West Side Rapid Transit Co.

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This page was last updated on July 24, 2019.

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The West Side Rapid Transit Co., was a single-track street car line along Salt Lake City's Seventh West to "Tenth South" (today's 1300 South), then west across the Jordan River to the Garden City, Brighton, and El Dorado subdivisions. After crossing the river, the line extended along the section line that was California Avenue, west for another five miles (a total of eight miles), to about 5300 West, the site of the El Dorado subdivision.

On October 1, 1890, service started between downtown Salt Lake City, and the Brighton Addition, west of the crossing of the Jordan River.

On May 1, 1891, service started to the Eldorado Addition, one and a half mile farther west from Brighton.

In 1893, a three-mile portion of the streetcar route was electrified, from downtown Salt Lake City, at Second South and Second West, south to Tenth South (Thirteenth South after 1916), then west to the crossing of the Jordan River. The five-mile portion west of the river remained in operation using the steam dummies, pulling single unpowered cars.

In 1895, the company defaulted on its debt and was reorganized. The result was that the electric operation to Tenth South (Thirteenth South; Cannon Farm) remained, but the portion west of the river, operated by steam dummies, was abandoned.

In July 1909, the company ended its operation after it was unable to pay its bills. It was overdrawn at its bank by more than $9,000.00, and its reduced financial fortunes, including sporadic operations using a one-man crew, were the subject of two city ordinances. One to force the company to raise the level of its tracks to match the streets, and another to force the company to use a two-man crew of a motorman and a conductor.


April 14, 1890
West Side Rapid Transit Company was organized. (Utah Corporation Index 4335)

October 1, 1890
Service started between downtown Salt Lake City, and the Brighton Addition (about 5.3 miles; near today's 3600 West). (Salt Lake Times, November 29, 1890; timetable schedule)

May 1, 1891
Service started on the extension to the El Dorado Addition, one and a half mile west of Brighton (near today's 5300 West). (Salt Lake Times, October 21, 1891; timetable schedule)

August 12, 1891
"Storage Battery Car. Yesterday J. G. Jacobs, manager of the West Side Rapid Transit Line, wired an order to Philadelphia for a storage battery car to be tested on line. This car is coming as an experiment, and if it proves successful the system will be adopted on the road. Those cars cost $7000 each. The system is working well where it has been tried, and the manufacturers are sure that it will work well here. This road is to be pushed ahead to the lake soon, a fact which the Tribune has already noticed, and it is desirable to determine the power to be used before making much progress in the extension, and for this reason the company are in a hurry to get the storage battery car here and make a trial of it. As the full road will be eighteen miles long, it is hoped that the storage system will prove successful and thus save the expense of such long circuits as a common electric system will require." (Salt Lake Tribune, August 12, 1891)

(Read more about J. G. Jacobs, who also organized the Salt Lake & Mercur and Salt Lake & Alta railroads)

September 27, 1891
The downtown terminus of the West Side Rapid Transit was on West Second South. Also, "The new pavilion at Brighton is nearly completed. Its location is on what is known as Plat B, on the main road over which efforts are being made to have the cars of the Seventh South street electric line enter Brighton." (Salt Lake Tribune, September 27, 1891)

January 1, 1892
"The West Side Rapid Transit runs from Second West and First South streets to tho Eldorado settlements west, of this city with a mileage of about twelve miles, and ought to prosper with the way the west side is growing up. The line has two good dummy engines and cars, and makes regular trips through the day between this city and the west settlements. The intention is to eventually go through to Bingham. The road is in enterprising hands." (Salt Lake Tribune, January 1, 1892)

February 20, 1892
J. G. Jacobs is manager of the West Side Rapid Transit Company. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, February 20, 1892)

May 24, 1892
The West Side company let a contract for the installation of poles and overhead wires for operation of an electric streetcar. (Salt Lake Tribune, May 24, 1892)

January 1893
The poles and overhead wires for electrical operation were in place, and the company was awaiting the arrival of the electric car. (Salt Lake Tribune, January 1, 1893)

June 22, 1894
Valuations published for the following street railways:

June 22, 1895
The tracks, right-of-way, and equipment of the West Side Rapid Transit Co. were sold at a trustee's sale, to repay a note of $20,000 that was issued in 1891 to finance the original construction. The successful bid was $10,000, to A. M. Nunn and S. L. Allen of Colorado. (Salt Lake Tribune, June 23, 1895; "yesterday")

The line was eight miles in length, beginning at Second West and Second South in Salt Lake City, and terminating in the El Dorado Addition. The El Dorado and Brighton additions were built and promoted during the "boom days," but failed to gain support. By this date in 1895, the company was being operated by the cooperative plan, with the crew operators and company owners dividing the net earnings. (Salt Lake Tribune, June 23, 1895; "yesterday")

August 13, 1895
Apparently, operations of the West Side company had halted prior to the trustee sale. Operations were to resume "next Tuesday morning" (August 13, 1895) The route to be operated was from Second South in downtown Salt Lake City, to "Tenth South." Power was to be purchased from the Salt Lake Rapid Transit Co. A new electric car had been ordered, and was expected soon. (Salt Lake Herald, August 11, 1895)

February 16, 1897
L. L. Nunn, manager of West Side Rapid Transit, as well as Telluride Power Company, told the Salt Lake Tribune that the transit company's planned extensions to the Great Salt Lake, and to Bingham would be delayed while work on the power plant at Provo was the focus of the company's efforts. (Salt Lake Tribune, February 16, 1897)

(The extension to Great Salt Lake was never completed.)

February 1, 1898
L. L. Nunn announced that the West Side Rapid Transit Co. would extend its tracks to Bingham. Franchises were approved in Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County to continue the road west along its existing line along Tenth South, or Roper Street, west to the crossing of the Jordan River at Redwood Road, then south along Redwood Road to the county road along the south boundary of Section 27 (today's 7800 South), then west along the county road to the diagonal county road, then southwesterly along the diagonal county road to the right of way of the Rio Grande Western, then parallel to the RGW to Bingham. (Salt Lake Tribune, February 1, 1898; February 22, 1898)

(The extension to Bingham was never completed.)

June 26, 1901
The property of the West Side Rapid Transit Co. were sold at auction for the back taxes owed to Salt Lake County. The successful bid was $1,312.60, with $1,884.37 being the amount owed. William Story, treasurer of the company was the successful bidder. (Salt Lake Tribune, June 27, 1901, "yesterday")

November 15, 1901
Description of the route of the West Side Rapid Transit Company:

March 7, 1902
West Side Rapid Transit received a new electric car to replace "the little red car." Purchase price of the new car was $3,000.00. (Salt Lake Telegram, March 7, 1902)

March 24, 1902
Salt Lake & Jordan Valley Railroad [sic; actual name was Salt Lake & Utah Valley Railroad] was organized as a reorganization of the West Side Rapid Transit Co., to construct a railway line from Salt Lake City to Bingham. Rumored to be controlled by L. L. Nunn and Thomas Kearns. Operated a street railway from Second South and First West, to the "Cannon Farm" at about Eighth West (900 West) and California Avenue (about 1350 South). Owned by L. L. Nunn for "some time". (Salt Lake Tribune, March 25, 1902)

August 4, 1904
"J. G. Jacobs is the original builder of the West Side Rapid Transit. In the beginning it was known as the Salt Lake & Utah Valley road. It was built in 1891 and the intention was to run it to the lake and establish a resort at the terminus. At the beginning it was run the full seven miles. Soon after that the panic came and the property passed into the possession of L. L. Nunn. Now it runs only to the Cannon farm in the southwestern part of the city." (Salt Lake Herald, August 4, 1904)

November 21, 1906
The Salt Lake Tribune reported that an option on the roadbed of the West Side Rapid Transit had been obtained by the Harriman interests to block competitors from building parallel to its projected electric road between Salt Lake City and Garfield, along what was then known as "Twelfth South," or today's 2100 South. The news item did not state the actual route of the West Side Rapid Transit line. (Salt Lake Tribune, November 21, 1906)

(The planned extension to Bingham, and a later extension to Garfield, were never completed.)

March 23, 1907
Service was interrupted for three days after a wheel fell off of the single car being used by the West Side Rapid Transit, while a new wheel was obtained from Utah Light & Railway, and the car repaired. At the city council hearing, to determine if the company's franchise should be revoked, witnesses related numerous stories concerning the unreliable operation of the company's car. The news item also reported that the merger that formed the Utah Light & Railway in 1904, reported turning down a purchase offer of $10,000, with the West Side company wanting $50,000. (Salt Lake Tribune, March 23, 1907)

July 13, 1909
West Side Rapid Transit Company (or more correctly, the reorganized Salt Lake & Utah Valley) was shut down after being attached for money owed to McCormick & Company, in the amount of $9,172.66. The amount was the total of several overdrafts on the company account between December 16, 1908 and July 10, 1909. (Salt Lake Telegram, July 13, 1909; Salt Lake Herald, July 13, 1909; Inter-Mountain Republican, July 13, 1909)

(The company's troubles also included its franchise with the city having expired on April 1, 1909; two pending law suits; a new city ordinance requiring both a motorman and a conductor on each car at all times; and a new city ordinance requiring the company to raise the level of its tracks to match the level of the adjacent street surfaces.)

During September 1909, the West Side company's tracks were removed as part of the asphalt paving of First West between First and Third South. (Salt Lake Herald, September 24, 1909)

During November 1910, residents of the west side asked that the city repair the old street car bridge where California Avenue crossed over the Jordan River, which was being used as a foot bridge. The bridge had been removed to allow a dredge to pass along the Jordan River. The same residents asked that the abandoned roadbed of the street car company be repaired west of the river, to allow it to be used as a path, trail or roadway. (Salt Lake Tribune, November 19, 1910; Salt Lake Herald Republican, November 19, 1910)


Contemporary newspaper stories suggest that the West Side Rapid Transit had two steam dummy locomotives. A steam dummy was a small steam locomotive with a wooden body made to look like the horse- or mule-driven street cars of the late 1880s and early 1890s, before the street car systems began electrifying their lines.

(Read more about other steam dummies in Utah)

In August 1891, the West Side company reportedly tested an electric car operated by a battery. It was delivered in mid September 1891.

In a summary of Salt Lake City street car systems on January 1, 1892, the West Side company is shown as still operating two steam dummy locomotives.

Beginning in May 1892, construction began of adding overhead wires to convert the West Side Rapid Transit to electric operation. By mid July 1892, construction was under way for the poles and overhead wires along First West.

By early January 1893, the overhead wires and poles were in place, and the company was awaiting delivery of a new electric car. The electrified portion was reported as being one and a quarter mile, along First West from Second South to Ninth South, then west to Second West, then south to "Tenth South" (today's 1300 South), also known as Roper Street.

(Research indicates that the electric car was delivered, and electric operation began in late January or early February 1893. No further mention of the type of car was included in any later newspaper items.)

Newspaper Research

West Side Rapid Transit Newspaper Items -- A collection of 128 items lifted from newspapers, covering the building and demise of the West Side Rapid Transit Company, 1890-1909.


West Side Rapid Transit -- A Google Map of the West Side Rapid Transit, mostly on Salt Lake City's 1300 South, and California Avenue, to about 3800 West.


West Side Rapid Transit Photos

More Information

Corporate Information for West Side Rapid Transit Company -- Corporate information.