Salt Lake & Alta Railroad (1913-1917)

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Salt Lake & Alta Railroad (1913 to 1917)

The Salt Lake & Alta railroad was a standard gauge railroad operating between Midvale, on the Denver & Rio Grande, eastward to Wasatch, at the mouth of Little Cottonwood canyon, and the site of granite quarries used to build the Utah state capitol and other large buildings in Salt Lake City and other cities.

Originally built as the narrow gauge Wasatch & Jordan Valley in 1873, the line as a narrow gauge railroad was used to haul ores from the Little Cottonwood mines, and granite blocks for the Salt Lake City LDS temple. The line from Midvale to Wasatch was converted to standard gauge in June 1891, as part of Rio Grande Western's general conversion of a majority of its lines in Utah.

The Salt Lake & Alta was another of J. G. Jacobs’ projects, having built the Salt Lake & Mercur Railroad, and the Copper Belt Railroad in Bingham Canyon. The SL&A was incorporated in August of 1913, to purchase from Jacobs the lease of the Alta Branch of the D&RG. According to the Deseret News of Tuesday, November 25, 1913, the line was finished to Wasatch on the Friday before.

(Read more about J. G. Jacobs and his railroads)

The following description of the railroad comes from the March 15, 1915 issue of the Salt Lake Mining Review:

Salt Lake & Alta Railroad. One of the most important factors connected with the future prosperity of Alta and Little Cottonwood was the building, last year, of the Salt Lake & Alta railroad, which connects with the Denver & Rio Grande at Midvale, and terminates at Wasatch, a famed summer resort a short distance up from the mouth of Little Cottonwood canyon. The need of such a road has long been felt, and already, since its completion last summer, the shipping mining companies of the district have been materially and financially, benefited, and the tonnage handled, this year, will doubtless be much larger than it was last season, with a steady increase being noted in time to come. This road saves the wagon haul from Wasatch to Midvale, and this is quite an item when small profits are considered, and enables the mine-owner to ship who, hitherto, could not market his product because of the costly wagon haul. The road is ten miles in length, from Midvale to Wasatch, with an extension of a mile further from Wasatch to the granite quarries. The building of the road was hastened in order that it might be utilized in the haulage of the granite to be used in the construction of the capitol building in Salt Lake City. Its carrying capacity was taxed to the limit, last year, to care for both granite and ore shipments. The line was constructed by J. G. Jacobs, of Salt Lake, the veteran railroad builder who constructed the wonderful Mercur road a number of years ago, and who has unbounded confidence in the ultimate outcome of Little and Big Cottonwood districts. The company is capitalized at 4,000 shares of a par value of $25. J. G. Jacobs is president and manager, with office at Room 2, McIntosh Building, Salt Lake City.

After the last granite was moved in 1916, the small amount of business coming from the mines in Little Cottonwood canyon was not enough to keep the railroad in operation, and in 1917, D&RG terminated the lease for lack of payments.


D&RGW leased the "Alta Branch" between Sandy and Wasatch to J. G. Jacobs in 1908. By May 1911, the rails were still in place to Wasatch, and the portion between Midvale and "Sand Pit" (four miles) was in service. The distance from Sand Pit to Wasatch was six miles, making the lease for a total of ten miles. The original lease was not to be executed until traffic was sufficient to justify rehabilitation and operation of the line. (Salt Lake Tribune, May 5, 1911)

May 1911
"Wasatch Railroad - Under this name a company will ask for incorporation in Utah to build about six miles of line from San Pitt, Utah, to Wasatch. J. G. Jacobs is said to be back of the project." (Evening Dispatch [Provo], May 29, 1911)

New ore bins were to be built at Wasatch, near the resort there, to load ore from the mines at Alta, making the wagon-haul much shorter. Several mines at Alta were in the hands of Eastern investors after a recent "gigantic merger." There was 200 to 300 tons of sand being shipped from Sand Pit every day. At Sandy, the new railroad would connect with D&RG, with Oregon Short Line, and with the suburban cars of Utah Light & Railway. These connections will allow increased passenger business to the resort at Wasatch, which planned on adding new cottages to accommodate the increased business. (Salt Lake Tribune, May 5, 1911)

Plans were put in place for the construction of a depot and a roundhouse, at a cost of $4,000. (Salt Lake Tribune, May 13, 1911)

July 1912
It was reported that D&RG would build a branch up Little Cottonwood Canyon to the Alta mining camp. The reason given was to transport ore from the Alta mines, and transport granite for the new building at the University of Utah, and for the new state capitol building. There was at present a spur between Midvale and the gravel pits, about 1-1/2 miles, and the new line would require the construction of another 6-1/2 miles to Wasatch, and another two miles beyond that point. The terminus of the new road would be at the lower terminal of the aerial tramway between Alta and Tanner's Flat. (Salt Lake Tribune, July 24, 1912)

D&RG leased its Wasatch Branch between Sandy and Wasatch to Salt Lake & Alta Railroad, which agreed to reconstruct and operate the branch. (LeMassena, p. 125)

The Utah State Board of Equalizations showed three separate parts of the Little Cottonwood Branch: 4.00 miles assessed at $1,000 per mile (Midvale to Sand Pit, used regularly); 6.16 miles assessed at $500 per mile (Sand Pit to Wasatch, used irregularly); and 7.76 miles assessed at $300 per mile (identified as the Alta tramway, out of service).

January 15, 1913
News item about D&RG planning to rebuild the Alta Branch. (Salt Lake Mining Review, January 15, 1913, "Construction Notes")

March 14, 1913
J. G. Jacobs was reported as saying that the work on the railroad between Sand Pit and Wasatch was to start "today," but that the unexpected snow storm "yesterday" would likely delay the start of construction for a few days. Construction was to take no more than sixty days, with the terminal being at Wasatch, about three miles below Tanner's Flats and the lower end of the tramway of the Michigan-Utah company. (Salt Lake Tribune, March 14, 1913)

March 30, 1913
News item about J. G. Jacobs planning to build a railroad up Little Cottonwood Canyon, from Sand Pit to Wasatch. (Salt Lake Mining Review, March 30, 1913)

May 6, 1913
"It is expected that actual construction work will be started on the railroad to Wasatch the last of this week. A small Shay engine will be used at first." (Salt Lake Herald Republican, May 6, 1913)

June 10, 1913
Granite was selected as the material for the new state capitol building. The granite was to come from the quarries in Little Cottonwood canyon. The following comes from the June 10, 1913 issue of the Salt Lake Herald newspaper:

Midvale-to-Wasatch Railroad to Be Completed at Once. Simultaneously with the selection of Little Cottonwood granite for the state capitol comes the announcement that the contemplated railroad from Midvale to Wasatch and the granite quarries above, through Little Cottonwood canyon, will be rushed to completion. J. G. Jacobs, who will build the road, announced last night that active construction work will be started within the next day or so. The work will be rushed as rapidly as possible in order to have the road in operation in time for the hauling of granite for the capitol.

When completed the new road will represent an expenditure of approximately $40,000, and will have passenger service to the summer resort at Wasatch as well as the freight service, intended to develop the mines in the Alta district. Nearly four miles of the road is built now and the grade for the remaining eleven miles to Wasatch has been established. There was formerly a tramway with horse and mule used in hauling the cars back to the loading station of the Alta mines. Inasmuch as the entire roadbed is to be used, considerable time and expense will be saved in the construction of the new road.

Heavier work confronts the promoter in the new construction to the granite quarries above Wasatch. A part of this will be constructed on a 12 per cent, the highest grade over established in Utah, and within 3 per cent of the highest grade in the world. Mr. Jacobs built the old Salt Lake & Mercur road, which at the time of its construction had the heaviest grade in Utah. Later he built the Copper Belt at Bingham with a 9 per cent and now he proposes to have a stretch that will exceed his former records.

It is expected that the new road will be in operation within forty days. The roadbed and right of way has been leased from the Denver & Rio Grande.

On the same date, on the same page, the following was also printed, showing the conflict of companies that was later resolved in the courts:

C. W. Blothen and E. S. Mitchell, railroad subcontractors, were also present [at the meeting of the Capitol Commission], so that immediate arrangements might be made for the laying of a line for the perfect transportation of stone from the Little Cottonwood quarries. Plans for early construction operations are being taken up by the Alta & Jordan railroad company, which owns the old right of way from Jordan to Alta through Little Cottonwood canyon. This company, incorporated about two years ago, has plans for reconstructing the old line which was abandoned some twenty years ago by the old Denver & Rio Grande Western interests. The old roadbed from Jordan to the Wasatch resort near the mouth of the canyon is still in such shape that reconstruction would not be very costly. From Wasatch to Alta, the old rails of the gravity tramway are still intact much of the way, although now overgrown with brush. In some places, the wagon road has appropriated the old right of way.

(The actual suit was filed in district court on November 6, 1913, in which D&RG and Salt Lake & Alta, after the lease agreement was signed, asked the court to "quiet" the title claim of the other company, stating that the D&RG held prior rights based on its historic presence along the right-of-way. — Salt Lake Tribune, November 6, 1913)

June 12, 1913
"Work Starts on Road Which will Haul Rock..." "J. G. Jacobs, lessee of the old right-of-way up Little Cottonwood Canyon, began active construction work yesterday in building the line... The terminal with the Rio Grande is at Midvale and the road now extends to a point 1-1/2 miles east of Sandy. From that point on, the road must be practically rebuilt, though the major portions of the grade for the old ore tramway up the canyon still remain, making the grading work easier than would otherwise be the fact." The distance between Sandy and Wasatch is stated to be eight miles; the road will go 1-1/2 miles beyond Wasatch in order to reach the upper quarries. Jacobs thinks that his road will be there by the first of August. He will have his own locomotives and passenger cars, but will use D. & R. G. flat cars for the hauling of the stone. (Salt Lake Daily Herald, June 13, 1913, "yesterday"; Salt Lake Tribune, June 13, 1913 "yesterday")

The rails and ties for the new railroad were already in place as far as Wasatch. The line was to be extended 1-1/2 miles to the upper quarry. From there, a spur was to be built to the lower quarry. (Salt Lake Tribune, June 13, 1913)

June 24, 1913
"The work on the new Jacobs railroad, over which all the granite for the state capitol building will be hauled, will be started today. Six miles of ties and rail have to be laid and it is expected that the road will be completed in a month or two." (Salt Lake Tribune, June 24, 1913)

August 26, 1913
Salt Lake & Alta Railroad was incorporated:

August 26, 1913
The following comes from the Deseret News, August 26, 1913:

This Little Railroad Will Tap The Quarries. Jacobs Files Articles For Eleven-Mile Road From Sandy to Wasatch.

A sudden turn was taken at 5 p.m. Monday in the proposition to rebuild the old time railway connection between Sandy and Wasatch, to the mouth of Little Cottonwood canyon, when J. G. Jacobs, who has the matter in charge, filed with the county clerk articles of incorporation of the Salt Lake & Alta railway, and gives assurance that actual construction will begin within a few days, with completion and operation in 30 days afterwards. The capital stock is $100,000 in shares of $25 each.

The road is to be built for the main purpose of hauling granite from the Little Cottonwood quarries to the yards of the Utah Consolidated Stone company in this city, where it will be cut and dressed for use in the exterior walls of the new state capitol. Mr. Jacobs has rebuilt three-quarters of the old Denver & Rio Grande grade, between the present terminus of Midvale-Sandy spur, one and five-eighths miles from the present street car terminus in Sandy, and there is already nearly four miles of track ready between Midvale and the top of the hill. So much of the grade is now ready for the track that preparation of the remainder is but the work of a few days, and it will be ready when the tracklayers reach it.

The line parallels the wagon road for a mile from the end of the present track, and then deviates toward Big Cottonwood to the foothills, curves to the right, then south for half a mile, and then rises to the top of the mesa, where the line turns to the east. Thence the grade follows the canyon to Wasatch. Forty-five hundred feet of spur and zigzag track must he laid beyond that point, so that the cars can be run right into the quarries proper.

Mr. Jacobs has within immediate reach all rails and ties necessary, also two Shea locomotives of 60 tons each, but he will use Rio Grande rolling stock. The entire mileage is 11 miles, with a grade averaging 3 per cent, the highest being 5 per cent for a short distance. In addition to hauling granite, the road will be able to haul ore from the mines up the canyon to the smelters, thus saving something of a wagon haul to say nothing of the time. In addition to this, the company will do a passenger business, enabling pleasure seekers and people bound up and down the canyon to ride to Wasatch from this city without change of cars. Connections will also be made with the street cars at Sandy.

The incorporators of the company are J. G. Jacobs, president, F. P. Jacobs. vice president; E. C. Ashton, secretary and treasurer; George E. Cutler, W. O. Williams, Norman W. Haire and C. W. Blethen as additional directors.

The Denver & Rio Grande operated a railway to Wasatch 20 years ago, but lack of business when the canyon mines limited their operations caused its temporary abandonment. The railroad company, however, has never yielded its right. of way, and this it has leased to Mr. Jacobs. The track between Midvale and the hill east of Sandy was never given up, but has been in constant use for hauling gravel and freight destined for the neighboring canyons.

September 11, 1913
J. G. Jacobs signed an agreement with Denver and Rio Grande Railroad for the lease of D&RG's Little Cottonwood Branch. The lease covered 8.5 miles of track (Sandy to Wasatch), roadbed and right-of-way, all of which Jacobs planned to "reconstruct, improve, equip and operate" only and solely as a connection with D&RG. The lease was to be in effect for six years (until 1919). D&RG was to retain sole rights and exclusive access to movement of sand and gravel from the pits at or near Sandy. D&RG was to furnish all necessary 30-pound rails to Jacobs to reconstruct the line, as well as 18,000 cross ties and three sets of switch ties. Reconstruction was to begin within 60 days (by November 11th), and the reconstruction was to be complete within one year. D&RG was to allow Jacobs to operate his freight and passenger trains over D&RG tracks between Sandy and Midvale, without additional charge or fee, for the purpose of receiving or delivering to D&RG, but D&RG trains were to remain as superior over the route. On the same day, Jacobs assigned the lease to the Salt Lake and Alta Railroad.

November 6, 1913
D&RG and Salt Lake & Alta together sued the Alta & Jordan Valley Railroad, seeking a restraining order to prevent the latter company from interfering with the construction then taking place between Sandy and Wasatch. The former companies claimed that D&RG and its predecessor companies owned the "ancient" branch up Little Cottonwood Canyon, and leased the property to J. G. Jacobs, who then leased it to the Salt Lake & Alta company. The Alta & Jordan Valley company claimed that it owned rights to the property, and the court was asked to settle the disputed title. (Salt Lake Tribune, November 6, 1913)

(Read more about Alta & Jordan Valley Railroad, incorporated in October 1910)

November 15, 1913
The first shipment of granite for the state capitol building, about 600 cubic feet of dressed granite loaded on three cars, was delivered to the capitol grounds. On the previous day, the stone was loaded on cars of Oregon Short Line, then transferred by derrick to cars of Utah Light & Railway Company to be moved to the building site. (Salt Lake Tribune, November 15, 1913, "the first shipment of dressed stone will be made today")

The granite quarries at Little Cottonwood Canyon were the source of granite stone for the new Utah state capitol building, all shipped via the Salt Lake & Alta Railroad. The contract for the construction of the new state capitol building was held by Stewart Construction Company. The granite stone work was being done by Utah Consolidated Stone Company. The completion of the capitol building had been delayed from July 1, 1915 to January 1, 1916. (Eastern Utah Advocate, July 24, 1913, page 8, "capitol Completion Delayed")

November 19, 1913
"The last spike in the railroad from Sandy, Utah, to Wasatch, in Little Cottonwood canyon, was driven November 19. It is a standard gauge line and will reduce by nine miles the wagon haul from the western end of the Michigan-Utah tramway to the valley smelteries. At least $1.50 a ton of transportation cost will be shaved from the expense of marketing Alta ore by this improvement." "Connection with the tramway was made by the Alta Consolidated last spring. The South Hecla will have a similar connection in a short time. " (Salt Lake Mining Review, January 15, 1914)

November 30, 1913
News item about the completion of the Salt Lake & Alta Railroad, completed "to the doors of the Wasatch Hotel, up the canyon." (Salt Lake Mining Review, November 30, 1913)

December 16, 1913
"Alta Shipping Two Cars Of Ore Daily. With the completion of the new ore loading station at the Wasatch terminal of the Salt Lake & Alta. The latter part of this week, Alta mines will begin shipping two carloads of ore a day, according to J. G. Jacobs of the Salt Lake & Alta. The new loading station is being built by Grant Snyder and the Michigan-Utah Mining company. It will enable the unloading of ore wagons direct to the railroad cars. The ore is carried from the mines to Tanner's Flat by a tramway. A wagon haul of three miles is necessary to connect with the Wasatch railroad facilities. Heretofore the output of the Alta mines has been hauled by wagon from Tanner's Flat to Sandy." (Salt Lake Telegram, December 16, 1913)

January 30, 1914
The Utah Consolidated Stone Company was shipping two cars (60 tons) per day from its quarry at Little Cottonwood, to the finishing plant at Midvale. (Salt Lake Mining Review,January 30, 1914, page 27, "Around The State")

February 12, 1914
A timetable printed in the Salt Lake Tribune, dated February 12, 1914, showed passenger service on the Salt Lake & Alta between Midvale, Sandy, and Wasatch, with Davenport shown as an intermediate station between Sandy and Wasatch. Times were given as departing Midvale at 8:20 a.m., arriving at Sandy at 8:40 a.m., and arriving at Wasatch at 10:10 a.m. Trains were shown as leaving Wasatch at 4:00 p.m., arriving at Sandy at 5:30 p.m., and arriving at Midvale at 5:50 p.m. Fare was 50 cents each way, and no service was offered on Sundays. (Salt Lake Tribune, March 16, 1914)

(The same time card was run as a daily advertisement throughout March to May 1914.)

March 27, 1914
A special excursion was operated for invited guests to visit the granite quarry. The excursion was by street car as guests of Utah Light and Railway from Salt Lake City to Sandy, then by Salt Lake & Alta from Sandy to the quarry at Wasatch. A photographer from Pathe' news agency made a motion picture of a very large block of granite being blasted down, to the delight of the excursionists. A lunch at the nearby Wasatch hotel was provided. The excursion arrived at Wasatch at 10 a.m. , and the party arrived back in Salt Lake City at 3 p.m. (Salt Lake Tribune, March 26, 1914, "tomorrow"; March 28, 1914)

March 30, 1914
"As the Salt Lake & Alta railroad is now in position to transport ores from Wasatch, it makes a saving in transportation of about $1.50 per ton." (Salt Lake Mining Review, March 30, 1914)

June 30, 1914
The South Hecla mine at Alta was shipping about 65 tons of ore daily. Teams were moving the ore from the ore bins at Alta, to the ore loading station at Wasatch, with 30 men driving 16 teams in wagons holding four to seven tons each. (Salt Lake Mining Review, June 30, 1914)

March 1915
Salt Lake & Alta had been completed to a point 1-1/2 miles above Wasatch, "leaving a gap of only a few miles between this terminus and the lower terminal of the aerial tramway." (Salt Lake Mining Review, March 15, 1915)

Beginning in March 1915, and continuing through September 1915, Utah Consolidated Stone Company also furnished the granite for the exterior of the new LDS church's administration building on East South Temple Street. The west side had just been completed in late September, with the other three sides already having been completed. (American Stone Trade magazine, March 1, 1915, page 25; Salt Lake Herald, September 26, 1915)

May 30, 1915
The Michigan-Utah has a force of men at work reconstructing the headhouse and repairing the aerial tramway, which extends from the mine to Tanners Flat, fur and one half miles, and it will be in operation in a few days. It is the intention of the company as soon as it is finished to extend the tramway to Wasatch, nearly three miles further down the canyon, to connect with the Salt Lake & Alta railroad. When completed to Wasatch the tramway will be of sufficient capacity to handle all the ores of the Alta district if the different mining companies of the district elect to avail themselves of this cheaper means of transportation." (Salt Lake Telegram, May 30, 1915)

June 25, 1915
The inbound freight coming by way of the Salt Lake & Alta as about triple that of the previous year, with the railroad's manager J. G. Jacobs stating that the increase was likely due to more activity at Alta, since the granite quarries were employing about the same as during 1914. "The granite quarries are employing about twenty-five men and sending out of the canyon an average of about eighty tons a day over the railroad. Last year the granite tonnage hauled totaled 20,000 tons. At present the South Hecla is shipping a carload of ore daily; the Wasatch Mines leasers are hauling some ore and the Alta Consolidated is loading another car." (Salt Lake Herald Republican, June 25, 1915)

July 6, 1915
A visit to the Big Cottonwood and Little Cottonwood mines found in Little Cottonwood canyon that the South Hecla was shipping 25 tons of ore daily, by team to the ore loading station at Wasatch (about one carload), then by Salt Lake & Alta railroad to the smelter. The same visitors found in Big Cottonwood canyon that the Cardiff mine was shipping 50 tons of ore daily, by teams in wagons of 5 tons capacity. The visitors passed 26 teams moving up and down the Big Cottonwood canyon, with the teamsters saying that some of them were making three trips each week between the Cardiff and the Murry smelters. (Salt Lake Herald Republican, July 6, 1915)

August-September 1915
News item about the Salt Lake & Alta railroad hauling 2,014 tons in August 1915 from the Wasatch terminal, and 2,987 tons in September 1915, compared to less than 200 tons a year before. (Salt Lake Mining Review, October 30, 1915)

September 15, 1915
The mines in Little Cottonwood were shipping 200 tons of ore per day (about five carloads), part being moved by team and wagon to the ore loading station at Wasatch, and part moving by way of the aerial tramway to Tanner's Flat, then by team from there to Wasatch. The Cardiff in Big Cottonwood was shipping 100 to 125 tons per day, by team direct to the valley smelters. (Salt Lake Mining Review, September 15, 1915)

A separate report for the same period shows that the Salt Lake & Alta railroad was moving 130 tons per day, or about four carloads. (Salt Lake Herald Republican, September 19, 1915)

October 7, 1915
"It is reported from Wasatch that the Salt Lake & Alta railroad is now handling an average of about four carloads of first-class ore daily from the mines oft Alta. This is estimated at forty tons to the car, or 160 tons daily." (Millard Chronicle, October 7, 1915)

March 1916
According to the March 1916 issue of Stone magazine, Utah Consolidated Stone Company had closed down its large stone plant at Midvale, and its stone yards in Salt Lake City, on account of the completion of the church office building. (Stone magazine, March 1916, Volume 37, Number 3, page 150)

(The closure of the granite quarrying operations in 1916 meant that, after moving over 800 carloads of granite, the traffic base for Salt Lake & Alta was reduced to the minimal movement of ores from the Little Cottonwood mines.)

(Read more about the decline of the mining traffic from the Alta mines)

March 20, 1917
Complaints by mine owners at Alta about poor service during past winter by Salt Lake & Alta railroad. The road was under lease to J. G. Jacobs, who operated it as the Salt Lake & Alta Railroad company. Jacobs said that the extreme winter condition and deep snowfall were the reason for the service disruptions, and that every effort had been made to keep the road open. H. U. Mudge, president of D&RG, said that the D&RG may have to take over the road. (Salt Lake Telegram, March 20, 1917)

March 20, 1917
"Salt Lake And Alta Road May Be Run By D. & R. G. Salt Lake City, Mar. 20. — General Manager Mudge today announced that the Denver & Rio Grande will probably take over the Salt Lake & Alta railroad. The cause is said to be complaints by mining companies against the service given by the Alta road." (Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, March 20, 1917)

March 20, 1917
"Alta Railroad — The Salt Lake and Alta railroad will probably be taken over by the Denver & Rio Grande, H. U. Mudge, president of the Rio Grande road, announced today. Mining companies' complaints against the Alta road's service are said to be the cause of the action." (Ogden Standard, March 20, 1917)

(The above news stories apparently came from Denver sources, as the next day, both Jacobs and D&RG sources in Salt Lake City denied any and all rumors of such action. — Salt Lake Tribune, March 21, 1917)

June 16, 1917
The mine managers of mines in Little Cottonwood met to complain about poor railroad service. They agreed that heavier rails were needed on the Salt Lake & Alta railroad to allow greater tonnage. (Salt Lake Tribune, June 16, 1917)

(The next day, June 17th, there was a story that heavier rails would be laid on the Salt Lake & Alta railroad — Salt Lake Tribune, June 17, 1917)

July 1, 1917
"The transportation question is improving. The Denver & Rio Grande Railroad company is relaying the tracks of the Salt Lake & Alta Railroad company with sixty-five-pound rails. A little over half of the entire distance between Midvale and Wasatch has been completed and it is thought that the balance will be completed within the next week, or less. All the product of the Michigan-Utah ore is coming down the tramway to Tanner's Flat and two-thirds or more of this is being transported over the Little Cottonwood Transportation company to Wasatch. The balance of the ore is being hauled by teams. At present there is a great crush at Wasatch on account of each of the several companies desiring to ship its ore first. With present indications, however, this will soon be straightened not. Besides the Michigan-Utah, the South Hecla, Sells, Emma Copper, Alta Consolidated and others are sending down the canyon large bodies of ore as fast as they can be transported. The Emma Copper has installed tractors between Wasatch and the smelter at Midvale." (Salt Lake Tribune, July 1, 1917)

July 31, 1917
As of July 31, 1917 the Salt Lake & Alta railroad owed, among others: $14,095 to D&RG; $2,277.83 to Lima Locomotive Works; and $258.66 to Little Cottonwood Transportation Company. (Utah Public Utilities Commission Case No. 10, "Michigan–Utah Consolidated Mines Company vs. Salt Lake & Alta Railroad)

August 15, 1917
"The Salt Lake & Alta railroad, under new management, has improved conditions and early in August the company was sending down about thirty-five tons a day." (Salt Lake Mining Review, August 15, 1917, "Michigan-Utah Production")

August 27, 1917
The last day of Salt Lake & Alta operation of the D&RG Little Cottonwood Branch between Sandy and Wasatch. (Robertson, Encyclopedia of Western Railroad History, The Desert States, page 279; same date also shown in ICC Statistics for the period December 31, 1916 to December 31, 1917, "Operation discontinued Aug. 27, 1917")

September 13, 1917
"Salt Lake. The Denver & Rio Grande has taken over the Salt Lake & Alta railroad up Little Cottonwood canyon. Light iron rails replaced by steel. Ore shipments from Alta district via Wasatch constantly increasing." (Ogden Standard, September 13, 1917)

September 15, 1917
"The Denver & Rio Grande railroad has taken over the Salt Lake & Alta railroad, which handles the ore from the Little Cottonwood district of Utah." (Salt Lake Mining Review, September 15, 1917)

In 1917, D&RG took over the operation of its Little Cottonwood Branch between Midvale and Wasatch, terminating the lease of the Sandy to Wasatch portion by Salt Lake & Alta. (LeMassena, p. 131)

October 12, 1917
Numerous derailments along the Midvale to Wasatch railroad, with no traffic moving for three of four days. The rails are spreading, causing the cars to derail. (Salt Lake Telegram, October 12, 1917)

January 26, 1918
"The Salt Lake & Alta railroad has pushed its snow plows up to Wasatch. The trains have made several trips lately now that the entire road is open." (Salt Lake Herald Republican, January 26, 1918)

The Salt Lake & Alta railroad was suspended as a corporation. (Robertson, Encyclopedia of Western Railroad History, The Desert States, page 279)

March 21, 1918
Salt Lake & Alta Railroad reported as being delinquent in its state corporation license fee. (Salt Lake Telegram, March 21, 1918)

November 5, 1920
Denver & Rio Grande is shown as owning the Salt Lake & Alta railroad due to the fact that it held a note in the amount of $9,525. (Salt Lake Tribune, November 5, 1920)


(Read more about the abandonment of the Little Cottonwood Branch)

Granite Quarries

Granite from the Little Cottonwood quarries, in the 1913 to 1917 time period, was used in the construction of the following buildings:

The granite was shipped by railroad from the quarries, by way of the Salt Lake & Alta railroad, to Midvale, where the preliminary rough work was completed; then by Union Pacific's Oregon Short Line to the finishing shops in Salt Lake City.

For the state capitol construction, the finished granite was loaded on flat cars which were moved on the Salt Lake City street car system by way of Main Street, up the hill to the capitol construction site.

December 19, 1912
Utah State Capitol Building -- The contract for the construction of the Utah state capitol building was awarded on December 19, 1912 to James Stewart & Company. Groundbreaking ceremony was held December 26, 1912. The capitol was to be built of stone, with a concrete and steel superstructure. By spring 1913 the foundation and basement walls were in place, and the steel columns and wooden frames for the concrete were being installed. On April 4, 1914, a cornerstone ceremony was presided over by Governor William Spry.

(Read more about the Utah Capitol Building)

September 9, 1913
D&RG Ogden Freight Terminal -- Construction of the new D&RG freight depot in Ogden began on September 9, 1913. Construction started on September 16th, after D&RG surveyors marked off the site of the new building. Operations were moved from the old freight depot, to the new location on February 28, 1914, with the first day of full operation planned for Monday morning, March 2, 1914. (Ogden Standard, September 8, 1913; September 16, 1913, "this morning"; February 12, 1914, "nearing completion"; February 28, 1914, "this afternoon and tomorrow")

October 1913
News item about Utah Consolidated Stone Company, which had the contract to furnish the stone for the new state capitol building, purchasing the twenty-five acres in Midvale formerly occupied by the Bingham Consolidated Mining & Smelting Company. The property was held for some time by N. Rosenblatt & Sons Company. The property still contained cranes, hoists, boilers, engines, and other machinery, and was to be manned by a force of 150 stone cutters to produce 500 cubic feet of cut and dressed stone for the capitol building per day. (Salt Lake Mining Review, Volume 15, number 13, October 15, 1913, p.38, "Dips, Spurs and Angles")

(According to the Ogden Standard for September 19, 1913, the contract to use Little Cottonwood granite was signed at 7 p.m. on September 18, 1913. The contract was between James Stewart & Company, the general contractor, and Utah Consolidated Stone Company, and the amount was reported as $608,223.00.)

October 1, 1913
D&RG announced that stone for its new freight terminal in Ogden would be furnished by Utah Consolidated Stone Company. (Salt Lake Tribune, October 2, 1913)

February 3, 1914
Utah Consolidated Stone Company completed a large powder blast at the quarry that brought down 277,000 cubic feet of loose granite. Among the loosened granite were two blocks that totaled 75,000 cubic feet, and single block that was 10,000 cubic feet. The capitol was to include 165,000 cubic feet of granite stone. (Improvement Era, March 1914, Volume 17, Number 5, page 498)

According to an article about the Utah Consolidated Stone Company in The Salt Lake Mining Review of June 30, 1914, upon obtaining the $608,000 contract to furnish 165,000 cubic feet of granite for the building of the Utah state capitol, the stone company advanced the funds needed to build the Salt Lake & Alta Railroad. The line was 10 miles long and connected directly with the stone company's dressing works in Midvale on the old smelter site of the Bingham Consolidated Co., which was adjacent to the United States smelter.

Salt Lake Mining Review article for June 30, 1914, reported that the semi-finished stone, including the columns turned on a large lathe at the Midvale plant, were shipped by D&RGW to a second plant located at 660 West 2nd South, where the final finishing was completed. The finished stone was then shipped over the street railway system to the capitol grounds.

August 1914
During the first week of August 1914, the first of 52 columns for the capitol building were delivered, each in three sections. The columns had been turned on the large lathe at the Midvale plant of Utah Consolidated Stone Company. (Salt Lake Telegram, July 28, 1914, "will arrive at the capitol grounds this week")

May 19, 1915
LDS Church Administration Building -- Constructed between 1914 and 1917, the building is built of quartz monzonite from the same quarry in Little Cottonwood Canyon as the stone used for the Utah State Capitol and the nearby Salt Lake Temple. The Mt. Nebo Marble Company supplied marble and travertine for the interior of the building, using Birdseye marble from the Thistle area of Utah County, and travertine and onyx from Pelican Point near Utah Lake in Utah County and the Cedar Mountains of Tooele County. The building was opened on October 2, 1917. "Like the Salt Lake Temple, the Administration Building is composed of granite, taken from the same area in Little Cottonwood Canyon, but with a key difference. While all the stone for the Salt Lake Temple was taken from loose granite boulders in the canyon, stone extracted from the canyon walls is what was used for the Church Administration Building." A cornerstone weighing ten tons was laid on May 19, 1915, and was reportedly the heaviest cornerstone used so far in the intermountain west. The church historian's office moved into the new building on February 28, 1917. The building was opened for use on October 2, 1917. (Davis County Clipper, September 11, 1914; Salt Lake Herald, May 20, 1915, "yesterday"; Salt Lake Tribune, March 1, 1917, "yesterday")

(Read the Wikipedia article about the LDS Church Administration Building)


Salt Lake & Alta Locomotives -- Roster listings of the Shay locomotives used by Salt Lake & Alta Railroad.

More Information

Corporate information -- Information about the corporate organization of Salt Lake & Alta Railroad.

Copper Belt Railroad -- Information about another of J. G. Jacobs Shay-operated railroads in Utah.

Salt Lake & Mercur Railroad -- Information about another of J. G. Jacobs Shay-operated railroads in Utah.

Joseph G. Jacobs -- Biographical notes for J. G. Jacobs.

Little Cottonwood Railroads -- Information about all the railroads that served the quarries and mines in Little Cottonwood Canyon.