Salt Lake City Street Cars (1872-1904)
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This page was last updated on July 23, 2019.
(Return to the Salt Lake City streetcars index page)
(This is a work in progress; research continues.)
(Read more about the history and background of the street cars of Salt Lake City, before 1904)
(Read Clarence Reeder's excellent history of the Salt Lake City Railroad, before electrification)
January 6, 1872
The Salt Lake City Railroad was organized. The initial route was to be along South temple street from the Utah Central depot at Fourth West, east to the eastern limits of the city, with a branch to Warm Springs, and a branch along North Temple street to the Jordan river, a total distance of about seven miles. (Utah Corporation Index 2566, and Index 4347)
(Read the Salt Lake City Railroad corporate information)
March 6, 1872
Two cars for the new Salt Lake City street railroad arrived yesterday from the East, where purchased by John W. Young. Iron to arrive shortly. (Deseret Evening News, March 6, 1872)
August 15, 1872
"Local Brevities." "A track is to be laid from the depot to the Temple block strong enough to permit a locomotive to haul the cars of rock upon it. The horse railroad is found to be not sufficiently strong." (Utah Mining Journal, August 15, 1872)
August 21, 1872
"Local Brevities." "Temple street is well cut with railroad tracks, the new one being put down by the Church. These tracks leave no room on that side of the street for teams to pass, and the dray-men complain bitterly of the situation of affairs. They are compelled to pay license, and yet the streets are practically closed to them. That street will be almost impassable in the winter to loaded drays." (Utah Mining Journal, August 21, 1872)
September 26, 1872
The Salt Lake City street railroad has added a third car, larger than other two. (Salt Lake Herald, September 26, 1872)
October 29, 1873
Salt Lake City Railroad completed the junction at the intersection of South Temple Street and Second West Street. This junction was referred to as "Warm Springs junction." "One of W. J. Silver's self-acting switches has been put down and works admirably." cars were to be put on the Warm Springs Division "at once." (Deseret News, October 29, 1873, "today")
July 22, 1874
Steam dummy, for Salt Lake City Railroad, is at Ogden. (Salt Lake Herald, July 22, 1874, citing the Ogden Junction newspaper of July 21st as the source)
July 28, 1874
The new steam streetcar (also known as a "dummy") for Salt Lake City was tried yesterday afternoon. (Salt Lake Herald, July 28, 1874)
August 7, 1874
The steam dummy is in use on the Warm Springs line of the Salt Lake City street car system, making regular trips. (Salt Lake Herald, August 7, 1874)
September 21, 1876
A new Salt Lake City streetcar, no. 12, built by the Utah Central shops. (Salt Lake Herald, September 21, 1876)
May 23, 1877
"Steam plowing. Some years ago a car was driven over the rails in the streets of Salt Lake City, by a steam engine, but by some mismanagement it was found not to give satisfaction, both as to noise and wear." Now it is used as a steam tractor on President Young's farm, near Jordan, on the west side. With it, can plow an acre an hour, two men running it 'easily'. The thing is the property of John. W. Young. (The Utah County Enquirer, Provo, May 23, 1877)
January 1, 1883
The Salt Lake City Street Railroad has 14 cars, four of which were received in 1882; and two more are en route. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, January 1, 1883)
August 8, 1889
"The first electric motor car was run over the First South street line of the Salt Lake Street Car company last evening at about 6 o'clock, and the trial trip was, as far as could be seen, a perfect success." The boilers at the new power house were started on August 5th, and the first car moved by its own power on August 6th. (Salt Lake Herald, August 6, 1889; August 9, 1889, "last evening")
January 14, 1890
Salt Lake Rapid Transit Company was organized. Initial routes were stated as being: 1) on Fourth South in Salt Lake City, from the Fort Douglas Military Reservation west to the Jordan River; 2) on Seventh South from the Fort Douglas Military Reservation west to the Jordan River; and 3) from the south limits of Salt Lake City by the most convenient route north to Beck's Hot Springs; total route miles were put at about 30 miles, including the above three routes and routes on other unstated city streets. (Utah Corporation Index 4333)
(Read the Salt Lake Rapid Transit Co. corporate information)
April 14, 1890
West Side Rapid Transit Company was organized. (Utah Corporation Index 4335)
(Read more about the West Side Rapid Transit Co.)
July 8, 1890
Popperton Place and Fort Douglas Rapid Transit Company was organized to build along South Temple from East Temple (Main Street) to and within Fort Douglas. (Utah Corporation Index 721, and Index 4340)
(Read the Popperton Place & Fort Douglas Rapid Transit Co. corporate information)
November 24, 1890
East Bench Street Railway was organized to build from a point at Seventh East on the south city limits of Salt Lake City, then east along the street running at or near the south line of the city limits to Eleventh East (also known as the Upper County Road), then south along Eleventh East to its intersection with the county road running east and west along the south side of Block No. 45 in 10 acre plat "A", then east along the same county road to the southeast corner of Block No. 10 of five acre plat "C", a total length of about 3-1/2 miles. (Utah Corporation Index 806, and Index 4342)
(Read the East Bench Street Railway corporate information)
December 15, 1890
The new electric line to Fort Douglas, connecting with the line in Second South, passing the Salt Lake Brewing Company, thence to Mount Olivet cemetery, and terminating at the U. S. Army's Quartermaster's Office. Track has been laid and wire is now being installed. (Salt Lake Journal of Commerce, December 15, 1890, Volume 4, Number 11)
January 20, 1891
An electrified streetcar line of the Salt Lake City Railroad has been completed to Fort Douglas. (Salt Lake Daily Herald, January 20, 1891)
May 1, 1891
The Salt Lake Rapid Transit company was to run its first excursion to Calder's Park, which it had just obtained a lease for. (Salt Lake Herald, April 26, 1891)
May 20, 1891
The Salt Lake (Street) Railway company is taking up the 20-pound rail from its First South route, between Second and Eleventh East, and replacing it with 35-pound steel. The old 20-pound rail was then sold to W. S. Godbe, who is taking it to Pioche, Nevada, to use on his tramways there. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, May 20, 1891)
November 7, 1891
"The cars for the Popperton Place and Fort Douglas electric line arrived yesterday. The grade has been completed, ties and iron have been strung along the line and the finishing strokes will be rapidly given." (Salt Lake Herald, November 7, 1891)
December 25, 1891
The following comes from the December 25, 1891 issue of the Salt Lake Herald newspaper.
Salt Lake Rapid Transit Company. This company has thirty-two miles of car line in operation, about twelve miles of which was constructed this year. The power house is located at the corners of Seventh South and Third West streets. The engines, boilers and dynamos are all of the best and newest makes. The company has twenty-two motor cars and thirteen trail cars in operation. The line runs to Murray, a distance of eight miles south of the city; to Calder's park, five and a half miles southeast; to the penitentiary, southwest to the race track, and White lake, a distance of four miles and east to Fort Douglas.
The company controls Calder's park, about forty acres, which it has leased for a term, to be used as a pleasure resort. In the summer season picnicking, dancing, music, boating, etc., are freely indulged in, and it is getting to be a favorite resort for pleasure-seekers generally. The large pavilion is used for musical performances. Through cars are run by the company to the Hot and Warm springs. Arrangements are being made to extend the lines next year to all the suburban parts, where new residences are springing up and additional car facilities are required. At present the company has about one hundred employees and renders a very efficient service.
January 1, 1892
Salt Lake Rapid Transit Co., organized in January 1890, now has 30 miles of track, part of which is the Popperton Place & Fort Douglas road. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, January 1, 1892)
January 10, 1892
First run over the Popperton Place & Fort Douglas to be on January 12th. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, January 10, 1892)
June 22, 1894
Valuations published for the following street railways:
- Salt Lake City Railway ($233,812)
- Salt Lake Rapid Transit ($150,095)
- Great Salt Lake & Hot Springs Railway ($58,910)
- Ogden City Street Railway ($50,250)
- Ogden & Hot Springs Railroad ($17,527)
- West Side Rapid Transit ($13,510)
- Salt Lake & Fort Douglas Railway ($8,027)
- (Utah Power & Light Archives, March 5, 1982)
December 22, 1900
Salt Lake Rapid Transit president J. S. Cameron returned from the east where he ordered, from Colorado Fuel and Iron, 250 tons of sixty-pound steel rail to replace the line's old iron rails. (Salt Lake Tribune, December 22, 1900)
Consolidated Railway & Power Company
July 30, 1901
Consolidated Railway & Power Company was organized, as a consolidation of four existing street railway routes, including the following:
- Salt Lake City Railroad (47.5 miles)
- Salt Lake Rapid Transit Co. (21.91 miles)
- East Bench Street Railway (1.935 miles)
- Popperton Place & Fort Douglas Rapid Transit Co. (1.472 miles)
- The extent of the four railroads included routes to Fort Douglas in eastern part of city, to Warm Springs in northern part of city, to Poplar Grove in western part of city, to Murray in Salt Lake County, south of the city, and to Utah State Prison in Salt Lake County, southeast of the city.
- Total of about 72.8 miles
- (Utah Corporation Index 3233)
November 15, 1901
Description of the route of the West Side Rapid Transit Co.:
- From Second South at First West, south along First West to Eighth South, then west to Second West, then south to the south city limits.
- Almost bankrupt in spring 1901 due to a tax debt of $15,000, until investments were made by "a number of Colorado people" who purchased the property and paid the back taxes in June 1901.
- Operated every hour by one "little red car".
- Purchased by Colorado interests (including those also interested in the Telluride Power Co.) to extend its line to the Highland Boy smelter near Bingham Junction, in competition with a franchise already given to the recently organized Consolidated Railway & Power Co.
- (Salt Lake Tribune, November 15, 1901, page 5)
March 24, 1902
Salt Lake & Jordan Valley Railroad organized as a reorganization of the West Side Rapid Transit Co., to construct a railway line from Salt Lake City to Bingham. Rumored to be controlled by L. L. Nunn and Thomas Kearns. Operated a street railway from Second South and First West, to the "Cannon Farm" at about Eighth West (900 West) and California Avenue (about 1350 South). Owned by L. L. Nunn for "some time". (part from Salt Lake Tribune, March 25, 1902)
West Side Rapid Transit was organized in April 1890, and completed a short piece of trackage along First West; not included as part of the merger that created Consolidated Railway & Power in 1901.
August 11, 1902
Franchise granted to Salt Lake & Suburban Railway. (Salt Lake Tribune, August 12, 1902) Organized in Dover, Delaware on July 9, 1902. (Salt Lake Tribune, July 10, 1902)
July 31, 1902
Franchise of Consolidated Railway & Power Co. to operate the route of the reportedly competing Salt Lake & Suburban Railway, was extended from Murray to Bingham Junction, then to Sandy, within a year. To acquire six new cars to operate new service. (Salt Lake Tribune July 31, 1902)
January 10, 1903
Salt Lake City council allowed the Salt Lake City Railroad to decide about car fenders. (Street Railway Journal, Volume 21, Number 2, January 10, 1903, page 93)
October 17, 1903
Item about Consolidated Railway and Power construction. (Street Railway Journal, Volume 22, Number 16, October 17, 1903, page 741)
Initial chronology based on notes taken during a review of "Robert W. Edwards" microfilm at University of Utah library, research completed on October 28-29, 1981.
One major source are the files of the Utah Public Utilities Commission. (Read more about the Utah Public Utilities Commission)
Portions come from newspaper research completed by George Pitchard during the mid 1980s.
Research is on-going; new information is added on a regular basis, with sources cited as needed.