UP-LA&SL Fairfield Branch

Index For This Page

This page was last updated on August 15, 2022.

(Return To the Union Pacific In Utah Page)


Built in 1882 by Salt Lake & Western Railway; became part of OSL&UN in 1889; to OSL in 1897; to SPLA&SL in 1903; to LA&SL in 1916.

Salt Lake & Western Railway

Robert Edwards (co-author of Utah Ghost Rails, 1989) told the author on February 28, 1979 that at one time, UP operated a passenger train from Salt Lake City to Lehi, and on to Los Angeles, via the Fairfield Branch.


From Cutler (north of Lehi) on Utah Southern, west and southwest to Five Mile Pass, the south to Boulter Summit and Tintic Mining District.

LA&SL's Fairfield Branch was abandoned in three segments:

Stations (UP Fairfield Branch)

At Cutler (ex Lehi Junction) there was an enginehouse, coal bins, and ash pit. Just to the west was Lehi Manufacturing and Building Company (later General Refractories).

At the crossing with Rio Grande Western (later Mesa siding), note in ICC valuation drawing, "Salt Lake & Western R.R. paid $3,458.70 cost of raising grade and constructing bridge for R.G.W. Ry., verbal agreement, 1900."


(Handwritten notes from LA&SL drawing 562-11; examined at UP Depot Annex, Salt Lake City, Utah, April 29, 1988)


(Events prior to 1922 did not involve the federal ICC because it was in 1922 the the U. S. Supreme Court decided that, as part of the Transportation Act of 1920, the ICC had jurisdiction over railroad mainline and branch operations, which included track construction and abandonment. Throughout the late 1920s and 1930s, the ICC increased its oversight to include any change in operation of the nation's railroads.)

(The Utah Public Service Commission maintained a limited jurisdiction over railroads in Utah, meaning that the PSC was involved only in major changes, not abandonment of lightly-used branchlines.)

The depot at Fairfield was reportedly moved on a flat car in 1917 from Fairfield to Payson, where it remained until 1988 when it was sold and moved to nearby private property. (Madoline C. Dixon, in Peteetneet II, 1989; courtesy of Brian Burr)

With the abandonment of the Salt Lake & Mercur in 1913, and the immediate removal of the line's rails, a large part of the interchange traffic with UP's LA&SL at Fairfield disappeared. This meant that there was no need for an agent to sell tickets or to prepare freight bills of lading. There remained a large sheep shearing operation, which included the shipment of bales of raw wool. There was also seasonal loading and unloading of sheep for the surrounding winter pastures, but these bills of lading were likely prepared at other locations, such as Cutler where the Fairfield Branch connected with the LA&SL mainline between Salt Lake City and Provo.

August 29, 1918
LA&SL received Utah Public Utilities Commission approval to abandon service on southern 13.3 miles of the Fairfield Branch between Topliff and Boulter, where the branch connected with the main line of the Leamington Cut-off. The Fairfield Branch was the former Salt Lake & Western. The abandonment was protested by the Scranton Mining & Smelting Company, for its Del Monte Mine located a few miles east of Del Monte Station on the branch. (Public Service Commission of Utah, case 85)

May 10, 1921
Topliff (Mile Post 37.0) to Boulter (Mile Post 43.32) on Boulter Branch was abandoned. (Union Pacific AFE 3321, dated September 22, 1927, Work Order 7636, from LA&SL drawing 562-11)

October 31, 1927
LA&SL retired the southern 13.32 miles of the Fairfield Branch, from Mile Post 30.0 (Topliff) to Mile Post 43.32 (Boulter, connection to Leamington Cutoff main line). Operations were discontinued on September 6, 1918, after the August 29, 1918 approval for abandonment by the Utah Public Utilities Commission. (LA&SL A.F.E. 3321, dated September 22, 1927; LA&SL Work Order 7636, October 1927)

June 3, 1938
The following comes from 228 ICC 223; Finance Docket No. 11983; Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad Company et al.; Abandonment

Submitted May 25, 1938. Decided June 3, 1938

The Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad Company, and the Union Pacific Railroad Company, lessee, on March 21, 1938, jointly applied for permission to abandon the part of the former's Fairfield branch line of railroad extending from a point in or near Five Mile Pass southwesterly to the end of the branch at or near Topliff, approximately 6.14 miles, together with approximately 7.03 miles of so-called secondary track extending southeasterly from its connection with the aforesaid line at Topliff to its terminus, all in Tooele and Utah Counties, Utah.

The main track proposed to be abandoned was constructed as part of a branch line in 1881-82 by the Salt Lake & Western Railway Company, a predecessor of the Oregon Short Line Railroad Company, for the purpose of securing traffic from anticipated development of certain mineral areas in the vicinity. On July 7, 1903, the Los Angeles & Salt Lake purchased the branch line and subsequently constructed the secondary track in question. All the property of the Los Angeles & Salt Lake is operated by the Union Pacific, under lease, pursuant to authority granted by us in Union Pac. R. Co. Unification, 207 I. C. C. 543, decided July 26, 1935.

The only activity of consequence on the line from Five Mile Pass to Topliff was at the latter point, where there is a limerock plant which was acquired by the American Smelting & Refining Company in 1906. Operation of the quarries was abandoned in November 1937, as the plant at Topliff was not capable of preparing limerock in sizes to meet smelter requirements. The owners of the quarries have advised the applicants that there will be no further operation. There are no industries adjacent to the line.

For many years the traffic handled consisted chiefly of freight to and from the American Smelting & Refining Company's plant at Topliff. This traffic consisted mostly of limerock that moved from quarries served by the secondary track to the Topliff plant and thence over the branch line.

The applicants state that the loss of the traffic of the American Smelting & Refining Company has deprived them of practically the sole source of revenue from operation of the line, that continued operation thereof is not warranted and is not necessary from the standpoint of convenience and necessity, and that there is no prospect of future increased traffic.

Carloads of freight handled on the line in the years 1933 to 1937, inclusive, are shown, in order, as 427, 716, 908, 1,030, and 957, of which all except 23 carloads in the entire period consisted of stone, broken, ground, or crushed. Less-than-carload freight was negligible.

June 9, 1938
LA&SL received approval to abandon operation of the portion of the Fairfield Branch from Five Mile Pass, south to Topliff, and to abandon the tracks south from Topliff to the end of track, about 13 miles. (Provo Daily Herald, June 9, 1938).

September 30, 1938
Union Pacific (LA&SL) completed removal of 6.56-mile portion of Fairfield Branch, from Mile Post 23.6 (Five Mile Pass) to Mile Post 30.16 (Topliff, end of branch), including 7.03 miles of spur tracks extending from Topliff, southeasterly to the limestone quarries of American Smelting & Refining Company and United States Smelting, Refining & Mining Company.

The limestone quarries had been opened in 1906 and their operation was abandoned in November 1937. (ICC Finance Docket 11983, 228 ICC 223, approved June 3, 1938, removal date from "Return to Questionnaire" for ICC Finance Docket 13762)

May 28, 1942
LA&SL applied to the federal ICC to abandon the Fairfield Branch between Cutler and Five Mile Pass, a distance of 23.04 miles. (Lehi Free Press, June 11, 1942; noting that the application was in relation to ICC Finance Docket 13762)

August 1, 1942
"You will note that we handled only 6 cars of sheep in 1940 and 12 in 1941; 5 cars of wool in 1940 and none in 1941, and that the only traffic of any consequence is shown under "Products of Mines NOS" - 291 cars in 1940 and 28? cars in 1941, .and 56 cars for the first three months of 1942. These products were clay moving to Utah Fire Clay Company and Interstate Brick Company, destined to Sugar House and other points in the vicinity of Salt Lake. The ore shipments have been inconsequential and most of them have been made by the Snyder Mines Incorporated from Fairfield. I am advised that Mr. Ed Snyder, who is in charge of the oper- ations at Merker will interpose no objection to the abandonment of the line." (Union Pacific letter to Utah Department of Business Regulation [Utah Public Service Commission], August 1, 1942)

August 24, 1942
The federal ICC held hearings at Hotel Utah in Salt Lake City, gathering testimony concerning UP's application to abandon the the remaining portion of the Fairfield Branch, from Cutler to Five Mile Pass. (ICC Finance Docket 13762)

On August 24, 1942 Union Pacific withdrew the application because new traffic developed which required that the branch remain in service. The operation of the new Geneva Steel plant at Orem required a special type of clay for use in the mortar of the fire bricking in the blast furnaces. The closest source for the clay was in a quarry which was located on the Union Pacific's Fairfield Branch. The clay was required in quantities that could not be furnished by trucks from the quarry. (Minutes of ICC hearing, Salt Lake City, August 24, 1942)

September 11, 1942
ICC dismissed LA&SL's application to abandon the Fairfield Branch, from Mile Post 0.8 (Cutler) to Mile Post 23.6 (Five Mile Pass, end of branch). The application was made on May 23, 1942. (ICC Finance Docket 13762)

In November 1942 Union Pacific was operating two trains per week over the Fairfield Branch. (Public Service Commission of Utah, case 2631)

January 8, 1952
LA&SL and Union Pacific applied to the federal ICC to abandon the Fairfield Branch, from Cutler to Five Mile Pass, a distance of 23.6 miles. During the last year, the last customer, Utah Fire Clay Co., has been using its own trucks to haul materials. (Provo Daily Herald, January 18, 1952, "Legal Notices, noting that the application was in relation to ICC Finance Docket 17608; Lehi Free Press, January 11, 1952, "Authority was asked Wednesday...")

April 11, 1952
The federal ICC approved UP and LA&SL's application to abandon the Fairfield Branch. (ICC Finance Docket 17608; in 282 ICC 811, "Cases Disposed of Without Printed Report")

April 14, 1952
"ICC Authorizes U. P. To Quit Utah Line. Washington, April 14 (AP) The Interstate Commerce Commission Monday authorized the Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad Co. to abandon its 24-mile Fairfield branch in Utah and Tooele Counties, Utah. The section, linking Cutler and Five Mile Pass, has been operated under lease by the Union Pacific. The companies said traffic is insufficient to warrant continuance." (Salt Lake Telegram, April 14, 1952)

April 1952
Utah Division Employee Timetable No. 12, dated April 27, 1952, was the last issue to show the LA&SL (UP) Fairfield Branch between Cutler and Five Mile Pass in Utah County. The branch is *not* shown in timetable No. 13, dated November 9, 1952. (Jim Ehernberger, email dated November 18, 2014)


1938 Abandonment, Five Mile Pass to Topliff, ICC Decision (June 3, 1938) (PDF; 3 pages; 1.9MB)

1942 Proposed Abandonment, Cutler to Five Mile Pass, Application (May 23, 1942) (PDF; 5 pages; 3.1MB)

1942 Proposed Abandonment, Cutler to Five Mile Pass, Return to Questionnaire (June 25, 1942) (PDF; 17 pages; 9.7MB)

1942 Proposed Abandonment, Cutler to Five Mile Pass, Letter to Utah PSC (August 1, 1942) (PDF; 2 pages; 0.9MB)

1952 Abandonment, Cutler to Five Mile Pass, ICC Approval (282 ICC 811), and Newspaper Notices (PDF; 2 pages; 1.6MB)


LA&SL-UP Fairfield Branch, Cutler to Fairfield (MP 0 to MP20) -- (11.9MB) A map of the northern portion of the branch as surveyed in 1926, compiled from legal-sized photocopies made in the 1980s.

LA&SL-UP Fairfield Branch, Fairfield to Boulter (MP 20 to MP 43) -- (13MB) A map of the southern portion of the branch as surveyed in 1926, compiled from legal-sized photocopies made in the 1980s.

LA&SL-UP Fairfield Branch, Google Map

Line Profiles

Strip maps of the profile of the Fairfield Branch, showing the curves and grade of the track, and the rise and fall of the embankments on each side.

LA&SL-UP Fairfield Branch, Line profile, MP 22-27, Five Mile Pass -- (25.61 MB) (10.61 x 75.35)

LA&SL-UP Fairfield Branch, Line profile, MP 28-30, Topliff -- (15.44 MB) (10.75 x 46.18)

LA&SL-UP Fairfield Branch, Line profile, MP 31-34, Rush Valley -- (15.54 MB) (10.75 x 47.02)

LA&SL-UP Fairfield Branch, Line profile, MP 35-38, Del Monte -- (19.77 MB) (10.83 x 57.85)

LA&SL-UP Fairfield Branch, Line profile, MP 39-43, Boulter -- (23.75 MB) (10.39 x 66.36)

More Information

LA&SL's Tintic Branches -- An edited version of the original text used for an article published as "UP's Tintic Subdivision" in The Streamliner, Volume 19, Number 3, Summer 2005. The article in The Streamliner includes 32 photos (three in color, plus the color cover), and seven maps, along with locomotive diagrams, timetable entries, and track profiles of the branches where UP ran its Shay locomotives.

Salt Lake & Western Railway 1881-1889 -- Information about the predecessor to UP's early Tintic Branch between Lehi and Tintic