Utah Railway Cars

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This page was last updated on October 31, 2020.

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Utah Coal Route

During early 1913, Utah Railway announced that they would spend $1.5 million on new cars. (Eastern Utah Advocate, February 13, 1913)

500 gondola cars were delivered starting on September 25, 1914. (Utah Railway: Official Manual, equipment lists)

By mid December 1914, the first 100 cars of a new 500-car order had been received. The remaining 400 cars were in-route from the builder in Pittsburgh. (Eastern Utah Advocate, December 17, 1914, "100 of 500 cars received")

In May 1914, Utah Railway placed an order for 500 coal cars, after the order had been announced in March 1913. The cars began arriving in September 1914. They were the first 500 cars of an eventual fleet of 2,000 cars owned jointly after 1917 with the SPLA&SL (later LA&SL) and were operated as Utah Coal Route equipment. The Utah Coal Route name was used only on these 2,000 cars and was a marketing scheme for coal mined in Utah and shipped to destinations on the Union Pacific. In later years, Utah Railway itself took the Utah Coal Route name as part of its corporate logo.

Just after being organized in early 1912, Utah Railway had purchased fifteen fifty-ton flat cars from Standard Steel Car Company, along with twenty-five fifty-ton gondola cars from Ralston Steel Car Company. The new flat cars and gondola cars were delivered in April and May 1913. Also in 1912 the company purchased three cabooses from Mount Vernon Car Manufacturing Company. These were delivered in June 1913 and leased to the Southern Utah for operation. That first order for 500 cars first announced in March 1913 wasn't actually placed until May 1914 and the cars began arriving in September 1914. They were the first of 2,000 cars owned jointly after 1917 with the SPLA&SL (later LA&SL) and were operated as Utah Coal Route equipment. The Utah Coal Route name was in reality used only on these 2,000 cars and was a marketing scheme for coal mined in Utah and shipped to destinations on the Union Pacific. (Utah Railway: Manual, equipment lists)

The first 100 of 500 cars ordered by Utah Railway had been received. The rest were between Price and Pittsburgh. Utah Railway was turned over to the operating department of D&RG "some thirty days ago". (Eastern Utah Advocate, December 17, 1914, p.1, "More Cars Ordered")

Utah Railway increased its order of coal cars, changing from 800 cars to 2,000 cars. (News-Advocate, April 5, 1917)

Utah Railway's new cars were arriving at the rate of twenty cars per day. The new Provo yard was about half complete. (The Sun, July 20, 1917, p.6, "Many New Cars Coming For Utah Railway")

Two locomotives and 1,200 cars of Utah Railway arrived in Price "last Wednesday" (November 14, 1917). Two more locomotives were to arrive on November 29, 1917, and the other two were to arrive on December 1, 1917. (The Sun, November 16, 1917, p.1, "New Equipment here")

First train of Utah Railway, with forty cars, ran on "Saturday morning" (December 1, 1917). (News-Advocate, December 6, 1917, "Coal Route Is Working Well")

UCR owned 1,986 cars in 1931, 1,984 cars in 1936, and 1,631 of these cars in 1953. (The Mixed Train, March 1986, page 3)

The July 1962 Official Railway Equipment Register shows that of the 2000 cars from UCR 20000-21999 series, only 140 cars are listed. These cars were built in 1917. The AAR 40-year rule would have knocked them out of unrestricted interchange service in 1957. (Jim Eager, email dated February 2, 2001)

Dennis Storzek wrote on Railway Preservation News, April 30, 2015:

Both the Utah Coal Route and UP cars are Enterprise designs. Patented with the rights owned by the Enterprise Railway Equipment Co. The UCR car is the older design, later called the "chain device" by Enterprise when the need to differentiate arose. Both designs have in common the fact that while in transit the doors are solidly supported; not hung by the chains. Note in the close up photos of the UCR car the door operating shafts pass through slots in the framing. The doors are closed by common chain that wraps into a groove a casting attached to the shaft. The last revolution or so of that shaft causes it to creep sideways under the doors, where the serrated rollers engage castings mounted on the doors, so when fully closed, the doors are supported by the rollers and shafts under them.

(View close up photos of the Utah Coal Route car)

The UP car, preserved on Heber Valley RR, has a newer Enterprise design, which they called the "link device" in their literature. In this design the door operating shaft bearing locations are fixed. The doors are hung with special chains that work similar to roller chain (think bicycle chain). The links are of unequal length, designed so that as they roll up they nest into a solid disk, which, in the final motion of closing the doors, comes into solid contact with the underside of the door, again supporting it by compression, rather than tension in the chain.

As far as I know, when the link design was introduced, the chain design remained in production for those customers who thought it better. Both UP and SP were big proponents of the link design.

Richard Hendrickson wrote on the Freight Cars List, March 13, 2001:

About the Utah Coal Route cars, at best, the Ulrich model is a very inaccurate stand-in, and it would take some extensive kit-bashing to make it reasonably accurate (which wouldn't be at all easy on a die cast zinc alloy model). The UCR cars were not Enterprise gondolas, though they superficially resembled the Enterprise cars in general appearance and dimensions. The UCR cars were built in 1917 to a design which was the forerunner of (and nearly identical to) the USRA proposed standard general service gondola, one of the several USRA designs that were never built for the USRA itself though it was copied by several railroads after the end of WW I. The UCR gondolas and others like them had chain-and-roller door operating mechanisms, not the more sophisticated Enterprise type, and the arrangement and appearance of the door mechanisms, side sills, etc. was quite different, as were numerous other details.

The Ulrich model represented the Enterprise GS gondola design of the 1920s as built for the Southern Pacific. UP had them too, 2000 cars of class G-50-7 built by Ralston and Pullman (a thousand each) in 1920 and numbered 62000-63999 (note that Enterprise didn't build cars but licensed their patented designs to the established car builders). However, the UP cars had corrugated steel ends rather than the built-up steel ends on the models and the SP prototype cars. So the Ulrich kits can be kitbashed to represent a UP car by changing the ends but are not correct for one right out of the box.

By the standards of their day, the Ulrich models were very good. However, they have cast-on grab irons and such, which are not easy to replace with free standing grabs, and no brake rigging on a car where the air brake equipment is very visible and cries out to be modeled in detail. (Note, by the way, that the cars had K brakes when built, while Ulrich modeled them with retrofitted AB equipment). Also, the square rods and other parts of the Enterprise door mechanisms on the models are way oversize. They can be filed down so they look much closer to scale - I've done this - but that, too, isn't easy. (Richard H. Hendrickson, email dated March 13, 2001)

New Cars

UTAH 3000-3199, built by Pullman-Standard in 1958; 42'-10" inside length, 70-ton, three-bay hopper cars, with 15-panel sides. These were built to replace the UCR cars.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the UP coal car of choice was a 45ft 12-panel triple built by Bethlehem Steel. The H-90-1 class arrived in 1962; the H-90-2 and H-90-3 classes were delivered in 1966-1967. The H-90-4 class and H-90-5 class came in the early 1970s. By the late 1970s the UP was supplying 48ft quad-hopper cars for loading on the Utah.

Miscellaneous Notes

At various times during its history, the Utah Railway used its own cars, marked either as UTAH, or as the jointly-owned Utah Coal Route (UCR), as well as cars from Union Pacific. As much as 5% of the cars loaded on the Utah came from other sources, including D&RGW equipment (2-3%) and others (Rock Island, Santa Fe, and private-owned cars). But 95% of the carloadings would be in UP or UTAH reporting marks.

Mark Hemphill wrote on October 31, 2020.

D&RGW equipment showed up quite a bit on the Utah. Maybe 2-3% of the cars. I think that's too much to be "rare". And I'm seeing too much UCR equipment on D&RGW to call it rare on D&RGW, either. I still haven't seen a Utah PS-3 hopper on D&RGW, however.

One of the challenges is the WWII (and possibly the Korean War era) have relaxed car service rules.

Research in photos suggests the following mix of equipment ownership...

  • Pre-WWII: Utah Railway was 80% UCR, 15% UP, 5% D&RGW and others
  • WWII-1955: Utah Railway was 75% UCR, 20% UP, 5% D&RGW and others
  • 1955-1970: Utah Railway was 75% UP, 20% UTAH, 5% D&RGW and others
  • 1970-1980: Utah Railway was 85% UP, 10% UTAH, 5% D&RGW and others
  • 1980-1990: Utah Railway is either UP or shipper supplied cars