Pacific Fruit Express In Utah

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This page was last updated on May 29, 2022.


Pacific Fruit Express

"The Pacific Fruit Express Company (PFE) was incorporated in 1906 and began operations the following year. A joint project of the Edward H. Harriman-controlled Southern Pacific and Union Pacific railroads, the PFE handled shipments of vegetables, fruit and other perishables primarily from western growing areas to markets in the northern and eastern states. At its height, the company had a total of almost 41,000 ice refrigerator cars. To service these, the PFE operated a number of ice plants and docks, as well as car and repair shops throughout the west. After World War II, the number of cars owned by the company declined, although their size increased. Mechanical refrigerators began supplanting the older ice bunker cars. By 1972 the ice cars had been totally replaced. Joint ownership between Southern Pacific and Union Pacific ended in 1978, with the two railroads dividing the rolling stock and SP keeping the Pacific Fruit Express name." (Online Archives of California)

With the formation of Pacific Fruit Express in 1906, jointly-owned by Union Pacific and Southern Pacific railroads, the Union Pacific ice house in Ogden, along with a similar plant on the Oregon Short Line in Salt Lake City, became the focus of the new company's operations in Utah. The Ogden ice warehouse and icing platform was completed by Union Pacific in 1889, matching the one just completed at Evanston, Wyoming, and was leased to the new Pacific Fruit Express company.

(Read more about PFE in Ogden, as part of the Ogden Rails project)

With the exception of the PFE facilities at Ogden, research suggests that the other icing platforms in Utah (Salt Lake City, Provo, Milford, Cedar City) were used for icing and re-icing of small originating shipments of single cars, or blocks of four or five cars of fresh fruits and vegetables, and fresh meat. The large PFE ice docks in Ogden were the only locations in Utah that provided icing services for large blocks of eastbound cars, or entire trains of eastbound cars. Milford provided icing services for small blocks of cars that were westbound to markets in southern California.

Although fruits and vegetables originating from points in Utah was a regular occurrence (such as apples, carrots and celery from Utah county, and onions, celery and potatoes from Davis county), these were usually in blocks of one to four cars, not entire trains.

(Read more about Utah's shipments of fresh fruits and vegetables, including celery)

Meat packers in Utah also shipped their products to market using railroad refrigerator cars, but the regional market was small for locally produced meat products. Small shipments meant that the numbers of refrigerator cars were equally small, at about one or two cars in each shipment.

(Read more about the meat packing industry in Utah)

Railroad Refrigerator Cars

(Read the Wikipedia article about railroad refrigerator cars)

(Read about railroad refrigerator cars at

(Read about modern refrigerator cars at

Early Ice Plants and Ice Docks

In late December 1905 Rio Grande Western was reported as planning the construction of an ice plant at Provo, to service refrigerator cars. (Salt Lake Tribune, December 30, 1905)

An early map of Salt Lake City, dating from 1909, shows an ice plant on the east side of the new OSL North Yard, at about 1100 North, on what is now refinery property, near the current car shop. At 99 feet wide along the tracks and 143 feet long, with an ice dock about 350 feet long, the design and dimensions appear to be similar to the ice plant at Ogden. (Utah State Archives, Series 28224, Map H-102C)

(View Map H-102C, showing the ice house and ice dock at UP's North Yard in about 1907)

A later map, dated 1917, does not show the ice plant mentioned above. The same map series from 1917 does show an icing platform "ice docks" (about 300 feet long) as part of D&RG's Salt Lake City yard, located along the west side of 5th West, a short distance south of 3rd South. This location included an overhead conveyor over 5th West to the "ice house" of Utah Ice and Storage.

An early map of D&RGW's Roper Yard shows an icing platform 1,302 feet long along the west side of the yard. At the south end of the platform there was an ice house 14 feet by 50 feet, placed upon an unloading dock 16 feet by 252 feet. The two tracks serviced by the ice platform were 33 feet apart. The unloading platform was connected to the raised icing platform by a ramp 70 feet long. The drawing also shows the stock yards a short distance farther to the west. (Utah State Archives, Series 28224, Map H-202A)

(View Map H-202A, showing the ice house and ice dock at D&RGW's Roper Yard in about 1937)

March 1934
D&RGW "recently completed yards in Salt Lake City 1-1/2 miles long by 1000 feet wide containing 10 tracks with a capacity of 110 cars each and 10 tracks with a capacity of 50 cars each and an ice dock 1400 feet long with a 60-car capacity." (Salt Lake Telegram, March 7, 1934)

June 7, 1937
The ice dock at Roper was 14 feet high, and was located at 27th South and 6th West, as mentioned in a report about an employee who fell from the ice dock and was recuperating in a local hospital. (Deseret News, June 7, 1937) (The address given matches the location of today's automobile unloading ramps at Roper)

Utah Ice and Storage

(View a set of photos of the Utah Ice & Storge plants)

October 21, 1902
The Utah Ice and Storage Company was incorporated in Colorado "some weeks ago." (Salt Lake Telegram, October 21, 1902)

In January 1904, the same officers and directors incorporated the Utah Ice and Cold Storage Company of Colorado Springs. (Salt Lake Telegram, January 29, 1904)

In August 1928 the five plants of Utah Ice and Storage company came under the ownership of General Service Corporation, a new company incorporated in Colorado to own and manage the five plants in Utah, as well as six other plants of other new subsidiaries in Colorado and Nebraska. (Provo Daily Herald, August 20, 1928)

General Services Corporation declared bankruptcy in November 1935, along with its subsidiaries, Utah Ice and Storage, and Doyle Ice and Storage. The Doyle company was sold to American Refrigerator Transit in May 1936. (Salt Lake Tribune, April 6, 1936; May 12, 1936)

By 1965 the three sites of the Utah Ice and Storage company were shown as being owned by Western Refrigeration Company of Utah, a division of Southeastern Public Service Company. The three sites were:

Western Refrigeration Company dates back to the early 1930s in Chicago, with references to it being "an Insull corporation," also owning the City Ice company with three ice plants in the Kansas City area. By late 1958, Western Refrigeration was advertising in local Ogden and Salt Lake City newspapers, offering their cold storage and freezer space and services. In June 1960, in a newspaper item about a new frozen food warehouse in Burley, Idaho, Western Refrigeration was shown as being a subsidiary of Southeastern Public Service company, with plants in Utah and California. The facility in Burley was to be built and managed by Sepsco, also a subsidiary of the Southeastern company, and was to be used by Idaho Potato Processors, Inc., for various products sold under the Ida Gold, Ida Pak, and Idaho Valley brand names.

The Southeastern Public Service company was a large holding company with interests in propane gas and natural gas production and distribution, ice manufacture and distribution, and cold storage facilities. It was a Delaware corporation in receivership in 1936, and had presented a plan to reorganize. In 1952 the company purchased the Railways Ice and Service company, which had ice plants in six states and three large cities, including Chicago, Memphis, and Kansas City. Missouri. The six states included Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Ohio. The Southeastern company continued to have a presence in Utah, through its cold storage and freezer plants, as late as November 1974.

Salt Lake City "Rio Grande Plant"

Located at 3rd South and 5th West (551 West 3rd South)

Plant No. 1

July 1, 1903
The Utah Ice and Storage Company announced plans on October 21, 1902 that it would build an ice plant and storage rooms in Salt Lake City near the Rio Grande Western yard. The new plant was reported as having a capacity of 150 tons per day. A week after the initial announcement, a second announcement was made that gave the location as a lot 240 feet by 320 feet at the intersection of 3rd South and 5th West, with an expected cost of $200,000. The main building was to be 150 feet by 150 feet, and the adjacent cold storage building was also to be the same 150 feet by 150 feet. "One of the chief activities of the company is to supply ice for refrigerator cars in transit." The ice plant and cold storage plant were opened for operation on July 1, 1903. (Salt Lake Telegram, October 21, 1902; November 1, 1902; Deseret Evening News, November 1, 1902; Salt Lake Tribune, November 2, 1902; Deseret News, December 16, 1905)

The Rio Grande Plant had a unique rooftop searchlight (suspended 35 feet above the roof) used by the company to advertise that it was open for business. According to a newspaper dating from July 1903, this was the first searchlight to seen in Salt Lake City.

Photos from 1905 show the Utah Ice and Storage building, with an adjacent building belonging to Armour & Company, the largest meat packing company in the nation at the time.

The Sanborn fire insurance map for 1911 does not show an icing platform west of the Utah Ice and Storage building at 3rd South and 5th West.

Two photos made in 1911 by the Jeffery Manufacturing Co., makers of chain conveyors, shows a spiral conveyor on the icing platform at Utah Ice and Storage's Plant No.1 on 3rd South and 5th West, along with a chain conveyor at the company's Plant No. 2 on 2nd North and 3rd West.

A photo dated 1947, looking north along 5th West, shows a series of footings where the icing platform had been, and that the icing platform had been dismantled. This suggests that the function of icing refrigerator cars on D&RGW had either been moved to an icing platform at D&RGW's Roper yard (mentioned in 1934; 1,400 feet long; 30 cars), or as suggested in the item from 1959, below, to the new icing platform completed in July 1946 by Pacific Fruit Express near the Utah Ice and Storage ice plant on 2nd North (between 2nd and 3rd North; 550 feet long; 14 cars).

On June 28, 1949, the annex (No. 3 warehouse) of Utah Ice and Storage's "Rio Grande Plant" was destroyed by fire. The building was located a short distance south of the southeast corner of 3rd (300) South and 5th (600) West. Total reported damage was set at $1.3 million, and was reported as being the largest business fire in Salt Lake City's history. The large two-story structure was demolished and replaced by a new single-story freezing plant by early October 1949. (Deseret News, June 29, 1949; Salt Lake Tribune, June 29, 1949; Deseret News, June 30, 1949; Salt Lake Telegram, June 30, 1949; Salt Lake Tribune, October 3, 1949)

In a newspaper item in 1959 about a new cold-storage warehouse in Salt Lake City, it was reported that at its wholesale ice plant in Salt Lake City, at 2nd North adjacent to the Union Pacific yard, Utah Ice and Storage manufactured 200 tons of ice daily, and could store 4,000 tons of ice. "The greater share of this ice is used by Union Pacific RR, D&RG RR, Western Pacific RR, American Refrigerator Transit Co. and Pacific Fruit Express Co. for icing perishable fruit that moves through Utah by rail. Many of these train loads of foods use as much as 200 tons of ice at each icing platform." At the time, in 1959, Utah Ice and Storage was a subsidiary of Western Refrigeration Company, headquartered in Kansas City, Kansas. The same article also mentioned that shredded redwood bark, under the Palco brand name from Pacific Lumber Co., had been found to be the most efficient insulation for long-term storage of ice. (Deseret News, January 14, 1959; "Western Refrigeration Company, DBA [doing business as] Utah Ice and Storage Company, a subsidiary of Southeastern Public Service Company")

The Utah Ice and Storage building on 3rd South was demolished in December 2010. By that time, the building was alone on a vacant lot. The building that remained was the original ice plant built in 1903, and expanded many times over the years. By 2010, all of the expansions and add-ons had been removed.

Salt Lake City "Short Line Plant"

Located at 2nd North and 3rd West (430 West 2nd North)

Plant No. 2

September 1910
Utah Ice and Storage completed its new ice plant on 2nd North. The company had purchased the ground on 2nd North between 3rd and 4th West in late March 1910 for the purposes of building a new ice manufacturing plant and ice storage warehouse. With a reported cost of $200,000, the new facility was to have a daily capacity of 200 tons of ice per day. At the time, the existing plant on 3rd South had a daily capacity of 90 tons per day. Excavation work for the new plant began in mid April 1910. The new plant was completed in September 1910, and was producing 100 tons per day, half its planned capacity, by late November 1910. (Ogden Standard, March 25, 1910; Salt Lake Tribune, March 25, 1910; Salt Lake Herald Republican, March 25, 1910; Deseret News, April 30, 1910; Salt Lake Tribune, June 15, 1910; November 27, 1910)

In early May 1910, the Oregon Short Line Railroad built two spurs crossing 2nd North to serve the new ice plant and warehouse of the Utah Ice and Storage company. (Salt Lake Tribune, May 6, 1910)

In 1912 Utah Ice and Storage ran a six-inch cast iron pipe from its Short Line plant, located between 2nd and 3rd North and 3rd and 4th West, south for about a mile to its Rio Grande plant, located at the corner of 3rd South and 5th West. The distilling auxiliary at the Short Line plant had been built with "superadundant capacity" and was sufficient to supply distilled water for both plants. Both plants used the most modern equipment, with the Short Line plant having a daily capacity of 200 tons, and the Rio Grande plant having a daily capacity of 50 tons. The Rio Grande plant had recently been remodeled with a third story for ice storage, raising its storage capacity to 75 cars. The Rio Grande plant also furnished refrigeration, ice, electric power and lights to the adjacent Jensen Creamery and Crescent Ice Cream companies. Artificial ice had only been available in Salt Lake City since about 1903 ("nine years ago") and since that time the capacity had been raised from 80 tons per day, to 280 tons per day. (Salt Lake Tribune, May 14, 1912)

An aerial photo from 1937 shows a small icing platform adjacent to what was known as Utah Ice and Storage's "Short Line Plant" at about 430 West on 2nd (300) North. The icing platform was apparently about six car lengths, and was sited along the eastern edge of the Union Pacific yard.

Utah Ice and Storage began construction in May 1946 of a new addition to the facility at 430 West 2nd North in Salt Lake City. With a reported cost of $200,000, the new addition would increase Salt Lake City's ice production to 40,000 tons per year. The company's existing plants in Salt Lake City, Ogden and Provo produce about 85,000 tons of ice per year. The new plant was to be completed by July 1946. (Salt Lake Telegram, May 7, 1946)

At the same time as the changes in 1946 to the ice plant on 2nd North, Pacific Fruit Express built, and had completed by March 1946, a double-track ice dock about 1000 feet to the west, allowing access to trains of both Union Pacific and D&RGW. An overhead conveyor brought blocks of ice from the Utah Ice and Storage ice plant, to the new PFE ice dock. The new icing platform extended almost the entire distance between 2nd and 3rd North, about 550 feet.

(View photos of the PFE icing platform in Salt Lake City, taken in March 1946)

At some time between 1959 and 1965, the "Short Line Plant" on 2nd North was closed, and the "Rio Grande Plant" on 3rd South became the focus of operations. The 1959 date comes from an advertisement referring to the Salt Lake City "plants" having 200 tons capacity, and the 1965 date comes from an advertisement with a list showing the 3rd South plant as the only plant in Salt Lake City.

In early 2021, a developer received approval by Salt Lake City to build a high-density residential development in Salt Lake City's Hardware District. The site includes the former site of the Utah Ice and Storage Plant No. 2, the Short Line Plant. To be known as the Ice House, the development would include 393 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments plus 41 town home units on 4.88 acres between 300 and 400 North.


2230 Wall Avenue

2550 Pacific Avenue (until about 1922)

September 1918
Utah Ice and Storage completed a new ice manufacturing plant in Ogden, with a reported capacity of 50 tons per day and 13,000 tons of storage. Construction of the new ice manufacturing plant in Ogden began in April 1918. The new ice plant was located adjacent to the existing plant of Pacific Fruit Express that was built "some 20 years ago." The ice was specifically to be used for the Pacific Fruit Express. Utah Ice and Storage had recently taken over the plant of the James Company on Wall Avenue, and together the two plants would furnish 80 to 90 tons per day. (Beaver County News, April 19, 1918; Ogden Standard, June 26, 1918; September 17, 1918)

The location on Wall Avenue had been originally built by the James Coal and Ice Co. in 1911, and was served by spurs of both Union Pacific and D&RG. (Salt Lake Tribune, May 12, 1911)

The fire in August 1919 that destroyed the five Union Pacific ice storage warehouses in Ogden, only did minor damage to the adjacent Utah Ice and Storage ice plant, leased to Pacific Fruit Express, and that plant was able resume operation immediately. (Deseret Evening News, August 9, 1919)

Research suggests that after the fire destroyed the Union Pacific ice storage warehouses, Pacific Fruit Express continued to provide icing services for its refrigerator cars by using the undamaged single-track ice dock, and receiving ice from Evanston and Carlin, as well as contracting with Utah Ice and Storage to supply and store the needed ice.

In addition to having its own ice plant at Ogden after August 1921, PFE also contracted with the Utah Ice and Storage company that could produce 50 tons daily. They had a single track platform long enough for three cars. Icing of Railway Express Agency cars in passenger trains was performed by PFE employees using PFE equipment (ice lift trucks) at Ogden Union Depot as required. Solid blocks of REA cars were run along the PFE ice platforms and handled in a timely manner.

In June 1923 Utah Ice and Storage built an ice dock at its ice plant on Wall Avenue and 22nd Street, to reload railroad cars. The ice plant was served by a spur from Union Pacific, and a spur from D&RGW. (Ogden Standard, June 17, 1923)


Utah Ice and Storage had two locations in Provo. The "old ice plant" was built in 1909 and was at 12th North and 3rd West (about a block west of today's BYU stadium). It was served by a spur from D&RGW's Provo Canyon Branch along 2nd West.

The "new ice plant" was built in 1924-1925, and was at 6th South and 2nd East, adjacent to the D&RGW Provo yard.

"Provo had an ice house and platforms for reefer icing that were used in the 1960's. Fruit and vegetables were loaded on the ex SL&U Orem Branch and at Spanish Fork and Payson on the Tintic Branch. ART reefers were often used, but SFRD and PFE were seen here as well." (Steve Seguine, email dated July 2, 2016)

For the 1923 season, D&RGW had 64 refrigerator cars available in the Provo yard. Empty refrigerator cars had been moved from the east, and the Utah Ice and Storage company was able to do the initial icing of 25 cars at its Salt Lake City plants at one time. The iced cars would then be moved to Provo for loading, and re-iced if needed before their trip east. (Provo Post, August 10, 1923)

December 1923
Plans were announced for the construction of a large ice storage plant in Provo. (Provo Daily Herald, December 2, 1923)

(The new ice plant provided ice to the icing dock served by D&RGW as part of its Provo yard. An ice conveyor connected the ice plant with the icing dock by crossing above 6th South, with the ice plant on the north side and the icing dock on the south side.)

"The Utah Ice and Storage company is both a manufacturing and storage concern. The plant was built in 1926 in the railroad yards with trackage serving all three railroads. It serves the cold pack industry and is equipped to handle the apple crop of Utah county as to provide modern cold storage facilities for the city of Provo and Utah county in general. It is open to the public for storage of meat, poultry, dairy, fruits, vegetables and food products requiring refrigeration. The manufacturing plant has a capacity of 350 tons of ice daily. The latter is sold wholesale to ice dealers, for refrigerator car icing and to railroad companies operating in Utah county." (Provo Daily Herald, January 31, 1936)

In March 1943 there was a newspaper reference to an "old ice plant" on 12th North and 3rd West in Provo becoming the collection point for tin cans for the war effort. The plant was located next to D&RGW's Provo Canyon Branch, and was served by a spur of that branch. The plant was not being used during 1935 when a fire destroyed the roof of the boiler and engine room. (Provo Daily Herald, September 2, 1934; July 29, 1935; March 3, 1943)

The Utah Ice and Storage ice plant at 12th North in Provo was "gutted" by a fire on January 7, 1944. The "old plant" had not been used since 1935. The plant had been built in 1909 by the Olsen and Dickson company, then sold to the Wasatch Ice company, then sold to the Utah Ice and Storage company. (Salt Lake Telegram, January 7, 1944)

"Utah Ice company" (Utah Ice and Storage company) provided icing services for traffic on the D&RGW in Provo, and "emergency icing" services for Pacific Fruit Express. The PFE contract was closed in the mid-1950s. (Pacific Fruit Express, 2nd Ed., page 306)

The icing platform at Provo was located along the northeast edge of D&RGW's Provo yard, adjacent to 600 South, at about 300 east.

(View a photo of the Provo yard area, with the icing platform visible on the left side of the photo)

Aerial photos show that the Provo icing platform was in place as late as 1969, but had been demolished by 1972.

Pacific Fruit Express Plants

Ogden Ice Transfer Plant (ITP)

For the original ice storage warehouses and ice deck, ice was brought by carloads from the Carlin and Evanston Natural Ice Plants (NIP's).

The 1889-built Ogden plant's ice house had a storage capacity of 35,000 tons, enough to supply approximately 7,000 railroad refrigerator cars, each of which used about five tons of ice when fully re-iced. The Evanston natural ice plant, source of ice for the Ogden plant, was closed in 1921 after PFE completed a new ice manufacturing plant at Ogden.

Maps of Ogden yard dated 1904 show both an original ice house dating from the 1870s, and a newer ice house built in 1889. The original ice house measured 32 feet by 140 feet, located perpendicular to a seven-foot by 120-foot car icing platform, all situated at about 27th Street, west of the yard tracks. The newer facility, measuring 98 feet by 200 feet, was located between the original Union Pacific roundhouse and the OUR&D yard tracks, at about 26th Street.

By 1916, the larger storage house had been moved to the original site and had doubled in size. The UP ice house at Ogden was made up of four attached buildings, all of which stored ice. Insulation to keep the ice solid year-round came from double walls with sawdust between. The four ice houses at Ogden were owned by UP, and were rented to PFE. On August 5, 1919, all four ice houses were destroyed by fire.

Local newspapers reported that the August 5, 1919 fire that destroyed the Pacific Fruit Express ice house was caused by arson. The reported damage was $150,000 and all four ice storage buildings were destroyed, along with 12,000 tons of ice. Empty oil cans were found in the immediate vicinity of the buildings, which were owned by Union Pacific and leased to Pacific Fruit Express. In addition to the four PFE ice storage buildings, the same fire also destroyed the adjacent Utah Ice and Storage ice manufacturing plant, with its 50 tons per day capacity. The ammonia storage tanks at the ice manufacturing plant exploded and caused additional damage. The fire that destroyed the PFE facilities was the latest in a series of arson-caused fires among Ogden businesses (12 in less than 30 days), and resulted in armed guards being posted to protect local businesses. (Salt Lake Herald, August 6, 1919; Salt Lake Tribune, August 6, 1919)

The fire in August 1919 that destroyed the four Union Pacific ice storage warehouses in Ogden, only did minor damage to the adjacent Utah Ice and Storage ice plant, leased to Pacific Fruit Express, and the plant was able resume operation immediately. Also, the icing platform itself received only minor damage and was immediately rebuilt. (Ogden Standard, August 8, 1919; Deseret Evening News, August 9, 1919)

Ogden Ice Manufacturing Plant (IMP)

2550 Pacific Avenue

Planning for new icing facilities in Ogden began very soon after the fire in August 1919. In mid October 1920 construction began of a new "ice plant" replacing the burned ice storage warehouses. Additional work included the demolition of the former Union Pacific roundhouse that had been "abandoned" since 1914 when Union Pacific moved into a new joint shops with Southern Pacific. The old roundhouse needed to be abolished to make way for the new ice plant, ice docks and new yard tracks. This was all north of 28th Street and along the west side of the existing yard. Tracklaying for new ice house tracks began in December 1920. The planned completion date was July 1, 1921, but the opening was delayed until August 1st. (Ogden Standard Examiner, October 6, 1920; October 31, 1920; December 27, 1920; February 2, 1921; Richfield Reaper, August 11, 1921)

PFE's original ice manufacturing plant at the SP yards was built in 1921 after the ice transfer plant burned in 1919. It had the capacity of 375 tons daily, storage space for 10,500 tons in the winter storeroom, 3300 tons in the daily storeroom, and 800 tons in the dock storeroom.

Adjacent to the new plant were two island-type platforms, No. 1 being 2,893 feet long, 66 car lengths, and No. 2 being 3,113 feet long, 70 car lengths. There was a one car spot loading dock on the back track and a 15-carlength double track loading dock with the ice coming through from the daily storage house.

In April 1943, PFE leased a portion of its three-story Ogden IMP to R. D. Pringle Company of Denver. The Pringle company spent $100,000 to remodel the building for the use of quick-freezing of fruits and vegetables. (Ogden Standard Examiner, April 21, 1943)

March 10, 2015
The ice house of the former Pacific Fruit Express burned in the early morning hours of March 10, 2015. Although the building was essentially all-concrete construction, there were several wooden additions, and interior partitions and other combustible materials stored inside that the fire was very intense. The structure was damaged beyond recovery and was demolished. Union Pacific still owned the building and land, and over the years since PFE's closure in the mid 1970s, had leased out the building, but it had been abandoned for several years. (Ogden Standard Examiner, March 10, 2015)

Riverdale Ice Manufacturing Plant (IMP)

In July 1953 UP announced construction of a new yard in Ogden, to be located south of 31st Street. Included as part of the new yard was a new island-type icing platform for Pacific Fruit Express that would allow the company to mechanize part of its operation at Ogden, along with expanding its facilities to allow the re-icing of two full-length, unbroken 110-car trains at once. This platform would replace the 1927-built 70-car platform in the main yard. PFE would retain the older 66-car icing platform, built in 1927 in the main yard. To mechanize the icing operations, the new platform at Riverdale would be equipped with three Preco mechanical icing machines and a 500-ton ice manufacturing and storage facility, and an ice conveyor system connecting the storage facility with the icing platform. (Railway Age, Volume 135, number 3, July 20, 1953, pp. 22-23; See also: Deseret News, June 15, 1953 and July 1, 1953)

The Preco mechanical icing machines were unique enough that they were awarded their own U. S. patent.

(View the patent for the Preco mechanical icing machine)

"Parallel improvements planned by P. F. E. call for construction of an island-type icing platform with a capacity of 220 cars. Of two present island-type icing platforms, one of 70-car capacity will be retired while one of 66-car capacity will be retained for service." (Railway Age, July 20, 1953, Volume 135, Number 3, page 22)

April 1, 1954
The new Riverdale icing platform was expected to be completed by April 1, 1954. (Ogden Standard Examiner, December 20, 1953)

September 1, 1954
Operation of UP's new Riverdale Yard in Ogden, Utah, began on September 1, 1954. "As part of the project, Pacific Fruit Express has completely mechanized its icing facilities; besides increasing icing capacity by 220 cars it now can ice full length unbroken trains." ("Week At A Glance", Railway Age, Volume 137, number 10, September 6, 1954, p. 4)

Prior to 1954, the PFE tracks in Riverdale yard had been used only for cleaning and storage of westbound (empty) cars. The new Riverdale ice plant was capable of producing 700 tons of ice per day, in the form of 4,750 cakes of ice, each measuring about 11 inches by 22 inches by 42 inches. A bridge conveyor took these ice cakes overhead to the new mile-long ice platform, built to re-ice two 110-car trains at the same time. With the completion of this icing platform at Riverdale, the original 70-car platform in Ogden's old main yard was retired, leaving only the remaining original 66-car platform in place.

This 1954 expansion gave PFE two separate facilities at Ogden: the original 66-car platform and 1921-built, 500-ton ice manufacturing plant in the main yard (at 26th Street); and the new 700-ton ice manufacturing plant and 110-car mechanized icing platform at Riverdale.

In August 1954 PFE added the ability for automatic icing at Riverdale with the installation of three Preco-brand mechanical icing machines. These automated ice crushing and loading machines allowed the simultaneous icing of two trains on each side of the icing dock.

A bridge conveyor took the blocks of ice over the yard tracks to the island platform, which was a mile long, accommodating 110 cars on each side.

In the history of Pacific Fruit Express published in 1992, there is a reference showing that in 1943, both original platforms in the Ogden main yard were extended by 33 car-lengths to accommodate train lengths of 100 cars. There is no evidence of the platforms at Ogden being extended beyond their 66-car and 70-car lengths completed in 1927, which indicates that this information may have been gleaned from a proposal that is part of PFE records. This proposal, possibly from a report completed in September-October 1950, may have been associated with an early proposal for the expansion of OUR&D's Riverdale yard. (see Pacific Fruit Express, second edition, page 305 and page 459)

The 1954 expansion of icing facilities reflected the booming nature of PFE's traffic. Perishable traffic through Ogden originated on Southern Pacific, from throughout Oregon and from a myriad of sources in California, north of Santa Margarita in accordance with the 1923 agreement that assured traffic over the Overland Route through Ogden. All of SP's perishable traffic from points in the Central Valley north of Bakersfield, and from the Salinas Valley north of Santa Margarita moved east by way of Ogden. The perishable traffic during World War II for PFE alone was in the range of 350,000 cars per year. During the harvest season in California and Oregon, solid trains of PFE refrigerator cars moved east through Ogden, averaging 700 to 800 cars a day, adding to a daily total of more than 9,000 cars moving through Ogden during peak season. PFE's peak years for carloadings, with almost 500,000 cars loaded per year, were between 1950 and 1953, with only slightly less, but still more than 400,000 cars per year, throughout the mid-1950s. A steady decline in carloadings throughout the 1960s was a reflection of both the development of larger mechanical refrigerator cars and increasing competition from refrigerated highway trucks.

The new ice plant at Riverdale was reported as being the most modern type of ice manufacturing plant in the PFE system, and was capable of producing over 4,750 cakes of ice daily, or more than 700 tons. The freezing plant was fully automatic and capable of starting and stopping without attendance by an operator. The only personnel regularly required was a crane operator to pull the ice cans from the freezing tanks, and an engineer on day shift to perform routine maintenance. The new plant utilized the latest ice manufacture, in which standard cans holding 300 pounds of water were suspended from grids in tanks containing low temperature sodium chloride brine. Four huge tanks each held 1,600 cans, 40 rows of 40 cans each.

(Read more about PFE in Ogden, as part of the Ogden Rails project)

Based on available aerial photos, the PFE ice plant at Riverdale was demolished in summer 1974, at the same time as the icing platform.

Salt Lake City Ice Transfer Plant (ITP)

In July 1946 Utah Ice and Storage updated its Plant No. 2 ice manufacturing plant, also known as its Short Line plant, on 2nd North. At the same time PFE built an icing platform closer to Union Pacific mainline, allowing better access for rail cars on Union Pacific tracks, as well as allowing access for icing of rail cars being moved by D&RGW. Pacific Fruit Express took a series of photos showing the new icing platform.

The new PFE ice dock at Salt Lake City, built in 1946, was a double platform with a capacity of 14 cars along each side. Ice was purchased from Utah Ice and Storage manufacturing plant adjacent to the new ice dock. Employees of Utah Ice and Storage provided all of the labor for the PFE icing platform, as well as whatever icing was needed at the Union Pacific passenger depot, three blocks to the south.

(View photos of the PFE icing platform in Salt Lake City, taken in March 1946)

Milford Ice Transfer Plant (ITP)

At Milford, PFE owned a single-track icing platform, 1,100 feet long, 25 car lengths. It had no roof. Nearby there was an ice storage house 13 feet by 118 feet, a frame building with asbestos-sheet exterior. Retired 1950. (Pacific Fruit Express, 2nd Ed., page 306)

A Union Pacific drawing of Milford yard dated 1943 does not show an icing platform at Milford, on any of the yard tracks in the vicinity of the passenger depot, or the roundhouse, or the stock yards. It does show an "ice house," 65 feet by 40 feet, north of the depot, and west of the depot platform. Other drawings of the Milford yard suggest that the PFE icing platform was along the east side of the yard, about a quarter mile north of the depot and roundhouse.

The PFE ice dock at Milford was in use as late as September 1947, when a local graduating high school senior was reported as "working for the Pacific Fruit Express at the Milford ice dock." A later report in October 1947 mentioned that the PFE ice dock, at the north end of the Union Pacific yard, had been threatened by a nearby grass fire. (Beaver County News, September 18, 1947; October 30, 1947)

Cedar City Ice Transfer Plant (ITP)

At Cedar City, PFE owned a double icing platform, long enough to service four cars, used for carloads originating locally. UP owned a nearby unloading platform long enough for two cars. Ice was shipped in from the PFE plant in Las Vegas, and icing was performed by PFE employees sent there as required. The Cedar City operation was obsolete by 1952. (Pacific Fruit Express, 2nd Ed., page 307)

An aerial photo from 1952 shows what appears to be a cold storage warehouse along the western edge of UP's Cedar City yard, with what might be an icing platform with a capacity of about six cars. The cold storage warehouse was owned by the Cedar City Cold Storage and Bottling company, organized in June 1923 to take advantage of the newly completed Union Pacific Cedar City Branch.

"After World War II, the Pacific Fruit Express Company froze ice on a pond above the second CCC dam, about 3.5 miles east of Cedar City. The ice was cut and stored in sawdust during the winter on the north side of the dam. In late summer, it was taken to town, crushed, and layered in boxes of carrots to be shipped to eastern markets. Thus the history of ice business extended almost 40 years. (Personal memories of Clemont Adams, who worked for the Pacific Fruit Express Company; cited in "A History of Iron County," by Jane Burton Seegmiller, 1998,, page 297)

More Information

Pacific Fruit Express, Second Edition; Anthony W Thompson, Robert J. Church, Bruce H. Jones; Signature Press, 1992-2000