Ballard & Thompson Railroad

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This page was last updated on July 30, 2019.

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(The Ballard & Thompson Railroad is not known to have owned any rolling stock or equipment.)

The Ballard & Thompson Railroad was incorporated on July 15, 1911 to build a railroad from Thompson to a place called Ballard, Utah, a distance of about 5.25 miles. The president of the new company was B. F. Bauer of Salt Lake City. H. G. Ballard of Thompson was first vice president and C. L. Crockwell of Salt Lake City was second vice president. The other organizers of the railroad and coal company included W. S. McCarthy of Salt Lake City as treasurer and William Darke of Salt Lake City as secretary. The other organizers included R. F. Neslen and L. W. Hahn, both of Salt Lake City. (Utah corporation, index number 9102)

D&RGW operated the Ballard & Thompson Railroad from 1912 to 1950, under contract to the owning coal company. After May 1948, D&RGW used the name "Neslen Spur" in its employee timetables.

The branch was abandoned and removed in 1951.


July 1911
"Thompsons and Ballard" railroad was incorporated. Ballard was a prominent livestock man in eastern Utah. Neslen, Hahn, and Darke were with the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy agency in Salt Lake City. Bauer was the manager of Salt Lake Hardware. (Eastern Utah Advocate, July 20, 1911)

Article about the Ballard & Thompson Railroad. (Salt Lake Mining Review, Volume 13, number 8, July 30, 1911, p.36)

News item about American Fuel Company arranging for the equipment of its mine at Ballard, including building an eight mile railroad to connect with D&RGW. (Salt Lake Mining Review, Volume 13, number 21, February 15, 1912, p.20)

"The Thompson & Ballard Railroad". (Salt Lake Mining Review, Volume 13, number 23, March 15, 1912, p.23)

Grading for the new railroad began, and rumors, as well as dirt, soon began flying. Many of the rumors must have merely been wishful thinking on the part of the local press because when asked to explain the possible involvement of the Union Pacific in the construction of the Ballard & Thompson, as part of a new line south out of Wyoming to the Carbon County coal fields, W. H. Bancroft, superintendent of the Utah lines of Union Pacific denied the rumor, saying that there was no connection between the Ballard & Thompson and the Harriman Lines. (Eastern Utah Advocate, May 23, 1912)

By mid July 1912, Ballard & Thompson track laying was complete to Camp Bong. (Eastern Utah Advocate, July 18, 1912, p. 5)

Within a month, in mid August 1912, the Ballard & Thompson was completed, as "a 5-mile spur to serve Western Fuel Company." (Eastern Utah Advocate, August 15, 1912)

By late October 1912 the Ballard & Thompson was completed and in operation, between Thompson and Neslen, the site of the mine of the American Fuel Company. The new railroad was built using 65-pound rail and was five miles in length. Coal was already being shipped out. (Eastern Utah Advocate, October 31, 1912, p. 3)

D&RG began operation of Ballard & Thompson Railroad, between Thompson on D&RG and the coal mine at Sego. (LeMassena, p. 125)

As a side note, H. G. "Harry" Ballard, after whom the location of the coal mine was named, apparently sold his interests in ranching, and in the railroad and coal company quite early. In October 1914, he was living in Bedford, England. (Eastern Utah Advocate, October 1, 1914, p.1, "Ballard Writes Of War")

In 1918, in a case before the Utah Public Utilities Commission concerning rates for Utah Railway, testimony was given that the Nelson Mine of the American Fuel Company was located at Sego, on the Ballard & Thompson Railroad, and that the B&T is operated and maintained by D&RG, at the expense of the B&T. Negotiations by the D&RG to purchase the Ballard & Thompson line fell through due to federal control of the nation's railroads. (Utah PUC Case 99, no date; prior cases dated September 1918, later cases dated October 1918)

August 23, 1922
Ballard & Thompson Railroad received Utah Public Utilities Commission approval to do business as a common carrier in intrastate commerce. The railroad was 5.25 miles long and served the coal mines of the American Fuel Company at Sego. (Utah Public Service Commission case 564)

September 29, 1922
The federal Interstate Commerce Commission denied the Ballard & Thompson's request to participate in interstate commerce as a common carrier. (ICC Finance Docket 2494, in 72 ICC 644) (See also: ICC Finance Docket 13509, D&RGW vs. American Fuel Co. [Ballard & Thompson])

"Operation Of The Ballard & Thompson R. R.", Decisions Of The Interstate Commerce Commission (Finance Reports), Volume 72, Finance Docket 2494, pages 644-646.

Included in the above ICC case from 1922 was information that at one time a gasoline motor was used, but its use was discontinued. The railroad was of light construction with a maximum grade of four percent. The rail used on the line included about 3.3 miles of 45- to 57-pound rail manufactured as early as 1888. The rest of the line was laid with 65-pound rail. During the early 1920s, the railroad shipped a yearly average of 100,000 tons from the coal mine, shipping about five or six cars per day. The coal mine was served by the D&RG as a switching move by the local that traveled between Grand Junction and Price. (72 ICC 644)

September 20, 1924
The property of the Balllard & Thompson railroad, and its parent company, American Fuel company, were to be sold at Sheriff's sale on the steps of the Grand County courthouse in Moab, Utah, on September 20, 1924. The sale was the result of a suit by Bankers Trust Company against the railroad and coal company. The foreclosure suit was brought by the Bankers Trust company of Salt Lake City, and on August 23, 1924, the trust company won a judgement of $200,000 agaist the coal company, and another $125,000 judgement againist the railroad. (Salt Lake Tribune, August 24, 1924; Moab Times Independent, September 18, 1924)

The coal company was reorganized in 1925 as the Chesterfield Coal Company, which consisted of the estate of Mr. Bauer and his associates at Salt Lake Hardware. The Chesterfield company owned both the mine and the railroad, at which time an agreement was made between the coal company and D&RGW that the railroad would continue service over the badly deteriorated track if the coal company would do the maintenance. Later, D&RGW agreed to maintain the railroad if any rail laid by D&RGW could be removed and operation over the line cease after a six month notice. The agreement was still in place in 1938. Total production for 1937 was 58,797 tons (about 1,176 car loads). Service was provided by D&RGW as a round trip between Grand Junction and the mine at Sego, and return to Grand Junction. During the summer months there were about four round trips per month, and during the peak winter months of high coal demand, there were about eight or nine round trips made in each month. The coal from the Sego mine was considered to be not as desirable as other Carbon County coals, and was inferior to Sunnyside coal by about ten percent. During 1936 and 1937, D&RGW purchased about sixty-five percent of the mine's output for use in its locomotives. (D&RGW: 1938)

June 23, 1925
The property of the Ballard & Thompson railroad, and the American Fuel company, were deeded to the new company, Chesterfield Coal Company, a Deleware corporation, by the Grand County Sheriff, on June 23, 1925. The transfer of deed, and sale by the Sheriff was the result of the foreclosure sale in September 1924. (Salt Lake Tribune, June 25, 1925)

The Chesterfield mine closed on November 1, 1947. The property was sold at a sheriff's sale in Moab. (Florin, pp. 382-387)

In May 1948, with D&RGW's Grand Junction Division Timetable No. 131, dated May 30, 1948, the Ballard and Thompson Branch was changed to the Neslen Spur.

D&RGW ended its contract operation of the Ballard & Thompson Railroad, with the contract having been in place since 1913. (LeMassena, p. 170)

May 19, 1950
D&RGW retired the old Ballard & Thompson branch between Thompson and Sego. The coal mine at Sego was being operated by the Chesterfield Coal Co. 29,183 feet of track (5.58 miles). (D&RGW AFE 2341, approved on May 19, 1950, research completed at Colorado Railroad Museum, July 20, 2005) (See also: contract 11801, dated November 10, 1938, and Chief Engineer Agreement 4133, dated June 1, 1925)

In January 1951, with D&RGW's Grand Junction Division Timetable No. 135, dated January 1, 1951, the Neslen Spur (Thompson to Neslen) was removed from the timetable.

March 26, 1956
D&RGW acquired the former Ballard & Thompson Railroad right of way, consisting of 5.09 acres at Thompson, Utah. (D&RGW Authority for Expenditure 4255, dated March 26, 1956; research by Jerry Day at Colorado Railroad Museum)

Acquire former Ballard & Thompson trackage area consisting of 5.09 acres of land, ties, and grading. The D&RGW already owns all rail and fastenings. Capitalize value of rail and other track material for 2566 feet of track for Accounting Department record purposes only.

Purpose and Necessity:
While negotiating a lease agreement with the Utah Grand Coal Company permitting the D&RGW use of their land, roadbed, and ties of the former Ballard & Thompson Railroad trackage area, it was learned that the Coal Company had been sold and the new owners were not interested in leasing this area, but would consider selling land, roadbed and ties for $3000. This purchase is necessary to have full ownership of the trackage.


Ballard & Thompson Railroad -- A Google Map of the railroad in eastern Utah, between Thompson on the D&RGW, and a coal mine fve miles north.

Ballard & Thompson Railroad -- A scanned map of the Ballard & Thompson railroad, showing township and range, and section location, as well as right of way.

More Information

Ballard & Thompson corporate information

Sego coal mine

"The Ballard & Thompson Railroad" by Joshua Bernard, in The Prospector, Volume 11, Number 4, Fourth Quarter 2012, published by The Rio Grande Modeling & Historical Society. An excellent article, with photographs and maps of the Ballard & Thompson Railroad.