Tintic Southern Rail Road
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This page was last updated on March 31, 2023.
In March 2009, a new railroad was reported as being organized in Utah. Known as the ParsonMcKee & Tintic Southern Rail Road, the new planned shortline railroad was moving forward with plans to operate over the former D&RGW Tintic Branch (later known as UP's Tintic Industrial Lead).
Since May 2002, the roadbed and track of the former D&RGW Tintic Branch (which later became Union Pacific's Tintic Industrial Lead) had been owned by Utah Transit Authority, with Union Pacific retaining operating rights to provide limited common carrier access.
The new Tintic Southern railroad was to be affiliated with Ophir Mineral and Aggregate Group, usually known as Omag, with Al McKee (Alan Dean McKee) as the new company's president. The formal name was Ophir Minerals and Aggregate LLC.
During 2009, McKee reported that Omag mined, loaded, and shipped by truck, commodities such as salt, food-grade calcium carbonate, flux-grade silica, high-grade silica, Gilsonite, Halloysite, Perlite, Dolomite, gypsum, and all types of concrete aggregates. McKee planned to increase operations and ship the increased production by rail.
McKee stated that Omag was part of the rapidly expanding McFarland & Hullinger/Broken Arrow, a trucking, construction, and mining company headquartered in Tooele, Utah. Although later found to be wrong, the reports sparked a research interest in McFarland & Hullinger, which started out in the construction business about 70 years ago. They grew beyond their construction and excavating roots in 1972 when they organized Broken Arrow , Inc., to expand into the environmental disposal business just getting started in western Tooele County, centered around Clive, a rail station on Western Pacific. During the mid 1950s, McFarland & Hullinger was involved in the movement of tailings from the mine dumps of the Ontario mine above Park City, down to a truck dump for transloading into Union Pacific rail cars, at the rate of about 30 carloads per week. The material was used by Kennecott as flux ore at its Garfield smelter.
In addition to increased quarry production, McKee stated that Tintic Southern was organized in anticipation of rejuvenated rail traffic at mines in the Tintic district, at the Burgin mine being developed by the Chief Consolidated mining company. But the new mining traffic never did materialize.
McKee purchased two Alco switching locomotives, stored at the former U. S. Steel coal washing plant east of Price, Utah. The two locomotives were moved in September and October 2007 to McKee's shop at Flux, on the west side of Tooele Valley, west of Grantsville.
The new Tintic Southern Railroad was organized. The signs placed at several road crossings showed the company as Omag Mining/ParsonMcKee & Tintic Southern Rail Road.
Many observers noticed new signs that appeared at points where the tracks crossed local highways and roads, announcing, "Please Be Aware. This Rail Line Is Subject To Reopen."
Andover removed the rail from Burgin and sold it before they declared bankruptcy in 2012.
Omag and Tintic Southern's plans for renewed operation of the Tintic Branch depended on the success of renewed mining operations by Chief Consolidated Mining Company, at its Burgin and Trixie mines, and surrounding area. Those plans disappeared with the bankruptcy and liquidation in February 2014 of Andover Mining Corp., a Canadian company that held 65 percent ownership of Chief Consolidated.
Plans were in place as late as March 2014 to operate trains hauling stone from the Keigley quarry and other sites, as well as whatever Tintic ore traffic might develop.
Pete Maxfield wrote on May 10, 2014:
The Burgin mine owners already pulled the rail on their property and the EPA told UP if they pull the rail in the Goshen Valley it will get real expensive because of the environmental damage, so let's hope that Al McKee will make good on the signs he keeps posting along the right of way that the railroad will reopen. Joel Thompson would argue that the UTA probably owns the rail all the way to Elberta, since the UTA 2030 plan shows a Front Runner line from Elberta to Eagle Mountain.
Pete Maxfield wrote on May 23, 2015:
Omag had a dream to start the line back up again. In 2009 they actually hired a company to start rehabilitating the line, the equipment sat for a few days on the Muir-Roberts siding until UTA and UP told them to remove the equipment. They kept their signs up until about a year ago . When Andover Mining declared bankruptcy Omag was caught in that business as they had formed a partnership with Andover on the Chief Consolidated properties. Omag broke their relationship with Andover during the bankruptcy and dropped the idea of re-opening the Tintic as they wanted to ship minerals (Halloysite) from Burgin and from Keigley. Since the Andover bankruptcy Omag seems to be in disarray. Recently there were UTA people out in the Goshen Valley looking at the rail.
The Tintic Southern is pretty much a dead project. Andover removed the rail at the Burgin mine and sold it before they declared bankruptcy (2012). Then the Federal government pulled up a bunch of rail while chaining the ground (2015).
(As a final note about the two Alco locomotives, after being moved from the US Steel Wellington coal wash plant in 2007, the two locomotives were stored at Flux, on the UP (former WP) Ellerbeck Branch near Grantsville. During summer 2015, following the failure of the Tintic Southern, copper thieves stole the external copper cabling, making the locomotives unserviceable, and not economically repairable.)
The plans for Tintic Southern included the operation of two rare Alco switchers that had been saved from the scrapper's torch.
The two locomotives had been stored for over 10 years at the defunct U. S. Steel coal washing plant near Wellington, Utah. The locomotives were both built for U. S. Steel:
USS no. 1 was an Alco S-6 built in 1957 for U. S. Steel, and spending its entire service life at the Wellington wash plant. Painted all-black.
USS 1217 is an Alco SSB-9, the cab unit of a unique cow-calf set built in 1956 for U. S. Steel's Oliver Iron Mining operation in Minnesota. The 1217 came to Utah in about 1981 after U. S. Steel closed the Oliver Iron operations. Painted all-yellow.
U. S. Steel closed the Wellington plant in 1984 when they also shut down their coal mines at Horse Canyon in Utah, and at Somerset in Colorado, along with their Carbon County Railway subsidiary. U. S. Steel sold the coal mines and coal washing plant to Kaiser Coal in 1984, but Kaiser never put the coal mines into production, or the Wellington coal preparation plant into operation. By 1989 Kaiser was bankrupt and sold the Wellington facility to Castle Valley Resources as a loadout location for their Genwal Mine in Crandall Canyon. But Castle Valley decided to use the site at Morhland on Utah Railway, instead of the Wellington site to load coal, and the locomotives at Wellington remained idle until their sale to Omag in 2007.
After 2007 both Alco locomotives were owned by Ophir Mineral and Aggregate Group, usually known as Omag. Omag's president, Al McKee, had noticed the two locomotives sitting at the Wellington location in about 2002. The locomotives were owned by NEICO (Nevada Electric Investment Company), parent company to Nevada Power. Mr. McKee had done some work for Nevada Power at their Reid Gardner coal-fired power plant at Moapa, Nevada, and had some contacts within Nevada Power. He contacted them in January 2007 about buying the two Wellington locomotives and was told that the locomotives could not be moved over UP tracks because they had solid bearings (also known as friction bearings), instead of the needed roller bearings. McKee wanted the locomotives to switch rail cars at his Omag facilities at Flux, Utah, where they load salt into rail cars, and at Wendover where they load gypsum for use as a soil amendment.
Omag purchased both locomotives in May 2007. Union Pacific agreed to move the former USS 1217 to Flux, but only after a very extensive inspection. The move took place in September 2007. The former U. S. Steel No. 1 was moved by truck in October 2007. Both locomotives were moved to McKee's Omag shop at Flux, on the former WP branches west of Grantsville.
Omag planned on repairing and repainting the 1217 upon its arrival at Flux. At one time, UP would not approve the movement of the old USS no. 1, so Omag made plans to move it by flatbed truck to Payson where they will repair and repaint it for use at their Keigley facility at the former Geneva Steel Keigley quarry west of Santaquin on UP's ex D&RGW Tintic Branch. At Keigley, Omag loaded limestone (calcium carbonate) into rail cars, and planned to use the former USS no. 1 at that location. After loading the cars at Keigley, Omag will move them to over UP's former D&RGW Tintic Branch to a connection with UP's mainline at Springville. But instead, the locomotives was moved on a flat car to Flux.
During summer 2015, while the two locomotives were stored at Flux, and after the failure of the Tintic Southern Railroad in spring 2015, copper thieves stole the external copper cables, making the two locomotives totally unserviceable, with costs to rebuild being too high for old locomotives. The two locomotives would likely be scrapped. As of early 2016, both units were sitting out away from the Broken Arrow facility at Flux, apparently sold (or about to be sold) as assets of the bankrupt Omag and its failed Tintic Southern Railroad.
|NEICO 1||USSX 1||Alco S-6||82303||Sep 1957||1|
|NEICO 002||USSX 002||Alco SSB-9||81817||Oct 1956||2|
- USSX 1 was built for Columbia Geneva Steel. (The Diesel Shop, Alco S-5, S-6, and SSB-9 Rosters) (See also: Extra 2200 South, March-April 1972, page 18)
- In September 2001, USSX 1 was seen to have the number "1" in its number boards, with USSX and the number "1" visible under the paint. The unit also had a metal plate saying, "Property of Columbia Geneva Steel Div Geneva Mine 31-39". (information from Norm Metcalf via email on February 19, 2007)
- USSX 002 was built as Oliver Iron Mining (OIMX) 1217 as the 'A' cab part of a two unit cab-and-booster set, with the 'B' booster part having been scrapped. (See also: The Diesel Shop, Alco S-5, S-6, and SSB-9 Rosters, with a photo of OIMX 1217) (Oliver Iron Mining became U. S. Steel's Minntac operations in ??)
- Both units were still there by September 1994, as Castle Valley Resources. (Locomotive Notes II, Number 182, December 1994, page 12)
- Both units were owned by Coalplex International by August 1995. (Locomotive Notes II, Number 186, August 1995, page 16)
- NEICO 1 was sold to Ophir Mining and Aggregates Group (Omag) in May 2007; with plans to use it on a new shortline railroad planned to operate over UP's former D&RGW Tintic Branch, which UP calls its Tintic Industrial Lead. The new road hopes to serve the Keigley limestone quarry at Santaquin.
- NEICO 002 was sold to Ophir Mining and Aggregates Group (Omag) in May 2007; with plans to use it on a new shortline railroad planned to operate over UP's former D&RGW Tintic Branch, which UP calls its Tintic Industrial Lead. The new road hopes to serve the Keigley limestone quarry at Santaquin. The unit, with its original 1217 number still visible, was seen in May 2007 at the dolomite facility at Flux, on UP's Ellerbeck Branch south of Great Salt Lake.