Salt Lake & Eastern Railway (1888-1890)

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This page was last updated on January 5, 2013.

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The Salt Lake & Fort Douglas Railway was organized in 1883. The road's general route was along 800 South in Salt Lake City east from the D&RG mainline at 700 West, to 700 East, then along 700 East to 900 South, then along 900 South to about 1000 East. It split there, with one line heading north mostly along 1000 East, meandering up the bench to about 1300 East and 2nd Avenue, then looping back and entering Fort Douglas, then across Fort Douglas to Red Butte Canyon. A depot was built at 800 South and Main Street, although the excat location is not known at this time. At the same location, in 1890 the railroad (by this time, known as the Utah Central) built an engine house and a wye track.

The Salt Lake & Eastern Railway was built from the junction at 900 South and 1000 east, south generally along the west bank of the Jordan & Salt Lake Canal (along today's McClelland Street), to where the alignment became today's Highland Drive at 2100 South. It continued along the canal (Highland Drive) to the alignment of Parleys Creek. The Utah State Penitentiary was located in the block along 2100 South between Highland Drive and 1300 East, so whenever the south end of the line is mentioned, the Penitentiary is also mentioned, although the tracks actually continued farther south to Parleys Creek. The SL&E continued east along Parleys Creek and Parleys Canyon, all the way to Park City.

The Salt Lake & Eastern Railway was included as part of the newly organized Utah Central Railway in March 1890, along with the never-built Utah Western Railway.

In 1891, a third rail was laid along side the narrow gauge rails of the Utah Central to allow standard gauge cars of the Rio Grande Western to serve the "suburban points" to allow RGW excursion trains to operate directly between the southeast Salt Lake City suburbs and RGW's Lake Park Resort west of Farmington.

Financial problems for the Utah Central Railway began in 1893, like so many other western roads that depended on Eastern investors for their expansion funding. Rio Grande Western began investing in the road to improve its access to the Park City ore traffic, and soon controlled it. In 1894 the road's bankruptcy receiver made the decision that the road needed to be standard gauge, and they started making the needed improvements in the form of heavier and larger equipment, that would allow more traffic to be moved, along with widening the cuts and fills, and rebuilding the many bridges along the line.

The Utah Central Railway, being the former Salt Lake & Eastern since 1890, was reorganized as the Utah Central Railroad in December 1897. It was still narrow gauge at the time, and the reorganization was to finance the conversion to standard gauge. The new railroad was completely controlled by Rio Grande Western Railway, and with that road's deep pockets, the pace of the improvements increased, including a tunnel under the summit of Parleys Canyon. The conversion to standard gauge was completed in July 1900.

The trains stopped running north of 900 South to Fort Douglas on the affiliated Salt Lake & Fort Douglas by early 1895. In November 1896, the city council ordered the railroad to remove the tracks, in accordance with the franchise given to it in late 1883. They started removing the tracks north of 900 South in March 1897.

The line along the canal between 900 South and Sugar House was replaced by the RGW's Sugar House Branch in March 1901, being the east-west track along 2200 South between Sugar House and Roper Yard at 700 West. The tracks were removed between 900 South and Sugar House, and along 800 South to the mainline at 500 West in June 1901.

At Sugar House, after the Sugar House Branch was completed in 1901, RGW built a branch south along the already completed SL&E grade, to the site of the Salt Lake Pressed Brick Company (later Interstate Brick Company) at about 3000 South and 1100 East. The "Brickyard Branch" was in service until at least the late 1960s. Interstate Brick closed the site in November 1972 and moved to West Jordan. The site is now the Brickyard Plaza shopping mall.


September 21, 1888
The Salt Lake & Eastern Railway Company was organized yesterday, its initial objective being Park City via Parley's Canyon. (Salt Lake Herald, September 22, 1888, "yesterday")

September 23, 1888
Articles of incorporation filed yesterday for the Salt Lake & Eastern Railroad Company; to be 1200 shares of stock, par $100 each, John W. Young has 592 of them, eight others to the various other directors, and the balance of 600 held in the company for now. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, September 23, 1888)

September 29, 1888
A long article on the Salt Lake & Eastern incorporation, and that road's plans; states that some five miles of track are laid east from Sugar House, and that the road has three locomotives and 25 cars. (Park Record, Park City, September 29, 1888) (ed. note: By this time, all five ex U&N 2-6-0s were on the property, either as SL&FD locomotives, or as the three SL&E locomotives mentioned here.)

October 20, 1888
"The Salt Lake & Eastern is making rapid headway up Parley's Canyon. All the money necessary to complete the road to Park City available. The old Utah Eastern grade is being used in places, much to the detriment of the wagon road, and it is likely that the Salt Lake County officials will get out an injunction to prevent the railroad company destroying the wagon road." (Park Record, Park City, October 20, 1888)

October 27, 1888
Grading in canyon had been completed as far as the point known as Hardy's; track expected to reach shale beds, about four miles below Hardy's, on Monday. (Park Record, Park City, October 27, 1888)

(The shale beds later became the cement quarry, located three miles up Parleys Canyon. Hardy's was the location of the mail and stage station, owned and operated by Leonard W. Hardy, owner of much of the area where Mountain Dell Creek met Parleys Creek, at a point six miles up Parleys Canyon. The area is today under the waters of Mountain Dell Reservoir. The adjacent hay farm became today's Mountain Dell golf course. The entire area was sold to Salt Lake City in 1900 as a water shed for its water supply.)

November 2, 1888
SL&E track is now laid some 3-1/2 miles up into Parley's Canyon, and an excursion was run up that far on November 2. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, November 3, 1888, "yesterday")

November 3, 1888
More than a column on the Salt Lake & Eastern and related subjects. It is noted that the "old sugar house" is being converted into shops for the SL&FD and SL&E. The railroad passes within a few rods of the southwest corner of the penitentiary wall, passes Dudler's Brewery, and enters the mouth of Parley's canyon. The item notes that track is laid down to a point about four miles past the brewery, and is being laid at a rate of about three-fourths of a mile per day at present. The SL&FD's downtown Salt Lake City depot addition is nearing completion. (Salt Lake Daily Herald, November 3, 1888)

November 3, 1888
"It is now given out that the Salt Lake & Eastern will build a switchback on each side of the summit, thus being able to reach Park City by next spring without doing any tunneling." (Park Record, Park City, November 3, 1888)

November 24, 1888
"The big fill at the mouth of Lamb's Canyon, above the Half-way House, will take much time yet to finish" (Park Record, Park City, November 24, 1888)

November 29, 1888
Grading on the Salt Lake & Eastern has been completed to Lamb's Canyon. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, November 29, 1888)

December 12, 1888
"Local Railway Notes." Salt Lake & Eastern track has reached a point known as Hardy's in Parley's Canyon. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, December 12, 1888)

December 15, 1888
"The Salt Lake and Eastern has received a three-cylinder cogwheel locomotive [better known as a Shay locomotive], like the Crescent, to be used on the heavy grades over the Summit." (Park Record, Park City, December 15, 1888)

December 29, 1888
Tracklaying has been suspended on account of the weather; ended just below Hardy's. (Park Record, Park City, December 29, 1888)

March 16, 1889
"The Salt Lake & Eastern train running up to the terminus in Parley's Canyon has been discontinued. As soon as the roads get in better condition the railway will resume making connections with the stages at the shale beds. (Park Record, Park City, March 16, 1889)

May 2, 1889
John W. Young says he is shipping from the east three locomotives and 30 cars of rail for the Salt Lake & Eastern. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, May 2, 1889)

June 22, 1889
John W. Young went over the line to Park City last Thursday; he says trains will be running to Park by 1 September 1889. (Park Record, Park City, June 22, 1889)

July 11, 1889
J. W. Young says the Parley's Canyon line being laid with 40 pound steel. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, July 11, 1889)

August 13, 1889
John W. Young says he has purchased two consolidations and one switch engine, all Baldwin's; two passenger engines, Porter's; two Shay locomotives of 30 tons each; 11 passenger cars and 114 coal cars. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, August 13, 1889)

September 7, 1889
The Salt Lake & Eastern runs now to Half-way House, in the canyon; railroad agents were in Park City recently, looking about for depot lands, etc. (Park Record, Park City, September 7, 1889)

September 14, 1889
"The Salt Lake and Eastern is building a switch-back over Lamb's Canyon, in Parley's, instead of making an earth fill or trestlework. This arrangement will be but temporary or until the proposed tunnel through the summit is driven, probably next summer. It will take about three weeks yet for the rails to reach the summit, and then the road will be hurried on to Park City." (Park Record, Park City, September 14, 1889)

September 28, 1889
"Passenger travel between Park City and Salt Lake via the stage line and the S. L. & E. Ry. is very brisk." "Daniel Harrington, secretary of the S. L. & E. Ry., was up from Zion Thursday to arrange for rights-of-way into town." (Park Record, Park City, September 28, 1889)

Circular issued appointing J. H. Young Traffic Manager for the three J. W. Young lines. (Park Record, Park City, September 28, 1889)

December 3, 1889
An item notes that rail has been laid to a point within four miles of Park City, on the Salt Lake & Eastern railroad. (Salt Lake Herald, December 3, 1889)

December 28, 1889
"Last Monday evening an engine was thrown from the Salt Lake & Eastern track because of the rails spreading, but fortunately none of the trainmen were hurt." "Trains over the Salt Lake short line have been practically abandoned on account of the snow blockades. Until the weather clears up the remaining miles into Park City cannot be finished." "Last Monday evening" was December 23, 1889. (Park Record, Park City, December 28, 1889)

January 11, 1890
The Salt Lake & Eastern remains snowed in -- the stage company is running sleighs. (Park Record, Park City, January 11, 1890)

January 25, 1890
"There are four cars of rails for completing the Salt Lake & Eastern railway from Snyderville to Park City now stored away on the E.& P.C. switches near the sampler." (Park Record, Park City, January 25, 1890)

February 1, 1890
SL&E still snowed in, but shovel crews have begun to dig the road out. Stockholders are to meet March 6,1890, to consider the idea of merging the three lines into the Utah Central Railroad. (Park Record, Park City, February 1, 1890)

February 8, 1890
"The gang of snow shovelers on the Salt Lake and Eastern road have got the road cleared to a point between the summit and Kimball's. The running of trains will be resumed soon and it will require but a little while to complete the track from Snyderville into town provided that the weather does not get rough again. The company's new engines and rolling stock have arrived in Zion." (Park Record, Park City, February 8, 1890)

February 15, 1890
Item in "Railway Rumbles" -- "The three new 45 ton consolidated engines [for SL&E] are model locomotives, and the new passenger coaches are said to be unsurpassed for elegance." (Park Record, Park City, February 15, 1890)

March 5, 1890
The Salt Lake & Eastern has "three new 45-ton locomotives" (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, March 5, 1890)

March 15, 1890
The SL&E is nearly done to Park City. (Park Record, Park City, 15 March 1890)

March 22, 1890
Park City line referred to as "SL&E branch of the Utah Central system." (Park Record, Park City, March 22, 1890)

March 28, 1890
"Lincoln Park" was a real estate promotion by C.E. Wantland (a curious name for a developer!), 201 Main St., S.L.C. It was located below what was then 10th South, now 13th South, and between 7th East and 11th East. While the Salt Lake & Eastern track ran through a part of the PROPOSED 'addition,' there is NO mention in this or any other paper I've seen of any 'Lincoln Park Junction,' now or later. The promotion seems to have been short-lived, and is today unknown. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, March 28, 1890)

March 29, 1890
Track of Salt Lake & Eastern/Utah Central was completed to a point three miles below Park City; can be completed soon if the snow would stop. (Park Record, Park City, March 29, 1890)

April 5, 1890
"Railway Rumbles." "The New Narrow-Gauge Short Line Reaches Park City." "The rails of the Salt Lake & Eastern, the narrow gauge short line, have at last reached the lower part of town and the tooting of the whistles can be plainly heard. By to-night the construction train will be able to get up as far as the U. P. coal switch, just below the electric light works." Regular trains were expected "to commence on the 13th; location of the depot is undecided." (Park Record, Park City, April 5, 1890)

The story continues as the Utah Central Railway of 1890-1897...

(Read more about the construction and operation of the Park City Branch by the Utah Central Railway)


Salt Lake & Eastern Railway Locomotives -- A roster listing of the shared locomotives used by both Salt Lake & Eastern, and Salt Lake & Fort Douglas.


Salt Lake & Fort Douglas/Salt Lake & Eastern -- A Google Map of the Salt Lake & Fort Douglas Railway, and its associated Salt Lake & Eastern Railway, both in the Sugar House area of Salt Lake City.

More Information

Salt Lake & Eastern Railway, 1888-1890, Corporate Information -- Information about the corporate organization of Salt Lake & Eastern Railway

John W. Young's Railroads -- An index page for all of John W. Young's railroads.

Ghosts In Your Backyard -- An article about Young's Salt Lake & Eastern, lifted from the Fall 1997 issue of "The Gandy Dancer", the newsletter of the Wasatch Division of the National Model Railroad Association

Salt Lake & Eastern entry from George W. Hilton's American Narrow Gauge Railroads (Stanford University Press, 1990)