Charles W. Scofield's Railroads
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This page was last updated on June 23, 2017.
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 Scofield Railroads
Bingham Canyon & Camp Floyd Railroad -- Later became D&RGW's Bingham Branch between Midvale and Bingham Canyon.
Wasatch & Jordan Valley Railroad -- Later became D&RGW's Wasatch Branch, between Midvale and Little Cottonwood Canyon.
Utah & Pleasant Valley Railway -- Later became D&RGW's mainline in Spanish Fork Canyon.
Scofield and Associates
Charles W. Scofield of New York. Scofield had extensive mining interests in Utah and was beginning to invest in Utah railroads as well. In making the sale of the Bingham Canyon and Camp Floyd Railroad to the Scofield group, Hugh White agreed to remain with the company and direct the completion of the roadbed. (Salt Lake Herald, June 28, 1873; Corinne Daily Reporter, June 28, 1873)
July 1, 1873
To finance construction $240,000 of first mortgage 8 percent bonds were sold on July 1, 1873, immediately after Scofield purchased control of the company. These bonds carried a maturity date of July 1, 1903. Additional funds for construction were realized from $45,000 cash paid on stock. (Letter, C. W. Scofield to Secretary of Interior, July 10, 1873, National Archives, Social and Economic Records Division, Records of the General Land Office, Records Group 49, Division F, Box 3)
October 27, 1873
Scofield and his associates took control of Bingham Canyon and Camp Floyd railroad at their first annual stockholders meeting on October 27, 1873. (Salt Lake Tribune, October 30, 1873)
November 23, 1873
The non-Mormon officers of the Bingham Canyon and Camp Floyd railroad felt that the actions of the Mormon-controlled Utah Southern were serious enough to prompt them to make plans to build their own narrow gauge line to connect with Salt Lake City. Accordingly, on November 23, 1873, President C. W. Scofield and the other officers of the Bingham Canyon and Camp Floyd road filed articles of incorporation for the Salt Lake City and Bingham Railroad Company to accomplish that purpose. (Salt Lake and Bingham Railroad, Articles of Incorporation, November 25, 1873, Utah State Archives; Salt Lake Tribune, November 26, 1873)
This threat of a competitive road was apparently effective enough to cause the officers of the Utah Southern to discuss and solve their differences and the new road was never built, and complaints about the lack of cooperation disappeared from the newspapers.
The Scofield group took control of the Wasatch and Jordan Valley Railroad. From August of 1873, when the W&JV was finished to Fairfield Flat, until June of 1875, the company had failed to meet operating expenses by $26,000. It had also failed to pay the interest due on its $240,000 of outstanding bonds for the period from July 1, 1873, to June 30, 1875. The solution to this crisis came from Charles W. Scofield and his associates when they offered to purchase the road in June 1875. Scofield also owned and operated the profitable Bingham Canyon and Camp Floyd Railroad. The sales agreement called for Scofield to purchase 1,000 shares of the railroad's unissued stock for $26,000; this amount would be used to pay the company's floating debts. He further agreed to assume the back interest payments on the bonds and provide the funds to finish the line to Alta. In return, he was to receive all remaining unissued stock and bonds and was to buy all outstanding stock from the stockholders at the current market value. According to Scofield, given in later testimony, all portions of this sales agreement were carried out, and he became the sole owner of the company. Later some of this stock was distributed to George Goss, George M. Young, Benjamin W. Morgan and other business associates of Mr. Scofield. (Reeder, p. 184, 185)
Scofield's first step after purchasing the Wasatch and Jordan Valley Railroad was to begin the construction of a narrow gauge tramway from Fairfield Flat to Alta. Plans were to use horses or mules to pull the cars up and to use gravity as the means for downward run. This was the same principle that he was using successfully on his branch lines at Bingham Canyon.
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)
Although organized in December 1875, Utah & Pleasant Valley was not able to start construction until Scofield became involved in late 1876. Construction started in spring 1877. Scofield and his associates took formal control of U&PV at the October 1878 stockholders meeting.
By mid-1878 the Utah & Pleasant Valley Railway had not yet laid any rail, and was having problems paying the interest on its construction bonds, which meant that it might not be able to complete its line to the mines. It was rescued in October 1878 by Charles W. Scofield, an investor from New York City who had also saved and taken control of both the Bingham Canyon & Camp Floyd Railroad and the Wasatch & Jordan Valley Railroad -- two narrow gauge lines which traversed the Salt Lake Valley between the mining camps of Alta and Bingham Canyon, meeting and connecting with the Utah Southern Railroad at Sandy. (Reeder, p. 372, from Poor's, 1879, p. 923)
With Scofield's support, the Utah & Pleasant Valley was able to complete its line into Pleasant Valley and the coal company's mine there. In return Scofield was given control of the railroad which meant that he and his associates controlled three of the most important rail lines within the state at that time.
The management of the Bingham Canyon and Camp Floyd road changed very little through the 1870s. C. W. Scofield remained as president and principal stockholder and B. W. Morgan and William B. Welles as officers and directors. George Goss continued to manage the affairs of the company as general superintendent.
On April 29, 1879, Charles W. Scofield officially combined the Bingham Canyon and Camp Floyd Railroad with the Wasatch and Jordan Valley under the name of the latter. Charles W. Scofield, Charles Lockhart, Benjamin W. Morgan, J. G. Kennedy and George M. Young were elected directors. Scofield also served as president; B. H. Morgan, vice president; J. O. Kennedy, secretary treasurer; and G. M. Young, general superintendent.
C. W. Scofield had been president of both roads since 1875 and found that consolidation of the two lines was the only economically feasible way of continuing the operation of the Wasatch and Jordan Valley Railroad to Alta, where the mines were failing.
In June 1880, Charles W. Scofield was suspended as a dealer of iron in the New York markets after finding himself with over $2,000,000 in liabilities. The stated cause was a sudden decline in the price of iron. "Mr. Scofield is a prominent capitalist, being interested in a number of large enterprises. He is President of Utah and Pleasant Valley Railway Company, the Wasatch and Jordan Valley Railroad Company, the Pittsburg Chain Company, and the Plymouth Rock Steamboat Company. He was for many years a large contractor for the Navy, and was formerly engaged in the hardware trade. He was a great bull on iron last Fall and made about $500,000; but he did not stop his operations, and when the trouble came, he was unable to get out and was left with a heavy load on his hands, besides numerous contracts which he could not take care of." "His assets consist of new iron and steel rails, amounting to between 15,000 and 20,000 tons, the value of the iron rails being estimated at $48 per ton, and the steel rails at $65 per ton. These are in store and in ships to arrive." " The creditors are all very lenient and are assisting him to extricate himself from his embarrassment." He bought about 65,000 tons, mainly from England and already had a large part of the inventory on hand, but many parties backed out of their contracts. Scofield himself confirmed all information to the Times reporter. (New York Times, June 5, 1880)
In July 1880, Charles W. Scofield is shown as owing $95,000 to Clark, Post & Martin for rails; $11,050 owed to Howland & Aspinwall, on what not stated, but they owned the American Fork Railroad. His total liabilities was shown as $2,306,173.54, and his "nominal" assets were shown as $2,730,260.66, with just $13,850 in "real" assets. He owed Brown Brothers & Co. $675,000 in letters of credit and advances. His assets consisted of steel rails, iron, railroad stock and and bonds of Wasatch & Jordan Valley and Utah & Pleasant Valley railroads. (New York Times, July 7, 1880) (Note that there is no mention of Bingham Canyon & Camp Floyd, confirming to some degree the merger in April 1879 of W&JV and BC&CF.)
Control by Palmer and Others
Rumors persisted that Palmer was either interested in, or had purchased control of the Scofield roads as early as October 1880, although formal possession did not occur until June 14, 1882 upon completion of the D&RGW tracks into Salt Lake City. (Wilson, pp. 71-76)
The Utah lines, called Denver & Rio Grande Western Railway, connected with the Colorado lines, called Denver & Rio Grande Railway, on March 30, 1883, with the actual traffic beginning on April 1, 1883. D&RG had formally leased the D&RGW a year earlier, in April 1882. (Wilson, pp. 71-76)
October 17, 1880
An article of one and one-half columns on the decision in the Aspinwall vs. Scofield suit (Aspinwall was the president/owner of the American Fork Railroad, and Scofield the president/owner of the Wasatch & Jordan Valley and Bingham Canyon & Camp Floyd, as well as the Utah & Pleasant Valley). The suit was over the non payment of some $11,000 for railroad materials Scofield obtained from Aspinwall. As the original judgment against Scofield, as defendent, was obtained by the plaintiff in the New York Supreme Court, and not made a part of the current (Utah) proceeding. In Utah, the decision was against plaintiff. This was said to be an important precedent. (Salt Lake Herald, October 17, 1880)
(Utah & Pleasant Valley was apparently reorganized and refinanced in February 1881. This reorganized company may have been when Scofield began to operate his three companies as a single enterprise, and could be a reflection of Jay Gould's influence as a new source of financial backing; Palmer may be equally involved by this time since Gould was also in control of D&RG.)
February 24, 1881
G. M. Young, of the W. & J. V., is appointed manager of the Utah and Pleasant Valley, account James Cochrane has resigned. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, February 24, 1881)
February 26, 1881
A new company has been organized in New York for the Utah & Pleasant Valley; DeGraff has resigned the presidency and Cochrane the management. Scofield assumes the president's spot, and G. M. Young the management of the line. Young was the Superintendent of the W&JV. Scofield had been connected with the company before, and got into financial troubles, but is back now, and reportedly richer than ever. (The Territorial Enquirer, Provo, February 26, 1881)
June 15, 1881
'In the case of Wm. M. Spackman vs. the Utah & Pleasant Valley Railway Company, judgment entered for $147,715.40, apparently in favor of the plaintiff. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, June 15, 1881)
D&RGW had surveyors on the ground, looking for possible routes along the Price River as early as April 1881, with the surveys showing connection with Utah & Pleasant Valley at what later became Pleasant Valley Junction, and today is known as Colton. Construction by Mormon crews began at almost the same time, as soon as survey crews located the route. Progress was rapid on the easier portions. "The Denver and Rio Grande railroad company had got possession of this road [Utah & Pleasant Valley] some months before [in relation to mid November 1881]. It was in mid November 1881, that Frank Hodgman was instructed by telegram to move his crews to Clear Creek on the U&PV and begin construction of the new D&RGW line over Soldier Summit. ("Into The Mountain Of Utah" by Jackson Thode and James L. Ozment, in Dreams, Visions and Visionaries, Colorado Rail Annual Number 20, Colorado Railroad Museum, 1993)
To accomplish all of the construction in the territory of Utah, a new company by the name of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railway was organized in July 1881. To shorten the construction time needed to reach Salt Lake City, the D&RGW made a deal with C. W. Scofield to take over his three railroads - the Utah & Pleasant Valley to shorten the line and the Wasatch & Jordan Valley and Bingham Canyon & Camp Floyd lines to provide it with ready sources of traffic when it got to Salt Lake City. The three Scofield lines were purchased in December 1881 and the Rio Grande's rails reached Salt Lake City in June 1882. (Reeder, p. 387, from D&RG ICC valuation reports, pp. 806, 896, 901)
August 3, 1881
"On Monday one engine, one coach and some six freight cars were sent from the Bingham Canyon Railroad to the Pleasant Valley line." ("Monday" would have been August 1, 1881.) (Salt Lake Herald, August 3, 1881)
August 4, 1881
More rolling stock has been put on the Pleasant Valley railroad, which is very busy at present. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, August 4, 1881)
August 5, 1881
Another lot of rolling stock, in addition to that just sent, has been ordered for the Pleasant Valley road. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, August 5, 1881)
August 6, 1881
"A new Pullman car was put on the Utah & Pleasant Valley railway yesterday, which has just been received from the East. It's a daisy." (The Territorial Enquirer, Provo, August 6, 1881)
August 20, 1881
Item descriptive of a ride over the U&PV to end of line - no equipment data. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, August 20, 1881)
September 20, 1881
Item refers to Pleasant Valley branch of the D&RG. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, September 20, 1881)
(Reeder, on page 382, says that on September 22, 1881, Palmer wrote a letter to the U. S. Secretary of the Interior announcing that he held controlling interest in the Utah & Pleasant Valley.)
By September 1881, Spackman and Palmer owned the majority of bonds of the Utah & Pleasant Valley Railway. (Territorial Enquirer, September 24, 1881)
(Wilson, on page 71, says D&RGW bought the Bingham Canyon & Camp Floyd on September 1, 1881.)
(Hilton, on page 530, says "The D&RG bought the bankrupt Bingham Canyon & Camp Floyd in September and the Wasatch & Jordan Valley in December .")
September 24, 1881
A few days ago, recorder Daniels, Provo, copied some papers he received from attorneys of the D&RGW Railway, wherein it is shown that Wm. M. Spackman of Philadelphia, and William J. Palmer of Denver, own a majority of the bonds of the Utah & Pleasant Valley, by reason of which fact they removed H. P. Graaf and Theo Wilkins as trustees of the bonds, and 'duly appointed' L. H. Meyer of New York and George A. Lowe of Salt Lake City as trustees of the said bonds. (The Territorial Enquirer, Provo, September 24, 1881)
Sale To D&RGW
December 31, 1881
D&RGW bought the Wasatch & Jordan Valley (which was the 1879 consolidation of the old Wasatch & Jordan Valley and the Bingham Canyon & Camp Floyd) (Reeder, p. 192)
(Athearn, on pages 115 and 116, says D&RGW bought the Bingham Canyon & Camp Floyd and Wasatch & Jordan Valley "Toward the end of the year...")
For the year 1882, LeMassena wrote, on page 83:
This was a busy year for the D&RGW. It picked up another railroad at a foreclosure sale and tied together its three pieces of acquired trackage. Then, it struck out eastward across the mountains and desert toward a connection with the D&RG at the Utah-Colorado border. On August 1, it leased its properties to the D&RG, which would operate them.
April 26, 1882
"A Difficulty" between the Utah Central and the D. & R. G.; "The Denver and Rio Grande purchased the Pleasant Valley railroad,..., and it is proposed to make this a portion of the main line." The difficulty is with the Utah Central, whose survey of their Pleasant Valley Branch infringes upon that of the Utah & Pleasant Valley railroad in several places. The two roads have been in court already over the matter. (Salt Lake Daily Herald, April 26, 1882)
June 13, 1882
"Railroad Sale" at Provo yesterday (Monday, the 12th), being the public sale of the Utah & Pleasant Valley, as ordered by the Court. "It is no secret that the purchase is made in the interest of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Company, of which Mr. Spackman is the treasurer..." The agent for Wm. M. Spackman was Charles S. Hinchman, who did the actual buying at the sale. The sale was the result of foreclosure action. (Salt Lake Daily Herald, June 13, 1882)
June 13, 1882
Sale held yesterday at the courthouse in Provo, at 2:00pm, of the Utah & Pleasant Valley; it was bid in by Wm. Spackman, in the interest of the Denver & Rio Grande. The D & R G Western folks who went down to Provo yesterday, for the sale of the U & P V., took the Utah Central in the morning, but were able to come back up to Salt Lake in the afternoon on the Western, which had just barely been connected. The line lacks but 1500 feet or so of track in Salt Lake City to connect it with the depot grounds. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, June 13, 1882)
(Hilton, on page 530, says "The D&RG bought the bankrupt Bingham Canyon & Camp Floyd in September and the Wasatch & Jordan Valley in December . The Utah & Pleasant Valley was acquired on June 14, 1882.")
July 24, 1882
D&RGW began passenger service, to the coal mines at Pleasant Valley, over the former Utah & Pleasant Valley Railway, and to the mines in Alta and Bingham, over the former, combined, Wasatch & Jordan Valley and Bingham Canyon & Camp Floyd. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, July 23, 1882)
July 28, 1882
Coaches on the Pleasant Valley run only to Clear Creek, where cabooses are substituted. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, July 28, 1882)
August 1, 1882
D&RGW (of Utah) was leased to D&RG (of Colorado) for thirty years. (Athearn, p. 117; LeMassena, p. 41)
November 29, 1882
Railroad Racket: "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)
January 1, 1883
Clear Creek, former junction point for line to Pleasant Valley, was settled in May 1881 by James Tucker (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, January 1, 1883) (ed. note: Clear Creek changed to Tucker in June 1899.)
August 15, 1883
"Better Accommodations Wanted" "Passengers on the Wasatch and Jordan Valley Railroad complain of the lack of accommodation. They say the cars are very small, and are sometimes so crowded that people are forced to stand all the way, while there are no accommodations for women with children. It is said the road used to be sprinkled partially in former years, but now even that is not done, and the dust is sometimes intolerable." (Salt Lake Daily Herald, August 15, 1883)
April 9, 1884
The London Bank of Utah, in the news of late owing to financial trouble, provided this paper with a list of accounts receivable, now considered uncollectable, a total of $76,998.53. Included are notes issued to Wasatch & Jordan Valley Railroad, in the amount of $10,000.00; overdrafts issued to Wasatch & Jordan Valley Railroad, in the amount of $3,907.00. (Salt Lake Evening Chronicle, April 9, 1884)
February 13, 1885
"The D. & R. G. is running double-headers to Wasatch and Bingham." It seems this is necessary on account of snow. (Salt Lake Evening Chronicle, February 13, 1885)
January 8, 1901
Nathaniel W. Raphael vs. the Wasatch & Jordan Valley Railroad Co., the Rio Grande Western Railway Co., and the Union Trust Co. of New York -- complaint alleges that on May 1, 1879, the W. & J. V. RR. conveyed to said Trust company (to secure $1,200,000 in mortgage bonds), all of the main line (33 miles) and tramway lines (11-1/2 miles) from Bingham to Alta via Sandy; further alleges the property was foreclosed for default and came into possession of the R.G.W. through collusion and fraud. Plaintiff asks that sale to D.& R.G.W. Rwy. Co. and all subsequent actions be set aside! Paper comments that "The line from Sandy to Wasatch and Alta, however, is worthless, and has been abandoned by the company for a long time, as far as operation of it as a railroad is concerned." (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, January 8, 1901)
May 22, 1901
A foreclosure suit Raphael vs. the W.& J.V., RGW, et al., wanting foreclosure on the W.&J,V. second mortgage bonds, on the lines to Alta and Bingham; wants RGW purchase of W&JV set aside and a receiver appointed under the W&JV mortgage! (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, May 22, 1901)
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.