capital-starved. If you only had $10 and $100 of need, Lacy felt you should invest it where the traffic was growing, instead of where it was declining. It didn't take a genius to see that the Oregon lumber traffic was a one-time deal, never to return when the forests were leveled. Or that perishables was going to be impossible to retain from trucking incursions as the Interstate system was completed. Or that auto plants on the West Coast were hopelessly uneconomic in a small market-losing share to imports. And this was 1983, which was a really bad year economically on top of several really bad years.
September 25, 1987
Rio Grande Industries (parent company of D&RGW RR) announced its intention to purchase the Southern Pacific Transportation Co. (from Santa Fe Southern Pacific Corporation, the merged former parent companies of Santa Fe and SP.) (Pacific RailNews, Issue 290, January 1988, page 36)
The following comes from the November 1986 issue of CTC Board, page 32:
Denver & Rio Grande Pacific? . . . On September 22, the Santa Fe Southern Pacific announced a major event tied to the merger denial by the Interstate Commerce Commission that will drastically alter the shape and fate of the Southern Pacific Railroad if and when the event takes place. On that date, a joint announcement was made by SFSP President John Schwartz and Rio Grande President William J. Holtman that a nonbinding Memorandum of Intent had been signed that will allow the Rio Grande access to Nevada, Oregon, and California. The agreement will take effect only if the ICC reverses its decision and allows the merger to go through.
The Rio Grande would lease the Overland Route to Roseville from Ogden and the Modoc Line to Klamath Falls, Oregon. The Rio Grande would operate into Portland from Klamath Falls and into Oakland and Bakersfield, California from Roseville via trackage rights. In addition the D&RGW will be given agency rights which will allow it to solicit business directly from the shippers through the SP agencies already in place.
Swartz and Holtman said in this joint announcement that "This agreement should satisfy any concerns shippers may have about a perceived diminutation of competition in the areas affected following completion of the merger. Through exercise of these rights, the D&RGW would retain access to markets it was concerned about loosing as a result of the proposed merger, and provide a competitive rail alternative to nearly all California rail users whose rail service options could decrease following the merger."
As part of the Memorandum of Intent, the Rio Grande will file a petition with the ICC supporting the SFSP application to reopen the merger proceedings and will support the merger application. This potential appearance of the Rio Grande into Oregon and California follows through with what was foretold here in the CTC Board well over a year ago. While there is still considerable traffic in and out of California and Oregon, it appears that SFSP's management feels that the traffic economics are marginal due to the high costs of maintaining the fill across the Great Salt Lake and the expense of snow removal from the route over Donner Pass in the Sierras during the winter months.
If the merger should be approved and the Rio Grande exercises its rights granted in the Memorandum of Intent, it is likely that the trackage that they will lease and have rights over will be sold to the D&RGW sometime in the future. (A similar situation exists in Oregon where the SP granted The Port of Tillamook Bay trackage rights over the entire Tillamook branch earlier this year. The ICC has now granted the SP's application to abandon the entire branch, but the SP will lease the line to the POTB now for a two-year period while negotiations are made on the sale of the line to the POTB.)
December 28, 1987
Sale of Southern Pacific Transportation Co. to Rio Grande Industries was made final by a written agreement between Rio Grande Industries and Santa Fe Southern Pacific Corporation. (Pacific RailNews, Issue 291, February 1988, page 12)
August 9, 1988
Rio Grande Industries received ICC approval for its purchase and control of Southern Pacific Transportation Company. (August 9, 1988 Rio Grande Industries news release) (see also: Deseret News, August 9, 1988, page A-1; Pacific RailNews, Issue 300, November 1988, page 4; Trains, Volume 48, Number 12, October 1988, page 8; CTC Board, Issue 154, July 1988, page 3, full page of coverage)
Coverage of the sale by Trains magazine (Volume 49, Number 1, November 1988, page 3) included three pages of commentary, history, and a map.
"SP Goes To The Grande The Interstate Commerce Commission on August 9, 1988, approved the purchase of Southern Pacific by Rio Grande Industries for $1.8 billion, ending uncertainty over SP's fate since the agency rejected the Santa Fe-SP merger in 1986; SP has been in a voting trust since Santa Fe acquired it in 1983. Identity of the new 15,046-mile system - fifth longest in the U.S. - will be Southern Pacific; including 2,248-mile Denver & Rio Grande Western as a subsidiary; headquarters will remain in San Francisco. Bid of rival suitor Kansas City Southern, rejected by ICC, got sidetracked partly owing to an anti-trust judgment against it in a South Dakota coal-slurry pipeline lawsuit. KCS could ask ICC to reconsider the Grande decision, or appeal to courts." (Trains, Volume 48, Number 12, October 1988, page 8)
The sale of SP to RGI was objected to by Kansas City Southern Industries, who had itself made a bid for SP, in the form of $1.25 billion in cash and securities. The KCSI bid was questioned by the ICC due to its court judgment of $600 million in antitrust and contract violations in a South Dakota coal slurry pipeline case. SP's parent company, Santa Fe Southern Pacific Corp., had agreed to the sale of SP to RGI in December 1987, pending ICC approval. (Wall Street Journal, August 9, 1988)
At the same time as the ICC approval of the sale of Southern Pacific to Rio Grande Industries, the commission also denied the KCS bid to buy SP. (Pacific Rail News, November 1988, p. 4.)
The ICC approved the sale of Southern Pacific Transportation Co. to Rio Grande Industries, for the amount of $1.02 billion. The new combined D&RGW and SP system will be 15,000 miles in 15 states, and will be the fifth largest railroad in the U.S. (Wall Street Journal, August 10, 1988; Pacific Rail News, Issue 299, October 1988, page 7)
August 25, 1988
The Interstate Commerce Commission approved the acquisition of control of the Southern Pacific Transportation Company by Rio Grande Industries, Inc., and its subsidiaries SPTC Holding, Inc., and the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad Company. (Rio Grande Industries, et al.–Control–SPTC et al., 4 I.C.C. 2d 834)
October 13, 1988
Rio Grande Industries took control of Southern Pacific Transportation Co. (CTC Board, Issue 159, May 1989, page 18)
D&RGW was a Delaware Corporation, as was Rio Grande Industries.
Originally, Southern Pacific Rail Corporation was a privately held corporation; owned by Anschutz Corporation. In 1994, SP was offered to the public, with approximately 25 percent being retained by Anschutz and another approximate 25 percent being held by Morgan Stanley. The rest was sold on the open market, mostly to institutional buyers.
(From here on, this chronological history includes all references to events and actions on former D&RGW trackage and locations in Utah) (Timeline for D&RGW in Utah prior to October 1988)
December 31, 1988
All SP mechanical department buildings in Ogden were retired. An employee jokingly referred to this on the facilities record page as the "Big Bang," because many other facilities in many locations across the SP system were also retired on the same day. (SP Facilities Record book, examined at SP San Francisco headquarters, July 26, 1995)
January 16, 1989
Southern Pacific began the operation of 13 new trains to take advantage of the combined Southern Pacific and D&RGW railroads. Included was the reopening of the Modoc line in northwestern Nevada, and the startup of run-through operations with Norfolk Southern and Soo Line east of Kansas City. (CTC Board, Issue 159, May 1989, page 18)
May 1, 1989
Southern Pacific Transportation Co. and Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad combined their two operating departments under a single operation, known as Southern Pacific Lines. (Pacific Rail News, Issue 311, October 1989, page 10)
May 16, 1989
Santa Fe Southern Pacific Corp. (parent company of AT&SF Ry., and former owner of Southern Pacific Transportation Co.) changed its name to Santa Fe Pacific Corp. because the exclusive rights to use the Southern Pacific name were sold to Rio Grande at the same time as the railroad. (Pacific Rail News, Issue 296, July 1988, page 8; SEC Form 8-K, dated January 19, 1994)
October 1, 1989
Southern Pacific's new Central Region and Salt Lake Division created to included the operations of D&RGW. With offices in Ogden, the new division included the SP route between Ogden and Carlin, Nevada, and the D&RGW route between Ogden and Helper. (CTC Board, February 1990, p.6)
November 8, 1989
Sale of St. Louis to Chicago line to Rio Grande Industries took effect. Operations began on November 9, 1989. (Pacific Rail News, Issue 314, January 1990, pages 4, 31)SP organized a separate corporation to operate the line, called SPCSL Corporation, for Southern Pacific Chicago St. Louis.
August 3, 1989
Southern Pacific (Rio Grande Industries) announced that they would purchase the St. Louis to Chicago portion of bankrupt Chicago, Missouri & Western. (Pacific Rail News, Issue 310, September 1989, page 4) SP's Cotton Belt (St. Louis Southwestern, SSW) subsidiary already had direct access to St. Louis.
The line was the former Illinois Central Gulf Chicago to St. Louis line which had been sold to Chicago, Missouri & Western. The remaining St. Louis to Kansas City portion of the bankrupt CM&W was sold to Gateway Western Railway. (Trains, Volume 52, Number 10, October 1992, pages 36-43)
September 29, 1989
Sale of St. Louis to Chicago line to SP approved by ICC. (Pacific Rail News, Issue 313, December 1989, page 4)
July 22, 1990
D&RGW filed notice of the proposed abandonment of the remaining portion of the Salt Lake & Utah railroad known as the New London Track. "From a point near the intersection of 500 West Street and 1700 South Street and situated easterly of the DRGW Main Track extending northeasterly approximately 3670 feet to the end of said track near the intersection of 200 West Street and California Avenue." (Deseret News, July 22, 1990)
November 14, 1990
Operation of SP/D&RGW trains between Kansas City and Chicago began over BN trackage. (Pacific Rail News, Issue 326, January 1991, page 5)
Geneva Steel is using coke produced in Pennsylvania. The coke is moving to Geneva via UP/Cotton Belt/Rio Grande. (CTC Board, Issue ??, May 1991, page 13)
April 30, 1993
Rio Grande Industries changed its name to Southern Pacific Rail Corporation (SPRC), with an effective date of May 4, 1993. (Railroad Retirement Board Employer Status Determination) Ed Moyers was named as president of the new SP in July 1993.
The following comes from the August 1993 issue of Trains, page 20:
Southern Pacific goes public -- One of the many business strategies Philip F. Anschutz accomplished when he acquired the Southern Pacific and its subsidiaries in 1988 was to take the company private. In other words, take it off the stock exchange.
So it caused some wonder when the company announced on May 13, 1993, that it had filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission a proposed initial public offering of about $500 million in common stock. Current stockholders were not expected to sell any of their shares; this is to be a new offering. The underwriters will be Morgan Stanley & Co. Inc., Kidder, Peabody & Co. Inc., and Salomon Brothers Inc.
One sensible move was the concurrent name change of the parent firm, from Rio Grande Industries Inc. to Southern Pacific Rail Corp. After all, if your railroad system is known as SP, why stick with Rio Grande?
The stated goal is to raise $550 million to help ease the firm's debt costs and provide funds to improve operation. SP, the sixth-largest system at 15,000 miles and the largest rail hauler of containers, had 1992 revenues of $2.9 billion.
Rio Grande Industries had two subsidiaries that engaged in railroad transportation: Rio Grande Holdings, Inc. (which controlled the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad), and SPTC Holding, Inc., which controlled the following:
- SPCSL (Southern Pacific Chicago St. Louis) Corporation
- St. Louis Southwestern Railway (SSW)
- North Western Pacific Railroad
- Visalia Electric Railroad
- Portland Traction Co.
- Sunset Railway
- Arkansas & Memphis Railway Bridge and Terminal Co.
- Alton & Southern Railway
Southern Pacific Rail Corporation (SPRC) was the parent company of Southern Pacific Transportation Company (SPT), which included St. Louis Southwestern Railway Company (SSW), SPCSL Corp. (SPCSL) and The Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad Company (D&RGW). (SEC Form 10-Q, dated May 15, 1996)
November 29, 1993
The following is from the November 29, 1993 issue of the Salt Lake Tribune, written by Jack Fenton:
A 21-mile wooden trestle that spanned the Great Salt Lake between Promontory Point and Utah's mountain desert is coming down, a victim of the technology it led 80 years ago. Today, the "Lucin Cutoff" is about half gone. Salvage rights were bought by T.C. Taylor of Aurora, Ill., for $1.
The span, built across 38,256 pilings, cut almost 42 miles of steep grades and sharp curves from the transcontinental railroad's 146-mile Ogden to Lucin route, saving more than a half-day of travel time. "If placed end to end, they [the pilings] would stretch out exactly 534.986 miles," author Herbert I. Bennett said. That is roughly a round trip between Salt Lake and Cedar City.
The cutoff, including 11 miles of rock fill and tracks, has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1972. It even had a cluster of housing in the middle of the lake for railroad workers.
R. L. Burton of Ogden, consultant to the salvage operation, said tracks already have been sold as scrap. Pilings are going to sawmills in Oregon and California and to mines where they will be used as timbers. Pilings are so heavy they will not float, he said. "We don't know what will happen when they dry out. So far, pilings we pulled out and dried are holding up."
Work began in 1991 with track removal. The rest of the structure, once described as "a fine monument" to designer William Hood, should be removed by August 1996.
Mr. Burton, who spent much of his 40-year career with Southern Pacific Railroad as a roadmaster inspecting the cutoff, said it is a good thing Mr. Hood is not here to see his beloved trestle salvaged. "His heart would be filled with sorrow," he said of the line's chief engineer. "The trestle was like his child."
When it was replaced in the 1950s, the trestle was deteriorating and had outlived its usefulness. Turn-of-the-century rail cars were small, and the locomotives that pulled them were less powerful. "Speeds had been restricted to 20 mph," a Southern Pacific spokes person said of the trestle.
"You could tell when a train was coming," said Vern Davis of Sacramento. Calif., who lived at Midlake, the tiny colony on the trestle, in 1939 while working as an assistant maintenance foreman. "The whole thing shook from end to end."
Writing in the May 1904 Scientific American Supplement, Mr. Bennett said that besides bringing New York and San Francisco closer together, the two-year, $5 million project's straight track and gentle grades would trim operating costs. The track settled a bit, he said. But that always happens when embankments are built in water. "The trestle portion of the Ogden-Lucin Cutoff is perfectly treated and the traveler rolling over it will never know — [even] if it be night — when his car runs from solid ground on to the bridge."
Within two years the $5 million project that was an engineering marvel of its time will disappear.
SP announced that it would begin dismantling the 11-mile Lucin Cutoff trestle across Great Salt Lake. The trestle is on the National Register of Historic Places, but SP obtained a letter from the Utah State Historical Society allowing it to demolish the trestle. (Pacific Rail News, Issue 363, February 1994, page 11)
The following comes from the October 1995 issue of CTC Board, page 10:
The Octopus Gets Swallowed UP ... For avid followers of the SP, the unthinkable was announced on August 3, 1995 when the Union Pacific announced that it was going to acquire the Southern Pacific. Even as late as a year or two ago, such a union would have been unthinkable, but with the recent acquisition of the C&NW by the UP and the BN/SF merger approved recently, it seems anything is possible now.
The merger would save the two railroads approximately $500 million a year through reduced costs, much of which will come through reduced employee ranks. While about 20 percent larger in track miles than the SP, the UP has about 35 percent more employees than the SP. The UP announced that it will spend about $500 million upgrading the SP with new track and equipment.
Some of the areas where this money may be spent are replacing the double track on the Overland the SP has been pulling up in the last two years; Double-tracking the Sunset Route from Los Angeles to at least El Paso; expansion of the West Colton Yard and the closure of the UP yard at Yermo; putting in a connecting track from the eastbound SP to the southbound Santa Fe track at Colton; double-tracking the Tehachapis; and building a central locomotive repair shop somewhere in the Los Angeles area. It will be interesting to watch and see in what priority these things will come about with the UP.
The UP would achieve great savings in transit time by combining certain SP routes with the business they already have. The SP route from Portland to the San Francisco Bay Area and to Los Angeles is much shorter, likewise from Los Angeles to all points in Texas, and the SP's Overland Route from Ogden to the Bay Area is faster. The SP would benefit by combing UP trackage with its own between Los Angeles and Sierra Blanca, Texas for Dallas and Memphis traffic, and traffic rights the SP will receive from the BNSF merger between Texas and the Wyoming coal fields will certainly see stiff competition.
Beginning in about May 1996, SP operated special soil disposal trains to remove contaminated soil from what was known as the Portland Cement Superfund Cleanup Site, located near 1000 South and Redwood Road on Salt Lake City's west side. The site was on the north side of the Surplus Canal, and a loading conveyor system was installed to move the contaminated soil from the site, across the canal to SP trains on the south side of the canal. Trains were limited to 47 cars to prevent fouling grade crossings in the vicinity, which was on the north area of the old Small Arms Plant. After loading, the special trains operated eastward over the former D&RGW Small Arms Plant (SAP) branch to Roper Yard, then over Soldier Summit to Sunnyside for disposal at the ECDC disposal site. The cleanup continued through December 1997. (EPA 1998 Record of Decision; PDF)
The Portland Cement Superfund Cleanup Site had been placed on EPA's National Priorities List in July 1986. The site had been used between 1965 and 1983 by Utah Portland Cement Co., which was bought by Lone Star Industries, Inc., in September 1979. At that time the company name was changed to Utah Portland Quarries, Inc. The site had been used as a disposal site for cement kiln dust and brick debris. Lone Star began its own environmental investigation in April 1984, working with the State of Utah beginning in 1985, and with the federal EPA in June 1986. Investigation and site assessment continued until 1995, when all parties agreed to the formal cleanup and work commenced. Cleanup of the site was completed in Spring 1999, with ground water continuing to be monitored. Although declared clean, as of late 2014, the site was still being monitored for any latent environmental concerns.
September 11, 1996
Control of the combined D&RGW and SP system was turned over to Union Pacific.
The $5.4 billion UP/SP merger would form North America's largest railroad, a 31,000-mile network operating in 25 states serving both Mexico and Canada. Union Pacific and Southern Pacific have 53,000 and 19,000 employees respectively, with combined 1995 operating revenues of $10.6 billion. (UP press release dated July 9, 1996)
(All events on former SP trackage and locations after September 1996 are covered as part of the coverage for Union Pacific in Utah after 1996.)