Lake Shore Railroad

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This page was last updated on June 3, 2019.

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The route for the "Lake Shore Railroad" was a private railroad line measuring a total of 8.5 miles, and included a 0.8 mile connection between the LA&SL line and the D&RGW Tintic Branch. Most of the rail line included another 7.7 miles northward from its crossing of the LA&SL Provo Subdivision. The route ran northward 2.5 miles from the LA&SL crossing, north and west to Palmyra, then another 3.5 miles west and south to Lake Shore, and a final 1.6 miles south to Benjamin.

The following comes from the April 1917 issue of Sugar magazine, page 129:

New Railroads to Facilitate Handling Beets in Utah. New railroads, remodeling of factories, purchasing new equipment, and the erection of a number of structures in connection with the sugar business, involving expenditure of approximately $1,000,000 are a few of the improvements being planned by the Utah-Idaho Sugar Co., according to announcement made recently by an official of the company.

Railroads will be built at Spanish Fork, where a road is to be constructed taking in the towns of Palmyra, Lake Shore and Benjamin. The road will be known as the Lake Shore railroad. It will be built in the shape of a square and will cover a vast territory of sugar beet land, facilitating the hauling of enormous quantities of beets to the factory at Spanish Fork. Rails and ties are already on the ground for the proposed road and the surveying has been completed. Actual construction was to commence April 1, when 100 teams and 150 men were to be put to work.

A ten-mile road was completed also April 1 in Bear River valley between the towns of Bear River and Garland. The grading work will begin at Garland, necessitating the same number of men and teams as the work on the Lakc Shore railroad.

The cost of constructing these two roads will amount to $250,000, according to estimates made by the engineers of the company, and they will be completed by September 1.

Brandon Plewe wrote on July 8, 2015:

On the Lakeshore spur: the 1946 air photos clearly show the route. I don't know if it was fully built or just graded, but there is an extra bridge across the Spanish Fork River that looks like it was completed. I'll have to go out there (I live in SF) and see if there is anything left of it. The section from Lakeshore to Benjamin was mostly gone in the photo, so it was probably defunct and pulled up by 1946 if it ever existed. The one portion that was definitely built and lasted (shows up on many maps for years) was a connection between the D&RGW and UP that ran due north from the factory.


Utah-Idaho Sugar Company built its sugar factory at Spanish Fork, by moving the machinery from the Nampa, Idaho, factory. During the first season, the factory received 45,733 tons of sugar beets, and produced 99,780 100-pound gabgs of finished sugar. Its peak year was 1932, when it received 70,544 tons of sugar beets, and produced 473,767 bags of finished sugar. The factory was closed in 1949-1950. It had been inactive during 1936 and 1941, but operated during a big crop year in 1942, after which it remained closed. After its closure, the buildings were used as storage for sugar. (Beet Sugar In The West, Arrington, page 189-190)

February 1, 1917
"It is reported that the Utah Idaho Sugar company has decided to build a railroad through the districts of Palmyra, Lake Shore and Benjamin for the convenience of the beet growers who furnish beets to the company's factory at Spanish Fork." (News Advocate, February 1, 1917)

February 23, 1917
"Provo -- Utah Idaho Sugar company will build an eight mile rail road at a cost of about $100,000 through farming districts of Palmyra, Lake Shore and Benjamin. Surveys have been made and work is expected to begin as soon as the weather permits." (Eureka Reporter, February 23, 1917)

March 28, 1917
"By Special News Service. Spanish Fork, March 28. — A committee of twelve farners to make a canvass of this district In an effort to secure more sugar beet acreage has been named by the local farmers' organization. It is understood that if the increase is large enough the Utah-Idaho Sugar company may run a branch railroad to tap the Lake Shore, Benjamin and Palmyra districts." (Salt Lake Telegram, March 28, 1917)

August 16, 1917
"At the meeting of the county commissioners held Monday a franchise was granted to the Utah-Idaho Sugar company to build and operate the railroad now under course of construction from the Spanish Fork factory Into Lake Shore and Palmyra." (Spanish Fork Press, August 16, 1917)

January 9, 1919
"When the beet growing district west of the sugar factory desired better facilities for handling their beets into the factory, the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company undertook the construction and operation of the Lake Shore railroad, which has proven the means in more ways than one of developing the district it serves." (Spanish Fork Press, January 9, 1919)

November 21, 1921
A proposal from the local Spanish Fork Rotary Club was presented to the Salt Lake & Utah railroad for it to electrify the branch line through Palmyra, Lake Shore and Benjamin. (Spanish Fork Press, November 21, 1921)

(This news item strongly suggests that the "Lake Shore Railroad" had been built, and was still in existance.)

(No further information found in available online newspapers)


There is no record that Utah-Idaho Sugar received regulatory approval to build its railroad, other than a franchise from Utah County in August 1917.

There was no case presented to the Utah Public Service Commission, but this was also when the state commission was just beginning its existance, with its first case being decided on August 20, 1917, and the sugar company may not have been required to present its case.

The "Lake Shore Railroad" likely became inactive as the county, in response to citizen complaints and requests, improved existing roads, and built new roads. The federal Transportation Act of 1920 made federal funds available to states and counties to improve existing roads, and build new roads. In April 1922 there was a specific request for a paved road that directly connected Benjamin with the Spanish Fork sugar factory. By 1930 there was four miles of paved road at Benjamin, five miles at Lake Shore, and two miles at Palmyra.

With new and better roads, the railroad may have become inactive as farmers simply used the public roads and their own wagons and teams (and later, motorized trucks) to move their beets directly to the sugar factory.

Also, during the 1920s, trucks were becoming larger and more reliable, replacing wagons and teams as a preferred method of moving beets to the sugar factories.

There is no mention in available online newspapers about the abandoned roadbed being used later as the route for an improved road.

Also by the early 1920s, the sugar beet harvest was severely reduced due to an infestation of web-worm throughout the beet growing areas of the Spanish Fork factory, causing extensive losses in sugar beet production. At the same time, some farmers in the district began growing peas, to furnish crops to a new pea vinery located north of the sugar factory.

September 6, 1940
The last reference to the Lake Shore railroad came in September 1940, when Union Pacific, with its LA&SL subsidiary, was given access to the Spanish Fork sugar factory of the Utah-Idaho-Sugar company. The access included UP operating its trains over more than of a mile of what was shown as "approximately 1.038 miles over the sugar company's private Lake Shore Spur to its connection and crossing of the D&RGW Tintic Branch." Union Pacific then operated over 1.5 miles of D&RGW's Tintic Branch, then over 0.5 mile of the Salt Lake & Utah interurban line, which owned the direct spur serving the sugar company. The sugar company and the three railroads reached an agreement in October 1939, and after the federal ICC approved the access in September 1940. Construction did not begin until November 1940, and was completed in March 1941. However, research suggests the connection between UP and D&RGW, by way of the private Utah-Idaho Lake Shore Spur was never completed. (242 ICC 55; ICC Finance Docket 12812, decided September 6, 1940)

(More research is needed to discover if the existing roads in the area north and west of Spanish Fork were built on the abandoned roadbed of the former Lake Shore Railroad.)


Lake Shore Railroad -- A Google map of the Lake Shore Railroad.

More Information

Sugar Beet Industry -- An article about Utah's sugar beet and beet sugar industry.