Salt Lake & Fort Douglas Railway

This page was last updated on March 11, 2019.

Two New Railroads In Utah.

(The Globe, January 12, 1889)

The Governor of Utah in his late Annual Report to the Secretary of the Interior says that last year there were 598 miles of standard gauge, and 542 miles of narrow gauge railways in operation in the Territory—

"To which," he says, "must now be added the mileage of two new local roads of importance, the Salt Lake & Fort Douglas, and the Salt Lake & Eastern.

At present the mileage of the Salt Lake & Fort Douglas railway, including switches side tracks and spurs, is about 20 miles ; in course of erection 2 miles ; contemplated extension 4 miles. Construction on the Salt Lake & Eastern has but recently begun ; its mileage is about 8 miles ; in course of construction 24 miles ; contemplated extension 30 miles.

" Of these two comparatively new roads it may be truthfully said that they are destined to be, and now are, two of the most important factors in making a new era in the commercial growth, both of Salt Lake and Summit Counties.

" The Salt Lake & Eastern fills a long felt want in furnishing a direct line between this Valley and the country East. Park City is a natural ally of Salt Lake. Geographically she is more favorably located to Salt Lake than to any of the other larger towns of the territory. But this is by no means all. Her base of supplies is here. She is dependent upon this and Weber Valleys for her vast supply of salt for refining and milling purposes. Her merchandise, her flour, her fruits, and vegetables are in large parts, shipped from here.

"The S. L. & F. D. is important in the sense of helping to develop the country, in that it is opening up the vast sandstone quarries East of the City, and in furnishing an easy and expeditious transit from the suburban districts and Military Post into the City."

A late number of the Salt Lake Journal of Commerce, a very enterprising and trustworthy paper, which is the official organ of the Salt ;Lake Chamber of Commerce, and published under its authority, brings us fuller details of the character and present, condition of these Roads.

"There is," says the Journal of Commerce, "a distinction to be made between the two enterprises. The Salt Lake & Fort Douglas Railway is essentially a local road with no present design beyond the traffic of the Salt Lake Valley; while that of the Salt Lake & Eastern (a separate corporation) aims outward at once, first for Park City, then beyond to Kamas, with an unavoidable inference that its ultimate aim will be to go right through to the East."

In this issue of THE GLOBE we shall take up only The Salt Lake & Fort Douglas Railway, and will reserve The Salt Lake & Eastern for our next issue.

"THE SALT LAKE AND FORT DOUGLAS ROAD starts from the-Depot of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railway and, proceeding in a southeasterly direction, passes several concerns from which traffic of some importance has been received, such as the Burton & Gardner Fence Factory, the Fire-brick and Sewer-pipe Ovens of Elias Morris, the shops of Mr. E. Cook, the Contractor, and Leffler's Flour Mills. At the Canal the Road branches, the one branch going northward to Fort Douglas, the other southward to Parley's and Mill Creek.

THE NORTHERN BRANCH passes on its way the Salt Lake Brewing Company's extensive works.

"This concern has not, as yet, taken off its wagon system, so that only a portion of its traffic is via the rail. Yet its rail freights received are even now at the rate per annum of forty-five cars of barley, sixty cars of empty kegs and bottles, $10,000 worth of coal and a large quantity of miscellaneous freights. Besides this, they ship at the rate of a car of beer a week, though these figures will be vastly expanded when the railroad does all the hauling of the Brewery which can naturally be expected in a short time.

"The Road comes next to the City Gravel banks, which furnish a good deal of freight for the Road ; then the great brick fields of W. S. Simkens, many of whose millions of brick are carried away by rail, and who requires at least one car-load of coal a day to carry on his kilns; then one of the coal depots of the Salt Lake Supply & Forwarding Company; then Brain's Brick-yard and Everill & Reese's Quarries; then Popper's Soap & Candle Factory, the only one between Omaha and San Francisco, and then to Fort Douglas. We do not need to point out the importance to the Road of the Fort Douglas traffic. It was the principal objective of the railway, and amounts to enormous figures.

"Just before reaching the Station near the Quartermaster's offices at the Fort, the Road branches in two other directions, one up Red Butte Canyon and the other across country to Emigration Canyon and Wagener's Brewery.

"THE BRANCH LEADING TO RED BUTTE CANYON leads first to the Quarries, which are about two miles from the Fort.

"This portion of the Road is perhaps the heaviest grade of all and might offer some difficulties in operation but for the fact that the cars invariably go up empty and descend loaded. There is no thoroughfare through Red Butte Canyon, but it leads by comparatively easy ways into the high mountains North of the City, giving access to a great variety of deposits of a mineral character. We have often had occasion to remark on Nature's wonderful storehouses in these broken hills. Scarcely a month passes but news of some kind comes of new finds thereabouts, all of which are within a mile or two of the City limits. In the short stretch from the Hot Springs to Red Butte Canyon there are valuable stores of pure silica, iron ores, ochres, black, gray and variegated marbles, lithographic stone, brick clays in great variety, fire clay, fire stone, talc, many kinds of valuable building-stone, and thermal springs of great importance. There are indications of Coal, Silver, and Lead, and rumors of Gold; but there is such a number of deposits of obvious value and extent that we can afford to leave out of the category all that is uncertain. Suffice it that the character of these neighboring hills has excited the wonder and study of geologists from the beginning, and they have been thought to offer exceptional opportunities for research and profit to our citizens. The Salt Lake & Fort Douglas road plunges right into the heart of these hills and has already opened up several of these possibilities. We believe that Mr. John W. Young owns several sections of the land in Red Butte Canyon. Salt Lake City and the Fort are supplied with nearly all their building stone from the Red Butte Quarries, and the Supply Company connected with the Line has already six or seven depots established for its delivery at various points. The products of the Quarries includes rubble, footing and dimension rock of fine soft sandstone, of a salmon hue very familiar to our citizens, who have seen it in nearly all our structures, since building began in the City. Nine carloads per day is the present demand. It is probable also that the large deposits of Brick Clay in this Canyon will be utilized ere long, as it is especially valuable on account of its fine red color. The Salt Lake Glass Works recently purchased several carloads of the fire stone, as they had found by experiment that it was suitable for making the benches for their pots and for use in other ways. The Lithographic Stone, found close by in inexhaustible quantities, has the appearance of being equal to the finest Bavarian, and may prove to be as satisfactory as the German. If so, it is more valuable than a Silver Mine, as the demand for good Lithographic Stone in America is far greater than ever before, while every pound that is used has to be imported from abroad.

"THE BRANCH TO EMIGRATION CANYON, leaving Fort Douglas, runs thence two miles across the Bench to Wagener's California Brewery. Mr. Wagener says that to begin with, he requires a million and a half pounds of Coal and two hundred tons of Coke a year for his furnaces; then he brings in at least fifty carloads of Barley and as many more carloads of empty kegs and bottles. Add to this his Hops and miscellaneous freights and the total inward traffic foots up to some four and a half million pounds a year. Besides this, he ships out at least two carloads of Beer a week.

"Emigration Canyon is historical as being the Pass from which emerged in 1847, the first of the Pioneers who gazed upon the Valley, and the site of the future City. For some years, it continued to be the entrance way to the Valley until the more direct route through Parley's Canyon was opened.

"In the immediate neighborhood of the Brewery is a bed of Limestone shale suitable for street-making, and we understand that Mr. Wagener offers the shale to the City for the cost of gathering and a nominal royalty. Besides this, the City owns a Shale bed which it recently acquired a little farther up the Canyon. In fact, Wagener's is an important point. He has put a fortune into his buildings ; they are never large enough for his growing business. The daily train to Wagener's is very popular and well patronized, affording a cheap and pleasant way of spending an afternoon.

THE MILL-CREEK BRANCH. "This Branch of the Salt Lake & Fort Douglas Railroad has been built only three and a half miles, in consequence of the unwillingness of the owners of the land, through which it was to run, to sell the right of way for a fair price.

Mr. Young believes that he can accomplish his purpose, without the assistance of these purblind land-owners, by deflecting slightly the line of the Road. Meanwhile the Mill-Creek branch is well patronized, the daily trains doing considerable traffic with the farming population and enjoying a good passenger business.

The rates are so reasonable that scores of children come daily into the City to attend school, being provided with students' tickets at reduced rates. The Supply & Forwarding Company has here another of its depots for the sale of Coal, Rock and Lumber, and in many other ways the people of the district are learning to accept the advantages of railway transportation. It is designed, at an early date, to run a spur, about a mile in length, from a favorable point on this branch to Calder's Farm, which will prove an easy, cheap, and pleasant way of reaching this popular resort.

"It has been repeatedly stated by its projectors that the Salt Lake and Fort Douglas railway is only local in its aims, and we have seen nothing to indicate any designs beyond this. But it is just now dawning on the people that a local system of this sort can be made profitable and they are beginning to rid themselves of the idea that ulterior designs are at its back. Even now there are days when the regular trains are taxed to promptly perform the business that springs up at every turn. The passenger traffic alone has increased seventy-five per cent in the last four months, and Mr. Win. Mackintosh, the freight and passenger agent of both companies, informs us that although $30,000 worth of rolling stock has just been added to its facilities, the business will soon exceed the present capacity of the Road. There will be many days next Summer when it will be out of the question to accommodate excursion travel to Wagener's, Parley's, Fuller's and Calder's alone, without a large increase of facilities, and this is not taking into account the constantly increasing regular travel to and from the Penitentiary, Fort Douglas, the Schools, Liberty Park, tourist travel everywhere and passengers to the southern precincts. It is also expected that many will avail themselves of the line to picnic and camp out in the Canyons. It promises to be "the thing" next season for whole families to sojourn in the mountains along the lines, where the man of business can go up in the evening and come back in time for business in the morning.

"Much of this rapid growth is due to the extremely liberal policy maintained by Mr. Young in all his relations with the people. They have been quick to respond to his generosity, and we have found many who have gone out of their way to help him in his arduous undertakings, while those doing business along his route have promptly taken off the teams which hitherto have plied to and from the City and turned their transportation over to the Railroad. It was this spirit which attracted us to write these articles, feeling that whatever advantages might follow either to. our readers or the Public, would be towards the development of a worthy enterprise."