Utah Western Railway (1889-1890)

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Utah Western Railway, December 1889 through consolidation was part of Utah Central Railway of 1890

This page was last updated on November 12, 2015.

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(A large portion of this information came from research and comments by George Pitchard.)


The Utah Western Railway was organized by John W. Young and his associates to build a narrow gauge railroad north and west of Salt Lake City, west to Great Salt Lake, and on to the vicinity of Black Rock on the south shore of the lake, a distance of about 30 miles. The company was incorporated in Utah on June 24, 1889, and construction began on July 5th.

The entire 15 miles of the planned route was graded and ready for tracks by November 10, 1889. (Salt Lake Tribune, November 10, 1889)

In August 1889, Young purchased a group of narrow gauge equipment that had formerly been in use on the Cleveland & Canton Railroad in Ohio. The equipment arrived in two groups. The first was late December 1889, with the second group coming in late April 1890. Among this equipment was five locomotives, three of which were lettered for Utah Western, with road numbers that were sequential after the nine locomotives being used by Salt Lake & Fort Douglas and Salt Lake & Eastern. The newspaper record, and account book entries are unclear, but the numbers appear to be Utah Western 10 (ex C&C 13, a 2-8-0), Utah Western 11 (ex C&C 6, a 2-8-0) and Utah Western 12 (ex C&C 16, an 0-6-0T).

There were difficulties with the timely payment of the freight charges to move the equipment from Ohio to Utah. At about the same time, in early 1890, the Utah Western was included with Salt Lake & Eastern Railway to form the new Utah Central Railway on April 8, 1890. Some of the freight charges on the equipment were paid, enough for one of the locomotives to be released for service. This single locomotive, a Baldwin 2-8-0, ex Cleveland & Canton 13, entered service as Utah Central number 2 during March 1890. The other pieces of equipment remained in storage pending payment of freight charges, and it wasn't until early 1893 that settlement was made. Other than the 2-8-0 that became Utah Central number 2, none of the equipment remained as Utah Central-owned equipment. The passenger cars were sold, as were the freight cars. One of the 4-4-0 locomotives was sold in Utah. But by that time, Utah Western no longer existed as a company.

September 9, 1891
"To the Great Lake." "Property Owners ask John W. Young to Push his Road." This item is in regard to the Utah Central line out to the Salt Lake itself, which was organized as the Utah Western on June 24, 1889. At present, this road exists only as a roadbed, grading being done for some 13 miles west of the Jordan River. Apparently, there have been no valid deeds drawn up for right-of-way, verbal agreements only so far. Item notes that some of the fills on this grade are eight feet high. (Salt Lake Daily Herald, September 9, 1891)

The Failed Sale

Young found out about the availability of the narrow-gauge locomotives and rolling stock of the Cleveland & Canton Railroad, formerly the Connotton Valley Railway, which in early 1889 was being offered for sale through the New York Equipment Co. On April 2, 1889, Young, then in New York City, sent a letter to one John Hedden, directing him

"...to proceed at once to Canton, Ohio, and inspect the following rolling stock:

7 Baldwin locomotives, Nos. 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 16 and 23;
2 Brooks locomotives, Nos. 18 and 19;
5 stock cars, 10 box cars and 50 gondola cars;
6 passenger coaches, 3 of which are supposed to be smoking cars and 3 suburban cars.

"All of this rolling stock is owned by the N. Y. Equipment Co. You are directed to make very close inspection of all this stock,... I only wish to purchase two of the Baldwin locomotives, and two of the Brooks locomotives,... please make this examination as expeditiously as possible and return to New York to give me your verbal report before you write out the particulars. You will not be authorized to use over ten days of time in this inspection. If you find it necessary, telegraph me at 57 Broadway; price for this inspection is understood to be your actual expenses and $10.00 a day." Et cetera, and signed "Jno. W. Young."

Hedden's report apparently has not survived, but evidently Young was sufficiently impressed with the stuff that on June 1, 1889, he made an agreement with one Benjamin Watson, 40 Wall St., New York City, whereby Watson was to act for Young in negotiating a contract with the New York Equipment Co. for something over 1,000 tons of new steel rail, with all necessary fixtures and such, as well as "...a number of cars, locomotives, &c., valued at about fifty-three thousand ($53,000) dollars,..." for which Watson (personally) was to get $16,000 in bonds and $15,000 in stock of the just-created Utah Western Railway Co., and $500.00 in cash.

Thereafter, on June 23, 1889, Young wrote out the following:

"To All Whom it May Concern:

"This is to certify that I hereby authorize and empower Benjamin Watson, of New York City and Brooklyn, to sign a certain contract with the New York Equipment Company, James Irvin, President, for 11 Passenger and 114 Gondola cars and five locomotives mentioned and described in a report made by Mr. Hedden; and in addition thereto all of which are mentioned (in) a letter of Mr. Irvin to myself of June 15th, and to Mr. Benjamin Watson from Mr. Irvin of June 17th, 1889,...

"And I further hereby instruct Mr. Watson as my Attorney, to sign such contract, and to attend to the business thereof. And I hereby agree to re-execute all necessary papers to confirm the action of my said attorney in transacting the business aforesaid, as soon as such papers are conveyed to me for signature.

"Witness my hand and seal the day and year above written..."

This is the first clear statement (and the only 'legal' one so far seen) of what Young actually agreed by contract to purchase of the former Connotton Valley Railway's narrow-gauge equipment; its being a legal document (if only a corrected draft) would seem to give it a certain reliability. However, supporting it is an item in the Salt Lake Tribune of August 13, 1889, in which Young is quoted as saying that he has bought one switch engine and two consolidation engines, of Baldwin build, two passenger engines, of Porter build, 11 passenger cars and 114 coal cars. The agreement on quantities would seem to some degree significant.

Young sent a letter to Watson, dated July 20, 1889, which shows that the rail, locomotives and cars purchased in this deal were all intended for the recently-created Utah Western Railway project; a paragraph in the said letter says: "In painting the cars, you can have put on the freight cars: 'U. W. Ry., No.---' On the passenger cars, 'Utah Western Railway.' On the Locomotive (Tender), 'Utah Western Railway, No.---'."

None of this material, however, arrived in Utah until some months later. Young had, as early as July 11th, 1889, written to Watson to ship as soon as possible "one of the heavy combination (sic) locomotives, also the switch locomotive, No. 16,..." which, from later events, clearly did not happen at this time.

Under date of September 20, 1889, Young writes a letter, to Watson, introducing W. J. Silver, who is being sent by Young to Canton (Ohio) "...to see about the shipping of the two heaviest engines, two or three of the passenger cars, and thirty to fifty of the flat cars." In a letter dated September 26, 1889, Young instructs Silver that he is to select two of the heaviest locomotives, two or three passenger cars and 25 flat cars, and ship all "at once." As a follow-up, on October 7th Young sends a telegram to Silver, at Canton, to "Ship two heaviest Baldwin locomotives. If not equipped with air, take air off the two Porter locomotives and ship with them, also passenger car and 25 flat cars."

That this, too, did not happen just as Young wanted is evident by a telegram from Young to Watson, dated November 6, 1889, thus: "Ship the coach and heaviest locomotives now ready immediately by Rock Island and D & R G from Denver. Wells starts tomorrow. Leave other cars until he arrives." On the 18th of November, Young telegraphs to Wells (evidently, then back East somewhere), mostly in code(!), something relating to "...shipping one consolidated engine and one or two passenger cars, immediately by U.P...". Another such, dated December 4th, 1889, is even less useful, showing only "consolidated locomotives" and "passenger cars" in plain language.

In any case, finally some of the equipment is actually shipped, and arrives in Utah at the very end of December, 1889 -- the Salt Lake Herald of December 31, 1889, notes "The Utah Central, leaving Ogden yesterday morning, carried to Salt Lake two coaches and two locomotives for the Utah Western railroad." A week later, the Salt Lake Tribune of January 7, 1890, says "Two narrow-gauge consolidation engines are waiting in the U. P. yards for delivery to the Ft. Douglas road when a little misunderstanding about freight charges is settled. They are compact, powerful-looking machines. Two Utah Western cars are also there awaiting delivery. 'Utah' on one car is spelled 'Eutah'."

While it may well be that there had been some delay at the Ohio/New York end of this transaction, in getting the equipment repaired and ready to ship, it is evident from the several notes, telegrams, letters and so forth that most of the cause for delay was Young's chronic lack of ready cash, a problem which, as events will show, will only get worse, and result in receivership in 1893.

There are a number of items in the several newspapers relating to the arrival of this equipment, some of which items do not appear to be entirely correct. An item in the Park Record of February 15, 1890, says "The three new 45-ton consolidation engines are model locomotives,..." and this item seems to be picked up by the Salt Lake Tribune, as their issue of March 5, 1890, notes that the Salt Lake & Eastern has "...three new 45-ton locomotives,..." Since only two of the Connotton Valley's 2-8-0 engines are 'available' for Young to purchase (and two is all HE thought he bought!), the origin of the 'three' error remains a mystery yet.

Then, the Salt Lake Tribune of April 27, 1890 notes the arrival, for the Utah Central (just renamed from S.L.& Ft.D., et cetera), of four locomotives - two passenger engines, one consolidation, and 'a tank engine for shunting.' Two days before, per a journal entry, the Utah Central had paid $1,686.92 for "freight on 2 locomotives."

It is, however, uncertain that four locomotives were actually received in late April of 1890, IF two consolidations had, in fact, been received in late December of 1889. Since only two consolidations in total could possibly have been received during this transaction, one item or the other would apparently have to be in error, so far as time of arrival of these engines is concerned. A possible scenario for clearing this up is as follows: On the assumption that the five engines received were two consolidations, one tank switcher, and two 'passenger' engines, the two consolidations were received at the end of December 1889, and the engines received in April of 1890 were three in number, being the passenger engines and the tank switcher. What happened was that as the freight remained unpaid on one of the consolidations that had arrived in December, it was still held by the UP/OSL&UN, and the three recent arrivals in April were parked with the 2-8-0, so that the reporter, seeing the four engines together, reported the April arrival as four engines, apparently not being aware that one of the engines had been there for some months already.

The two engines on which freight was paid in April of 1890 would not be the consolidation and tank switcher, as both these engines (and a couple of cars) end up in a court case brought by the OSL&UN against the Utah Central over - guess what - unpaid freight charges!

Therefore, the freight paid on two locomotives in April of 1890 must be for the two Porter 'passenger' (4-4-0) engines; one of the two consolidations received in late December 1889 did have its freight charge paid, evidently, since it seems to be in service by March of 1890.

In the Third District Court, docket 11819, filed May 4, 1893, O.S.L.& U.N. Ry. vs. John W. Young, we read in the complaint:

"...that heretofore on the fourth day of November 1891 the said defendant was indebted to the said plaintiff as such carrier for freight money upon railroad iron and other freight hauled and transported by the said plaintiff for the said defendant, in the sum of $8,631.26.

"That being so indebted the said defendant on the fourth day of November, 1891, made and executed his chattel mortgage bearing date of that day, whereby, for the purpose of securing the payment of said indebtedness he conveyed to the plaintiff, its successors and assigns forever, two narrow gauge passenger coaches of the build or manufacture of J. G. Brill & Company of Philadelphia and marked respectively, 'Utah Western No. 16' and 'Utah Western No. 17,' and also two narrow-gauge locomotive engines of the Baldwin make or build, one being a consolidated engine marked 'Utah Western No. 11' and builder's number 5258, and the other being a saddle-tank switch engine marked 'Utah Western No. 12' and builder's number 5989.

"That at the time of the execution of said chattel mortgage the said property was, ever since has been, and now is in the possession of the plaintiff, situated upon the tracks of said plaintiff in Salt Lake County, Utah Territory, and by the terms of said mortgage it was stipulated that the same should remain during the existence of said mortgage in the exclusive possession and control of said plaintiff, its successors and assigns."

The O.S.L.& U.N. Ry. Co. asks "...judgment and decree of the court for the said sum of $8,631.26, together with interest thereon at eight per cent per annum from the fourth day of November 1891, together with its costs and disbursements including two per cent on the total amount due on said indebtedness, as compensation and allowance for its attorneys..." The complaint was signed on April 22, 1893, though not filed until May 4, 1893.

However, before the filing, the matter was largely settled, as on the back of the complaint, under date of May 2, 1893, appears this:

"I, the undersigned defendant herein, hereby waive the issue and service of summons herein, I also hereby waive time to plead, and to plead, answer or defend, and hereby consent that a decree for the foreclosure of said chattel mortgage be entered and the property therein mentioned be sold as prayed but it is expressly understood that no personal judgment herein shall be taken against me for any deficiency which may remain after the sale of the said property and due application of the proceeds thereof." This statement is signed "John W. Young, by LeGrand Young, agent and attorney in fact."

From which, it would appear that the last shred of possible legal ownership of these two locomotives passed from John W. Young (and the Utah Central) not later than May of 1893; physical possession of the engines had passed from the Utah Central not later than November of 1891, though it is all but certain that the two engines had never departed OSL&UN property from date of arrival, the freight being unpaid.

A final note on this Connotton Valley - New York Equipment Co. transaction: the Salt Lake Herald of March 2, 1893, has an item commenting upon the auction sale of certain Utah Central rolling stock on February 27th, 1893, being '4 or 5' engines, three passenger cars and 114 flat cars, the lot being bid in by representatives of the U.C. bondholders for $6,400 - which happened to be the amount of the claim against the U.C. that brought about this sale, a claim secured by this equipment and brought by the New York Equipment Company.

All that remains is to provide the details of these five locomotives, all former Connotton Valley Ry. engines, two of which are most fortunately identified in the foregoing court case; the other consolidated engine and one of the two Porter 'passenger' (4-4-0) engines are identifiable by way of their subsequent histories, while the other Porter 4-4-0 can be reduced to two possible candidates.

The five engines - Connotton Valley number first, followed by Connotton Valley name, wheel arrangement, basic specifications, builder info, and known Utah numbers:

Locomotive Roster Listing

Utah Western
Number, Name
Type Builder Builder
Date To
(U.W. 10?) U.C. 2 CVRy 13, Carrollton 2-8-0 Baldwin 5930 Nov 1881 15x18 36 56000 ca. Dec 1889 1
U.W. 11 CVRy 6, Kent 2-8-0 Baldwin 5258 Sep 1880 15x18 36 56000 ca. Dec 1889 2
U.W. 12 CVRy 16, Wharf Rat 0-6-0T Baldwin 5989 Jan 1882 14x18 36 48000 ca. Dec 1889 3
(U.W. 13?) CVRy 9, Mogadore 4-4-0 HKPorter 396 Dec 1880 13x18 48 43000 ca. Dec 1889 4
(U.W. 14?) CVRy 15, Connotton   HKPorter 473 Jan 1882         5

General Notes:

  1. Initial numbering of these engines for the Utah Western Ry. would be purely guesswork, except for the two that appear in the above-quoted court case. But one guesses that they would pick up where the previous engines left off, of which the highest known number was 9, so one might guess this lot to start with 10 - but that is just a guess. The 2-8-0 that was later to be U.C. second #2 presumably arrived with a Utah Western number (like U.W. #11 did), but it is not at present known what that number was.
  2. Of these five engines, only one (2-8-0, c/n 5930, later U.C. #2) is known to have entered service on the S.L.& Ft.D./SL&E/UC system; it being virtually certain that the two engines turned over to the OSL&UN never ran on the U.C., and it seems quite unlikely that the two Porter 4-4-0 engines, which were purchased with the dead-flat Utah Western line in mind, would have been of even the slightest use on grades exceeding 6 percent, as were present on most of the rest of the system.


  1. C.V. #13, 2-8-0, c/n 5930, 1889 to U.W. (number not known), later U.C. #2 in July 1898 to U.C.RR. (RGW) #02; sold in October 1900 to Sumpter Valley Ry, #8, renumbered ca. 1906 to S.V. #11, dropped from equipment by June 30, 1916, scrapped (exact date unknown).
  2. C.V. #6, 2-8-0, c/n 5258, 1889 to U.W. #11, turned over to OSL&UN Ry not later than May 1893, account unpaid freight charges; apparently not taken into OSL&UN roster, disposition unknown. (possibly sold to Simon Bamberger's Great Salt Lake & Hot Springs Railway.)
  3. C.V. #16, 0-6-0T, c/n 5989, 1889-90 to U.W. #12, turned over to OSL&UN Ry. not later than May 1893, account unpaid freight charges; apparently not taken into OSL&UN roster, stored out-of-service at Jordan spur on Utah & Nevada line; passed to O.S.L. in March 1897, rebuilt by OSL to 2-6-0 tender locomotive and put in service as OSL #4 ca. July 1, 1897 on Utah & Nevada line; sold April 1903 to Sumpter Valley Ry #10, renumbered ca. 1906 to S.V. #14, traded June 1912 to Eureka-Nevada Ry (formerly Eureka & Palisade RR/Ry), but not sent to Nevada; remained in Oregon and was sold from there by E-N in May 1915, purchaser unknown.
  4. C.V. #9, 2-4-0 rebuilt to 4-4-0, c/n396, 1889-90 to U.W. (number not known); not believed to have entered service on U.C., sold not later than March 1893 to the Great Salt Lake & Hot Springs Ry., who rebuilt the engine to standard gauge and placed it in service by April 1893 (Great Salt Lake & Hot Springs Ry. became Salt Lake & Ogden Ry. in 1896.)
  5. As to the "other 4-4-0", this would be either C.V. #11 or C.V #15. Records from the H. K. Porter Co. show that c/n 473 (C.V. #15) was sold in 1911 for $1,500, purchaser unknown. Whichever 4-4-0 was actually in Salt Lake City, carried an unknown U.W. number, and is believed not to have entered service on the U.C., and is also believed to be gone by about March 1896, disposition unknown.


Utah Western Ry. (1889-1890) -- A Google Map of John W. Young's unfinished railroad west and north of Salt Lake City.

More Information

John W. Young's Railroads -- An index page for all of John W. Young's railroads.