Summit County Railroad (1871-1881)

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The following comes from George W. Hilton's American Narrow Gauge Railroads (Stanford University Press, 1990):

The Mormon settlement at Salt Lake City, troubled by a lack of readily available fuel, sought to develop a bank of low-grade coal at Coalville. In September 1869 Mormon businessmen incorporated the Coalville & Echo Railroad to connect Coalville with the Union Pacific main line at Echo. They graded the line, but were unable to complete construction. On November 27, 1871, Joseph A. Young and other Mormon leaders formed the Summit County Railroad to take over the grade and franchise of the C&E. They undertook construction of the line as a narrow gauge from Echo in 1872 and began service to Coalville (6 miles) on July 1, 1873.

The narrow gauge served its function imperfectly, mainly because the Union Pacific charged rates from Echo that were considered exorbitant. The Mormon leaders shifted their interests to a direct line from Coalville to Salt Lake City, the Utah Eastern, and sold control of the SC to the UP in March 1877. The UP converted the railroad in 1880 and reorganized it on January 17, 1881, as the Echo & Park City Railroad. As a standard gauge line, the railroad was extended to Park City, a silver-mining area 21 miles to the south. The UP also built a spur of four miles off the original portion to serve a coal mine at Grassy Creek. The spur to Grassy Creek Mine was abandoned in 1947, but the remainder of the branch to Coalville and Park City remains in service.

(Read more about the building of the Summit County Railroad)


October 6, 1869
"From Tuesday's Daily" "We are informed, on reliable authority, that on Thursday next, a survey will be made for a line of railroad from Coalville to form a junction with U. P. R. R. at Echo. The intention is to push the work through immediately, so as to have a ready means of transit for the products of Coalville and vicinity to Salt Lake City and intermediate points." (Deseret News Weekly, October 6, 1869, Wednesday) ("Thursday next" was October 14, 1869)

October 20, 1869
A ceremony was held 2 p.m. at Coalville, to commemorate the start of work on the Coalville & Echo Railroad. "The building of this line of railway is undertaken by the counsel andf advice of President Young." The survey was completed by J. Fewson Smith and F. T. Perris. (Deseret News Weekly, November 3, 1869, correspondence dated October 21, 1869 at Coalville, "yesterday")

October 26, 1869
Coalville & Echo Railroad was organized to build a railroad between a connection with Union Pacific at Echo, and the coal mines at Coalville, six miles to the south. (Reeder, pages 321 and 404, citing Deseret Evening News, October 26, 1869, also noting that "The Articles of Incorporation for this road are not on file in either the Utah State or the National Archives.")

November 29, 1871
Summit County Railroad was incorporated by Mormon leaders in Summit County and Salt Lake City to build from Echo to the Park City mines. Organized on November 24, 1871, the company took over the uncompleted grade of the Coalville & Echo Railroad between those two towns in exchange for stock in the new company. (Utah corporation index 4307)

August 1872
Work on repairing the old Coalville & Echo grade began in the spring of 1872 and by mid August the work was completed. (Salt Lake Herald, August 29, 1872) Track materials were delivered in early 1873 and the line was completed between Echo and Coalville by early April 1873. (Reeder, pp. 319-328) In July 1875 the former C&E grade was formally purchased. (Union Pacific corporate history, in 44 Val Rep 196)

August 16, 1872
The first shipment of rail for the Summit County Railroad is expected to arrive in about three weeks. (Salt Lake Herald, August 16, 1872)

August 29, 1872
Article on Coalville mentions grading being done on line from Echo to Coalville, and some of the branches-to-be; most of the ties are on hand, iron and equipment is not. (Salt Lake Herald, August 29, 1872)

October 1872
Utah Northern's locomotive "John W. Young" was loaned to Summit County Railroad as motive power for a construction train; returned in about July 1873.

February 4, 1873
Summit County Railroad mortgaged itself to Union Trust Company of New York. (Summit County Abstracts, Book A, p.288; Summit County Old Records, Miscellaneous, Book C, p.45-56)

March 28, 1873
Mr. John Boyden in from Coalville yesterday, reports that tracklaying has been recommenced on the SCRR, and as all the iron necessary is on hand, line will be completed between Echo and Coalville by conference time, or about April 6th. (Salt Lake Herald, March 28, 1873)

March 30, 1873
Summit County R.R.-a correspondent, writing from Echo, March 29th, says that the railroad will soon be completed, under the superintendence of W. W. Cluff, who has a large force at work. "The engine 'John W. Young' will doubtless do same whistling at Coalville next week,..." (Salt Lake Herald, March 30, 1873)

April 6, 1873
Summit County Railroad was completed to Coalville, from Echo. (Deseret Evening News, April 7, 1873) The work of laying the rails was begun in March. (Salt Lake Herald, March 28, 1873)

April 7, 1873
"Summit County Narrow Gauge - The railroad is now completed between Echo and Coalville, and by next Saturday it is expected it will be finished from the last named point to the Crismon Robinson and Wasatch coal mines. Extensive shipments of coal will not be sent over the line to Echo until a dump has been constructed at that place. When that is done it is probable that coal will be cheaper in this market." (Deseret Daily News, April 7, 1873)

April 22, 1873
Summit County Railroad received a new locomotive from Baldwin. The locomotive was named the "Weber" and was to be in service by the 28th. (Salt Lake Herald, April 26, 1873)

April 26, 1873
Extracts from a 'Letter from Coalville', dated at Coalville on the 23rd of April, 1873, Wednesday. "Yesterday the company's new locomotive and tender arrived, and today they put her on the track,... The engine and tender were built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works, of Philadelphia, I am informed by the gentlemanly engineer, Mr. Nathan Pettys, whom the Baldwin company sent on to put the 'Weber' together. Mr. Pettys is the pioneer of the narrow gauge locomotives, having put the first one, that was used in this country, on the Denver and Rio Grande road. He says he will have the 'Weber' -- the name selected for the new locomotive,... -- in good running order by Monday next." (Monday was the 28th.) (Salt Lake Herald, April 26, 1873)

May 4, 1873
"New Narrow Gauge Locomotive" "We had the pleasure of a call from Mr. Nathan Pettys the gentleman sent out by the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Messrs. M. Baird & Co., 500 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, to start the new narrow gauge locomotive for the Summit County railroad. The engine is what is termed a 'Mogul';, and weighs, with the tender, twenty tons. It has an 11 x 16 inch cylinder; and has three-foot driving wheels, three pairs connected. This locomotive is the same design as those first introduced on narrow gauge railroads, and is the kind used on the Denver and Rio Grande line. It is a very handsome engine, and reflects great credit upon its builders." (Salt Lake Herald, May 4, 1873)

May 14, 1873
First day of formal operation for the Summit County, with earnings first recorded and the line formally completed on July 1, 1873. (Union Pacific corporate history, in 44 Val Rep 196)

May 14, 1873
"The first carload of coal was shipped from Coalville, over the Summit County Railway." (Our Pioneer Heritage, Volume 17, 1974, page 4, "The Year of 1873")

August 1873
Summit County Railroad completed a 2.5-mile line to the coal mines above Coalville, built in spots using grades of 309 feet per mile (5.8 percent). The Wasatch mine was not yet reached. (Salt Lake Herald, August 17, 1873)

The editors of the Herald were shown over the Summit County Railroad. (Salt Lake Daily Herald, August 17, 1873)

In company with Hon. Joseph A. Young, President of the Summit County narrow gauge railroad, we took a trip on Thursday (August 14th) over the completed portion of that line. A pleasant ride over the Utah Central to Ogden and the Union Pacific to Echo brought us to the latter point, the northern terminus of the S. C. R. R., before noon. After a short stay at this point, where we enjoyed the hospitality of Mr. Beckwith, of Beckwith & Lauder, the narrow gauge coal train arrived, and, in a few minutes after, we were on the locomotive making good time to Coalville, five miles. Arrived there, a home-made caboose, and as handsome as any imported ones we have seen, was coupled on to the locomotive. Bishop W. W. Cluff, general superintendent of the road, joined us, and we dashed up Chalk Creek valley, on the branch of the line to the coal region, two miles and a half further. The line is well built; the road bed is in excellent condition; and the little locomotive, with train of cars attached, dashes up an incline where the grade embraces all figures up to three hundred and nine feet to the mile. To those unacquainted practically with railroading it may be enough to say that a grade of a hundred feet to the mile is considered heavy on a broad gauge road; while the extreme figure here given is, we believe, the highest grade on any railroad in the Territory. This branch of the S. C. R. R. will soon be run a little further up to reach all the developed coal mines in the neighborhood of the Wasatch mine, six in number; and when thus completed, with the additional rolling stock, which has been ordered, received and in use, those mines and the road will be in a condition to supply a very large demand for coal.

September 6, 1873
"Resources of Utah." "Statistics of Progress during the Year 1873 -- Summary for Six Months ending June 30th." "March -- The Summit County railroad, completed from Echo to Coalville, six miles." (Utah Mining Gazette, September 6, 1873)

October 20, 1873
"The new plate for the steam chest of the narrow gauge engine of the Coalville & Echo RR was cast by Davis & Sons on Friday, planed on the big planing machine at the Depot Works on Saturday, and shipped this morning." which was Monday. (Deseret Evening News, October 20, 1873)

October 22, 1873
"Coalville & Echo Railroad -- we learn from Joseph A. Young, Esq., that six new cars for the C&ERR have just arrived, and others are expected soon. A new engine is ordered, and the company is determined to have a full complement of rolling stock..." (Deseret Evening News, October 22, 1873)

(Note: The Deseret News quite often referred to the SCRR as the Coalville & Echo RR, perhaps because the SCRR had obtained the never used grade from 1869 of the C&E, which was to have been broad-gauge.)

October 23, 1873
"A number of new freight cars have arrived from the East, and others with another engine have been ordered." (Salt Lake Herald, October 23, 1873)

October 28, 1873
Trains on the Summit County Railroad are running again after the suspension caused by the damage to the locomotive; see Deseret Evening News, October 20, 1873. (Salt Lake Herald, October 28, 1873)

November 20, 1873
The Summit County Railroad "now has plenty of cars, but is in want of another engine, and there is some talk about getting one." (Deseret Evening News, November 20, 1873)

March 10, 1874
In this paper [Salt Lake Daily herald] and that of the 11th there are two items on an accident sometime last week on 'the Coalville narrow gauge,' on the branch up to the coal mines east, of town. Owing to the crush of business, mules are used to haul empty cars up to the mines. On this occasion, an employee at the Wasatch mine let a loaded car get away, and it ran on down the line, wrecking itself and two other cars coming up, killing one team of three mules in the process. The first item said that the mules were used because of the steepness of the grade, but the second says "There is no grade on the Coalville road so steep that an engine cannot travel over it." (Salt Lake Daily Herald, March 10, 1874)

March 3, 1875
Map of approved route of Summit County Railroad was filed with Land Office, Department of the Interior, under Act of Congress approved on March 3, 1875 "Railroads through Public Lands". (Summit County Quit Claim Record, Book F, p.323, recorded on October 11, 1880)

September 1875
Summit County received its second locomotive, shipped on April 22, 1875 from the manufacturer Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

September 23, 1875
"On Railroad Business. -- last night W. W. Riter, Esq., returned from a business trip to New York. While there he purchased a locomotive and eight cars for the Summit County railroad." He had been in Iowa, eastbound, on September 6th, 1875. (Deseret Evening News, September 23, 1875)

September 24, 1875
"W. W. Riter, superintendent of the Summit County Railroad, returned from New York on Wednesday night. He purchased while absent a locomotive and eight cars for the little road." (Salt Lake Herald, September 24, 1875)

October 27, 1875
"Coal" "On occasions in the past when coal has been scarce in the city, the dealers have blamed the Coalville road for lack of transportation facilities. Now the narrow gauge has two engines - one of them new - and a number of new cars, recently arrived from the east." (Salt Lake Herald, October 27, 1875)

November 26, 1876
A letter from Coalville, dated 24th, in regard to the Union Pacific's discrimination - some 300 tons of coal has been sitting at Echo, in Summit County Railroad cars, awaiting transportation this past week - the U. P. has supplied a whole six cars the entire week, while 50 empties went east yesterday alone to the U.P. mines, and 50 cars are standing empty also at Almy. The author of this epistle does not understand why this should be. (Salt Lake Herald, November 26, 1876)

February 24, 1877
Union Pacific took control of the Summit County Railroad by purchasing from Brigham Young's 3,361 shares of stock (valued at $134,500), along with the church-owned coal lands in Chalk Creek canyon, above Coalville, for $60,000. (Union Pacific corporate history, in 44 Val Rep 196) Brigham Young received the $60,000 on March 10th. (Reeder, p. 338)

(UP corporate history says that on February 24, Union Pacific purchased all of the first mortgage bonds and a majority of the capital stock. Athearn, p. 276, says that Union Pacific took control of the Summit County in autumn 1880.)

April 30, 1878
"An engine from the Summit County line has been put on the road, in addition to the five heretofore in use, and still another has been ordered." Also, 20 new box cars have recently been added, and another 20 to be added soon. (Deseret Evening News, April 30, 1878)

September 7, 1879
"The Coalville railroad has been almost abandoned for the past year, scarcely a train a week passing over it. The reason for this is that the Rock Springs coal has supplanted the home product." (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, September 7, 1879)

May 28, 1880
Letter from Ogden, dated 27th - "Active work began this morning at Echo, in widening out the present narrow gauge to Coalville. New ties and iron are being laid, and the road will be rapidly pushed through to Park City." (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, May 28, 1880)

June 12, 1880
"Railroad Ties Wanted", 60,000 of them, on the line of the Summit County Railroad, between Coalville and Park City, not less than seven-inch face, and seven inches thick by 8 feet long; E. L. Berthoud's name appended to the notice. (Salt Lake Herald, June 12, 1880)

September 1880
Summit County Railroad's two locomotives were transferred to Utah & Northern Railway (also controlled by Union Pacific); Summit County number 1 became U&N 22, and Summit County number 2 became U&N number 1 (2nd).

September 3, 1880
Rails on the Park City branch of the Union Pacific have been laid to Wanship, a distance of 14 miles. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, September 3, 1880)

November 23, 1880
Summit County Railroad was sold under foreclosure. Financial books closed December 31, 1880. At time of sale the road had 31.21 miles, including 27.27 miles between Echo & Park City, and a 3.94 -mile branch, completed earlier in the year up Grass Creek canyon to the Church coal mine. The purchase price was $75,000. (Arrington: Coal Road, p. 53) The road was sold to Sidney Dillon, president of the Union Pacific. The line between Coalville and Park City was built as standard-gauge, with construction starting in 1878. Upon completion of the line to Park City, the original narrow-gauge line between Echo and Coalville was converted to standard-gauge. (Union Pacific corporate history, in 44 Val Rep 196)

December 12, 1880
"Hurrah for Park City." "The Summit County Railroad was finished to the Park on Friday, December 10th, and ... regular trains will commence running between Echo and the Park tomorrow." "The depot will be put up immediately, near the Empire mill." ("Tomorrow" was December 13, 1880) (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, December 12, 1880)

January 17, 1881
Echo & Park City Railway incorporated by Union Pacific interests "to buy, own, and operate the railroad property formerly known as the Summit County Rail Road". (Utah corporation number 69)

January 19, 1881
Summit County Railroad completed to Park City. (Arrington: Coal Road, p. 54, from Deseret Evening News, January 19, 1881)


Summit County Railroad Locomotives

More Information

Corporate Information -- Information about the Summit County Railroad corporate organization.

Summit County Railroad, by Reeder -- Information about Summit County Railroad from Clarence Reeder's 1970 manuscript.

Summit County Railroad -- Information about the building of the Summit County Railroad, as part of UP's later Park City Branch.