Ogden & Hot Springs Railroad (1889-1891)

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This page was last updated on April 22, 2022.

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This line was built between Ogden and Hot Springs and was operated with small steam locomotives known as "dummies."

In September 1889, Will Swan and his associates had organized the Ogden & Hot Springs Railroad to build from the Ogden north city limits, and a connection with their already existing Ogden City Railway, north along Washington Avenue to North Ogden, then west to the Hot Springs health resort, which they had organized on the same day, as the Ogden & Hot Springs Health Resort Co. (The original name was to have been the Ogden Belt Railroad, but a handwritten name change to the Ogden & Hot Springs Railroad was added to the typed incorporation papers at the time of its filing.)

To make financing easier, the two companies were combined two months later as the Ogden & Hot Springs Railroad and Health Resort Co. The Ogden & Hot Springs Railroad and Health Resort Company was a November 1889 consolidation of the two companies.

The Ogden & Northwestern Railroad was organized in October 1903 to purchase the interests of the Ogden & Hot Springs Railroad and Health Resort Company.

Sold to the Ogden & Northwestern Railroad in 1903, to the Ogden Rapid Transit Company in 1911, then to the Ogden, Logan & Idaho Railway in 1914, and to the Utah Idaho Central Railroad in 1918.

Utah Hot Springs

The hot springs nine miles north of Ogden, on the road to Willard and Brigham City was well known to local residents as soon as the area was settled in the 1850s. It was on the boundary of Weber County and Box Elder County. As the transcontinental railroad was being built in early 1869, there was a location called "Hot Springs Siding" (or Hot Springs Switch) on the Union Pacific line. The completion of the railroad in May 1869 resulted in that part of the Union Pacific being sold to the Central Pacific, but Hot Springs Siding remained as a location on the Central Pacific. By 1870, the station at Hot Springs had become one of the few formal stations north from Ogden, with the others being Willard and Brigham City (later Three-Mile Creek, then Perry) before the Central Pacific turned west to reach Corinne. In 1874, Hot Springs also became a siding on the narrow-gauge Utah Northern railroad as it was being built south from Brigham City to Ogden.

By June 1879 there were bath houses at the hot springs. During an excursion to formally open the bathing season in late June, a "Mr. Slater" promised additional "apartments" (bath houses) to accommodate anyone visiting the site. During the next summer season [1880], Slater was organizing excursion trains on the Utah & Northern railroad between Ogden and Hot Springs. (Daily Ogden Junction, June 28, 1879, "yesterday"; July 12, 1880)

R. H. Slater stated in 1885 that "six years ago he took up the springs and got a government patent for the land which at the time was covered with sage brush and inhabited by jack rabbits and coyotes. Mr. Slater believed that if the springs were advertised and properly managed that they would become a health resort for thousands. The small place Mr. Slater was able to build six years ago, long since became inadequate to accommodate the public who flocked to the place, and a large, commodious hotel was erected, and the building that had been used for hotel purposes converted into dressing rooms, plunge and vapor baths. Until this season [1885] there has been no fresh water on the place; now, however, there is plenty, Mr. Slater, at great cost, having made a canal from Ogden river, sixteen miles away" [part of the North Ogden canal system]. (Salt Lake Evening Democrat, August 18, 1885)

For the 1881 summer season, Slater added a new pavilion for band concerts. The name "Utah Hot Springs" had been in use as early as this 1881 season, when the local newspaper mentioned that "New arrangements have been made for running trains to and from the Utah Hot Springs." (Ogden Standard, July 16, 1881)

December 10, 1881
On December 10, 1881, Reason H. Slater received the patent for 160 acres of Homestead Act land that encompassed what we know as Hot Springs.

August 15, 1889
"The Hot Springs resort, nine miles north of town, has been purchased from R. H. Slater by Mr. A. H. Swan, who will proceed at once to erect new buildings and push the motor line to the resort. There are 320 acres of valuable ground adjoining which Mr. Swan has also purchased, and upon which a fine race track will be built, with the necessary buildings, including pavilion, stable with 100 stalls, etc. It is hoped to have all completed in time for the fall races." (Salt Lake Herald, August 15, 1889)

September 8, 1889
"W. R. Swan made the final payment yesterday, to Mr. Slater for the Hot Springs resort. The new syndicate will take hold at once and vigorous changes will be made. The old buildings will be remodeled and improved and a fine hotel will be erected later on. Work on the new motor line will be crowded with all possible speed and it is hoped to have the cars running to the springs in about sixty days." (Salt Lake Herald, September 8, 1889)

The Ogden City Railway Company was initially organized as a private company in 1883 and it maintained its original name although it changed ownership several times. When the line was extended to the Utah Hot Springs in 1890, that part of the street railroad took the name Ogden Hot Springs Railway and Health Resort Company.

(Read more about the Ogden City Railway)

The following comes from "Weber County History in a Minute: Utah Hot Springs," YouTube, April 19, 2021:

This steam caught Reason Slater's eye as he passed by on a train in 1878. He asked the conductor to stop, and took a sample of the water. Testing it on his horses, he discovered it was good stuff. So he staked out a $400 claim, and that was the beginning of Utah Hot Springs. Slater's find became a major destination for nearly a century, because doctors endorsed "The Great Water Cure of the West," as a remedy for a long list of ailments. 50 cents would get you here by train from Ogden. But folks also came by foot, bicycle, and buggy, to drink and bathe in the waters. You could stay for weeks in a 40-room hotel, and picnic, gamble, drink at one of three saloons, boogie at the dance hall. The land is so mineralized that they couldn't beautify it with flowers or grass. But that was okay with Slater because the flat, salty land was perfect for racing. It's all gone now -- closed in the 1970s. But water still flows here at a blistering 140 degrees.

The following comes from Lindsay Deamer on Facebook, Ogden Glory Days, March 24, 2020:

This was started in 1880-1884 by Reason H. Slater, near the Weber and Box Elder County line in Pleasant View. He had spotted the steam from the springs while on a train ride north to Montana and got the conductor to stop the train for him to see it close up. As a Salt Lake horse doctor, he believed the hot waters had healing powers for horses. He soon believed it could help persons with diseases like diabetes, gout, and rheumatism.

He leased the surrounding land and soon homesteaded it. He constructed bathhouses and rock bathing pools.

The spring produced some 750,000 gallons of water a day at 144 degrees. He billed it as "The Great Cure of the West."

The resort featured a dining hall, hotel, dance hall, and commissary. To the west was a race track, and for a short time, there was even an airplane landing field on the alkali flats.

A railroad spur brought guests to the resort, hourly during peak seasons. At the turn of the century, the 20-mile round trip fare from Ogden was 50 cents, including admission to the hot springs, a bathing suit, and towel.

Two fires, one in the 1920s and the other in 1930, destroyed the resort. Both times it was rebuilt. It had large indoor and outdoor pools in those days and was perhaps best known for its tall slippery slide at the outdoor pool.

The resort lasted until the late 1960s when it closed and was torn down.

Although the resort is long gone and has been closed for almost three decades, the newest Utah state highway map still identifies its historic location as "Hot Springs."


September 14, 1889
Ogden & Hot Springs Railroad was organized. Its projected route was "From a point at or near the northern end of Washington Ave. in the City of Ogden and at or near the northern corporate limits of said city, then north to Hot Springs, then southwest to a point in Township 7 North, Range 2 West, then southeast to a point at or near the corporate limits of the city of Ogden, a distance of about 15 miles." (Utah corporation, Index Number 624)

(This line was to connect with the Ogden City Railway, owned and controlled by the same interests. In May 1889, Ogden City Railway was mortgaged to Jarvis-Conklin, which assumed control of the street railway in October 1890 after a competing electric line was begun. The Ogden & Hot Springs Railroad was a separate property and apparently never controlled by the Jarvis-Conklin group.)

September 18, 1889
A meeting was held in North Ogden, asking that the street railway being built to Hot Springs, to go through North Ogden instead of the lower road through Harrisville. The railway company was reported as favoring the North Ogden route. (Ogden Standard, September 18, 1889)

September 28, 1889
A survey of the route for the extension of the street railway to Hot Springs by way of Harrisville had been completed. Within two days, the survey of the route by way of North Ogden would be completed. The railway men favored the Harrisville route because it offered lighter grades. (Ogden Standard, September 28, 1889, "The Street Railway Extension")

October 19, 1889
Construction on the line from Ogden to North Ogden, then to Hot Springs, was to start on "Wednesday," with full completion expected by January of 1890, according to A. H. Swan, who had just returned from a trip to Cheyenne, Denver, Chicago and New York. (Ogden Standard, October 19, 1889)

November 5, 1889
The Utah Improvement and Construction Company was organized to develop a resort at the Hot Springs northwest of Ogden. "This company will improve the Hot Springs resort and run it while another company is building the Ogden & Hot Springs Railroad, which when completed will be taken off their hands by a third company, which is having the work done." (Ogden Standard November 6, 1889, "yesterday" "Another Company Formed")

November 30, 1889
Ogden & Hot Springs Railroad was combined with the Ogden & Hot Springs Health Resort Company, to form the Ogden & Hot Springs Railroad and Health Resort Company. Both corporations had been incorporated on the same date (September 14, 1889) and were owned and controlled by the same people. (Utah corporation, Index Number 624)

October 2, 1890
The Ogden & Hot Springs Railroad was completed between Ogden and North Ogden, with about a mile completed toward Hot Springs. (Ogden Standard, October 3, 1890, "yesterday")

October 16, 1890
The Hot Springs line was complete to Pleasant View. (Ogden Standard, October 16, 1890, "Random References")

(ed. note: So far, no documentation has been found for the date the line was completed to Hot Springs.)

October 30, 1890
Visitors can now travel from the Broom Hotel in Ogden, to the Hot Springs ("taking the motor"). The "motor" departed the Broom hotel nine times a day. (Ogden Daily Commercial, October 30, 1890)

(Builder records of the Baldwin Locomotives Works show that by late October 1890, the Ogden City Railway, and its successor, Ogden & Hot Springs Railway, was operating four steam motor locomotives.)

(Read more about the steam motors, "dummies" used on the Ogden street railways.)

December 7, 1890
The Ogden & Hot Springs petitioned for a franchise from Weber County to build a railroad along the county public highway from Five Points, to Harrisville, to Hot Springs, a distance of seven and a half miles. The railway company also wanted a franchise to build from a point at or near Harrisville, west to Plain City, a distance of about four miles. (Ogden Standard, December 7, 1890)

January 11, 1891
"The completion of the steam motor line by way of North Ogden and Pleasant View to the Hot Springs, as announced some days ago..." Hot Springs was reported as being nine miles from Ogden. "The stockholders of the Hot Springs company and the motor line are W. A. Paxton, of Omaha, W. S. McCornick, of Salt Lake, F. W. Lafrentz, of Ogden, W. B. Farr, of St. Louis, H. K. Thurber, of New York, Issac Waixell, of Chicago, and A. B. Post, of Cheyenne." (Ogden Standard, January 11, 1891)

June 18, 1891
A receiver was appointed for the "Ogden & Hot Springs Railroad Company and Health Resort." (Ogden Standard, June 19, 1891, "yesterday" "Hot Springs Closed")

July 3, 1891
The newspaper complained that if the Ogden & Hot Springs Railroad would "circulate a timetable," residents of North Ogden could avoid "the inconvenience of uncertain waiting for trains." (Ogden Standard, July 3, 1891)

September 26, 1891
The Manhattan Trust Company foreclosed on the Ogden & Hot Springs Railroad and Health Resort Company for $160,000 in bonds held by the trust company. (Ogden Standard, October 24, 1891; October 27, 1891)

September 29, 1891
The court documents show that the line of railway extended along Washington Avenue from the point where it intersected the Ogden north city limits, north to Hot Springs by way of North Ogden. A mortgage and trust deed was executed with the Manhattan Trust Company on February 1, 1890, and recorded in Weber County on April 26, 1890, and in Box Elder County on June 30, 1890. The Ogden & Hot Springs Railroad and Health Resort Company was to be sold at auction on the steps of the Weber County courthouse on October 23, 1891. (Ogden Standard, daily September 29 through October 23, 1891)

October 23, 1891
"Hot Springs Sold" "For some time past, the Hot Springs property has been advertised for sale by the receiver, F. W. Lafrentz." The railway and resort company was sold to W. A. Paxton of Omaha, for $57,000. There were rumors that Paxton represented the Manhattan Trust Company and that the trust company simply bought the property as a way for the trust company to get out from under the liability of the bonds it had previously sold to investors. (Ogden Standard, October 24, 1891, "yesterday")

October 24, 1891
The Ogden & Hot Springs Railroad was purchased by W. A. Paxton, of Omaha, who planned to improve and operate the road. (Salt Lake Daily Herald, October 24, 1891)

November 1, 1893
The Ogden Utah Hot Springs Company was "delivered" into the hands of J. Gardiner Haines, as trustee, all of the assets and agreements belonging to the Ogden & Hot Springs Railroad and Health Resort Company. Those assets and contracts would be sold to the highest bidder on July 10, 1895 to satisfy a trust deed in the amount of $18,500. (Ogden Standard, June 10, 1895)

November 8, 1893
"The Hot Springs Motor company moved its rolling stock to headquarters on the 8th inst. and ceased to make its daily runs. (Ogden Standard, November 12, 1893, "North Ogden News")

April 3, 1894
"Grand opening of Ogden Hot Springs on April 17, 1894. Will leave the Broom Hotel at 1:25 p.m." (Ogden Standard, April 3, 1894)

July 10, 1895
The assets and contracts of the Ogden Utah Hot Springs Company (previously Ogden & Hot Springs Railroad and Health Resort Company) would be sold to the highest bidder on July 10, 1895 to satisfy a trust deed in the amount of $18,500. (Ogden Standard, June 10, 1895)

January 21, 1898
"The motor service has been discontinued" Possibly a seasonal closure. (Ogden Standard, January 21, 1898)

In 1901, Eccles bought the Swan properties, both the railroad and the health resort. (Hyman, Marriner S. Eccles, p. 34)

As early as March 1902, the Hot Springs line was referred to as "Ogden & Northwestern Railroad." (Ogden Standard, March 29, 1902)

November 5, 1903
The Ogden & Hot Springs Railroad and Health Resort Company was divided into two new companies: Ogden & Northwestern Railway and Ogden Hot Springs & Sanitarium Company. Corporation papers for the two companies were filed on November 5, 1903 with the county clerk. The officers and directors for both companies included David Eccles, Thomas D. Dee, and H. H. Spencer. (Ogden Standard, November 6, 1903, "yesterday"; Salt Lake Herald, November 7, 1903)

(The story continues with the Ogden & Northwestern Railway)

More Information

Ogden & Hot Springs Railroad corporate information