Little Cottonwood Transportation Company
Alta Scenic Railway

This page was last updated on October 29, 2019.

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How Many Shays?

Research using online newspapers has raised some questions as to the number of Shay locomotives used on the Little Cottonwood Transportation company's narrow gauge railroad — three or four.

There are questions specifically about how long LCTCo. #1 (Lima #2194) was on the railroad; the engine was on the railroad (or at least in Salt Lake City) in 1916, and later went to Pioche Pacific as their #3.

Local newspapers kept a pretty close eye on the developments of resurgence of the mines in Little Cottonwood canyon, southeast of Salt Lake City. They printed continuing coverage of the ore shipments and mining growth in the canyon. The LCTCo. was incorporated in August 1916, and grading work began very soon after. The first tracks were laid in September 1916. The first mention of a Shay is in the September 27, 1916 issue, saying that it had been received "yesterday" in the local yards of the Rio Grande, and was delivered to Wasatch on October 6th.

(Read clippings of newspaper articles concerning Little Cottonwood Transportation Co.)

There is a reference in the October 11th issue to a "152 Shay," whatever that was. Obviously a typographical error, but still strange.

A question comes from a notation in October 1916 that the railroad needed to be ballasted to allow use of the Shay, and that the manager had designed and built a motor car, using a Ford chassis to use as a locomotive to haul construction materials, and which was later used to pull ore cars. A photo of the Ford "locomotive" was published in the November 5, 1916 newspaper.

Research in newspaper accounts suggests that Shay No. 1 may not have been used. Although it arrived in September 1916, it may have remained in the local Salt Lake City rail yards without actually being moved to Little Cottonwood canyon. Depending on the financial arrangements and how the Shay was obtained, likely by lease, the dealer (W. A. Zelnicker of St. Louis) may have sought other customers and found one with the Pioche Pacific in Nevada, sometime in Spring 1917.

By April 1917, the gasoline motor car was being used and the Shay engines were still not in service. "A five-ton gasoline locomotives is now being operated over the line, with light ore cars, but the company's Shay engines will be placed in commission when the line is completed to Alta." (Salt Lake Mining Review, April 30, 1917)

(View a photo of the motor car, as part of a newspaper account)

By May 1917, the motor car was out of service, and the ore was being hauled in ore cars using gravity and brakes, with mules being used to bring the empty ore cars back for loading. No mention of a Shay locomotive.

In December 1917, as the road neared completion to its final destination of Alta, eight miles from its starting point, the manager said that the road would likely not be ready to haul ore until Spring 1918 due to delays in receiving equipment, but a *second* Shay had been ordered, along with 40 ore cars. (Salt Lake Tribuine, December 2, 1917, page 7)

Supposedly, there were three Shay locomotives already on the railroad, but the above newspaper item indicates that there was only one Shay on the railroad in early December 1917, with a second locomotive having been ordered.

By mid August 1918, "Another Shay engine is being repaired with the expectation of keeping the two engines moving trains up and down the canyon when the camp is at its highest summer state of production." (Salt Lake Herald Republican, August 13, 1918)

By the end of November 1918, a news items specifically mentioned three Shays, but by this time, according to traditional locomotive roster information, the road should have been running four Shays. "...the three engines that the company now uses between wasatch and Alta would be thoroughly overhauled..." (Salt Lake Tribune, November 30, 1918)

In March 1919 it was noted that all *three* of the road's Shay engines were in the D&RG shops in Salt Lake City being rebuilt for the coming season.

The 1921 season was the last season operated. In June 1922 the manager announced that the railroad would not re-open for the 1922 season, and in August 1922, the manager formally informed the state agency that the railroad would be shut down, and he himself retired at age 62 at the same time.

Nothing has been found that supports the Shays being used after 1921. After that time period, there are numerous photos of what was a regular passenger, mail and express service using first a converted GMC bus, then later a converted truck chassis running in reverse. But this all apparently ended in 1925.

So the point of this summary being that there were no references to all four Shays being on the railroad at the same time. The few descriptions of the three Shays in service strongly suggest that No. 1 (Lima 2194) was only on the rails in late 1916 and possibly early 1917; and likely went to Pioche Pacific in about April 1917. It was the largest Shay operated on the Pioche Pacific, but I have seen no photos except what were in Myrick's Volume 2. Extensive online and newspaper research about Pioche mines and railroads shows nothing about when Lima Shay 2194 may have arrived in Pioche, or for that matter, anything about motive power on any of the Pioche railroads.


Gauge: 3-foot narrow gauge.

Builder Builder
Date To
Date To
Alta Scenic
LCT 1 Lima 2194 B 24-2 Jul 1909 1916 1925 1
LCT 2 Lima 540 B 36-2 Dec 1897 1917 1925 2
LCT 3 Lima 1672 A 20-2 Apr 1906 Jul 1917 1925 3
LCT 4 Lima 1673 A 20-2 Apr 1906 Nov 1917 1925 4

General Notes:

  1. All four locomotives were 2-Truck Shay locomotives, built by Lima.
  2. According to Koch's Shay book, all four LCT locomotives passed to Alta Scenic Railway in 1925 (same numbers), but by this time, all ore was being hauled by team and wagon.
  3. LCT no. 1 was built new for Santa Barbara Tie & Pole Company at Embudo and Hodges, New Mexico; to W. A. Zelnicker Supply Company (dealer), St. Louis, Missouri; to LCT no. 1 in 1916. (drawing in "Chili Line, The Narrow Gauge Trail To Santa Fe" by John A. Gjerre, 1969, page 47, Lima Class 29-2) (View the information at
  4. LCT no. 2 was built new for Colorado & Northwestern no. 25; to Denver Boulder & Western no. 25 in 1909; to Morse Brothers Machine Company (dealer), Denver, Colorado in 1917; to LCT no. 2 in 1917. (View the information at
  5. LCT no. 3 was built new as 24-inch gauge for Silver City, Pinos Altos & Mogollon no. 3 (also known as Comanche Mining & Smelting); sold in 1913 to W. A. Zenicker Supply Company (dealer), St. Louis, Missouri, moved to Birmingham Rail & Locomotive, Birmingham, Alabama for conversion from 24-inch gauge to 36-inch gauge; shipped to Utah on July 3, 1917. (Plans and photos as SC,PA&M 3 in Model Railroader magazine, May 1971, pages 56-59; See also: Railway & Locomotive Historical Society Bulletin no. 57, 1942) (BR&L information from Thomas Lawson letter to Don Strack, August 30, 1980) (View the information at
  6. LCT no. 4 was built new as 24-inch gauge for Silver City, Pinos Altos & Mogollon no. 4 (also known as Comanche Mining & Smelting); sold in 1913 to W. A. Zenicker Supply Company (dealer), St. Louis, Missouri; moved to Birmingham Rail & Locomotive, Birmingham, Alabama for conversion from 24-inch gauge to 36-inch gauge; shipped to Utah on November 26, 1917. (BR&L information from Thomas Lawson letter to Don Strack, August 30, 1980) (View the information at
  7. Individual locomotive specifications:
Cylinders Drivers Empty
  LCT 1 8x8 inches 26-1/2 inches 51,000 pounds
  LCT 2 12x12 inches 32 inches 72,800 pounds
  LCT 3 8x8 inches 26-1/2 inches 40,500 pounds
  LCT 4 8x8 inches 26-1/2 inches 40,400 pounds
  LCT 1 B 24-2 Class B, 24 Tons, Two-trucks
  LCT 2 B 36-2 Class B, 50 Tons, Two-trucks
  LCT 3 A 20-2 Class A, 20 Tons, Two-trucks
  LCT 4 A 20-2 Class A, 20 Tons, Two-trucks


  1. In Novemnber 1925, after its service on Little Cottonwood Transportation, Lima records show that LCT no. 1 was converted from wood fuel to coal fuel; sold to Pioche Pacific Transportation Company no. 3, at Pioche, Nevada, and then to Bristol Mines Company (same location); sold in about 1949 to Robert Caudill (R. H. Kindig photo at Pioche, Nevada, dated April 23, 1949; Salt Lake Tribune photo at Las Vegas, dated January 28, 1951); as of 1971 it was on display at either the Last Chance Museum or the Last Frontier Hotel, both in Las Vegas; during the late 1990s, the locomotive was still on display near the Gold Strike Casino (later known as the Hacienda Hotel & Casino) in Boulder City, Nevada; the locomotive was sold to Brad Milne for use on the West Side Narrow Gauge Restoration; moved in November 2003 to Washington state for restoration to become West Side Lumber Company no. 16; sold in 2015 to Craig Kinnaman and is displayed near a former D&RGW narrow gauge caboose at his Kip's Garage History Museum at his Kipert's Korner Feed store in Tumwater, Washington, near the Olympia Regional Airport.
  2. Photo at Boulder City at
  3. LCT no. 2 was sold back to Morse Brothers (dealer), Denver, Colorado and reportedly scrapped by them in 1925. (see the note for no. 4, below)
  4. LCT no. 3 was sold in April 1928 to Utah Iron Ore Corporation no. 3, in Iron Springs (near Cedar City), Utah; possibly changed from 36 inches gauge; numerous parts sold by Lima during time at Utah Iron Ore, between 1928 and 1934; further disposition unknown.
  5. LCT no. 4 further disposition unknown after service as Alta Scenic no. 4; Pitchard states that according to local rumor, one of the engines was wrecked on the hill, and that the remains are in the canyon yet. Perhaps it is LCT no. 4. (see a letter and photo in Trains magazine, January 1952, page 48, showing a long-abandoned, wrecked Shay in Little Cottonwood Canyon in 1933; in the accompanying letter, H. S. Johnson, saying that it was LCT no. 2, wrote that it was there at least until 1938, when the county road in the canyon was improved to allow better access to the new Peruvian ski lodge.)
  6. (Read the text of the items in 1952 issues of Trains magazine.)