California Short Line Railway

Index For This Page

This page was last updated on June 15, 2019.

(Return To Utah Railroads Index Page)


In June 1882 the California Short Line Railway was organized to construct a rail line from Springville to Salina, by way of Nephi, Salt Creek Canyon, and Manti. The company was organized by several Salt Lake City business men, including Simon Bamberger, Jacob Bamberger, and William McCornick. Halbert S. Kerr, later Construction Engineer, Agent and Superintendent of the San Pete Valley, was hired by Bamberger as Construction Engineer of the California Short Line to survey and locate the extension south to Moroni and Manti. Kerr had previously been employed by the Denver and Rio Grande Western in the location and construction of its line across eastern Utah and into Salt Lake City.

In 1882 Simon Bamberger organized a connecting railroad, the California Short Line Railroad, a small company with grand ambitions. The line only built about three miles of track, all within San Pete Valley.


June 13, 1882
"Another Railroad. The California Short Line Railway Company. A new railroad company has been formed in this city under the name of the "California Short Line," the articles of incorporation having been filed on Monday with the auditor, and secretary of the territory. The line of the company, we understand, is already surveyed and laid out, and will start from Salina, Sevier County, northward by way of Manti, Ephraim and Moroni, to Draper, in Sanpete County, where connection will be made with the San Pete Valley Rail way to Nephi. From Nephi the road will be built to Springville, there making connection with the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railway, and forming a complete line to Salt Lake." (Salt Lake Herald, June 13, 1882)

(Read the corporate information for the California Short Line Railway)

August 9, 1882
California Short Line. The engineers of the California Short Line R.R. have been busy during the last few days at Spanish Fork, Payson, and Nephi, maaking measurements for depot grounds, and taking land lines that rights of way may be negotiated. The maps for right of way through public lands have been forwarded to Washington for the Secretary's approval, and rapid preparations are being made for immediate work. - The Enquirer." (Ogden Herald, August 9, 1882)

At the time that the California Short Line was organized, the San Pete Valley company was in business hauling coal from the mine at Wales, to the Utah Southern connection at Nephi. The California Short Line company was apparently meant to start from the point where the San Pete Valley company's tracks turned south toward the Wales mine, and extend the tracks to the southeast to reach Moroni. The starting point became Draper Junction, and was later renamed as Freedom.

(Available online newspapers do not mention any construction of the line of the California Short Line company. The newspapers do, however, show the San Pete Valley company being completed to Moroni as early as March 1885.)

Research suggests that the construction was done as a formal extension of the San Pete Valley company, using rails and material of the San Pete Valley company, with the permission of the San Pete Valley company's owners, Central Pacific Coal and Coke company, which owned all of the stock of the San Pete Valley company.

In December 1884 the San Pete Valley Valley Railroad itself began operating its own trains over the tracks of the California Short Line between Draper and Moroni. (Manti Home Sentinel, May 15, 1885)

April 1, 1888
Simon Bamberger was terminated as general manager and superintendent of the San Pete Valley Railway. (Utah Enquirer, August 2, 1889)

April 6, 1888
"Public Notice. All persons are hereby warned against purchasing or otherwise dealing in the bonds of the California Short Line Railway Company, being a pretended corporation so allied. That all the railway line claimed to belong to said pretended corporation and mortgagged to secure said bonds was built with the material and funds of the Sanpete Valley Railroad Company and is its property. Theodore Bruback, General Manager of the Sanpete Valley Railroad Company. (Salt Lake Herald, April 6, 1888)

Simon Bamberger and F. K. Morris, the secretary of the San Pete Valley company, both of whom had been replaced in their positions as of April 1, 1888, were sued by Theofore Bruback, as the new general manager of the railroad for embezzlement of funds. As the suit worked its way through the court system, the Salt Lake City newspapers argued the case in the press, with actual testimony further confusing the question. The results appear to be that the English owners had approved Bamberger's use of funds, and rails and track materials to build his California Short Line railroad to extend the San Pete Valley railroad's line beyond "Draper Junction," the point where the railroad turned south to the Wales coal mine. Construction from Draper to Moroni was started in August 1884, and was completed to Moroni in October, with a final terminus reached at Chester, three miles south of Moroni, by August 1885. The suit against Bamberger and Morris was finally dismissed in September 1888 after it was revealed that the English directors of the coal company, and therefore the San Pete Valley railroad, had given Bamberger permission for the California Short Line (owned by Bamberger, his brother, and several Salt Lake City businessmen) to use the funds and track materials as a means to extend the railroad line farther into the valley. The permission was apparently given based on an informal agreement between Bamberger and some of the English directors in return for them investing in Bamberger's "paper" railroad. Construction and completion of the railroad from Draper to Chester was all reported as being by and for the San Pete Valley company. The only references to the California Short Line company in available online newspapers is its organization in 1882, and in relation to the later embezzlement suit, without any reference to it completing any railroad construction.

July 26, 1889
On September 21, 1888 the San Pete Valley Railway sued the California Short Line Railway for the latter company using rails and material owned by the San Pete company to build its railroad, and furnished to the latter company. The case was heard and decided by a Referee rather than a Judge. The Referee sustained the motion for dismissal by the California Short Line company on the grounds that the suit was in fact between the owners of the San Pete company (Central Pacific Coal and Coke company), and Simon Bamberger, who was general manager of both the Coal and Coke company, and of the San Pete company. The officers and directors of the Coal and Coke company had given Bamberger permission to use the rails and materials for the construction of the California Short Line company as an extension of the San Pete Valley company. The case was formally dismissed on December 13, 1889. (Utah Enquirer, September 21, 1888; Deseret News, September 26, 1888; Utah Enquirer, February 8, 1889; March 29, 1889; April 5, 1889; Salt Lake Tribune, June 2, 1889; Utah Enquirer, August 2, 1889; December 13, 1889)

(There was a later California Short Line Railway in late 1902, which proposed from Alamogordo, New Mexico, and a connection with the Rock Island, crossing the Rio Grande river at Las Cruces, and connecting with the Southern Pacific at Deming, New Mexico.)

More Information

San Pete Railroads -- Information about the construction of railroads in San Pete County.