Southern Pacific, Promontory Branch

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This page was last updated on June 19, 2019.

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March 19, 1903
The first SP westbound train operated over the OSL on March 19, 1903. (Elko Weekly Independent, March 27, 1903; courtesy of John Sweetser, email dated April 23, 2003)

March 19, 1903
The Promontory Branch from Ogden to Corinne was removed from service in 1903 when the SP began using the UP line between Odgen and Corinne. Westbounds out of Odgen operated over the Oregon Short Line track to Brigham City, then on the new cut-off to Corrine." (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)

March 27, 1903
The Wells newspaper reported that a new roundhouse has been built or is being built at Kelton to replace the one destroyed by fire last fall. Kelton was a helper station, but not a terminal for crews operating over the road. (Nevada State Herald (Wells), March 27, 1903; from John Sweetser, email dated June 17, 2005)

July 26, 1903
All SP trains began operating by way of OSL (UP) tracks between Ogden and Corinne Junction. The parallel SP line, being the original Central Pacific mainline, was removed from service south from Corinne Junction to CP-UP Junction, about 5 miles north of Ogden union station. South of that point, south to Ogden, CP (SP) leased the track from UP, and gave up the lease on this same date. (see also: OSL Corporate History, page 50)

(From March 1903 until July 1904, most, if not 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.)

September 15, 1904
The old line is to be abandoned except for one train for local and mail traffic. (Central Nevadan of Battle Mountain, September 15, 1904; courtesy of John Sweetser, email dated April 23, 2003)

June 8, 1906
Tthe "Akali Limited" that "made daily trips between Ogden and Montello on the old route" (Nevada State Herald of Wells, June 8, 1906; courtesy of John Sweetser, email dated April 23, 2003)

July 1, 1906
The SP stopped running trains over the Promontory line on July 1. (Nevada State Herald, August 24, 1906; courtesy of John Sweetser, email dated April 23, 2003)

September 15, 1909
The following OSL (UP) passenger trains are shown in the September 15, 1909 SP Salt Lake Division employee's timetable, on SP tracks only between Corinne Junction and Corinne, 1.55 miles:

Later timetables, specifically one from 1929, show that the only scheduled SP trains were all Mixed trains running between Corinne and Lucin, or between Corrine and Kelton. This was much later than McKeen cars were operating on SP. There was no SP service between Ogden and Corinne. (courtesy of Tony Johnson, via email dated April 5, 2003)

Ken Harrison shares the following information from several different SP public timetables:

In the January, 1908, issue, train 203 left Ogden daily except Sunday at 0820 and terminated at Kelton at 1240. Its counterpart, 204, left Kelton at 1315 and terminated Ogden 1825. There was no service west of Kelton. The heading for the timetable is "Ogden and Montello-via Old Line." As early as August, 1915, there was thrice-weekly service Ogden-Kelton and Tuesday only, returning Wednesday, Ogden-Montello. In neither event is the service refered to as "motor," which was a common means by which SP differentiated these movements.

According to the September 17, 1904 timetable, service over the Lucin cutoff had not yet commenced. That is interesting, because a Company document I have states that the line was opened in April 1904. That is, however, a pencil correction of the typed date of January 1, 1905. This same docoment states that in April 1909, gasoline motor operation was commenced on the Sacramento-Fair Oaks and the Hazen-Fallon runs. There is no mention of the Promontory line.

While the March 1911 schedule shows service over the cutoff, there is no mention of service on the original line, nor is there such in the January 1912 schedule, notwithstanding that it includes every other branch on the Overland route. In that last mentioned timetable, Corinne, Utah, appears as a listed station, but the page reference is 00. Naturally, there is no page 00.

Corinne is also not listed in the December 1913 schedule, nor the June and September 1914, or the January 1915 issue.

Skipping ahead to March 1925, we find that service is listed only as Corinne-Kelton (twice a week) or Corinne-Montello (once a week, as before). (Ken Harrison email dated April 5, 2003)

Corinne Junction to Ogden abandoned circa 1932-1936 (operation via OSL after 1903). Placed "out of service" between 1903 and 1932.

March 31, 1937
Operation between Watercress (19 miles east of Lucin) and Kelton (54 miles east of Lucin) ended on March 31, 1937. (Utah PSC Case 1918).

(A review of employee timetables, and public timetables suggests that SP service was only west of Corinne Junction. There were no facilities for crews to tie up at Corinne, or to service locomotives, which indicates that Promontory Branch trains ran straight through from Ogden, via the OSL, to Corinne.)

Passenger service in 1938 included a mixed train (trains 617/618) between Corinne and Kelton (and return) on Mondays and Fridays, and another (one way) mixed train (train 615) between Corinne and Lucin on Wednesday's only, using the same schedule as train 617 between Corinne and Kelton.

March 11, 1942
The following comes from the March 11, 1942 issue of the Ogden Standard Examiner newspaper.

Railway's Plea Threatens To Revive Contest Over 'Old Line' North of Lake. Would Abandon Service And Tear Up the Tracks.

The much-argued question of abandonment of the historic Lucin-Promontory-Corinne line of the Southern Pacific railroad had been revived again today, according to dispatches from Washington, D. C., which said the Southern Pacific Co. and Central Pacific Railway Co. asked authority for the abandonment from the interstate commerce commission.

According to the Washington dispatches the railroads seek to abandon operations between Lucin and Ogden, by way of Corinne junction, a distance of 146.86 miles, and to abandon the track itself from near Lucin to near Corinne, a distance of 120.78 miles.

The petition said "operations can not be conducted except at a large loss and the abandonment will enable tbe salvage af material urgently needed at the present time."

Weekly Train. The Southern Pacific at present runs a train once a week "on call" over the historic route around the north end of Great Salt lake. This run is made on Wednesdays, reportedly as far as Rosette. Stockmen ship some feed into this otherwise remote section, and livestock and some other products are shipped out. One of the products of that area is asphalt.

A petition of the Southern Pacific for abandonment of the same line was considered by the interstate commerce commission in 1935. This was denied after prolonged hearings and investigations. Embattled livestock men and others of the Box Elder county area which the route serves, vigorously apposed the abandonment.

Box Elder county, including its schools, also faced large slashes in tax revenues, and they joined in the opposition. The military angle was also stressed, the contention being that the line would be valuable in cases traffic over the Lucin cutoff over Great Salt lake ever became blocked.

Golden Spike Event. The railroad line has historic significance for it was at Promontory on May 10, 1869, that the golden spike was driven marking completion of the first ribbon of steel to span the continent, thus opening a new era for the west. Importance of the route declined after completion of the Lucin cutoff across Great Salt lake in 1903.

(Also in Salt Lake Tribune, March 10, 1942)

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 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)

July 5, 1942
The last SP employee timetable to show the Promontory Branch was Salt Lake Division No. 57, dated July 5, 1942. (Tony Johnson, email dated June 17, 2005)

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
SP facilities at Corinne, and SP trackage between Corinne and Corinne Junction, was leased to OSL on March 16, 1945; sold to OSL on October 16, 1947. (Union Pacific engineering department records)

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)

February 13, 1951
SP right-of-way between CP-UP Junction, five miles north of Ogden, and Corinne Junction, not operated since 1903, was sold to Salt Lake Pipeline Co. on February 13, 1951. (Box Elder County Book of Deeds 59, p.613)

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.

Motive Power

A. D. McLennan shared the following in an email dated October 13, 1998, concerning the motive power used on the Promontory Branch, later known as the Kelton Branch:

"BLE Rulings and Settlements, issued at San Francisco on March 1, 1935, notes that on February 9, 1933, engine 1785 provided the regular power for Train 617 Brigham-Kelton mixed (which returned the following day as Train 618). Because of heavy snow, engines 1618 and 2269 plus flanger followed Train 617 from Brigham to Roser, where they were incorporated into Train 617 mid-train and proceeded thus to Kelton. Next day, Train 618 returned to Brigham behind engines 1785, 1618 and 2269. Train 618's combine was dropped at Brigham and the three engines plus flanger returned cab hop to Ogden.

"Otto Perry photographed X2661W with 25 cars at Blue Creek on August 9, 1935.

"Engines 1785 and 2269 appear in the Salt Lake Division assignment lists for 1-31-36 and 12-31-37. On 8-31-41, engine 2269 was still so assigned but 1753 was the only Mogul left on the Salt Lake Division. On 6-30-47, neither 2269 nor any Moguls were assigned to the division.

"The lists for 1-31-36, 12-31-37, 3-31-39 and 8-31-41 show engine 2661 assigned to the Salt Lake Division in switching service."

Promontory Branch Station Summary

(View a listing of the stations and sidings on SP's Promontory Branch)


Milepost and station information based on emails from Tony Johnson on June 6 and 9, 2005, compiled from his research in SP employee timetables.

"Rails East To Promontory" -- A book published in 1981 book by the National Park Service, updated in 1994 and 2008; a detailed look at the history of the original transcontinental railroad line westward from Promontory and Lucin.


SP Promontory Branch Discontinuance, 1937 (PDF; 3 pages; 1.3MB)

SP Promontory Branch Abandonment, ICC Return To Questionaire, 1942 (PDF; 14 pages; 6.9MB)

SP Promontory Branch Abandonment, ICC Report, 1942 (PDF; 10 pages; 9.8MB)

SP Promontory Branch Abandonment, Letters to ICC, 1942 (PDF; 10 pages; 6.3MB)

More Information

SP Promontory Branch -- A narrative of the abandonment of the Promontory Branch, part of the Ogden Rails project. Text used in "Ogden Rails" (1st edition), published in 1997, "Ogden Rails" (2nd edition), published in 2005, and in John Signor's "Southern Pacific Salt Lake Division," published in 2007.