Bamberger Railroad, By Ira Swett
Index For This Page
Taken from "Interurbans of Utah" by Ira Swett, pages 7-14
The Bamberger Railroad had its humble beginning on a January day in 1891, when a load of light rail was dumped in the street opposite the Union Pacific station in Salt Lake City by the streetcar people (West Side Rapid Transit). Curious onlookers had their guesses answered when a brawny track gang appeared and commenced spiking down the rails in a direction that pointed north, towards Ogden, about 36 miles away. This was the first tangible manifestation of the long-projected "local" railroad Mr. Simon Bamberger had been advocating to serve the rich farm communities between Salt Lake City and Ogden; the major steam railroads Union Pacific (Oregon Short Line) and Denver & Rio Grande aimed only at through traffic, not local business. Indeed, the U.P. and D&RG passenger trains between the two largest cities of Utah at that time were operated at such infrequent intervals that businessmen were required to wait overly long, costing them valuable time and holding up the progress of the region. Simon Bamberger believed that the only solution was to build a third railroad which would be devoted to serving the local business; he further believed that such a railroad would show a good profit if locally owned and managed. Few shared Mr. Bamberger's optimism, however, and the necessary financial backing was slow in appearing; finally, Brigham Young, leader of the all-powerful Mormon Church, openly expressed his approval of the Bamberger railroad. This brought sufficient backing to permit construction to start and the little railroad entered the lists against the formidable might of the two large steam railroads which had dominated the progress of the Great Salt Lake Valley for many years.
The name selected for Bamberger's local railroad was "The Great Salt Lake & Hot Springs Railway," and it had as its first goal a popular resort four miles north of Salt Lake City known as "Beck's Hot Springs". As soon as rail was down to the Springs the company announced start of service to that point. Those first little trains would have gladdened the heart of a Brooklynite, for they were almost exact duplicates of those then operating on the elevated railways of that Eastern community. The steam dummy engines, purchased new from Baldwin, were from Brooklyn plans -- while the cars (long, narrow, wood, double-trucked) were purchased second-hand from the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company. The little steam engines, although quite light, made good time and in a short while the Great Salt Lake & Hot Springs Railway was carrying a sizeable number of people to the resort.
Encouraged by this first success, the directors decided to enlarge the original plans. In 1892 this revised scheme was made public: "Simon Bamberger and associates have begun construction of a railroad that will extend north to a point near Ogden and from there will proceed in a southeasterly direction through Weber River Canyon to Coalville to tap rich coal mines. The total length of this line will be 68 miles, with a 10-mile branch to Ogden."
Construction gangs went to work with a will, and rapidly the light rail penetrated northward. The town of Bountiful was reached in 1892 and Centerville two years later. In 1895, Farmington was reached and there construction temporarily halted. The road had run into financial difficulties. It was necessary to effect a complete reorganization, and on October 29, 1896, a new company emerged with the name, "Salt Lake & Ogden Railway." Quickly the SL&O took over all assets of the now-defunct GSL&HS and construction was resumed.
Just north of Farmington was a large swamp, locally noted for the size of its cattails. SL&O drained the swamp, made an artificial lake, and made the spot into one of the finest amusement parks in the west. Lagoon, as the park was named, quickly became popular for its fresh water bathing, dancing, beautiful parks, and "the fastest one-mile dirt track in the nation." As new amusement devices were perfected, Lagoon added them all -- the park blossomed from end to end with ingenious devices to make its customers feel young again. All Lagoon patrons had to ride the dummy train of the SL&O, and this resort income became one of the road's most important sources of revenue.
The work of pushing the line northward was actively pushed from 1902 to 1908. Kaysville was reached in 1903, Layton in 1904, Sunset in 1905, and Ogden (31st St.) in 1908. The 1907 business depression affected the SL&O to the extent that it was publicly announced that the original plan to build through the Weber River Canyon to Coalville with Ogden on a branch line was abandoned; instead, the coal mines in the canyon were to be left to the Union Pacific (which already served them) and SL&O would confine itself strictly to the traffic between the two cities. A branch beyond Ogden up the Ogden River Canyon to "Ildlewild" (a resort hotel owned by Mr. Bamberger) was contemplated, but the Ogden Rapid Transit Company had already built part way up this canyon and SL&O gave up the idea. Hence the SL&O became one of the few railroads whose corporate name accurately defined its geographical scope.
Steam-operated passenger trains opened through Salt Lake-Ogden service on August 5, 1908, terminating at 31st St., Ogden.
From the very beginning the SL&O followed the policy (rigidly established by Simon Bamberger) of constructing its grade with wide, sweeping curves and the lowest possible degree of climb. Mr. Bamberger realized full well that heavy movements of freight would be impossible on crooked and steep trackage, and set up the restrictive order that the SL&O would have no grades steeper than 1.1%. This meant additional expense for cuts and fills, but he wisely approved the additional cost in the belief that they would be repaid many times over in the increased length of trains his locomotives could haul -- and this surmise proved to be correct.
Simon Bamberger would have none of free franchises along public roads, but bought his own right-of-way. This foresight, too, paid off handsomely in later years; many interurbans which built on public roads saw themselves squeezed out when it came time to widen those roads.
Undoubtedly the best endorsement of Simon Bamberger's policies is the fact that today his railroad operates on every foot of its original route and its operating efficiency is among the best.
The Bamberger Railroad was operated by steam from 1896 to 1910, and freight continued to be hauled by steam locomotives until 1914. Few people today can remember those little steam locomotives, but the cars they hauled are recalled by many, for they saw many additional years of use as trailers on the electrified Bamberger Railroad and many of them served still longer as maintenance-of-way cars
Those steamers were of the familiar dummy type -- a wooden car body completely enclosing the boiler and cab. The dummies were built by Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia, and were similar to those operated by the Brooklyn Elevated Railroad of that era. They were of the 0-4-2 wheel arrangement with water and coal being carried on the locomotive itself. Although small and light, the dummies were efficient and made fairly high speed.
As the railroad grew and trains became heavier, it was necessary to purchase larger locomotives. These were acquired from various sources, some new and some used. By 1910, the company was operating steam locomotives which weighed up to seventy tons. These large engines were retained until 1914 in freight service.
By 1910 it was evident that unquestioned economy and superior service could be given the public by converting the SL&O to electric operation. All over the nation electric interurban railways were being operated at a profit, and they were spreading like wildfire. The SL&O seemingly had all the requisites for success as an interurban: large cities at either end of the line to provide patrons and freight, a prosperous intervening countryside to supply more of both, a route well laid out which could accommodate the interurbans' higher speed, and the attractive possibility of securing more centrally located terminals in both Salt Lake City and Ogden due to the public acceptance of electric cars on principal thoroughfares.
Another factor to be considered was the probability of another interurban company's springing into the Salt Lake and Ogden field. This company was the "Utah Interurban Railroad" which in 1905 and 1906 was formed by a Detroit syndicate and even went so far as to come to a formal agreement with the Ogden Rapid Transit Company "to transport interurban cars from the south terminus of the city road on Washington Ave., Ogden City, to its northern terminus on said street and return hourly during the life of our franchise." For this right, the Utah Interurban Railroad agreed to pay the Ogden company 3/4 cents per mile per ton, plus power (at 20 cents per kilowatt hours). In addition, the Ogden Rapid Transit (predecessor of the Utah-Idaho Central) agreed to sell to the proposed Utah Interurban Railroad its Ogden & Northwestern Railroad, a steam road extending from Ogden north to Brigham City. The ORT official letter file shows the last letter to Detroit to have been sent on January 13, 1906; its terse message: "Regarding the Bamberger road, will say that nothing has been done since you left except some articles written in our home newspapers to the effect that Mr. Bamberger was now in the east purchasing equipment for the new road, but the dummy still runs." No further mention is made of the Utah Interurban Railroad; perhaps the 1907 business depression was instrumental in eliminating permanently this potentially dangerous rival.
The directors of the SL&O company carefully considered all these points and in 1910 gave their approval for electrification. Preparations for the conversion began at once.
The job of designing the conversion was awarded to Mr. H. A. Strauss, a Chicago consulting engineer; construction was carried out by the Falkenau Electrical Company of Chicago as general contractor. General Electric Company was selected to supply the electrical equipment, and the first batch of interurban cars was ordered from Jewett Car Company of Newark, Ohio.
These were the principal changes made in the SL&O to permit operation of interurbans: stringing trolley wire and high tension feeder wire, bonding the rails for power return, constructing a power generating station and substations.
The first electric current to surge thru the SL&O's shiny new trolley wire was purchased from the Telluride Power Company, but even then SL&O had its own big steam generating plant under construction at Lagoon, which not only afforded a strategic location midway between terminals but also had the necessary water supply for condensing. The new steam plant was impressive: it was a steel frame building with a massive concrete foundation and sturdy brick walls -- 106 feet 6 inches wide and 143 feet long. Two Allis-Chalmers cross-compound Corliss engines belted to two 400-kW. GE 2,200-volt three-phase 60 cycle generators and a 400-kW. horizontal type Curtis turbo-generator connected for operation either on high-pressure steam or the exhaust from reciprocating engines which were the prime movers. Also located at Lagoon was a typical SL&O substation: one 400-kW. motor generator set received its alternating current at 2,200 volts and put it into the trolley wire as 750 volt direct current. At the time of its installation, the SL&O's 750 v. in the trolley wire was the nation's highest; later developments boosted DC voltage as high as 3,000 -- but in its day SL&O's decision to break away from the traditional 600 volts was regarded as a somewhat radical step.
Because the valley of the Great Salt Lake is closely hemmed in by high mountains and is subject to severe electrical storms, SL&O resorted to complicated protection against lightning. Every pole along the line was protected by a galvanized iron guard wire strung along the top of the line of poles; this wire was grounded at each pole, an interval of eighty feet.
Substations were protected by electrolytic arresters, the horn gaps of which were located above the roof.
Little change was required in rail and right-of-way to accommodate electric cars. The right-of-way was a standard 66 feet width upon which 85-pound T-rail was laid on gravel ballast and standard size Oregon Pine ties. Constructed to steam railroad standards, the track was capable of safely handling any train; bridges had a Cooper E-55 rating, and way structures, culverts, underpasses, etc., were quite up to present day standards.
The SL&O's first interurban cars appeared early in 1910, when a solid train of ten of the motor cars arrived at Ogden from the Jewett plant. Pictures were taken, cars were inspected by prominent officials, and the local newspapers carried story after story of the magnificence of the coaches. The cars were constructed to the highest standards then prevailing and were of the three-compartment type: a baggage section, then a smoking section, and a coach compartment. They were of composite construction: steel underframe and car lines and wood body. They were equipped with motors of ample power and were of sufficiently heavy construction to provide a comfortable ride.
The first day of electric operation was May 28, 1910. Quickly the new interurbans won the hearts of the public and the steam roads found themselves faced with a quite formidable competitor. At once a minor war began for the Salt Lake-Ogden passenger traffic. Steam roads slashed fares and schedules (Union Pacific put on a "Flyer" that made the 36-mile run in 45 minutes) and otherwise did their best to meet the challenge of the interurban cars. On its part, the SL&O was so encouraged that it placed an order for six trailers similar in appearance to the motor cars; this order was awarded to the Niles Car Company.
Both Ogden and Salt Lake City soon received new SL&O terminals.
The old Ogden station had been located at 31st Street, where passengers found it necessary to seek other means of transportation themselves to the downtown section. With the conversion to electric operation, SL&O soon received a franchise to construct a double-track line along Lincoln Ave. from 31st Street to the site of the new station yards just north of 24th Street. This brought the SL&O cars to within two blocks of the heart of the Ogden business district and increased greatly the SL&O's popularity in that city. In 1914 the SL&O made an agreement with the newly-built Utah-Idaho Central Railroad whereby these terminal facilities were shared by both interurbans; UIC then erected a station building which was used jointly.
The Salt Lake City terminal moved to a very convenient location adjacent to Temple Square in 1913, when track was constructed from Third West Street via private way to First West Street, thence to South Temple Street to a station site at the corner of West Temple & South Temple Streets. Ten years later an imposing station building was erected on this site and was jointly used by SL&O and the Salt Lake and Utah interurban railway. Not only did this new station attract many more passengers, but it made it possible for the company to provide freight spurs to industries located just a block from the main thoroughfare of the city -- a unique advantage.
The First World War
By 1917, SL&O had thoroughly broken in its cars and employees to electric operation and was in a good position to supply the increased service demanded by a nation at war. Indeed, it is possible that the road attained an all-time peak of physical condition In the early months of 1918. True, some of the old steam coaches were still in use (motor cars hauling them were restricted to 40 miles per hour) and freight hauling had far to go before it approached figures set in World War Two -- but for that period the SL&O was indeed a worthy instrument of national defense.
1917 saw Simon Bamberger give up the helm of his railroad; he moved into the Capitol as the Governor of Utah. Succeeding him as head of the SL&O was his son, Julian Bamberger.
Losing its original name was another important milestone, also occurring in 1917. The name of the railroad was officially changed to "The Bamberger Electric Railroad" in August of that year. Thus the popular nickname which had persistently identified itself with the company since its inception triumphed over the more descriptive name.
The Ogden Fire
May 7, 1918, undoubtedly remains a catastrophic date in the history of the Bamberger line. On the morning of that fateful day, flames consumed the entire Ogden car house and the adjoining substation. More than half the company's cars were destroyed -- a blow which was doubly crippling at the time because of the wartime restrictions on obtaining critical materials for rebuilding. The company quickly alerted its North Salt Lake shops, even moving entire buildings there to augment its normal capacity, and began the struggle to repair the $500,000 damage. The railroad's ingenuity in returning its less severely burned cars to service was admirable. Little by little cars were turned out to go back into service, but it was a long time before the Bamberger line regained all the ground lost because of the fire.
Shortly after 6:00 AM on Tuesday, May 7, 1918, the substation and car house at Ogden were discovered to be on fire. The buildings adjoined, and for all practical purposes could be considered one building. The fire spread rapidly and was out of control by the time the fire engines arrived. Practically the entire property was destroyed, amounting to a loss of approximately $500,000. Ten motor cars, ten trailer cars and one electric locomotive were consumed, and buildings were reduced to twisted wreckage.
The disastrous fire started with an explosion in the 44,000 volt lightning arrestor in the substation. A window in the fire wall between the substation and the car house was shattered by the explosion and through this opening was sprayed burning oil, falling on the cars and immediately setting them ablaze. Had this window been bricked up, instead of just closed with wire screening and glass, the entire loss would have been but a few hundred dollars.
The substation switchboard was grounded, thus shutting off all power and making it impossible to run cars out under their own power.
The car house was not equipped with an automatic sprinkler system. A manual sprinkler was being installed at the time. Due to the wide publicity given the ineffectiveness of this manual sprinkler, electric railways the country over were quick to install (or to improve already existing) automatic sprinkler systems.
The twenty-one cars destroyed were among the finest the company possessed. Among them were all six of the brand new excursion trailers, ten of the eighteen motor cars, and locomotive 527, the original electric engine. These were stored in the Ogden car house for the night because the trend of morning traffic was toward Salt Lake City; the Ogden car house was the only such structure of size on Bamberger, and did a large share of the car maintenance work.
Quickly realizing the serious shortage of rolling stock occasioned by the fire, the company Immediately set about equipping its North Salt Lake Shops to undertake the big job of rebuilding those cars whose frames were not too badly warped. It was decided not to rebuild the Ogden Car House, but to shift all repair and maintenance work permanently to North Salt Lake. As the first step, certain undamaged buildings at Ogden were moved bodily to North Salt Lake, there to serve well in the following months.
The facts pertaining to the rebuilding of burned cars are to be found herein in the section dealing with Cars.
The Ogden holocaust was responsible for a long period of curtailed service, and also caused postponement of a general improvement program for several years. Very few electric railways were called upon to withstand a loss of the severity of the half-million dollar Ogden fire. We salute the Bamberger Railroad for the courageous recovery made.
The full impact of the disaster is made amply evident in these photographs, which are from the private collection of Julian Bamberger.
A short time after the Ogden disaster, Bamberger Railroad suffered a second major fire -- this time a warehouse in Salt Lake City was consumed. Many company officials believed that while one fire could have been an accident, two could not; the nation was at war, and the crippling of any railroad, however small, was a logical objective of enemy agents.
The decade from 1920 to 1930 was notable for four important developments:
(1) All cars were changed to one-man.
(2) A subsidiary bus company was set up.
(3) The Salt Lake station was built.
(4) Freight interchange with steam railroads was established.
One-man operation was a change required by rapidly increasing costs of operation, as well as by the rapidly increasing competition of the automobile. Bamberger cars were remodeled for one-man operation at a cost of about $800 per car. This alteration consisted of reversing ends, making the former rear end the new front end; the baggage compartment became the smoking section, the rear vestibule was closed and additional seats installed. "Dead man control" was added, whereby the car came to an emergency stop if the pressure of the operators foot on a valve lessened. The passengers entered and left by the single front door. With the shift to one-man operation came a completely new paint scheme; the old scheme of Pullman green exterior with natural finish wood interior was scrapped in favor of a bright yellow exterior with interiors painted in light colors.
With the shift of much of the passenger traffic to automobiles, the Bamberger Railroad decided to follow the trend and install a bus line paralleling the rail route. This move not only continued the company's monopoly of the public transportation business between Salt Lake City and Ogden, but forestalled the establishment of competing bus lines which might have threatened the very existence of the company. Bus operation was started on May 15, 1927, directed by a subsidiary company, "The Bamberger Transportation Company." Although rail and bus fares were the same, the public was loath to give up the high class, frequent service offered by the electric trains.
Prior to 1913, Bamberger trains used a terminal opposite the Union Pacific Depot on Third West Street in Salt Lake City. In 1913 the site at the corner of West Temple and South Temple was purchased, opposite the world-famed Temple Square, heart of the Mormon Church. The company's original plan was to locate the station in a more southerly portion of the city, but the Moron Church came forward with very attractive inducements ($75,000 in cash and a similar amount in property) that the Temple Square location was accepted; passing years have proved that this decision was a wise one. A yard was built on this site and trains of both Bamberger Electric and the Salt Lake & Utah used the terminal for ten years before a permanent station building was erected. In 1923 the Salt Lake Terminal Company, owned half and half by the two interurban companies, erected a $350,000 station building which had few equals in the interurban realm. The building not only housed the waiting room and ticket counters, but also furnished space for railroad offices, a restaurant, stores and other enterprises. The building was of L-shape design with the car yard occupying the interior open space; it was of brick, steel and concrete construction, two stories high, and of dignified and substantial appearance from all sides.
The Bamberger Railroad was, of course, perfectly fitted to accommodate intensive freight operations. Easy grades and long radius curves, plus very little operation on city streets, made it feasible to haul freight trains of almost any length. But to get into the freight business on a large scale, Bamberger Railroad had to reach an agreement to exchange freight cars with the steam roads. Prior to World War I, steam railroads turned a deaf ear to proposals by Bamberger management for the introduction of freight interchange. Substantial assistance in arriving at a temporary interchange arrangement was obtained from the United States Railroad Administration during the period of governmental control during the first war. But not until 1924 was the ice broken in a big way; in that year, the Union Pacific and Bamberger joined in publishing a complete line of through freight rates. Other steam roads followed, and the great growth of the Bamberger Electric's freight business got under way. Not only did the interchange agreement develop many new industries on the lines of the interurban, but also provided valuable terminals at both Salt Lake and Ogden. A more complete discussion of this freight picture is found elsewhere.
A not-so-pleasant memory of the Twenties is the disastrous flood of 1923. Several deaths were directly attributed to the flood while scores of homes were washed away and long sections of Bamberger track were undermined and washed away. The most severe damage occurred at Rosedale, Becks, Lagoon and Centerville.
The Twenties bowed out with a major business depression and Bamberger Railroad was hit hard. Passenger trains dropped to but a single car usually, and freight trains were fractions of their former lengths. In 1933 the company was forced to enter receivership which continued until 1939. Named as receivers were Julian Bamberger and Layman V. Bower of Chicago who represented the Harris Trust & Savings Bank. In July of 1939 reorganization took place; wiped out were the entire common, preferred and second mortgage bonds -- $2,150,000 plus $350,000 interest. The railroad went to the first mortgage bondholders on the basis of a $500 3-1/2% new bond and twenty shares of common stock, no par value, in exchange for a $1000 5% bond of the old company. A minor change of name took place: the old name, "The Bamberger Electric Railroad," became simply "The Bamberger Railroad." Ironic but true is the claim of Julian Bamberger that if this reorganization had been postponed but six months, the entire financial structure could have been rehabilitated because of the upsurge in revenues due to lend-lease and other war freight -- prelude to World War Two. The reorganization saw Julian Bamberger remain as president.
But the Thirties were not altogether a period of adversity and despondency. Due to the slackening of passenger traffic, and also because of a desire to give its riders more modern equipment, Bamberger officials scouted far and wide for good buys in cars. Unable to afford new cars, the company was eager to purchase used cars of high quality. Some very fine cars were being put on the market at that time because of the depression, and Bamberger representatives were seen in Indiana and Ohio inspecting high speed, lightweight cars which would have been just the thing for the Salt Lake-Ogden run; but the inability to adjust their 300-volt motors to Bamberger's 750 volts precluded their purchase. However, the investigators found what they were seeking in New York in the five streamlined, lightweight "Bullet" cars which had been operated by the Fonda, Johnstown and Gloversville Railroad. These cars were purchased and entered service in 1939, much to the delight of Bamberger passengers.
The first half of this decade was of course dominated by war. The impact of World War Two upon Bamberger Railroad was staggering. Figures reveal the full effect far better than words so here are the official records of operating results for the war years:
The story of how this railroad expanded its facilities within the short time of three years to accommodate a three-fold increase in its passenger business and an eight-fold increase in freight traffic is a saga of American ingenuity at its best:
First, let us consider the passenger side of the picture. New interurban cars simply were not built during the war, hence the one source of additional equipment was to find used cars. To make matters worse, the Office of Defense Transportation ordered Bamberger's bus subsidiary to suspend operations for the duration; its three cruiser buses were sold to an El Paso company. This was in line with ODT's nation-wide policy of putting as much passenger traffic as possible on rails. Then the Ogden Arsenal, a greatly-expanded military post five miles south of Ogden (served only by Bamberger) asked for special trains for its hundreds of civilian workers. Every serviceable car was rehabilitated and put back in service. The usual single-car schedules grew to three- and four-car trains, and even these carried standing loads more often than not. Five ex-Southern Pacific electric cars from Oakland were secured to serve the Ogden Arsenal; they were trailers and were hauled by Bamberger motor cars or electric locomotives; a gasoline engine was rigged up to an electric generator in the baggage compartment of one of these cars to supply the train with lights, and stoves were put in to combat the chilly Utah winters. Inasmuch as these Arsenal cars were owned by the United States Government, Bamberger was spared the responsibility of their maintenance; a shop was erected on the Arsenal grounds where all maintenance, painting, etc. was performed.
The tremendous increase in Bamberger's freight business was not as easy to meet. For the story of this interesting struggle, we turn to Mr. Julian Bamberger and hear it in his own words:
"The war brought us more passenger business than ever before and our freight business was staggering. Substations and generating capacity were not ample, so either steam or diesel power had to be obtained to meet the need. If we installed steam power, we would have to install all that went with it -- roundhouse, special shops, and some fueling points along the line, to say nothing of having to train sufficient personnel to operate and maintain them. On the other hand the installation of diesel power would present no new problems other than the maintenance of the diesel motor itself; all the electrical equipment would be in line with our shop's field of experience and no special facilities other than a fueling point would be required. Weighing these considerations, we decided in favor of the diesel. In order to handle trains of Pullman cars from Hill Field, it was necessary to buy a type of diesel known as the road-switcher. This is a 1000-HP. diesel-electric with a train heating boiler added, enabling it to haul either passenger or freight trains. Locomotive 570 was there upon purchased and its oil-fired heater installed at our own shops. The 570 has a larger capacity than our electric locomotives, and also can operate up into government establishments where trolley wire does not reach. I wanted a locomotive which could handle Pullmans and other steam railroad equipment requiring steam heat with adequate capacity to assure as good service as the steam railroads would give. We were promised a second diesel but others got it.
"In the meantime we looked for more generator capacity. From Spokane we acquired two motor-generator sets and installed them at Kaysville and Roy. We also looked for rectifiers but had a hard time, due to the fact that we purchase power at 44,000 volts AC and must transform it into DC current at 750 volts. We finally got two rectifiers that met our need; one from the Mason City & Clear Lake Railroad in Iowa, the other from the Ford Motor Company in Dubuque, Iowa. These went into our Clearfield and Ninth North substations (this last is a new substation and is very fine -- both are, in fact), with the new transformers we bought to go with them.
"After relieving our power bottleneck, we looked around for more electric locomotives. We found one Baldwin-Westinghouse fifty-ton engine at San Diego and later we found its twin at Milwaukee; then we found two electric locomotives on the scrap pile at Spokane and bought them. These, with our own locomotives, enabled us to make a very good showing when the peak of the war traffic hit us."
The ending of the war, with its reduction of activity at the military establishments along the Bamberger line, caused a big drop in revenue, as was to be expected. Due to the slowness with which new automobiles were forthcoming from factories, 1945 passenger revenue was the highest in the company's history. In an effort to keep much of the war induced passenger traffic, certain cars were speeded up with new gearing to provide more seating capacity for the "Flyer" runs between the two terminals. Three new cruiser-type buses were bought in 1946 and the operations of the Bamberger Transportation Company were resumed.
Through the remainder of the Forties and into the Fifties the big Bamberger electric trains continued to roll, although little by little the Bamberger buses encroached on the schedules. Admittedly the trend was toward buses -- in Salt Lake City as well as elsewhere.
Bamberger's confreres -- the Salt Lake and Utah and the Utah-Idaho Central -- gave up the struggle and expired more or less quietly in 1946 and 1947 respectively. Thus the Big Three dwindled to One, and it was disquieted at its position.
Gradually the bus made inroads. In Salt Lake City, the Terminal Company was thrown into receivership on December 29, 1944. It became the sole property of Bamberger in 1947, with its name changed to "The Salt Lake Rail & Bus Terminal Company." Plans were well along to convert it to a joint rail-bus terminal when Bamberger sold the entire property to Interstate Transit Lines, a subsidiary of Overland Greyhound Lines, in late 1947. Major changes were thereupon made in the terminal, including removal of two of the four train yard tracks, building a concourse at street level to accommodate 18 buses, installation of a cafe, showers, new baggage room and an enlarged ticket office.
The Ogden Terminal was also changed. The old dark and dingy station which Bamberger and Utah-Idaho Central had jointly used for years was replaced in 1947 by a strikingly designed rail-bus station building of quite modern design. It accommodated not only the Bamberger cars and buses, but also buses of other companies, including Trailways.
Five new buses were purchased in late 1947, giving Bamberger ten in all. The first 1948 schedule change saw additional bus runs provided, and some rail operations eliminated. In spite of these pro-bus moves on the part of the management, there were those who did not view the future with alarm. They based their optimism on such facts as the changing of gears on the big 350 Class cars, enabling them to increase their top speed to 75 mph (this was done to permit the 350s to be assigned to the "Flyer" schedules which had necessarily been accommodated by the 125 Class of considerably smaller seating capacity), plus very good maintenance of all the regularly assigned cars (including major repairs of damaged cars 129 and 326.
All might have gone on well indefinitely but for another disastrous fire. At 2:15 AM on Tuesday, March 11, 1952, the frame structure housing the company's train maintenance shop at North Salt Lake was discovered to be ablaze. In spite of a snowstorm, the flames swept through the old building, destroying it and its machinery completely. The fire was never satisfactorily explained, and the management asserted that the ruined machines could not be replaced -- they didn't make them anymore. The damage was officially set at $200,000.
Nineteen days after the fire (March 30) a new schedule went into effect. Nine northbound rail trips and eight southbound rail runs were cut out, leaving but three round trips by cars daily and one of these ran on week days only. Added were seven round trips by buses daily. The reason given for this drastic curtailment of good service was that without the machinery (burned), it was impossible to keep the cars in good running condition. Bamberger patrons, loyal to the cars, besieged the Utah Public Service Commission with protests. An interesting fact they brought out was that another building at North Salt Lake Shops was equipped with the necessary equipment, plus a pit, and was even then in everyday use to maintain the Bamberger electric locomotives!
The PSC on April 21 ordered rail service to be increased to five round trips daily by April 27. On the latter date, Bamberger put into effect a new schedule calling for four daily round trips plus an evening trip as far as Lagoon and back. Complaints were numerous, but the company paid no heed. On July 10 the company applied to end all rail passenger service and the PSC hearings were held in Salt Lake City beginning July 28.
In June, 1952 (believe it or not) flames struck again at the Bamberger rail service; this time the blow fell on the Ogden substation (shades of 1918!) and it was pronounced beyond repair.
The management presented this as the clincher in its abandonment plea. Bamberger vice-president H. H. Balser told the Utah Public Service Commission that electric train losses totaled $29,876 in the first five months of 1952 while its bus operations lost only $9,112. Passenger service could show a profit, he told UPSC members, if switched to bus operation completely. However, continued electric trolley operations would require rebuilding repair shops to keep the cars rolling. Most of the freight operations, he asserted, were already handled by diesels at a profit.
The decision of the Commission was favorable to the management, and on Saturday, September 6, 1952, cars 322 and 436 made the final interurban trip between Salt Lake City and Ogden.
Under date of September 7, 1952, the Bamberger Railroad ceased operation by electric power and substituted diesel locomotives for all freight service. Under same date, buses owned by the Bamberger Transportation Company provided all of the company's passenger service.
Under date of August 1, 1953, the Bamberger Railroad sold and turned over its bus operations to the Lake Shore Motor Coach Company. As of same date, the Bamberger Railroad Company and the Bamberger Transportation Company eliminated all passenger service. Today, the company is devoting all its energies towards the development of its freight traffic.
With the elimination of rail passenger service as of September 7, 1952, the Bamberger Railroad, with few exceptions, sold all of its passenger cars, electric locomotives, substation equipment, and all other operating equipment not used in the operation of its freight service. This equipment (with some exceptions) was sold to the Hyman Michaels Company of Chicago, which scrapped much of the old equipment although some of the cars were burned and the metal content retained and shipped as scrap.
Bamberger retained the best cars and now (August, 1954) has in its possession at North Salt Lake these cars: 322, 350-355, and 434; they are not being held for use -- they are for sale provided the proper price can be secured. Cars 125-129 were sold to the Utah Pickle Company for use as living quarters in the fields during the harvesting season -- imagine that! Car 403 was sold to the Sons of the Utah Pioneers and is on view as a relic at Sugar House Pioneer Museum. Car 400 was sold to the Bay Area Electric Railroad Association.
Thus the high-wheeled, orange and yellow cars of the Bamberger Railroad fade from the western scene. Although perhaps a bit outmoded by the passing of more than forty long years, they never were beaten insofar as the providing of safe, fast, on-time mass transportation was concerned.
A Ride On The Bamberger
Let's ride one of the Bamberger line's fast interurban trains from Ogden to Salt Lake City. The day is Thanksgiving, 1945; it's cold, but a feeble sun is trying to warm the scene.
The station shared by Bamberger and the Utah-Idaho Central in Ogden is but a block from the main intersection. Immediately adjacent to it is the large government structure housing the post office and federal offices. The Ogden Station is old, but during the war emergency it did a big job well, and the hard usage it has undergone is discernible in the worn waiting room, walls and dingy offices.
Our ticket purchased, we walk through the terminal and out the rear door and find
ourselves in the midst of interurban cars, locomotives, freight cars and tracks. The two companies have an interesting working arrangement here: UIC owns the station and trolley wire, while BRE owns the land, the freight platform and tracks -- the yard and all employees are under the supervision of the UIC.
Many familiar cars are to be seen in the yard: to our left is the 128, one of five lightweight, high speed, semi-streamlined beauties BRR obtained in 1939 from the Fonda, Johnstown and Gloversville. To our right at the very end of the closest stub track is a BRR trailer, a fine old car which even today retains much of its original handsomeness. In front of it is our car, the 350 -- one of six very large motor cars rebuilt from excursion trailers. On the next track is one of UIC's sturdy steel passenger motors ready to pull out on her long run north to Preston. Two tracks over is a sight to gladden California eyes: two ex-SP electric cars from Oakland, now used as trailers to the Ogden Arsenal; coupled to the SP cars are BRR 530 and a BRR trail car.
Now the hands of our watch point to high noon and our train, No. 18, is about to leave. We board the 350 and glance around its interior. We note a white composition ceiling, cream walls down to windows (which have shades), and dark brown from below the buff single-sash windows to the floor. A single row of lights down the center of the car provides illumination, each light being shaded by a fluted glass shade. Push buttons are located above alternate windows, and electric heaters are spaced along wells near the floor. The floor itself is bare wood painted brown and the aisle flooring is a composition material painted brown. Seats are of the leatherette bucket type, quite comfortable although showing signs of wear. High along either wall is a bell cord, and to the rear is a small compartment set aside for smokers. Solid bulkheads close off the main compartment from both the front vestibule and smoking section. 350 is single-end and is operated by one man. We will haul a trailer, car 402, whose tickets are being efficiently collected by a young lady very fetchingly dressed in blue slacks and red blouse.
At 12:01 PM two blasts from the air horn, followed immediately by the clatter of our gong, herald our departure . We roll majestically down the yard, turn left onto Lincoln Ave. and rumble slowly down that pleasant residential thoroughfare on single track. So smooth is the trackage that we suspect it to be girder rail, but closer inspection shows it to be medium weight T-rail imbedded in concrete. Stops are made at 25th and 30th Streets to pick up passengers and our train is already comfortably filled. We can see the end of street operation ahead. A curve to the right and an almost immediate climb up to a high overpass share interest with the Ogden wye and substation on the left -- all that remain of the burned car house. Up we roll onto the steel girder bridge and below us the main line of the Union Pacific, close beside the waters of the slowly flowing Weber River, ice near the banks, a light film of snow covering the countryside, and a hazy wintry sun overhead give a diffused, almost unreal, aspect to the whole scene. We are leaving Ogden behind and are emerging into the clean air of the Utah countryside. Ogden and Salt Lake City burn much coal; we noted the previous afternoon coming down the hill on the UIC that Ogden was quite obscured by a pall of smog.
Once across the Weber River and into the open country, our double track curves easily to the left and begins a steady climb; for the next four miles we will be ascending at a steady 1.1 percent rate; at several points we will meet this 1.1% degree of climb -- it is the maximum to be encountered for the line was laid out for speed and high capacity and the builders did their job well.
Here's a northbound BRR passenger train approaching us swiftly; with a blast and a roar the two big orange electric trains pass each other, interurban travel at its best!
Orchard Station flits past and ahead now we can see Sunset; here we make a brief stop to add more passengers to our consist. To the left can be seen the beginning of the huge government projects that have resulted in an immense amount of new traffic during the war. The buildings of the Ogden Ordnance Depot come first, only to merge indistinguishably with those of Hill Field, a major aviation center. Both installations are exclusively served by BRR. Trackage multiplies through here -- our two tracks are rapidly paralleled by two more, and many spurs and sidings are thrown in as well.
To our left now is the building housing the shops where the arsenal maintains its ex-SP cars; we can see two of the big cars standing nearby, one of them in brand new olive and white paint. Continuing down the main for about half a mile, our train pulls up at Arsenal Station, the newest on the BRR and one of the most modern to be seen on any railroad. BRR stations of sufficient size to require agents have living quarters built into the same building; Arsenal has an attractive brick home attached to the streamlined station. Here, opposite the main gate of the Arsenal, we pick up several more customers, then onward we go. The next few miles of our journey are downhill and we anticipate some good bursts of speed.
Hardly have we started, however, than we slow to a crawl; good reason, too, for we traverse a shoo-fly around an overpass being built to accommodate autos and trucks. With the completion of this project, several grade crossings in this rapidly developing area will be closed and the trains will not be hampered by slow orders.
Since leaving the Weber River we have gradually been veering to the left. Outside Arsenal another 2-degree curve leftwards puts us on a tangent and at once we pick up speed. The big motor and its trailer build up velocity until we estimate the speed to be around 65. Track is in good condition, a credit to the company's policy of renewing all rail in the last three years.
Ahead now is Clearfield, the end of the double track. Before entering town we slow to a snail's pace to negotiate some track being repaired by a large track gang of which quite a few are Japanese. Into Clearfield we rumble and stop in front of the old station building with its integrated substation and residence. Here we arrive in single-track territory and find the southbound track has been retained, rebuilt with 90-pound rail and shifted slightly to permit large drainage ditches to be cut along both sides of the roadbed. Overhead, both trolley wires have been kept parallel each other about six inches apart. Freight crews are instructed to use a pole on each wire when hauling long trains.
Good track and descending grade combine once again to give us thrilling speed. We roar down to Layton between beautifully green farms. At Layton we find we have a meet with the pet of the road, big diesel 570. This ponderous locomotive is hauling some 19 loads of coal and no sooner have we gotten in the clear than the behemoth snorts out of town, its heavy string of gondolas obediently clicking along behind. Layton contributes a large number of passengers and all manage to find seats.
As we leave Layton we find that our long descent is just about at an end; abruptly we run through a sag and begin climbing to Kaysville, twenty miles from Salt Lake City. Here we notice a brand new substation, added when war hit, which looks even more rawly new due to its close proximity to the old station. Interesting note: here at Kaysville is one of BRR's pioneer freight shippers: The Kaysville Brick Works, which has been shipping over this railroad since 1902 -- and has been an important customer every year.
A mile beyond Kaysville we again enter double track, the old northbound main having been retained for the next three miles to and through the important resort, Lagoon., and its neighboring town, Farmington. We speed along high on the side of the hills, the Great Salt Lake coming ever closer to our rails, and the two steam railroads (UP and D&RGW) being ever squeezed closer to our right-of-way as the lake cuts down the available space between shore and mountains. Through this narrow corridor of level land there must pass three railroads and the highway.
Here's that famous resort, Lagoon. Bamberger built this beautiful relaxation spot midway between Salt Lake City and Ogden back in the days when autos were almost rarities. Every BRR car once had "Lagoon Route" painted on its sides and, as we have already noted, some cars were purchased especially to handle the heavy resort traffic. Today the chill hand of winter lies heavy upon Lagoon; quiet reigns throughout the park -- the roller coaster is still, the lake is covered by a thin sheet of ice, the picnic grounds and playing fields are covered with a film of snow. Lagoon is certainly not putting its best foot forward today. When autos finally brought the majority of the park's patrons, BRR disposed of its interest, selling it to members of the Bamberger family, it being felt that the project did not rightly belong to the interurban thereafter.
Lagoon is on our right, while on the left can be seen some remnants of the big steam generating plant which once supplied BRR with power. A flywheel explosion in 1913 damaged the machinery so badly that it was never repaired and power has since been purchased. There is still a substation at this point -- large, old and brick -- with a stucco station alongside. Much extra trackage is in evidence, including a loop for turning trains. Here we meet Train No.13, the noon northbound limited out of Salt Lake City; this train has three cars -- a pair of motors with a trailer between.
For many years the standard passenger train on BRR has consisted of a motor coupled to a trailer; when the exigencies of traffic demand additional cars, usually another motor and trailer are added, making a four-car train -- but we notice quite a few three-car trains, invariably with the trailer in the middle. We should have met No.13 outside Kaysville; evidently it has been delayed by heavy patronage.
Upon leaving Farmington, we come upon single track almost at once. Here BRR had trouble deciding which of its two original tracks to retain; we veer from one side of the wide right-of-way to the other -- running for a while on what was the northbound track, then on the former southbound, back to the northbound and finally settling down to running on the old southbound. This stretch is not as smooth as that over which we have run and undoubtedly will receive attention from track crews in the near future. BRR has been relaying quite a bit of rail in the past two years, ten miles having been rebuilt in 1944 and ten more in 1945 with the remainder slated for replacement as soon as steel can be secured. The original rail was 85-pound T-rail -- but this is no longer being made; instead the new rail is 90-pound T-rail with a higher web but not as broad a head, a fact which BRR deplores.
We are in Centerville now -- frame depot to the left and a few more passengers added to our crowded cars. Onward we race to the town of Bountiful where we note a neat brick station on the right. A brief stretch of double track carries us through Bountiful and we begin our drop to North Salt Lake. We cross over a four-lane highway on an overpass and the cars pick up speed. We come down alongside the highway and rapidly overtake and pass auto after auto. Motor 350 is a comfortable car at high speed, its great length serving to good advantage in ironing out the minor roughness of the roadbed. Only when we glance to the rear and note the bucking of the trailer do we fully realize that we are indeed making very high speed.
Ahead now is North Salt Lake, home of the BRR shops. Here also is the company's interchange with the D&RGW. We enter double track and come to a halt in front of a combined substation and station of brick. The building also provides offices for the shops, which spread out to the south, covering perhaps twenty acres. So warm and comfortable is it inside the 350 that we fail to realize how cold it is outside. We are reminded that winter is indeed here by the sight of long glittering icicles hanging from the station's eaves while around the building small drifts of snow bank up in corners.
We resume our southward journey in a few moments and slowly pass the shops and their numerous tracks; as we look out to the right we notice car 01, a short wooden line car -locomotives 503, 527, 502, 525 and 528, and trailer 403. Many freight cars are scattered around and the scene has the same industrious aspect as have shops on interurban lines from coast to coast.
A mile further south we enter the city limits of Salt Lake City and almost at once see the original goal of this line -- Beck's Hot Springs. Another mile brings us to the final end of single track and on the right is the interchange with the UP; we see a diesel switcher -- UP 1024, busy herding tank cars around in a large oil refinery. On the left is BRR's 9th North substation, a brand new installation which is among the most modern in the nation.
As we enter Salt Lake City proper, our tracks become a reservation between a double highway. The air gong starts and we roll down Third West at a surprisingly fast rate of speed. The more important intersections are guarded by automatic crossing gates; up the track on either side of the gates are located tell-tale lights to inform the motorman of the condition of the gates; if he sees a green light flashing, he knows the gates are Closing -- but if he is confronted with a flashing yellow light, he knows the gates have failed to close and thereupon he approaches the intersection under control. BRR believes in operating at a high rate of speed through areas of numerous crossings, subscribing to the philosophy that motorists will try to beat a slow-moving train, but will shy away from contesting the right of way with a rapidly moving train. BRR was the first railroad in Utah to install these automatic gates.
Onward we rumble down Third West on surprisingly good rail -- again it's T-rail imbedded in concrete. We are in the city now, with large warehouses and apartments rising around us. To the left can be seen the Temple and Tabernacle of Temple Square, with the great block of the Hotel Utah rising beyond. We cross North Temple and on the right is the Union Pacific Station. Originally our trip would have terminated here, for BRR's first depot was opposite the UP Station. We curve left onto double track private right of way occupying what otherwise would have been an alley and proceed east across the main highway to First West Street. Here another curve is made to the right and our train now rolls slowly down the center of the street to the rear of the Salt Lake Terminal. After a sharp curve to the left we rumble to a final stop in the busy train yard amid numerous cars of BRR and SL&U, the sixty-mile interurban line which runs south to Payson.
Rapidly our train disgorges its patrons; soon both cars are quite empty. On board swings Clyde Hansen, the hostler at this terminal; efficiently he backs the train out into the street and turns it on the wye track, returning it to its proper track in the station yard, ready for the return trip.
Our journey will not be complete until we pass through the Terminal itself and step out onto the sidewalks of Salt Lake City. The Terminal is an L-shaped building which occupies the north and east sides of the yard. A walk up an incline brings us into the waiting room. What a pleasant surprises! Recently modernized, the two-story-high waiting room is one of the most attractive we have seen. Its high ceiling is cream with gold decoration and this treatment is carried out in the walls as well. The floor is terrazzo, laid in alternate black and white pebble squares. Three fixtures of double-row fluorescent lights provide brilliant illumination, with the big windows giving additional light. The marble ticket counter midway along the south wall has queues of patrons lined up before it, while others are seated on the four double rows of walnut benches distributed evenly down the center of the room. Stores and offices surround the north, west and east sides of the waiting room, with a balcony and m re offices on the north and east. On walls at the southeast corner are large timetables, while doors giving access to the train ramp are located in the northwest corner with exit and entrance doors to the street immediately alongside. This terminal is a credit to Salt Lake City and is certainly one of the most attractive interurban stations in the nation today.
Our trip from Ogden took one hour and ten minutes -- good time considering the many stops en route. Three forms of service are provided at the present time: Flyer, Local and Limited. Our train was a Limited, of which there are five northbound and four in the opposite direction daily. The Flyers leave terminals at nine AM and three PM and these schedules are handled by the "Bullet" lightweight cars, due to their top speed of more than 70 mph. The bigger cars cannot make this extra-fast running time of an hour flat between terminals, but the limited seating capacity of the lightweights has made it advisable to speed up three of the 350 Class. This is now being done, and the first, 355, will probably be in service with its higher ratio gears by September, 1946. The third type of service offered is the Local; this accounts for the bulk of the runs: twelve locals run northbound and thirteen southbound every day, making the 36 miles in 80 minutes.
This adds up to a busy picture of a busy railroad. When we realize that in addition to the Locals, Limiteds and Flyers there are also numerous freight trains and maintenance trains competing for a place on the main line -- then does it become apparent that BRR is utilizing its facilities to the utmost degree.
The summer resort of Lagoon brought many a patron to the big Bamberger electric trains (and to the steam trains in earlier days). Located just north of Farmington, the resort included about forty acres of well landscaped land between the Wasatch Mountains and the Great Salt Lake. Attractions offered by the attractive amusement park were: dancing pavilion, miniature railway, athletic field, race track, ball park, menagerie, boat house, chute the chutes, roller skating rink , scenic railway, shooting galleries, bathing pool, bear pit (!), two ice houses, three saloons, two restaurants and a bowery. As far back as 1908 there were 250,000 paid admissions during the year, and this figure jumped considerably after electrification.
[A photo by Fred Fellow shows a Bamberger passenger train in a 60 mph east wind. These winds blow snow off the tops of the Wasatch Range and pile deep drifts in the valley a mile below. UP trains come to a complete standstill in similar winds (its tracks are a half mile west of BRR). Also of note in the same photograph is the snow drifting off the top of the bank like fog.]
In a typical snowstorm (that of January 1949) the following was the picture: The SLG&W (Saltair) main line was closed for one week; the UP main line was tied up for weeks -- branch lines longer, and trains were rerouted over the D&RGW; SP main closed for a total of one week, with SP trains rerouted over WP from Wells; WP tied up main for one day and several times for a half day -- Tooele branch closed for more than two weeks; D&RGW Bingham branch tied up; Tooele Valley Railway tied up for nearly a month; Bamberger operated its trains every minute over entire line -- the result of good maintenance.
The old Great Salt Lake and Hot Springs Railway got into the freight business hauling lime rock; from this humble beginning developed today's large Bamberger freight business.
With the opening of the SL&U and the UIC a coordinated freight service was established from Payson to Preston. Each of the "big three" owned freight cars which were freely interchanged between the interurbans.
A large freight terminal was installed in Salt Lake City on First West St., while a portion of the Ogden Terminal yards was devoted exclusively to freight. The interurbans worked well with each other, serving a two hundred mile belt up through the heart of Utah's most fertile countryside.
The history of BRR's participation in all Pacific Coast, Western Trunk Line and Transcontinental freight tariffs applying to and from all its stations is interesting; for this history, we turn to Julian Bamberger:
"Prior to World War One, in addition to local freight rates on the railroad, we were participating carriers from the Pacific Coast in connection with the Western Pacific Railroad; we also participated in coal rates from the Rock Springs area, cement from Devil's Slide, and cement from Brigham City, in addition to coal rates from Utah coal mines. Soon after rates were effective from the Pacific Coast in connection with the WP, similar rates were made effective to and from the same territory in connection with the Southern Pacific via Ogden.
"During World War One, under the Railroad Administration, we were successful in arranging for transcontinental rates to and from destinations on BRR in connection with the Denver & Rio Grande Western. In order to meet the D&RGW's competition in transcontinental freight, the Union Pacific finally agreed to similar transcontinental rates in connection with our line through Ogden; the major share of those rates in connection with the UP were made effective in 1923.
"During World War Two we were a participating carrier when government traffic was stored in transit at Arsenal or Hill Field for a final destination at Pacific Coast ports for trans-shipment."
Perhaps the main selling point BRR offers industrialists to locate on its line in Salt Lake City is the fact that BRR's freights approach the heart of the city, running on First West Street, but two blocks west of the main thoroughfare. This unique advantage over steam roads is widely publicized and has resulted in many large plants having been built on BRR trackage. Thus a business combines offices and warehouse in one structure located just a block from the main street, with freight cars entering the building from the rear.
Prior to 1914, all BRR freight was handled by steam. With the delivery of electric locomotive "A", built by McQuire-Cummings Car Company that year, the monopoly held by steam power was broken. This first electric locomotive was of the steel, steeple-cab type and it created quite a sensation when exhibited to the public. In its first run, it met the work train at Orchard Gravel Pit; engine "A" backed into the siding, coupled on, and in the words of an excited and impressed brakeman: "Pulled the whole train right out!"
BRR, SL&U and UIC agreed on the following rental scale for equipment: motor cars, 6 cents per mile; passenger trailers, 3 cents per mile; locomotives, 5 cents per mile or $15 per day; freight cars, standard per diem. This was the revision of the original agreement of 1915: passenger motors, $10 per day; passenger trailers, $5 per day, small trailers, $2 per day; locomotives, $15 per day.
Shortly thereafter, electric engine 528 was purchased and the steam locos were virtually retired. Using 528 as a model, Bamberger shops built the 525 and 526 after the Ogden fire. Juice hogs reigned supreme until the advent of the first diesel (the 570) in 1943.
Today this railroad handles such a widely diversified list of products that its business fluctuates in direct relation to the major railroads of the area. From the humble beginning hauling lime rock, the Bamberger Railroad today hauls brick, farm produce, groceries, autos, oil, gasoline, coal, lumber, cement and almost every conceivable item used in modern life.
Located as it is in the heart of one of the nation's most fertile areas, it is not surprising that Bamberger Railroad hauls much farm produce. The company handles about 80 percent of the perishable fruit and vegetable business of Salt Lake City and serves two of the three wholesale grocery plants. The important Growers' Market moved away from the steam lines and onto Bamberger trackage; it has many spur tracks and Bamberger looks upon it as one of its most important customers. Several large packing houses are found on the line at Bountiful, Cozydale, Layton.
Through its interchange privileges, the company can route freight eastward over the Union Pacific and the Denver & Rio Grande Western -- and westward over the Southern Pacific and the Western Pacific; this it does, and manages to stay friends with all of them. Both WP (northbound) and SP (southbound) use Bamberger between Salt Lake City and Ogden. Daily Bamberger receives three cars of LCL freight from San Francisco via SP; these are whisked to Salt Lake City for third morning delivery.
Bamberger's most modern electric locomotives were the 550 and the 551. Both were built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in collaboration with Westinghouse -- the 550 in 1923, the 551 in 1929. 550 originally was No. 025 of the San Diego Electric Railway, while 551 was No.1000 of the Wisconsin Light & Power Company which used it at Milwaukee. Both locomotives were purchased by Bamberger in 1941. Despite certain differences in cabs, these engines were virtually identical mechanically. Bamberger frequently used both trolleys on locomotives; this reduced wear on trolley wire, equalized current consumption when under double trolley wire, cut down arcing, and eliminated most rough handling of trains caused by the trolley poles coming off of the wire.
In 1943 Bamberger got its first taste of diesel-electric operation when it received a 1,000 horsepower road-switcher from American Locomotive-General Electric. This engine, No. 570, worked out so well that the company decided to go over to diesels 100 percent, after it abandoned its rail passenger service in September, 1952. Two 800 horsepower switchers were purchased from General Motors, and the 570 was sent to GM's La Grange, Illinois, plant for rebuilding; it returned with a new GM 1,200 horsepower engine under its hood and today is the mainstay of Bamberger's freight service.
So the passing years have revealed that Simon Bamberger's easy curves and grades are keeping his railroad in business long after its companion interurbans are gone. Although trolley wire is down, Bamberger's freights still move behind electric locomotives -- the diesel variety, that is.
Ogden Arsenal Train
The United States Government facilities at Ogden Arsenal and Hill Field were so large that their efficient operation was only achieved by the construction and the operation by the Government of railways within the establishments, operated by diesel power.
Arsenal and Hill Field are served exclusively by BRR, and certain joint tracks are operated by the connecting carriers. On such joint track, BRR trains have preference.
During World War Two, considerable troop train and freight business was jointly moved. To protect its share of this business BRR purchased a 1000 horsepower ALCo diesel which it numbered 570. Due to its method of propulsion, the 570 was able to operate up inside the reservations away from the BRR trolley wire; however, it was equipped with trolleys to actuate signals. One of the BRR motormen described his initial encounter with the 570 as follows:
"It was a dark night and I had orders to go into a siding for some special train, I knew not what. Soon I heard a sound quite similar to a Flying Fortress which were in the air at all times. This sound steadily grew louder, until I began to have visions of an interurban/B-17 crash. Suddenly, around a bend in the track swept a bright headlight, followed by a long string of brilliantly lighted Pullmans. This unusual sight, on our railroad which had up until this moment operated nothing longer than four-car trains, filled me with amazement. In an instant the heavy train was upon us, the roar of its locomotive shaking every window. Past us it sped and it must have been doing sixty for sure. The ten-or-so Pullmans were jam-packed with soldiers, all of whom seemed to be having a wonderful ride. This was my first meet with the 570 and I'll never forget it!"
The Ogden Arsenal, due to the nature of its work, employed several thousand civilians. Early in the war the Government asked BRR to operate passenger service exclusively for Arsenal workers which was agreed. The Government secured passenger cars thru the Maritime Commission, obtaining five of the very large cars formerly operated by SP on its electric lines in Oakland. Four of these were coaches and one was a passenger-baggage combo. All had previously had motors removed and were dependent upon outside power for propulsion, illumination and heat.
Heat was obtained by installing two coal stoves in each car. Illumination was provided by placing a gas generator in the combo with jumpers to other cars. Propulsion had to come from BRE cars and locomotives. The coaches seated 106 and were renumbered (from the SP 350 series) to 102-105; the combo became 8036. Late in the war the Arsenal shops, which maintained these cars, installed electric heaters, renewed seats, and gave them a complete paint job (Pullman green with white trim and orange insignia).
This ex-SP train varied in length depending upon traffic. BRR 530 usually hauled it, although when it dropped to two cars, motor 322 (double-end) was able to take over.
Also used in Arsenal service for short periods were Saltair open trailers and a string of six ex-New York Westchester and Boston 90-seat cars.
The Arsenal train continued to operate after BRR abandoned its own rail passenger service. Not until October 24, 1952 did the final Arsenal train run.