Union Pacific's West Side Business Parks
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Information about UP's business parks on Salt Lake City's west side
The page was last updated on March 12, 2011.
Although today what may appear to be one large industrial development, the industrial district on Salt Lake City's west side was developed by Union Pacific Railroad and Salt Lake City as three separate districts:
- Small Arms Plant, immediately west of Redwood Road between California Avenue and 1700 South
- Pioneer Business Park, west of Interstate 215 between California Avenue and 2100 South and centered on Pioneer Road
- Centennial Business Park, west of 3200 West between California Avenue and 2100 South and extending west to 4800 West.
It all began with the former Small Arms Plant in 1948 when the U. S. government's War Assets Administration sold its Utah Ordnance Depot at the end of World War II to a group of local businessmen.
The Small Arms Plant was a joint facility served by both UP and D&RGW due to its original government beginnings. D&RGW served the Small Arms Plant by way of a spur along 1800 South that crossed the Jordan River, the surplus canal, and Redwood Road to access the joint trackage area. UP served the joint trackage by way of a spur along the west side of the surplus canal off of its Buena Vista passenger line.
The area west of Interstate 215 was developed solely by Union Pacific as its Pioneer Business Park, and was served exclusively by UP. UP accessed both the Small Arms Plant and the Pioneer Business Park from the same switch off of the Buena Vista passenger line. The separation of the two districts along what is now Interstate 215 came in the early 1960s due to planning for the new "Belt Route" highway to be built in the 1970s.
Railroad access to the Centennial Business Park was provided by Union Pacific by way of a spur that joined its west side mainline at about 4500 West.
Small Arms Plant
The Small Arms Plant is located just west of Redwood Road, and south of California Avenue, along the west side of the Surplus Canal. This area is served by UP from the north, from its Passenger Line, and by D&RGW from the southeast.
The Small Arms Plant was built in 1941 as the Utah Ordnance Depot (also known as the Utah Ordnance Plant) by the U. S. government as part of the effort to support the needs of World War II. Ground was broken in July 1941 and operations began in January 1942, with the plant being operated under contract by Remington Arms Company. It was one of eight similar small arms plants nationwide that employed 80,000 people. The plant operated for two short years employing 10,000 persons who manufactured thousands of pistols, rifles and 10 billion individual 30 caliber and 50 caliber bullets to support the war effort. The plant was closed in December 1943 and placed on standby status, having met its purpose as an interim emergency facility pending the completion of higher capacity facilities located elsewhere in the country. The Utah Ordnance Depot was just one of several other defense related locations in Utah that included the Ogden Arsenal, located in the west area of today's Hill Air Force Base, along with the Tooele Ordnance Depot, the Clearfield Navy Supply Depot, and the Utah Quartermaster Depot north of Ogden.
After the war, the Small Arms Plant real estate was sold by the government to local developers (Harold H. Bennett, Leland B. Swaner, and John M. Wallace) and became one of Utah's first industrial parks. It was known in those early years as the "Industrial Center." UP and D&RGW provided rail service throughout the 1950s and 1960s. UP saw the potential for the area to the west and southwest, and created the Centennial Business Park.
(Sources include specific searches at the Deseret News Historic Archive, including the June 21, 1943 issue.)
They Kept 'Em Rolling:the Tooele Army Depot, 1942-1962 Leonard J. Arrington and Thomas G. Alexander, Utah Historical Quarterly, Volume 31
Supply Hub of the West: Defense Depot Ogden, 1941-1964 Leonard J. Arrington and Thomas G. Alexander Utah Historical Quarterly, Volume 32
Utah's Biggest Business: Ogden Air Materiel Area at Hill Air Force Base, 1938-1965 Leonard J. Arrington, Thomas G. Alexander, and Eugene A. Erb, Jr Utah Historical Quarterly, Volume 33
Ogden's "Arsenal of Democracy." 1920-1955 Thomas G. Alexander Utah Historical Quarterly, Volume 33
Centennial Business Park
In the late 1960s, Salt Lake City and UP agreed to develop the west side of the area inside of Salt Lake City's city limits, which extend as far west as 7200 West. The area of interest was north of 2100 South and west of Redwood Road, all the way west to 5600 West. In those days, the whole area was mostly empty except for a few city streets such as 700 South and California Avenue, where the city dump was. UP had owned some of the land since the late 1950s for the purposes of industrial development, and put together a package with other land owners. Salt Lake City made the zoning changes. UP built the Centennial Branch, and developers started building warehouses and small manufacturing facilities. The city built streets that spread out from California Avenue on the north, and from 2100 South on the south, and the growth spread from there. Today, forty years later, the area is a major contributor to Salt Lake City's, and northern Utah's economy, providing employment for literally thousands of people. All because of the vision of Salt Lake City's leaders and the Union Pacific Railroad.
UP's Centennial Business Park was created in 1974 to develop the area owned by UP Land Resources Corporation (UP Land Department before 1969) and served by UP south of its line in the west side of the Salt Lake Valley. UP's access was by way the wye out at about 4500 West. The line, known as the Centennial Branch, or Centennial Industrial Lead, heads south from the wye to California Avenue. The spurs spread out to the south and east from there.
The 20 acres of land was purchased by Union Pacific's Upland Resources Corporation subsidiary in 1969, the year of UP's centennial celebration. The announcement of the development of the business park came in November 1974. The general description put the park at about 3600 West and 2100 South. (Deseret News, November 7, 1974)
In adddition to the new Centennial Business Park, Union Pacific was in the process of developing nine other business park properties: Redwood Road Industrial District (21 acres); Beck Street Industrial District (123 acres); Becks Freeway Industrial District (38 acres); North Salt Lake Industrial District (60 acres); South Davis Industrial District (42 acres); Clearfield Industrial District (157 acres); Ogden Industrial District (21 acres), adjacent to Utah General Depot; Hot Springs Industrial District (177 acres); and the Great Salt Lake Industrial District (2400 acres), adjacent to Great Salt Lake Minerals plant and served by the Little Mountain Branch. (Deseret News, November 7, 1974)
Access to the Centennial Business Park east of 4000 West was cut by the Bangerter Highway in mid 1990s (highway completed in 1998), so a new line was built that connects with the main line just east of the highway's overhead crossing of UP's main line. The new connection runs along the east side of the highway, to about 1700 South, where it connects with the eastern part of the Centennial Branch.
The wye at 4500 West is today the location of UP's intermodal yard, and is where the heritage locomotives were displayed a couple years ago.