Utah Central Rail Road (1869-1881)

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This page was last updated on February 17, 2018.

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February 19, 1869
The Utah Territorial Legislature passed the Railroad Incorporation Act. The new law stipulated that each railroad corporation must have no less than ten incorporators, two-thirds of which must be residents of the territory, and that a corporation's initial capitalization must be equal to at least one thousand dollars per mile of railroad to be built, in shares of not more than one hundred dollars each. The new law also stated that each corporation must set forth the number of years of its existence, not more than fifty years. A railroad corporation would be able to acquire unavailable property, by court action, at a fair compensation (power of eminent domain). The construction of the corporation's railroad must begin within two years, using at least five percent of capitalization, and the railroad must be completed within six years, or the corporation would be dissolved. (Reeder, Appendix II, pp. 426-441) An amendment passed on February 16, 1876 provided for consolidation of two or more railroad companies. (Reeder p. 11)

May 17, 1869
Ground breaking for the Utah Central Railroad at Ogden, adjacent to the Union Pacific depot there. The ceremony lasted from 10 am to 10:30 am. (Deseret News, May 17, 1869)

May 31, 1869
"The work of grading in this district commenced on the west bank of the Weber river yesterday, and there is every reason to believe, from the spirited manner in which the work has been taken in hand, that the Utah Central Railroad will be open for passenger traffic early in October next." (Deseret Evening News, June 2, 1869, quoting the Ogden Daily Telegraph of June 1, 1869)

July 1869
Brigham Young agreed to take rails, tools, and rolling stock from Union Pacific in partial settlement for the $1.14 million remaining on payment for the contract for grading between Echo Summit and Ogden, which was later extended to Promontory. The negotiations took place in Boston between Bishop John Sharp, along with Joseph Young, and the Union Pacific board of directors. The directors agreed to $940,138 and left $198,000 to arbitration. (Klein, pp. 246, 247)

August 13, 1869
"Fifteen miles of grading of Utah Central Railroad are completed, including the heavy cut near Weber River." (Sacramento Daily Union, August 14, 1869)

September 2, 1869
John Sharp agreed to accept rolling stock and track materials with an apparent value of approximately $600,000 as part payment of the agreed $940,000 amount. (Arrington: Great Basin, p. 267)

The Boston settlement for the grading contracts also gave the Utah Central trackage rights over the Union Pacific between Ogden and Echo Junction, for a period of five years, to get coal from the mines near Coalville into Ogden. (Athearn, p. 103)

September 22, 1869
"Tracklaying commenced on Utah Central railroad." (Deseret News, January 5, 1870, "Summary of Events For The Year 1869")

October 6, 1869
News received from Mr. Little, assistant superintendent of the Utah Central Railroad, is that the track has been laid across the Weber River bridge in Ogden. The crossing, for the U. C. track across that of the U. P., arrived. yesterday, as did two small cars, horse-drawn, intended for the carrying of rail in the tracklaying work. (Deseret Evening News, October 6, 1869)

October 14, 1869
Brigham Young returned from Ogden "last evening," after seeing "the first locomotive on the first railroad built and owned by the people of this territory..." The new item also reported that track was laid for about three miles beyond (i.e., south) of the Weber bridge, and is progressing at about half a mile per day. (Deseret Evening News, October 14, 1869)

November 13, 1869
"Utah Central Railroad completed to Kaysville." (Deseret News, January 5, 1870, "Summary of Events For The Year 1869")

November 19, 1869
Item by telegraph, Utah Central tracks were completed to Kaysville. (Deseret Evening News, November 20, 1869, "last evening")

November 21, 1869
"The first excursion train passed over the Utah Central Railroad." (Deseret News, January 5, 1870, "Summary of Events For The Year 1869")

November 29, 1869
Utah Central tracks reached Farmington, with operations beginning between Ogden and Farmington on December 6. (OSL Corporate History)

December 3, 1869
Excursion on the Utah Central - Brigham Young, George A. Smith, Daniel H. Wells, John Taylor, George Q. Cannon, John Sharp, John H. Smith and others - took buggy to Farmington, and thence to Ogden by rail, "...in a fine new passenger car belonging to the Utah Central Company." This trip was on Wednesday, December 1, 1869. (Deseret Evening News, December 3, 1869)

December 6, 1869
The Utah Central timetable and advertisement from December 6, 1869, first regular schedule. (Deseret Evening News, January 3, 1870)

December 6, 1869
"Utah Central Railroad permanently opened for traffic from Ogden to Farmington." (Deseret News, January 5, 1870, "Summary of Events For The Year 1869")

December 10, 1869
Brigham Young wrote a letter to "all hands employed on the Utah Central Rail-road" of a decision by the railroad's board of directors "to dismiss the hands employed laying track until iron enough shall have accumulated to lay, at least 6 miles of a stretch - when track laying will be resumed." (Brigham Young Letterbook, Volume 11, page 796; on file with LDS Church archives)

December 22, 1869
"Tracklaying resumed on the Utah Central Railroad." (Deseret News, January 5, 1870, "Summary of Events For The Year 1869")

December 22, 1869
Utah Central tracklaying south from Farmington began yesterday. (Deseret Evening News, December 23, 1869, "yesterday") (Brigham Young stopped the construction at Farmington to wait for sufficient rails to be delivered from Union Pacific to allow completion of the road to Bountiful.)

January 1870
Utah Central tracks were completed to Salt Lake City during the first week of January 1870. (Athearn, p. 109; Reeder, pp. 72, 73, 76-78)

January 3, 1870
The Utah Central desires to hire an engine from the U.P., to assist with the work at present. (Deseret Evening News, January 3, 1870)

January 8, 1870
Utah Central track is all completed, except for the ceremonial last rail, and some yard tracks. The ceremonial last rail to be laid with much to-do on Monday, January 10, 1870. (Deseret Evening News, January 8, 1870)

(The Oregon Short Line's corporate history shows the completion date as January 10th, the same date that other sources list as the date of the "last spike" ceremony.)

January 12, 1870
Utah Central passenger service began on January 12, 1870.

January 12, 1870
New Utah Central timetable, on and after January 12, 1870, service Salt Lake City to Ogden, fare one way is $2.00. (Deseret Evening News, January 12, 1870) (Reeder, page 85, states that passeneger service started on January 12, 1870)

January 13, 1870
The first coal from Coalville arrived in Salt Lake City by rail. Two car loads of coal from the Wasatch Coal company at Coalville arrived in Salt Lake City, consigned to F. A. Mitchell. The coal was shipped on the Utah Central the entire distance from Echo on Union Pacific, using the trackage rights that were part of the September 1869 grading contract settlement between Union Pacific and Brigham Young. ("The Year Of 1870", Our Pioneer Heritage, Volume 14, 1971, page 44)

January 15, 1870
Item shows that there are two engines in service on the Utah Central, but it does not say that they are both U. C. Engines; one may be U.P. (Deseret Evening News, January 15, 1870)

January 21, 1870
The timetable of this date shows that there were two regular trips daily each way on the Utah Central, and a third trip each way on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. ("The Year Of 1870", Our Pioneer Heritage, Volume 14, 1971, page 44)

January 26, 1870
On Monday the 24th the editor went down to the Utah Central depot - two new passenger cars, just in from the east, built expressly for the Utah Central by the New Haven Car Co., New Haven, Connecticut. Interiors are paneled in polished bird's-eye maple and black walnut; head liners ('tapestry') are brightly colored; seats covered in crimson plush, backs in green. Cars came via Chicago. (Ogden Junction, January 26, 1870)

January 31, 1870
J. A. Ursenbach has painted a picture of Utah Central No. 1 on the Weber River bridge in Ogden. (Deseret Evening News, January 31, 1870)

February 8, 1870
Item on the excursion, of Monday the 7th, mentions that the Utah Central excursion left Ogden at about 3 o'clock in the afternoon, but makes no mention of the [new] engines arriving. (Deseret Evening News, February 8, 1870)

February 9, 1870
Utah Central received two new locomotives, numbers 3 and 4, from builder McQueen. (Deseret Evening News, February 10, 1870)

February 9, 1870
Paper says the new Utah Central engines, 3 and 4, cost $12,000 each. Reference is made later in the item to "the two new locomotives"; if there was a new number 2 received, neither paper mentions it. (Ogden Junction, February 9, 1870)

February 10, 1870
"New Engines for the U.C. -- We learn from the Ogden Junction, that just as the excursion train was starting on its return trip on Monday afternoon, a Union Pacific freight train hove in sight, with two new engines attached; which proved to be No's. 3 and 4, for the Utah Central Railroad. They were built at the locomotive Works of McQueen & Co., of Schenectady, New York, at a cost of $12,000." (Deseret Evening News, February 10, 1870)

(The September 1869 settlement for the grading contracts in Boston also provided the Utah Central with its first locomotive in October 1989, as Utah Central number 1, formerly Union Pacific number 15. During January, a second locomotive, Utah Central 2, was delivered new.)

February 17, 1870
Utah Central Railroad Timetable No. 4, in effect February 21, 1870 (Deseret Evening News, February 17, 1870)

October 18, 1870
Brigham Young and a party of officers of the Utah Central Railroad made a trip from Salt Lake City to Ogden, then over Union Pacific rails to Evanston, Wyoming. Among the party of passengers was Bishop John Sharp, along with a total of 45 persons. The purpose of the trip was to meet with Union Pacific officials at Evanston to inspect the grounds of a new facility to be built at Evanston, including a roundhouse and machine shops. John Sharp was to be the contractor for the new buildings. After the inspection, the Utah Central party, along with the Union Pacific party, which included Sidney Dillion and Oliver Ames, traveled together aboard both trains, with Brigham Young and John Sharp joining the Dillion and Ames aboard the two-car Union Pacific officers' train, and proceeded to Ogden and then Salt Lake City after the two Union Pacific cars were attached to the Utah Central train. The Utah Central train departed Salt Lake City at 5 a.m., and the two parties returned to Salt Lake City at 6:45 p.m. (Deseret News, October 19, 1870, "yesterday")

February 19, 1871
"Snow Plow. -- A snow plow, the invention of C. L. Ericson, civil engineer of this city, patent applied for, and manufactured by P. W. Gates, of the Chicago Eagle Works, has arrived at the U. C. depot. We saw the first plow made of this pattern nearly two years ago in Chicago. And the curious in such matters will enjoy an inspection of it. The plow weighs about 20,000 lbs." (Salt Lake Herald, February 19, 1871)

September 9, 1871
Utah Central and Utah Southern have entered into contract to haul ore on a through rate of $35.00 per car load between Sandy station and Ogden, northbound. (Deseret Evening News, September 9, 1871)

March 1872
For the month of March 1872 Utah Central's earnings were $26,832.21, compared to $6,518.89 for the same period in 1870 (the first year) and $18,740.96 for 1871. (Salt Lake Herald, April 5, 1872)

April 1872
Brigham Young sold 5,000 of his 7,600 shares in the Utah Central to Union Pacific. Union Pacific bought the shares to keep them out the hands of Collis P. Huntington's Central Pacific. Young sold the shares to raise cash needed to pay the men that had worked on the Union Pacific grading contracts in Echo and Weber canyons. These men had stopped work on their own farms in order to work on the grading contracts, and they were suffering due to lack of cash, either from their unattended crops or the grading contracts. (Reeder, p. 103)

(Brigham Young died in August 1877. What happened to Brigham Young's shares in Utah Central?)

May 7, 1872
April earnings, Utah Central: April 1871 - $25,675.58; April 1872 - $29,479.59 (Salt Lake Herald, May 7, 1872)

August 13, 1872
"Railway Progress in Utah." "The Union Pacific railroad appears to be thoroughly aroused to the value and necessity of building feeders to the main line,... It is largely interested in the Utah Central and Southern roads, and will undoubtedly sooner or later own them entirely." (Utah Mining Journal, August 13, 1872)

September 22, 1872
"Stock Car. -- The first stock car built in Utah is at the Utah Central depot, where it is just about finished. We hope, by and by, to see all the rolling stock of our railroads home-made. That is an object to be reached in internal development." (Salt Lake Herald, September 22, 1872)

November 7, 1872
"A Splendid Locomotive. -- A very fine locomotive, weighing thirty-one tons, has just been received by the U. C. R. R. Company, from the manufactory of Hinkley and Williams, Boston, Mass. It has a cylinder of 16 x 24 inches. The engineer's cab is of beautifully polished black walnut, and on the whole it presents to the view as fine a looking piece of mechanism as a person need wish to see. It is engine number six of the Utah Central company, and Hinkley & Williams' number on it is 1120. This magnificent engine cost, at the factory in Boston, $14,000. The new steam horse makes its first trip under the auspices of the U. C. company on their line tomorrow." (Deseret Evening News, November 7, 1872)

November 9, 1872
An item repeating one in the Deseret News, regarding the recently arrived Utah Central Railroad engine no. 6, from Hinkley & Williams, which also repeats the builder's number of the engine, 1120. This item notes the engine weighs 31 tons, or five tons more than any of the other engines of the U. C. (Salt Lake Herald, November 9, 1872)

April 24, 1873
Another item on C. L. Ericson's snowplow. (Salt Lake Herald, April 24, 1873)

August 27, 1873
An article on the Utah Central machine shops, etc., on the depot block in Salt Lake City, wherein at present 'an ordinary passenger car' is being rebuilt into a 'saloon car.' On the next block north is located the carpenter's shop, a building 40' x 120' in which at present a new baggage car, 45' long, is being built. (Salt Lake Daily Herald, August 27, 1873)

March 14, 1874
General description of the Utah Central Railroad machine shop. (Utah Mining Gazette, March 14, 1874)

March 21, 1874
During February, 1874, Utah Central received 98,430 pounds railroad material, and forwarded 523,300 pounds railroad material (locomotives, cars, rail, etc.). (Utah Mining Gazette, March 21, 1874)

April 11, 1874
During March, 1874, Utah Central received 191,720 pounds railroad material, and forwarded no railroad material. (Utah Mining Gazette, April 11, 1874)

May 16, 1874
During April 1874, Utah Central received 61,900 pounds railroad material. (Utah Mining Gazette, May 16, 1874)

June 20, 1874
During May 1874, Utah Central received 38,200 pounds railroad material. (Utah Mining Gazette, June 20, 1874)

July 18, 1874
During June, 1874, Utah Central received 112,850 pounds railroad material. (Utah Mining Gazette, July 18, 1874)

April 2, 1876
The Utah Central is putting up an iron bridge across the Weber in Ogden; it is from the American Bridge Company. (Salt Lake Herald, April 2, 1876)

April 6, 1876
"The Utah Central Iron Bridge," which is 155 feet long, 14 feet wide in the clear on the inside, and a span of 152 feet between the abutments. It is being erected on top of the old wooden pile bridge, the work of assembling the new iron bridge having begun on Friday, March 31st, and it is expected to be completed this week. John Rumsey and his assistant, Mr. Tyton, from the American Bridge Company, are here to oversee the work of putting the new bridge up. (Salt Lake Herald, April 6, 1876)

April 12, 1876
John Sharp says the new iron bridge of the Utah Central over the Weber at Ogden is to be completed to-day, in time for the evening train due in from Salt Lake City. (Ogden Junction, April 12, 1876)

May 3, 1876
The Utah Central's iron bridge is now believed to be secured, and it is hoped that before long trains will be able to cross over it in safety. (Ogden Junction, May 3, 1876)

Union Pacific gained control of Utah Central by combining the shares owned by officers and directors of Union Pacific with the 5,300 shares the company had purchased from Brigham Young (of Brigham Young's original 7,600 shares). (Reeder, p. 103)

May 24, 1878
New Utah Central office in Ogden moved, bodily, now on south side of the tracks, on a line east-west with the Utah Central depot. (Ogden Junction, May 24, 1878)

January 7, 1880
"Our Railroads," Utah Central has six locomotives, seven passenger cars, five baggage, mail and express cars, and 42 freight cars. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, January 7, 1880)

February 22, 1880
"Accident on the Central" last evening, in that U.C. no. 5 derailed on a switch and went on her side, in Salt Lake; brakeman John Fife was at first thought to be seriously injured, but not a bone broken, which was quite a surprise to all (and especially Fife!), as he had ended up under the engine. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, February 22, 1880)

May 26, 1880
Letter from Ogden, dated 25th - "The Union Pacific train last evening brought in a new baggage car for service between Ogden and Salt Lake upon the Utah Central. As this car is provided with Miller platforms, Westinghouse air brakes and all modern improvements, it is surmised that the Utah Central will soon have a full train of cars supplied with all these important details of comfort and safety." (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, May 26, 1880)

June 27, 1880
"The Utah Central Company have let a contract for a new roundhouse 270 by 60 feet, to be built of brick, iron and stone. A machine shop 93 by 35 feet, of the same materials, is also to be constructed." (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, June 27, 1880)

July 10, 1880
A letter from Ogden, dated the 9th - "Utah Central Railroad Improvements," being the new 12-stall roundhouse, having stalls 68 feet long inside, front wall 81 feet 7 inches; and back wall 264 feet, both on a curve; the roundhouse to be jointly used by the Utah Central and the Utah Southern roads. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, July 10, 1880)

December 9, 1880
"The U. C. roundhouse has been completed and is being occupied." (Salt Lake Daily Herald, December 9, 1880)

December 12, 1880
"The Round House" for the Utah Central in Salt Lake City is completed and now being occupied. It is a brick building, 68 feet deep, with a front 145 feet wide and back 264 feet wide. The front is of cast iron columns and arches, made at the U. C. shops foundry. The roof and its supporting columns are also of iron, and the building is thought to be fireproof. It has 12 stalls for engines. A machine shop 34 feet by 105 feet is attached. (Salt Lake Herald, December 12, 1880)

"The big engine 'Mogul,' which is to be used on the heavy grade between Milford and Frisco, and which has been undergoing repairs at the Utah Central Railroad shops, was turned out on Saturday, and started south to resume its labors." (Salt Lake Herald, December 12, 1880)

January 1, 1881
The new 12-stall Utah Central roundhouse in Salt Lake City has just been completed. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, January 1, 1881)

June 9, 1881
Item from Salt Lake Herald on new Utah Central baggage car nearly finished; and new Pullman coaches en route for that line. (Ogden Herald, June 9, 1881)

June 29, 1881
Utah Central no. 7, 'a powerful new locomotive from the Tweed works', was taken to Salt Lake City last night. (Ogden Herald, June 29, 1881)

July 1881
Utah Central Railroad merged with the Utah Southern Railroad and the Utah Southern Railroad Extension to form a new, Union Pacific-controlled, Utah Central Railway.

July 19, 1881
Utah Central Railway Timetable No 1, effective July 20, 1881. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, July 19, 1881) (ed. note: This would be for the newly combined Utah Central, Utah Southern, and Utah Southern Extension, all recently controlled by UP.)

Alone among the companies preceding the OSL&UN, the Utah Central Railway Co. was itself the merger of three predecessor companies, effective July 1, 1881, of the Utah Central Rail Road Co. of 1869, the Utah Southern Railroad Co. of 1871, and the Utah Southern Railroad Extension Co. of 1879. Of the other companies that made up the OSL&UN, the Utah & Northern Railway Co. was an 1878 reorganization of the Utah Northern Railroad Co. of 1871; the Salt Lake & Western Railway, and the Oregon Short Line Railway were created in 1881; the Ogden & Syracuse and the Idaho Central, in 1887.


Utah Central Railroad Locomotives

More Information

Utah Central Rail Road Corporate Information -- Information about the Utah Central Rail Road corporate organization

Ogden Rails -- Information about Utah Central Rail Road from the book "Ogden Rails"

Clarence Reeder -- Information about Utah Central Rail Road from Reeder's manuscript

Mail & Express in 1876 -- John Sharp testimony concerning Utah Central's mail & express business in 1876.