Railroads and Mining, West of Milford, Utah

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This page was last updated on January 2, 2016.

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Railroad service reached Frisco in June 1880 when the Utah Southern Railroad Extension finished its route south from York, at the southern end of Utah Valley. This was a Union Pacific-controlled company, and within a year, UP had taken control of connecting lines Utah Central Railway (between Ogden and Salt Lake City) and Utah Southern Railroad (between Salt Lake City and York). The Utah Southern Railroad Extension as organized as a Union Pacific enterprise to extend the rails of Utah Southern south to reach the silver mines at Frisco, the largest of which, the Horn Silver mine, was partly controlled by men who were also directors of Union Pacific. Union Pacific consolidated its control by organizing the Utah Central Railway in July 1881, which was a merger of Utah Central Railroad, Utah Southern Railroad, and Utah Southern Railroad Extension.

The mines at Frisco were found to be very rich in silver and lead ores. By the end of 1882, the Horn Silver mine alone shipped $6 million worth of ore.

In 1904, Newhouse Mines & Smelters began the development of the former Cactus mine as an open-pit copper mine. The development included the construction of what was known as the Newhouse Extension, a railroad branchline from the Frisco mine, west to the new town of Newhouse. The mine's owners paid to have the construction crews of San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad build the extension, which was laid from the Frisco mine, west for a distance of seven miles. The new branchline was completed in September 1904, and the construction crews continued working to build the mining company's private railroad that was to connect the mill and smelter at Newhouse, with the copper mine, an additional distance of three miles. The new railroad was incorporated as the Newhouse, Copper Gulch & Sevier Lake Railroad, and was operated by a 65-ton Shay locomotive, delivered in September 1904.

Newhouse Mines & Smelters Company was reorganized in 1910 as the South Utah Mines & Smelters Company. The Shay locomotives was sold in 1915, which indicates that the mine was likely shut down, or at least operating at a much less level of production.

By 1925, the mine, mill and smelter at Newhouse were apparently shut down, as the only activity at Newhouse was tank cars of water for use by local ranchers. By this time the SPLA&SL had changed its name to Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad. Mining activity at both Frisco and at Newhouse was shutdown by 1931, but the railroad branchline remained in place until 1937, when LA&SL removed the seven-mile Newhouse Extension, between Frisco and Newhouse.

The railroad branchline between Milford and Frisco was abandoned and removed in 1943.


September 16, 1887
"The Utah Central road has closed its Frisco freight, ticket and telegraph offices, as they don't pay. Trains will run up there from Milford just the same, but all the clerical work will be done either at Milford or by the conductors." (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, September 16, 1887)

February 29, 1904
News item about the Newhouse Extension of the Frisco Branch being surveyed. (Salt Lake Mining Review, Volume 5, number 22, February 29, 1904, p.36)

April 30, 1904
Samuel Newhouse paid $99,688.65 to the SPLA&SL for the construction of the Newhouse Extension, including the terminal at the Cactus Mine, near the mouth of Copper Gulch. The railroad was seven miles in length. (Salt Lake Mining Review, Volume 6, number 2, April 30, 1904, p.36)

As part of the construction of the Newhouse Extension, SPLA&SL also constructed the three-mile long "Newhouse, Copper Gulch & Sevier Lake Railroad" which operated between the mining company's Cactus Mine and their mill at Newhouse.

August 30, 1904
The grading of the Newhouse Extension was begun, with work on grade to the Cactus mine commencing at mouth of Copper Gulch. (Salt Lake Mining Review, Volume 6, number 10, August 30, 1904, p.31)

September 1904
SPLA&SL completed the 5.96-mile Newhouse Extension, from Frisco on the Frisco Branch to Newhouse, to serve the copper mine that was being developed near there. The line was surveyed in February 1904. (Salt Lake Mining Review, February 29, 1904, p. 36)

Construction was begun in June 1904, using $99,688.65 advanced for the purpose by Samuel Newhouse, owner of Newhouse Mines & Smelters. (SPLA&SL corporate history; Salt Lake Mining Review, April 30, 1904, p. 36)

October 30, 1904
News item about Camp Newhouse. The Newhouse Extension was being graded between Newhouse and the Cactus mine, with four and a half percent grade and three mile length. (Salt Lake Mining Review, Volume 6, number 14, October 30, 1904, p.23)

December 17, 1904
The Newhouse, Copper Gulch & Sevier Lake Railroad was incorporated in Utah on December 17, 1904. The line included 4.5 percent grades and was operated using a 65-ton Shay locomotive. The mill went into full production in March 1905. (Salt Lake Mining Review, October 30, 1904, p. 23; December 30, 1904, p. 15; December 30, 1904, p.21; February 28, 1905, p. 25) (Utah corporation index number 4988)

December 30, 1904
Article about Samuel Newhouse's enterprises at Newhouse, with two photographs of the Cactus Mill at Newhouse. A 65-ton Shay (spelled "Chay") locomotive was used to "steady" trains of side dump cars down the four percent grade from the Cactus mine to the mill, three miles from the mine. (Salt Lake Mining Review, Volume 6, number 18, December 30, 1904, p.15)

Railroad Service Abandoned

February 27, 1925
LA&SL received Utah Public Utilities Commission approval to discontinue regular service between Frisco and Newhouse. The line was constructed in the latter part of 1904 for the Newhouse Mining Company and the Cactus Mining Company. By 1925 the town of Newhouse had been dismantled and the railroad's only traffic was tank cars of water for the local sheep ranches. (Public Service Commission of Utah, case 741)

Regular service on the Frisco Branch had ended in 1931 with the shutdown of the old Horn Silver mine by the Tintic Lead Company, which had bought the property in 1928. The extension was washed out in several places during 1934 and 1935. Passenger service had ended in 1928.

April 21, 1937
LA&SL applied to abandon the Newhouse Extension portion of Frisco Branch, from Frisco to Newhouse, Finance Docket 10623, approved April 21, 1937. (221 ICC 309) (See also: Utah Public Service Commission files, Box B65T1, research done on September 14, 1987)

May 22, 1937
The railroad had applied to abandon the entire Frisco Branch, along with the Newhouse Extension. But the ICC imposed a two year test period, at the suggestion of the Utah State Industrial Development Board, to allow development of potential mine traffic, from Frisco to Milford. (Abandonment approved by the ICC in Finance Docket 10623, effective May 22, 1937, reported in 221 ICC 309)

September 10, 1937
In 1937 Union Pacific's depot was the only structure remaining in Newhouse, and at Frisco there was only the railroad's depot and two houses. Work on removal of the extension was begun on September 10, 1937.

October 7, 1937
LA&SL completed removal of the seven-mile Newhouse Extension, Mile Post 16.5 (Frisco) to Mile Post 23.5 (Newhouse, end of branch) of the Frisco Branch. The removal was done under Work Order 934. The Newhouse Extension had been completed in September 1904 to connect with Samuel Newhouse's Newhouse Mines & Smelting mill railroad, the Newhouse, Copper Gulch & Sevier Lake Railroad, which shut down in 1927. (Union Pacific engineering department records)

July 24, 1942
LA&SL to abandon Frisco Branch, "line in Beaver County, Utah". Applied January 26, 1942, approved July 24, 1942, effective 60 days later, on September 24, 1942. (ICC Finance Docket 13611, case not reported, listed in 252 ICC 803; Utah Public Service Commission files, Box B65T1)

August 28, 1943
LA&SL completed removal of 15.29 miles of the Frisco Branch, from Mile Post 1.21 to Mile Post 16.5 (Frisco, end of track). The branch was retired on June 22, 1943, after abandonment was approved by the ICC on July 24, 1942. (Work order 2528; ICC Finance Docket 13611, effective September 24, 1942)

Limestone Quarry

There was a limestone quarry served by the railroad, about midway between Milford and Frisco. Known as the Montreal Mine, or as the Old Hickory Mine, the site was likely used to mine flux ores needed by smelters to balance the chemistry of the ores in their furnaces, which were smelting large quantities of copper, and lead and zinc ore.

Additional research is needed to find the story of this quarry, which is not shown as a source of traffic for the railroad during the 1943 hearings to abandon the Frisco Branch. As a side note, there was also a limestone quarry at Topliff on the Fairfield Branch, which was shut down in 1938. Limestone was still used as a flux by the smelters, so new sources of limestone became available in the mid- and late-1930s that changed traffic patterns on Utah's railroads.

Kiewit/Rinker/Cemex Limestone Quarry

Just to the northeast of the limestone quarry mentioned above, there is a crushed limestone aggregate quarry opertated by Kiewit Materials, then Rinker Materials, then Cemex, located about 5.5 miles northwest of Milford, served by a spur from Union Pacific's Murdock siding. The quarry was opened in 1998, and continues operations today [2016].

(Read more about the Kiewit/Rinker/Cemex quarry)

Western Utah Copper Company

Although unrelated to the former mine site at Newhouse, in 1967 there was an open pit copper mine near the above mentioned limestone quarry, which was about six miles northwest of Milford. In 2003, development began on this mining property by Western Utah Copper Company. The mine opened in March 2009, but was forced to declare bankruptcy in May 2010 after investment funds stopped due to fraudulent claims by the mine's owners. The bankruptcy ended in November 2011, and as of March 2013, the reorganized mining company, under new owners and new management, was making good progress at developing its mineral reserves. This is *not* the former Newhouse site.

(Read a brief summary of copper mining activities west of Milford, through March 2013)


(Read more about the locomotives used on the Newhouse, Copper Gulch & Sevier Lake Railroad)


LA&SL Branches, West of Milford -- A Google Map of the railroads and mines in the area west of Milford, Utah.

More Information

Newhouse Mines & Smelters Company -- Information about the Newhouse copper mine; includes information about the Newhouse Extension railroad line between Frisco and Newhouse.

Horn Silver Mine at Frisco -- Information about the mine that was the destination of Utah Southern in the early 1880s.

Corporate information for Newhouse, Copper Gulch & Sevier Lake Railroad.