Oregon Short Line Railroad

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This page was last updated on July 12, 2015.

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Steam Locomotive Roster Notes

These rosters are based on material compiled by Gordon McCulloh, Allen Copeland, and Greg Davies, with additional builder information furnished by Robert Lehmuth and Allen Stanley.

Oregon Short Line Railroad (OSL) operated all UP lines in Idaho, Montana, and northern Utah. OSL was incorporated in February 1897 as a reorganization of Oregon Short Line & Utah Northern Railway, in receivership since October 1893. Oregon Short Line & Utah Northern Railway had been incorporated on August 19, 1889 as a consolidation of the original 1881 Oregon Short Line Railway and six other railroads operating in Utah and Idaho. The original OSL Railway began construction in May 1881 at a connection with UP at Granger, Wyoming and was completed across southern Idaho to Huntington, Oregon by November 1884. All OSL lines in Utah were purchased from predecessor companies. OSL (and later OSL&UN) operated the ORy&N under lease between January 1887 until its receivership in October 1893.

(Timeline of OSL Ry, 1881-1889, Wyoming and Idaho only)

(Timeline of OSL&UN Ry, 1889-1897)

(Timeline of OSL RR, 1897-1936, leased to UP in 1936)

Burning Coal On The OSL

Burning Coal On The Oregon Short Line -- Brief comments about burning coal on the OSL. Initially written in answer to an email question.

Date Vacated

The Union Pacific System used the term "vacated" when referring to the date a locomotive was dropped from the active roster for disposal, usually by scrapping by the railroad itself. In later years some locomotives were sold for scrap. If a locomotive was sold for further use, that term is shown and the new owner indicated, along with whatever information is known on the later history of the locomotive.


Specifications for locomotives still in service after 1926 are taken from "Locomotive and Tender Diagrams, Oregon Short Line MP&M Dept., Folio 4253", updated through April 1, 1931. (Collection of Gordon McCulloh)

Numbering, Renumbering, and Relettering

Oregon Short Line Railway and its (by 1881) associated UP-controlled feeder lines in Utah and Idaho each had their own individual numbering patterns. In addition to Oregon Short Line Railway these roads included Utah Central Railway and Utah & Northern Railway. By 1885 the Union Pacific empire had reached a size that the quantities of locomotives and cars managed and at times shared between the roads, made overseeing the fleet difficult. On June 1, 1885, a new numbering pattern for all locomotives and cars went into effect, including Oregon Short Line Railway (but not the Utah and Idaho lines that included Utah Central Railway and Utah Northern Railway).

UP continued to increase its control over the Utah and Idaho roads, and by August 1889 it consolidated its interests under a new railroad called Oregon Short Line & Utah Northern Railway. The new OSL&UN began immediately to renumber its entire fleet, both standard gauge and three-feet narrow gauge, into UP's 1885 numbering pattern.

Union Pacific receivership in October 1893 allowed its creditors to split the empire into its component railroads, including moving OSL&UN in November 1893 into its own status as an independent road with its own receivers. In February 1897 the property was sold under foreclosure to the newly organized Oregon Short Line Railroad, with March 15, 1897 being the date that the sale took place.

During this entire time between its creation in 1889, and its foreclosure sale in 1897, OSL&UN's locomotives remained numbered in the 1885 Union Pacific numbering pattern. When it was organized in 1897, OSL was independent from Union Pacific, and its management immediately set about renumbering its locomotives into a new numbering pattern as evidence of that independence.

March 16, 1897
The new Oregon Short Line Railroad took possession of bankrupt Oregon Short Line & Utah Northern Railway.

March 17, 1897
"Mr. Dunn [J. F. Dunn, Superintendent of Motive Power & Machinery, Oregon Short Line] has decided upon the renumbering of the locomotives by classes. The former Union Pacific 500 class will now be changed to 200; the 700 to 300; the 900 and 1000 classes to 400; the 800 to 500; and the 1400 to 600." "Those of the Union Pacific 400 class are on the Shoshone sidetracks and will not be repaired. In this class are the 437 and 436, many years ago the 10 and 11 of the Utah Central..." (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, 17 March 1897)

April 1, 1897
The first locomotive repainted and renumbered by the OSL is old 734, now 308. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, 1 April 1897)

By mid December 1897, "nearly all locomotives and passenger equipment" had been renumbered and relettered for the new and independent OSL RR. (Salt Lake Tribune, December 10, 1897)

OSL's 1897 numbering pattern remained in effect until the March 1915 system-wide renumbering that brought all of UP's subsidiary roads into a common numbering pattern.

October 13, 1898
At its annual meeting on October 13, 1898 in Salt Lake City, Utah, Union Pacific was able to vote in 10 of the 15 board members on OSL's board of directors (including E. H. Harriman as Chairman), putting UP in firm control of Oregon Short Line Railroad. (Salt Lake Tribune, October 13, 1898)

Locomotive Rebuilding and Renumbering

During the 1897-1902 time period, OSL rebuilt numerous of its locomotives in an effort to upgrade and modernize its fleet. The before and after numbers presented here are the result of careful examination of available sources. The actual records of the road's mechanical department were destroyed in an explosion and fire at the Salt Lake City headquarters on September 10, 1901. The true and exact histories of many of the 500-series and 600-series locomotives may never be accurately known.

On September 10, 1901 the entire offices of the Oregon Short Line were wiped out of existence. "It had many valuable records stored in different parts of the burned building upon which no money value can be placed. They were records of the company from its very beginning - records which represented the company's entire history and holdings. They are gone, and gone forever." General Manager W. H. Bancroft was asked what was lost. His reply was, "What have we lost? Why everything we had. We have not as much as a scratch of a pen left. Everything is gone; everything." The cause of the explosion was said to be improper storage of various chemicals in the basement, which was occupied by the Mine and Smelter Supply Company. Burned fragments of OSL records were found as far away a one and a half miles, on the grounds of the St. Mark's hospital. The temporary offices for the Superintendent of Motive Power and Machinery were setup in the Pacific Hotel. (Deseret News, September 10, 1901)

OSL RR as of January 1, 1900

Idaho Division - 541 miles - Granger, Wyoming to Huntington, Oregon

Montana Division - 255 miles - Pocatello, Idaho to Silver Bow, Montana

Utah Division - 360 miles - McCammon, Idaho to Frisco, Utah (by way of Ogden, Salt Lake City and Provo, Utah)

OSL Ry - OSL&UN Ry - OSL RR Shops

OSL had roundhouses and shops at the following locations (east to west):

Kemmerer, Wyoming - 8 stalls (3 stalls 96 feet long, 5 stalls 78 feet long), with 100-foot turntable

Montpelier, Idaho - 20 stalls (6 stall 110 feet long, 5 stalls 96 feet long, 9 stalls 88 feet long), with 100-foot turntable

Pocatello, Idaho - 53 stalls (15 stall 120 feet long, 5 stalls 110 feet long, 33 stalls 100 feet long), with 100-foot turntable

Shoshone, Idaho - 6 stalls, 112 feet long, no turntable

Glenns Ferry, Idaho - 17 stalls (9 stalls 103 feet long, 5 stalls 96 feet long, 3 stalls 88 feet long), with 100-foot turntable

Nampa, Idaho - 18 stalls, 96 feet long, with 92-foot turntable

Salt Lake City, Utah (1880 to 1905) - 12 stalls, 68-feet long, with 50-foot turntable

Salt Lake City, Utah (1905 to 1951) - 32 stalls, with 100-foot turntable

2 stalls 85 feet long

5 stalls 96 feet long

1 stall 105 feet long

18 stalls 110 feet long

6 stalls 117 feet long

OSL shared OWRR&N's roundhouse and turntable at Huntington, Oregon (16 stalls, 9 stalls 120 feet long, 7 stalls 97 feet long, with 100-foot turntable)

There were also small roundhouses (less than 5 stalls, with turntables 80 feet long or less) at Malad, Minidoka, Twin Falls, Boise, Weiser, McCall, Blackfoot, Idaho Falls and Ashton in Idaho, and at Lima and Butte in Montana, and at Cache Junction in Utah.

Following the February 1, 1897 incorporation of (the independent) Oregon Short Line Railroad, the Salt Lake Tribune for March 2, 1897 carried an article, "Will Enlarge Shops", with the following information:

Principle shops to remain at Pocatello, Idaho

Salt Lake City mechanical force to be increased

A foundry to be built at Salt Lake City; previously all foundry work was done only by Union Pacific at Omaha

All shops (locomotive shops, car shops, paint shops, and general repair departments) to be enlarged to meet the requirements of an independent system

Previously, the shops' capacity was only for one division; general shops for more than light repairs was concentrated at Omaha, "except in the case of Pocatello which were able to turn out the heaviest and best class of work."

OSL Superintendent of Motive Power was J. F. Dunn

Division Master Mechanic (or Superintendent of Shops) was to be David Patterson, head of local shops for several years, has "been with the system for twenty years and more working his way up from an apprenticeship in the Omaha shops."

SPLA&SL shared the original OSL roundhouse at Salt Lake City at North Temple and 400 West from mid 1903 until June 1905, when the new roundhouse was completed at 900 North and 500 West. The two roads continued to use the newer facility until 16 of the 32 stalls were were demolished in early 1950. The remaining 16 stalls were demolished in November 1951, and work on a new diesel shop began in December 1951. There are a few photos of the bright orange steel girders being erected with the last roundhouse stalls still standing at the outside edges of the building site.

OSL Shop Locomotives

OSL Shop Locomotives -- A separate roster listing of OSL shop locomotives assigned at Pocatello, Idaho.