Eureka Hill Railway (1907-1937)

This page was last updated on November 23, 2017.

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All of Eureka Hill's locomotives were Shay locomotives, from Lima Locomotive Works.

George Pitchard wrote in May 2004:

The report that Shay engines 2, 3, & 4 went to "International Smelting Co." in 1926, and in 1936 to Anaconda Copper Co., apparently comes from the list in Koch, does not appear to be correct. Eureka Hill Ry. (and therefore, its equipment) remained a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Knight Investment Co. into 1930; there was an agreement between Knight Investment Co., and North Lily Mining Co., dated July 2, 1929, calling for the merger of the two companies, upon which merger several Knight properties (including E.H.Ry. Co.) to be conveyed to the new North Lily Mining Co., dated July 25, 1930, called for the carrying out of the terms of the agreement of July 2, 1929. Items in Eureka Reporter newspaper, dated July 10, 1930 and July 31, 1930, indicate the merger and transfer were then carried out, and therefore the E.H.Ry. was transferred in about July 1930 to North Lily-Knight Corp., which apparently was at least in part, backed by International Mining & Smelting Co.

Regardless, however, of titular ownership of the railroad company, the railroad company owned the locomotives for at least as long as the company existed; Board of equalization reports, for at least as late as 1934, show the locomotives as Eureka Hill Railway. "Ownership" of the locomotives after the 1937 dissolution of E.H.Ry. Co., which is not at present certain, is somewhat irrelevant, since they were not in use any later than 1931-1932, and apparently scrapped (at the enginehouse) in late 1942, after at least a decade of non-use.

Type Cylinders Wheels Engine
Construction Date Notes
1 28-2 2-truck 8 x 10 in. 26-1/2 in. 47,400 lbs. 1983 25 Jul 1907 1
2 70-3 3-truck 12 x 15 in. 36 in. 131,600 lbs. 2068 4 Apr 1908 2
3 70-3 3-truck 12 x 15 in. 36 in. 97,600 lbs. 2109 19 Aug 1908 3
4 70-3 3-truck 12 x 15 in. 36 in. 120,000 lbs. 2151 24 Mar 1909 4

Note 1:
Engine No. 1 was received in mid-August, 1907; see Eureka Reporter of 23 August 1907. The locomotive was purchased by Oregon Lumber Co. but shipped to Eureka Hill Railway; this event is best explained by the fact that Oregon Lumber Co. was owned by David Eccles, a business associate of Jesse Knight, who built the Eureka Hill Ry.; Eccles' purchase of the locomotive in favor of Knight's railroad indicates a possible financial investment on the part of Eccles; Eccles was a Director, holding one share, as required by law.

Note that this engine, the first for the E. H. Ry., was ordered by ('built for' the Oregon Lumber Co. is not much of a surprise, as E. H. Ry. President C. W. Nibley and E. H. Ry. director David Eccles were, after all, THE principal figures in the Oregon Lumber Company; and, by virtue of having already done a bit of business with Lima L & M, the Oregon Lumber Co. was known to Lima L & M, whereas Knight and/or Eureka Hill Ry. were not, so Oregon Lumber ordering the engine likely made matters easier all around; it is not likely that the engine was ever actually intended to go to Oregon. (George Pitchard)

With regard to the matter of Eureka Hill Railway No. 1 being "built for" the Oregon Lumber Co., and shipped to E.H.Ry., George Pitchard writes:

Eureka Hill Railway incorporation was filed on February 6, 1907, with Charles W. Nibley as President, and Trustee holding 494 shares of the 500 shares of E.H.Ry. stock; and with David Eccles as a Director of E.H.Ry. At the same time, David Eccles was President of the Sumpter Valley Railway, and of the Oregon Lumber Co., with Charles W. Nibley as Vice President of the Sumpter Valley Ry., and a Director there of, as well as "closely connected" with the Oregon Lumber Co., and had been since 1890. That Knight made Nibley President, and Trustee, of his E.H.Ry. indicates a long association between Knight and Nibley. (Nibley was Presiding Bishop of The LDS Church from December 1907 to May 1925)

In a July 2002 email to Stan Jennings, George Pitchard writes about the first Shay on the Eureka Hill:

It would be most entertaining to know the actual date of order for Shay c/n 1983, to see how that relates to the date of incorporation of the E. H. Ry. (which was February 2, 1907), and the obvious possibility that the engine was ordered by Eccles prior to the incorporation of the E. H. Ry., and thereupon (or shortly after) "diverted" to Eureka Hill Ry.; but I do not know of anything showing the order date, as distinct from the date shipped, which latter we do have---25 July 1907.

George Pitchard writes that E.H.Ry. No. 1 definitely left the railroad in 1914 because it was taxed on January 1, 1914, but not on January 1, 1915. It left in 1914, apparently to a dealer in Salt Lake City (possible Western Machinery Co.), which in turn sold it in about June 1915 to Nevada Short Line No. 1.

No. 1 was sold by Eureka Hill Railway in 1914 to a dealer, who in June 1915 sold the engine to Nevada Short Line Railway No. 1, Oreana, Nevada; wrecked in July 1915, rebuilt in SP shops in Sparks, Nevada; destroyed in Nevada Short Line engine house fire on November 30, 1915; sold for "junk" and scrapped in 1917.

Proof of this sale comes from Greg Maxwell, by way of an email from Sam Bass on November 23, 2017. Greg found an article in the Reno Gazette-Journal dated July 15, 1915, which included a note of the wreck of #1 on July 14, 1915. The last sentence of the newspaper item reads, "The locomotive was a new one recently purchased from the Jesse Knight interests of Utah." 

Other researchers have found as yet unconfirmed information that the former Eureka Hill No. 1 was not scrapped in Nevada in 1917, but was in fact sold to Oregon Lumber Company, and continued working in the Baker, Oregon area:

"Actually, we have fairly concrete evidence in paper work from McKim and Co., a locomotive dealer/foundry/machine shop in Baker Ore., which was forwarded to Lima that this engine was not scrapped in Nev. but had another life from about 1921-1926 or 27 on the Oregon Lumber Co. logging liines. Still looking for photographic evidence to further back this up." (, February 21, 2016)

From the Lima "drawing card index" file:

Locomotive No. 1983 Order No. 353 Plan No. 1780
Built for: Oregon Lumber Co., Baker City, Oregon.
Road No.: 1 Name: Eureka Hill Railroad Co.
Shipped to: Eureka Hill RR. Co., Mammoth, Utah Date Shipped: July 25, 1907
Gauge of track: 36"
Style of locomotive: 28-Ton Shay, 2-Truck Cylinders: 3 - 8x10"
Wheels, diameter: 26-1/2" Total empty weight: 47,400 lbs.
Working pressure: 160 lbs. Fuel: Wood (as built) Tank capacity: 850 gallons water
Boiler style: Straight Boiler, diameter: 37-1/4"

Note 2:
Engine No. 2 was purchased new directly by Eureka Hill Railway, and arrived via the Rio Grande on Monday, April 27, 1908, see Eureka Reporter of May 1, 1908.

From the Deseret News, May 12, 1908: "The Eureka Hill Railway has just received a 70-ton Shay locomotive and has placed and order for a number of steel cars and is now in shape to do business as soon as the smelter is ready to receive the ores which will be hauled over the road. The railroad and all its equipment is now fully paid for."

From the Lima "drawing card index" file:

Locomotive No. 2068 Order No. 3469 Plan No. 867
Built for: Eureka Hill R.R. Co., Provo, Utah
Road No.: 2 Name: Eureka Hill R.R. Co.
Shipped to: Mammoth, Utah Date Shipped: April 4, 1908
Gauge of track: 36"
Style of locomotive: 70-Ton Shay, 3-Truck Cylinders: 3 - 12x15"
Wheels, diameter: 36" Total empty weight: 131,600 lbs.
Working pressure: 200 lbs. Fuel: Coal Tank capacity: 3,000 gallons water
Boiler style: Extended Wagon Top Boiler, diameter: 46"

New firebox, May 1920.
Removed top six flues (reducing flues to 150), May 1920.

Note 3:
Engine No. 3 was purchased new directly by Eureka Hill Railway. While no date has been found for the arrival of the No. 3, it is mentioned as being in service by September 25, 1908, see Eureka Reporter of that date.

From the Lima "drawing card index" file:

Locomotive No. 2109 Order No. 1200 Plan No. 867
Built for: Eureka Hill R.R. Co., Provo, Utah
Road No.: 3 Name: Eureka Hill R.R. Co.
Shipped to: Mammoth, Utah Date Shipped: August 19, 1908
Gauge of track: 36"
Style of locomotive: 70-Ton Shay, 3-Truck Cylinders: 3 - 12x15"
Wheels, diameter: 36" Total empty weight: 97,600 lbs.
Working pressure: 200 lbs. Fuel: Coal Tank capacity: 3,000 gallons water
Boiler style: Extended Wagon Top Boiler, diameter: 46-3/8"

New flue sheet in September 1916.
Removed top six flues (reducing flues to 150), September 1916.

Note 4:
Engine No. 4 was purchased new directly by Eureka Hill Railway. It was received sometime in the week preceding April 9, 1909, see Eureka Reporter of that date, "Another engine, which is No. 4, has just been received for the Eureka Hill Railway."

From the Lima "drawing card index" file:

Locomotive No. 2151 Order No. 4384 Plan No. 867
Built for: Tintic Smelting Co., Provo, Utah
Road No.: 4 Name: Eureka Hill R.R. Co.
Shipped to: Silver City, Utah Date Shipped: March 24, 1909
Gauge of track: 36"
Style of locomotive: 70-Ton, 3-Truck Shay Cylinders: 3 - 12x15"
Wheels, diameter: 36" Total empty weight:
Working pressure: 200 lbs. Fuel: Coal Tank capacity: 4,000 gallons water
Boiler style: Extended Wagon Top Boiler, diameter: 46-3/8"
Tractive power: 30,350 lbs.

One new axle and wheel centers on June 19, 1917.
New pop valves on December 9, 1921.
New steam pipe elbow on July 18, 1925.
New cylinders on Lima order 6476, no date.
Removed top six flues (reducing flues to 150), no date.

Board of Equalization Reports, etc.

The first appearance of the Eureka Hill Ry. in the annual reports of the state Board of Equalization was in the report 'for the year 1908,' wherein 'Rolling Stock' shows a total assessment of a mere $3,600.00; a year later, in the report 'for the year 1909,' the rolling stock assessment totals $25,410.00, which is broken down as one loco at $2,000; two locos at $5,000 each; 30 steel ore cars at $300 each, and 22 wooden ore cars at $200 each; and one push car at 10 bucks. Undoubtedly, it is the No. 1 Shay assessed at $2,000, and Nos 2 and 3 assessed at $5,000 each. No. 4 did not arrive until after the 'as of date for the 1909 report.

The 1913 report is about like the 1909, except that of course engine No. 4 appears; assessed as a group only, the four engines are assessed at $13,000. One of the wooden ore cars has gone away since 1909, as well. The more important structures, as shown in the 1913 report, all at Silver City, were the enginehouse, frame construction, 31 by 59 feet, assessed at $800; the water tank, 10x12 feet, at $400; and the 'sand shed,' 14x31 feet, at $200.

The report for the year 1914, showing the state of things as of January 1, 1914, shows the four Shay engines, numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4; the next report, for the year 1915 (as of January 1, 1915), shows only Shay engines numbers 2, 3 and 4, from which it is concluded that the No. 1 leaves in 1914.

"For the year 1920" shows the three engines at $16,500, and gives the rolling stock as 30 steel ore cars, 20 wooden ore cars - and one push car. By the 1931 report, the three engines are valued at $1,500 - total - and there are 23 ore cars, not differentiated as to type ($1,150 the lot), and two caboose cars, at $25 each. The last report seen, that for 1934, shows the three engines, 20 ore cars, and two cabooses at the same per unit values as the 1931 report.

Additional Notes

Information on the origins of No. 1 come from an email message from Stan Jennings to George Pitchard, April 9, 2001:


By Stan Jennings with the help of Greg Maxwell

[Greg Maxwell] found a newspaper reference to the Nevada Short Line buying a two truck Shay from a Salt Lake City, Utah equipment dealer which arrived on the property July 2, 1915.

Sam Bass and I had no solid information on the fate of Eureka Hill Railway Number 1, but it was the only two-truck Shay in Utah that could have been sold at that time, so Greg and I corresponded. He e-mailed me a copy of his July 14, 1915 photo of the Nevada Short Line Shay after it had rolled. After receiving the copy, it was all I could do to keep from calling Sam at an inappropriate time in the morning (I work nights). All the identifiable features of the Nevada Short Line Shay matched my photo of the Eureka Hill Shay, including the Number 1 plate on the smokebox.

Starting at the front, note the unusual coupler pocket On the Nevada short line there is a Janey-type coupler installed but on the Eureka Hill it has a link and pin coupler. The pocket looks like the position of the coupler could be adjusted side-to-side and up and down, perfect for a dual gauge railroad. The pilot and all related attachments - footboard brackets, poling pockets and had rail - look the same. Of course, there is the Number 1 plate on the smokebox. The headlight bracket is the same. The steam dome is the same shape. The air tank looks the same between the two. And the "fence" on the tender looks identical. Both Greg and Sam Bass feel that both photos depict the same class of Shay. as small as 24-2 but no larger than 28-2.

George Pitchard found that the Eureka Hill Railway Shay Number 1 was on the railroad's tax rolls in 1914, but not 1915. This is not proof, but the locomotive was available. The newspaper articles originate with an interview with A. A. Codd, president of the Nevada Short Line, printed in the Reno, Nevada Silver State June 25, 1915 in which Mr. Codd mentions the Shay being bought in Salt Lake. The article was reprinted in the Winnemucca, Nevada Humbolt Star June 28, 1915. The July 2, 1915 Lovelock, Nevada Review-Miner reported that the Shay arrived in Oreana (aka Nunzel), Nevada.

Shays were pretty much one-of-a-kind machines, so having so many details in the two photographs match makes it quite likely that the two photographs are of the same locomotive. Then add the evidence of the newspaper articles it seems almost certain that the Eureka Hill Shay was sold to the Nevada Short Line.

David F. Myrick in his Railroads of Nevada and Eastern California, Volume 1, Page 59 states, "Then the Shay locomotive, which was nursing two cars of rails and ties up the grade, ran away. It didn't go far before landing in a ditch surrounded by the scattered remnants of its train. The locomotive was so badly damaged it had to be sent to the SP shops in Sparks for major repairs." This is pretty certainly the wreck captured in the photo of the Nevada Short Line Number 1. The Number 1 was repaired at the SP shops in Sparks, but on November 30, 1915 it was destroyed in an engine house fire with the hulk being sold for junk in February 1917.

We can now be quite certain of the fate of Eureka Hill Shay Number 1, but what about its origin? It would seem so easy, but it is not. The locomotive was purchased used and was on the Eureka Hill property in August 1907, but despite much research, the serial number is unknown. Michigan-California Lumber Company's superintendent Searle developed a bracket to better support the cylinders and bearings which was put into production by Lima in early 1905 or late 1906 (sources differ) with serial number 1628 being the first production locomotive to receive the bracket. Eureka Hill Shay Number 1 has this bracket (see Utah Ghost Rails, Stephen L. Carr & Robert W. Edwards), so it has to have been constructed later then s/n 1628, late 1905-early 1906, and, obviously, before August 1907.

Stan Jennings' sources include: Greg Maxwell, George Pitchard and Sam Bass, along with Dan Ranger's "A Chronology of the Shay Locomotive", Locomotive & Railway Preservation, November-December 1986; Stephen Carr's and Robert Edward's Utah Ghost Rails, from Western Epics; and David Myrick's Railroads of Nevada and Eastern California, Volume 1. Another source is a photo of Nevada Short Line Shay Number 1 on July 14, 1915 being retrieved after being wrecked a few days prior. That photo was courtesy of the Churchill County (Nevada) Museum and Archive. (Contact Pam Nelson, 775-423-3677)

Information from Stan Jennings, from his conversation with Jun McNulty at the Tintic Historical Society, indicates that all three remaining Eureka Hill Shays, Nos. 2, 3, and 4, were all scrapped at the Eureka Hill engine house at Silver City in 1942, during a scrap drive in support of World War II. Based on this information, George Pitchard searched the newspapers but was unable to locate any reference to the scrapping of the locomotives, other than there being a sort of running total of the amount of scrap collected. He did notice, in the fall of 1942, that there was a "huge leap" in the amount of scrap collected, enough to cover the equivalent of three 70-ton locomotives. However, there was no actual reference to the increase being from locomotives.