Iron Mountain Railroads
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This page was last updated on December 21, 2022.
Union Pacific (1925-2006)
Union Pacific, through its Los Angeles & Salt Lake subsidiary, completed its Cedar City Branch in 1925. The Cedar City Branch provided railroad service from Lund, Utah, on the Los Angles & Salt Lake mainline, to Cedar City, a distance of 32.5 miles.
Iron Springs was 21 miles east of Lund, and was the connection with the Iron Mountain Branch. The earliest portion, 3.9 miles long, served the Desert Mound iron mine, and was completed at the same time as the Cedar City Branch, in 1925.
In 1935, the Iron Mountain Extension extended what was known as the Desert Mound Spur from the Desert Mound mine, south for a distance of 10.8 miles to the Iron Mountain mine.
Utah Southern (2006-2012)
Utah Southern Railroad (USRC) was a shortline railroad operating over the Comstock Subdivision of Union Pacific's Cedar City Branch, between the re-opened iron mines at Iron Mountain, and UP's Cedar City Branch at Iron Springs, Utah. Rail access to the nation's railroad network is provided via UP's Cedar City Branch between Cedar City and the Salt Lake City-to-Los Angeles mainline at Lund, Utah.
In September 2006, Palladon Iron Corporation made a lease of the former Union Pacific Comstock Subdivision. Rail service was contracted by Palladon to a new company called Iron Bull Railroad, but the name was changed to Utah Southern Railroad in September 2008. The two locomotives were delivered in October 2008, and the first test train was operated a week later.
(Read more about Utah Southern of 2006-2012; includes locomotive roster)
CML Railroad (2012-2015)
CML Railroad (CMLR) was a railroad operating over the Comstock Subdivision of Union Pacific's Cedar City Branch, between the re-opened iron mines at Iron Mountain, and UP's Cedar City Branch at Iron Springs, Utah. Rail access to the nation's railroad network is provided via UP's Cedar City Branch between Cedar City and the Salt Lake City-to-Los Angeles mainline at Lund, Utah.
(CML = Comstock Mountain Lion, the name of the mining claim where the mine is located.)
CMLR leased from Union Pacific, a rail line known as the Comstock Subdivision, extending between milepost 0.1 at or near Iron Springs and milepost 14.7 at or near Iron Mountain, a distance of approximately 14.6 miles in Iron County, Utah.
The original lease by Union Pacific, which went into effect on August 22, 2006, was to the PIC Railroad, which on the same day assigned the lease to Iron Bull Railroad, which later assigned the lease to Utah Southern Railroad. PIC Railroad derived its name from its original owner, Palladon Iron Company. In January 2010, control and ownership of Palladon Iron Company passed to CML Metals Corporation.
(Read more about CML Railroad of 2012-2015; includes locomotive roster)
Black Iron LLC (2015-2020)
July 16, 2018
Based on information in public filings of court documents, the lease period for the four locomotives began on December 8, 2011 and ended on December 31, 2015. Due to their deteriorated condition stemming from their long-term unattended storage, all four were sold by Wells Fargo Rail in July 2018 to AMG Resources, a scrap metal dealer with locations across the U.S. A bench trial was held in June and July 2019 to decide multiple suits and counter-suits, with the final decision in favor of Wells Fargo Rail made on August 30, 2019. The decision has been appealed and is still in litigation as of May 22, 2020.
Of the 540 rail hopper cars owned by Wells Fargo Rail and leased to CML Metals (then by "conversion" to Black Iron), 184 hopper cars were stored on Union Pacific tracks at the Iron Springs interchange, and the remaining 356 hopper cars were located on Black Iron LLC property, as were the four locomotives.
September 23, 2019
"Wells Fargo Rail has sold their fleet of 4 locomotives and about 540 railcars to a scrapper. Look for this equipment to be scrapped relatively soon. The locomotives sold for $60,000-$70,000 each. The railcars sold for $20,000 each. The four locomotives are located outside of the Black Iron LLC (Gilbert Development) mine entrance near Iron Mountain. The railcars are located at Iron Springs, in the mine yard, and in the repair yard located NW of the mine. This is a result of the CML Metals bankruptcy filing, caused by poor iron ore prices in 2014." (Trainorders.com, September 23, 2019)
July 9, 2020
An on-site visit found that the four locomotives were being repaired and made ready for either movement to another location, or for service for Black Iron LLC, which purchased the interests of CML Metals in 2015. Many of the hopper cars were also being repaired. As of late June 2020, Black Iron LLC was getting ready to begin mining operations. As yet there is no public information concerning how the iron ore was to be moved to domestic or foreign customers.
September 13, 2020
Two of the repaired Black Iron (ex CML) locomotives were seen in operation, moving rail cars in the vicinity of the reactivated iron ore mine.
Utah Iron LLC
September 29, 2020
According to public filings for the Utah Bankruptcy Court, the plan for the bankrupt Black Iron LLC to be reorganized as Utah Iron LLC took effect on September 29, 2020.
Black Iron LLC has emerged from bankruptcy and was reorganized as Utah Iron LLC, with mining operations resuming. The four former HLCX SD40 locomotives (now owned by AMG Resources) were idle and five former BNSF GE locomotives owned by SA Recycling were being used to move the hopper cars to and from the UP connection at Iron Springs.
By October 2020, AMG Resources had sold the rail cars and four SD40 locomotives to SA Recycling LLC (ROGX). The locomotives and cars had formerly been owned by Wells Fargo and leased to CML Metals. SA Recycling continues to manage the equipment, and use it on a limited basis at both the mine and the UP connection at Iron Springs.
October 12, 2020
The first iron ore train from the reactivated Comstock Mountain Lion iron mine was received at the Port of Long Beach, and began unloading. Utah Iron LLC used its own locomotives to move the iron ore from the mine to an interchange with UP at Iron Springs, over tracks it leases from Union Pacific (UP's Comstock Division). UP then moved the train to the Port of Long Beach.
The iron ore is shipped to the Port of Long Beach, and unloaded at the SA Recycling facility on Pier T on Terminal Island. Satellite photos dated between 2018 and early 2021 indicate a stockpile of iron ore at the SA Recycling site. Informal reports of the site in April 2021 indicate that more gondolas filled with iron ore are being received at Pier T. Additional reports from September 2021 indicate that UP is regularly delivering trains made up of 154 cars of iron ore.
As of late 2022, the operation is 150-154 ROGX hopper cars, operating from Iron Springs, Utah, to Pier S in Long Beach, in a train that totals 20,000 tons or more. The nine locomotives used are distributed throughout the train in what is abbreviated as 4x3x2, meaning four at the front, three at midtrain, and two near the rear of the train. When the train returns empty to Utah, all nine locomotives are at the front of the train.
SA Recycling and Utah Iron Ore
According to a ranking in early 2020, SA Recycling, and its parent company Sims Metal Management, was the largest ferrous metal salvage company in the U.S., processing 8.7 million tons ferrous scrap at 120 facilities, with AMG Resources being ranked as number 15, processing 1.5 million tons at seven facilities.
An article in the April 9, 2013 issue of Recycling Today magazine, reported that SA Recycling had just completed its first shipment of 50,000 tons of iron ore from its pier at the Port of Long Beach. This coincides with the start of shipments of iron ore from the CML Metals mine at Iron Mountain, Utah.
SA Recycling, Orange, Calif., has announced it has completed shipment of its first load of iron ore cargo from its bulk terminal in Long Beach, Calif. The company says the shipment of 50,000 tons is the first of its kind in the southwestern United States and is the culmination of more than one year of planning and effort by SA Recycling and the Port of Long Beach.
In a news release, SA says it hopes the shipment is the start of a new operation with the potential of exporting more than 1 million tons of iron ore in 2013.
SA Recycling currently operates 55 recycling centers and six auto shredders in California, Arizona and Nevada. The company also operates two port loading facilities, one in Long Beach and the other in Los Angeles.
While the company has long been an exporter of ferrous scrap, its managers says the with the downturn in the scrap market over the past several years SA Recycling has been looking for opportunities to increase its volumes and expand its business.
"Iron ore was a natural addition to our product line," says George Adams, SA Recycling's CEO. "Many of our existing customers use iron ore in their melts, and the capability to load either straight loads of iron ore, or mixed loads of ore and scrap steel gives SA a unique opportunity to be a full service provider to our customer base."
The Long Beach facility can receive and unload a train of 90 railcars in one day, equal to around 10,000 tons of iron ore on average. In addition, the company says it can load an ocean-going vessel with up to 60,000 tons of iron ore in less than three days.
The iron ore to be exported from SA's Long Beach facility is currently sourced from mines in California and Utah, although the company is looking to source iron ore from Nevada mines as well.
Reports by interested persons to various email discussion groups, including LocoNotes and RR Rosters on groups.io.
Reports by interested persons to various groups on Facebook.