Western Pacific Branches in Utah

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This page was last updated on January 29, 2016.

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Marblehead Branch

Delle/Rowley Branch

Ellerbeck/Dolomite Branch

Warner/Tooele Branch

WP Utah Branchline Operations

A WP GP7 was kept at D&RGW Roper and was used on the Tooele Valley Local. They also ran an occasional Marblehead Local, as needed. On days that both locals were running, the Marblehead switched the Dolomite branches, along with the Delle/Rowley Branch after it was completed in 1972, and the Marblehead Branch after it was completed in 1958. The TV Local ran every day, and did all the local work on days when the Marblehead was not run. The TV always switched the Chevron potash plant at Garfield, usually running acid cars from the UP interchange at Garfield, into the plant itself.

In Ken Meeker's WP book, "The Western Pacific," published in 2011, on page 225, WP GP7 703 leads the Tooele Valley Local as it crosses U. S. 40 near Grantsville. There are a few other photos of WP in Utah, on pages 220-227.

Motive Power

The GP7/9 assigned to the TV Local was unique because each winter season, it was sent to Stockton to have its huge snowplow attached. Bob Jarvis, who was a brakeman on WP in the late 50s and early 60s, does not recall seeing the large snow plow, so the locomotive assigned may have been equipped only as needed.

The TV Local usually had a single locomotive assigned to it in the form of a GP7 or GP9 during the 1950s to the 1970s. After the older units were bumped from the locals for assignment in California as switchers, the TV Local usually had a GP35 as power.

By the late 1970s and early 1980s, with the combination of leased UP power, new GP40-2s, and rebuilt GP40s as mainline power, the Utah locals began operating with unrebuilt GP35s and unrebuilt GP40s. The WP locals in Utah also at times operated with a UP caboose during this time.

With UP's control of WP in late 1982, they began keeping one or two locomotives stationed at Burmester.

Bradley Ogden wrote on September 9, 2009 that on Christmas Eve 1981, the eastbound Wendover Local came through Burmester, switched some cars and then met the Marblehead Local at Garfield and traded locomotives. By this time the TV Local was being called the Warner Local. From a conversation with a conductor assigned to the UP locals in about 2006, Bradley added that the UP locals would switch Warner, Morton Salt and Marblehead one day then the next they would switch Ellerbeck and the Rowley Branch. They never mentioned leaving a local power out at Burmester. (Bradley Ogden, email dated September 9, 2009)

Tooele Valley Local

(usually known as the TV Local)

Throughout its history, the TV Local (later known by UP crews as the Warner Local) was operated on a daily basis out of D&RGW's Roper Yard. Until the Tooele Valley Railway shut down in 1981, Warner served as the WP connection with the Tooele Valley Railway, adjacent to UP's similar connection.

Warner was also the location of the U. S. Army's Tooele Army Depot, a vast storage facility for all manner of military ammunition and explosives, as well as being one of the U. S. Army's largest vehicle repair locations, known as "depots"..

The TV had one GP7/9, and regularly ran with a second GP7/9. There are photos of an occasional F unit booster being run as a second unit, but that would have been in the late 1950's and early 1960's.

The Tooele local left from Roper mid morning and seemed to be back late afternoon. (Keith Ardinger, email dated September 9, 2009)

Wendover Local

Wendover Local, D&RGW Roper to Wendover, one day out, one day back. Did pickups and setouts at WP-served industries from Salt Lake City to Wendover, except those served by the daily TV Local. Generally used regular road power.

The Wendover job at times had secondary motive power such as a GP35/U30B combination. In August 1976, Ted Benson saw the train outside of Burmester heading for Warner with the units trailing a caboose, boxcar and two flat cars, all for set out at the Tooele Ordnance Depot. On its return the power was shoving a boxcar and the caboose down the hill back to the mainline. It seemed logical that the Wendover crew had their Tooele cars on the end of the train immediately ahead of the caboose. Upon arrival at Burmester, it would be a simply move to go into the siding, cut off, come back against the train at the other end of the passing track and depart for Warner. Repeating this move on the return would make it easy to get their train back together and on the road for Wendover. Since it was a Sunday, and since the TV apparently did not operate on Sundays, that pretty much eliminates the TV crew and there was certainly no need for that much power (two units) on a TV job. (Ted Benson, email dated October 2, 2009)

EMR (Ellerbeck Marblehead Rowley) Local

The 1970s-vintage Ellerbeck Local based at Burmester to work the Ellerbeck, Marblehead and Rowley lines.

Mike Mucklin wrote on February 20, 2009:

Prior to 1955 caboose pooling agreements on the WP, cabooses were assigned either to a specific conductor, or to a specific train if it was a turn, local, road switcher, etc. These latter cars were not always stenciled with their assignment.

After pooling started, through trains had one caboose generally from the initial terminal to the final on-line terminal. Sometimes they even ran through onto other railroads which is why you often see WP cabooses on the UP in the 1970s, and UP and other road's cabooses on the WP.

Many locals though had assigned cabooses for various reasons. The Ellerbeck branch was at one point served by the EMR (Ellerbeck-Marblehead-Rowley) local and its caboose was stenciled as such. I've seen the 460 stenciled for the "E. M. R. LOCAL" but I don't know if other cars were stenciled as such. The 460 was later stenciled for "OAKLAND YARD SERVICE ONLY" but I'm pretty sure that was after the UP merger and that was a UP assignment.

More Information

Western Pacific in Utah -- Everything WP, East of Wendover

WP in Utah, Station Summary (including branch lines)