Salt Lake & Denver Railroad

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This page was last updated on July 13, 2024.

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The original incorporation papers for the Salt Lake & Denver Railroad, "The Uinta Basin Route," show that the railroad was organized on December 30, 1919 by Simon Bamberger to build from Provo to a connection with the Denver & Salt Lake at Craig.

(Read more about the spelling and use of Unita vs. Uintah)

The route was basically south-southwest from Craig to the White River, along the White River to its meeting with the Green River, then up the Duchesne River and the Strawberry River to the Wasatch Mountains. It was then to cross the Wasatch Mountains and head west down Hobble Creek Canyon to Springville and Provo. Its major business was to be agricultural and oil, including oil from shale, with a bit of coal and timber, plus taking away the entire Gilsonite traffic from the narrow gauge Uintah Railway. A large portion was also to be bridge traffic between Denver and Salt Lake City.

The proposed route from Craig followed the Yampa River to Milk Creek, then south along Milk Creek to Good Spring Creek, then over the ridge to Curtis Creek and south to Meeker. Then west along the White River to a crossing of the Green River, then up the Duchesne River to the Strawberry River, across the ridge to either Diamond Fork to Spanish Fork, or Hobble Creek to Springville, and a connection with either UP or D&RGW.

The line was never built, or even seriously planned, much like the original DNW&P or later D&SL along the same route. In the case of the SL&D the ICC hearings of July 1925 were unproductive, showing that the line would not make any money. These ICC hearings are interesting in that they are quite detailed about the potential traffic (or lack thereof) for any road operating across the Uinta Basin. The ICC denied the application based on the lack of need, and the anticipated completion of the Dotsero Cutoff, which it saw as taking away the bridge traffic component of the proposed line's traffic base.

After the ICC filed a negative examiner's report in 1925, the Salt Lake & Denver continued to hang on as a proposed road, hoping to take advantage of the shorter route to Denver by using the Moffat tunnel. Officers of the Salt Lake & Denver gave testimony at the hearings for the Moffat tunnel, in favor of the tunnel being open to all railroads, especially after the tunnel opened in 1927. The idea for a railroad across the Uinta Basin continued in the newspapers until 1930, with the Bamberger interests continuing to promote the road. The idea finally slipped away when the Dotsero Cut-Off became a serious proposal connecting the Denver & Salt Lake with the Denver & Rio Grande Western, and the Salt Lake & Denver died completely when the Dotsero line was completed in 1934.


January 3, 1920
The Salt Lake & Denver Railroad filed its articles of incorporation. (Salt Lake Tribiune, January 4, 1920, "yesterday")

July 27, 1925
The Interstate Commerce Commission held hearings in Salt Lake City to hear comments and testimony from both Simon Bamgerger's Salt Lake & Denver Railroad, and from Denver & Rio Grande Western, concerning which railroad would be allowed to build into the Uinta Basin. (Ogden Standard Examiner, July 27, 1925) The hearings continued through to the evening of July 31, 1925. (Ogden Standard Examiner, August 1, 1925)


Map of Salt Lake & Denver Railroad -- A Google Map showing the proposed route of Simon Bamberger's Salt Lake & Denver Railroad, from Craig, Colorado, west to either Springville or Spanish Fork, Utah.

Many, many, many years ago, I was given a rolled drawing dating from 1923, showing Simon Bamberger's proposed Salt Lake & Denver Railroad. It was used when the road's promoters were asking both the Utah Public Utilities Commission, and the federal Interstate Commerce Commission for the approvals to build the road. After each agency's hearings, both did not approve the new railroad, stating that there was not enough business in the Uinta Basin to justify a railroad. And, it did not help that after submitting the proposal, both UP and D&RGW came forward saying that they were already planning to build their own lines into the basin, which they never did. I have created a Google Map showing the route. Simon Bamberger died soon after, in 1926, at age 79.

More Information

Salt Lake & Denver Corporate Information -- Read more about the proposed Salt Lake & Denver, a railroad proposed in 1919, but never built.

Unita Basin Railway -- Information about the Uinta Basin Railway, first proposed in 2014, with regulatory approval in December 2021.