Charles W. Scofield's Railroads

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This page was last updated on April 15, 2022.

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Charles W. Scofield was born in February 1834 and died in February 1913. He was one of Utah's earliest railroad builders and was the financial and organizing force behind three of Utah's first railroads: Bingham Canyon & Camp Floyd Railroad in September 1872; Wasatch & Jordan Valley Railroad in October 1872; and Utah & Pleasant Valley Railway in December 1875.

Scofield ran into some financial problems in June and July 1880, and apparently received some financial help from William Palmer and his associates (possibly including Jay Gould since Gould owned half of the D&RG bonds from October 1879 to early 1882).

Meredith Wilson wrote in his 1943 PhD dissertation, "Although formal possession of the Utah and Pleasant Valley was not taken until June 14, 1882, rumors that the property had been purchased were heard as early as October 1880 and persisted through 1881. It is possible that fact lay behind these rumors, as M. T. Burgess was working surveys for the Rio Grande subsidiaries from the east end of the Calico Line (Utah & Pleasant Valley) toward Colorado as early as the summer of 1881." (The Denver and Rio Grande Project, 1870-1901, by O. Meredith Wilson; Howe Brothers, 1982; page 71)

With the organization Palmer's Denver & Rio Grande Western Railway in July 1881, William Palmer was able to buy Scofield's three roads and immediately gained an important presence in a state dominated by Union Pacific and its subsidiary roads.

The following comes through the courtesy of Josh Bernhard.

Posted to Facebook, Rails Through The Wasatch, May 8, 2016

A recent triumph in research was my discovery of the proceedings of the 1901 Supreme Court case for the embezzling of stockholders of the Wasatch & Jordan Valley and Bingham Canyon & Camp Floyd. It is interesting that Charles W. Scofield considered himself to still be president of those lines considering that they had long since been absorbed and eliminated into the Rio Grande Western system by that time.

From "Cases and Points of the Supreme Court of the United States", Nathaniel W. Raphael vs. Wasatch & Jordan Valley R.R. Co., et als, 1901

Here is a bit from the questioning:

By Mr. Easton: Q. Mr. Scofield, you were subpoenaed to produce at this examination the following books and documents of the Bingham Canyon & Camp Floyd Railroad Company, and certain $300,000 mortgage bonds of said last named railroad secured by a trust deed in which you were one of the trustees; also all the books, records and documents pertaining to the old Wasatch & Jordan Valley Railroad, and all the books, records and documents of the defendant the Wasatch & Jordan Valley Railroad Company. Have you those books and records here with you? A. I have not.
Q. Why have you not produced them? A. They are not in my posession.
Q. What is your full name? A. Charles Wardwell Scofield.
Q. Where do you reside? A. In New York.
Q. New York City? A. West 23rd Street.
Q. What is your age? A. 67.
Q. What is your present condition of health? A. Well, lately it has been pretty poor.
Q. Were you ever connected with the Bingham Canyon & Camp Floyd Railroad Company of Salt Lake County, Utah? A. I was president of the company.
Q. At what time? A. From 1873.
Q. Until what time? A. Well, I have never been removed so far as I know since.

Page 281 of has this interesting statement:

Q. By Mr. Easton: Were you ever connected with the Wasatch & Jordan Valley Railroad Company? A. I was. I would like to correct that other statement.
Q. Go on and make your corrections! A. The Bingham Canyon & Camp Floyd and Wasatch & Jordan Valley were consolidated under the title of the Wasatch & Jordan Valley Railroad Company.
Mr. Shepard: The defendant, the Rio Grande Western Railway Company objects to any statement of consolidation, inasmuch as that is a matter of record and not to be proved by oral testimony.

About 15 pages later in the same document Scofield stated that he and General Palmer were to split the profit of the sale of W&JV Consolidated bonds to in 1881, 30% each, but that Scofield never received his portion and went bankrupt as a result.

Another interesting fact gleaned from this case is that the W&JV records were kept in the Sandy Station.

Don Strack added: Back in 1979, I saw the amended articles of incorporation of the consolidated corporation in the files of the Utah Secretary of State's office. I have mentioned it to three other researchers over the years, and no one believed me. After reading the Jay Gould biography and reading about the way he did business, I think that Scofield and Jay Gould worked out a deal to fund the three roads in Utah, using whatever creative financing was available at the time. The result within a year or so, since Gould owned almost all the bonds of both Palmer roads (D&RGW and D&RG), and the Scofield roads, Palmer's D&RGW took the property and assets of Scofield roads that had been put up as collateral on Scofield's bonds. The consolidated W&JV apparently still existed as a corporation, but without any assets, until Scofield's death.

The Scofield Railroads

Bingham Canyon & Camp Floyd Railroad -- Later became D&RGW's Bingham Branch between Midvale and Bingham Canyon. (continues as W&JV)

Wasatch & Jordan Valley Railroad -- Later became D&RGW's Wasatch Branch, between Midvale and Little Cottonwood Canyon. (continues as U&PV)

Utah & Pleasant Valley Railway -- Later became D&RGW's mainline in Spanish Fork Canyon.


Scofield and Associates

May 28, 1876
C. W. Scofield arrived in Salt Lake City "accompanied by a company of wealthy, influential gentlemen". The newspaper item included a full list of 31 men with their occupations and companies, showing a broad spectrum of bankers, lawyers, and businessmen from Eastern cities and England. (Deseret News, May 31, 1876)

May 29, 1876
A group of railroad men, and others, guests of C. W. Scofield, arrived Saturday evening, the 27th. Royal Bassett, of the Utah Northern, is among them. They will go to Salt Lake, and expect to be in Utah 10 days or so, looking over the railroads. (Ogden Junction, May 29, 1876)

December 31, 1881
D&RGW bought Scofield's Wasatch & Jordan Valley (which was the 1879 consolidation of the old Wasatch & Jordan Valley and the Bingham Canyon & Camp Floyd) (Reeder, p. 192)

June 13, 1882
D&RGW bought Scofield's Utah & Pleasant Valley road. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, June 13, 1882) (from this point, Scofield no longer had an operational or financial interest in his three railroads)

November 29, 1882
"C. W. Scofield, a railroad man well known to Salt Lake people, arrived today from San Francisco, and is a guest at the Walker House." (Salt Lake Evening Chronicle, November 29, 1882)

Scofield's Other Activities

In May to August 1883, Scofield had control of Utah & Nevada Railway. (Salt Lake Daily Herald, August 8, 1883)

Scofield was arrested in New York City on January 8, 1885 on a charge of obtaining money on false pretenses. The arrest was the result of a Grand Jury indictment brought by an investor named Jacob Wyckoff who was given $40,000 in bonds of Utah & Pleasant Valley Railroad in return for $20,000 in the latter part of 1879. Scofield later asked Wyckoff to trade the U&PV bonds for equal value bonds in the Wasatch & Jordan Valley Railroad, saying the the W&JV bonds were first mortgage bonds. The exchange was made, but Wyckoff later found that the W&JV bonds were second mortgage bonds and were worthless due to the foreclosure of W&JV. (New York Times, January 9, 1885)

In May 1888 Scofield was briefly held in violation of bail during the investigation of the circumstances of the death of Nathaniel Hatch, who had been in the apartments of Scofield's apparently estranged wife, in the early hours of Monday May 7, 1888. A Coroner's inquest was held and Scofield was found to not have been involved in what was an accidental death as Mr. Hatch exited the bathroom window upon Mrs. Scofield and Mr. Hatch hearing Mr. Scofield ascending the stairway. (New York Times, May 12, 1888; May 16, 1888; May 19, 1888) After this incident, Scofield and his wife separated and she moved to California where she died in 1912.

C. W. Scofield was involved in a rate case for petroleum products between Cleveland points outside of Ohio. He was partners with William C. Scofield, Daniel Shurmer, and John Teagle in the firm of Scofield, Shurmer and Teagle. (ICC Finance Reports, Volume 1, May 1887 to June 1888)

On February 28, 1900, a Judge Brown in New York City discharged 25 different bankruptcies. Among them was Charles W. Scofield, "formerly known on Wall Street and ex-President of two railroads in Utah, whose liabilities were $103,640." (New York Times, March 1, 1900)

In October 1906, C. W. Scofield was in Salt Lake City promoting his new railroad between Salt Lake City and Ely, Nevada. The new company was to be called Utah & Nevada Railroad and was projected to built along a route previously surveyed by a Major Wilkes. Light rails were to be used a a temporary measure to get the line completed, with the rails being replaced when the road begins to pay its way. (Deseret News, October 30, 1906)

Charles W. Scofield Biographical Notes

Charles Wardwell Scofield was born on February 9, 1834 in Stamford, Fairfield County, Connecticut. In 1870 he was shown as being a hardware merchant, but by 1880 he was shown as being a railroad president.

His first wife was named Amanda M. They were married in about 1856, but she died early. There was apparently one child, Charles F. Scofield, born in about 1857 in New York.

His second wife was Lillian D. Austin, of California. She was considerably younger than her husband. Under the name of Libbie Stowell, Scofield's second wife was said to have made money in the west in mining speculation. She came to New York with about $85,000 and spent about $60,000 in preparing to stage the Passion Play. When all was ready she was prohibited from giving the performance. She was married to Mr. Scofield from about 1880 until 1888 when Scofield left her after a dispute about the improper attentions of a broker. He did not see her again. His second wife died and was buried in California in December 1912.

Scofield died on February 13, 1913 at age 80, after marrying his third wife (Jean Fitzsimmons, age 28) just three hours before. She had been a nurse whom he had known for about a year. Scofield is buried in Woodland Cemetery in Stamford.

It was also reported that having met Brigham Young, and being impressed with the Mormon president and his church, Scofield and some of his friends contributed to the construction of the church's Salt Lake City temple.

More Information

Josh Bernhard's article about Charles Scofield, completed in 2016