Western Pacific in Utah

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Everything WP, East of Wendover.

This page was last updated on December 12, 2023.

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Mile Posts

All WP mile posts west of Salt Lake City show two distances on the ICC valuation maps. One via Arnolds Loop, and another via "3% Cut Off". For example, Garfield was MP 913.056 via Arnolds Loop and MP 907.176 via 3% Cut Off. A difference of 5.88 miles. (WP Right of Way and Track maps on file at Utah State Archives)


March 3, 1903
Western Pacific Railway was organized in California to build from Salt Lake City to Oakland, and incorporated also in California on March 6, 1903. (Gilbert H. Kneiss "Fifty Candles for Western Pacific" in Mileposts [Western Pacific employee magazine], March 1953; See also: LeMassena, Rio Grande to the Pacific, p. 265)

1905 to 1907
In the end of August 1905, the construction contract for Western Pacific was awarded to two companies. David Myrick wrote the follwowing in his book "Western Pacific, The Last Transcontinental Railroad".

Two general contracts divided the work; Utah Construction Company took two sections, one from Oroville to the Nevada line and the other in Utah. Pacific Coast Construction Company got the contract between Oroville and Oakland.

Utah Construction had just finished the Hazen cutoff of the SP branch from Churchill. Nevada, and a few weeks later received the contract to build the Nevada Northern to Ely. Henry N. Lawler, UCC superintendent on the Western Pacific contract, arrived in Beckwith in mid-September 1905 to set up warehouses west of the Boca & Loyalton depot to accommodate 20 cars of tools, machinery and 150 horses and mules transferred from the Hazen project.

On September 7, 1905, UCC vice-president W. H. Wattis reported that the Western Pacific had awarded his firm "the biggest contract ever landed in the West," and that he had already purchased 100 horses. Within the next few days, an outfit quietly went to eastern Nevada to form a three-mile grade near Flower Lake for the Western Pacific. In doing so, the WP established itself as the senior railroad at what became Shafter. When the Nevada Northern built its line to Ely, it had to absorb the cost of construction of the crossing as well as its maintenance. Rather than commencing work in Salt Lake City, WP grading began at Garfield, 18 miles west, and initially moved westward.

No physical work had yet taken place within Salt Lake City. At the end of October, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that 600 men with 200 teams had done the preliminary work on 70 miles of grade into the Great Salt Lake Desert west of Garfield. The next month, WP secured the necessary right-of-way in Salt Lake City between the Jordan River and the Rio Grande Western terminal. Grading in Utah progressed over the next several months, subject to suspension during several heavy storms.

As spring 1906 was about to arrive, over 100 cars of ties, rails, spikes and fittings arrived over the RGW in anticipation of track laying. On May 9, the last house blocking the right-of-way at Sixth West Street had been removed. A short smelter spur of Clark's SPLA&SL facilitated delivery of rails to the Jordan River area so that the WP track layers could build east to the RGW connection on Sixth West Street near First South Street.

Inclement weather on May 12, while postponing track laying, did not prevent unloading of rails. Almost a week went by until the early morning of May 18, 1906, when track layers began to close the short gap at the Jordan River to the RGW terminal. This work was completed by the end of the month and by July, 19 miles of track reached across the Tooele County line. At the close of the year, track stretched 94 miles to a point near Barro siding and, during April 1907, extended across the Great Salt Lake Desert to Wendover, Utah. This stretch included a very long tangent.

By the end of September 1907, the track layers could take pride in their accomplishments. The longest stretch was 160 miles from Salt Lake City to Shafter. A month later [October 1907], the WP accommodated William Boyce Thompson, a copper magnate of that era, with a special train from Bews (near Shafter) to Salt Lake City. This is remembered as the first passenger train over the railroad.

September 1905
During early September 1905, construction of Western Pacific began with the completion of three miles of grade where the new railroad crossed the existing Nevada Northern Railway, at a new station to be called Shafter. The work was being done by Utah Construction Company of Ogden, Utah. (Deseret News, September 8, 1905)

September 11, 1905
"On June 1, 1905, the Nevada Northern Railway was formally incorporated. The surveyors completed their work in August, and the Utah Conptruction Co. was awarded the contract for building the line. Construction forces were moved over to Cobre following completion of work on the SP's Hazen Cut-Off, and grading commenced at Cobre on September 11, 1905." (Myrick, Railroads of Nevada and Eastern California, Volume 1, page 113)

In mid September 1905 work started on the WP at Garfield, adjacent to the new smelter being built at that location. (Deseret News, September 22, 1905, "Dirt Is Now Flying Out At Garfield Beach")

January 27, 1906
Salt Lake City granted Western Pacific a franchise to construct its railroad over and on certain city streets. (Deseret News, January 29, 1906)

February 15, 1906
Demolition began of houses located on property purchased by WP for its route through Salt Lake City's west side in mid February 1906. (Deseret News, February 15, 1906)

May 7, 1906
The first trainload (20 cars) of rails arrived at Salt Lake City from Colorado Fuel & Iron in Pueblo, Colorado. Tracklaying was to commence immediately. (Deseret News, May 8, 1906)

May 18, 1906
Tracklaying for Western Pacific began "this morning" at the Jordan River and was to extend toward the RGW mainline at Salt Lake City. By noon 1,500 feet had been laid within the city limits of Salt Lake City. The work force consisted of 60 men, mostly Greeks furnished by Leon Skliris, a well-known agent who supplied immigrant laborers for railroads and mining companies in Utah. (Deseret News, May 18, 1906)

May 24, 1906
"...tracklaying began at Oakland on January 2, 1906, and at Salt Lake City on May 24, 1906." (LeMassena, Rio Grande to the Pacific, p. 265)

June 13, 1906
"Western Pacific Busy -- That the Western Pacific is getting into its construction stride is in evidence everywhere on the west side today. The grade to Garfield has been practically completed and the tracklaying machine received from the east a few days ago is being set up in the Rio Grande yards preliminary to being put into commission. During the past ten days the Rio Grande has hauled no less than 42 car loads of gravel from the Riverton pits and delivered them to the Western Pacific for ballasting the track already laid." (Deseret News June 13, 1906)

June 25, 1906
'WP has laid three miles of tracks, from Salt Lake City to Buena Vista, where the company has completed a supply yard for construction materials and track laying supplies. During early July the tracklaying machine, recently assembled and now ready to go in the Salt Lake yards, will be put to work. Together with a force of 200 Greek, Italians and Austrians, the machine will lay one mile per day and will not let up for at least 100 miles." (Deseret News, June 25, 1906)

(There is no mention of the needed crossing of OSL/SPLA&SL just east of the Jordan River.)

August 7, 1906
Sixty carloads of rails arrived for Western Pacific. By the end of August the company will have laid 40 miles of track at the rate of 1-1/2 miles per day. (Deseret News, August 7, 1906)

August-September 1906
Track laying completed as follows:

November 12, 1906
Western Pacific recieved its first locomotives, delivered at Salt Lake City. (Myrick, Western Pacific, The Last Transcontinental, page 49 [photo])

January 1907
During its construction west of Great Salt Lake near the Utah-Nevada state line, Western Pacific encountered a bed of pure salt 15 miles long and 8 miles wide. "They dug down six feet and still were in solid salt." (Davis County Clipper, January 4, 1907)

March 1907
Work began on the Flower Lake Tunnel, between Silver Zone Pass and Wells. (Salt Lake Tribune, January 17, 1909)

May 2, 1907
Western Pacific was completed between Salt Lake City and the Utah-Nevada state line. "The second cross-continental railroad now crosses Utah. The Western Pacific completed its main track to the Nevada state line May 2." (Deseret News, May 4, 1907, quoting a telegram sent from H. G. Bogue, chief engineer of Western Pacific, to Utah governor John C. Cutler.)

Late 1907
Freight service began on WP between Salt Lake City and Shafter, Nevada, interchanging with the Nevada Northern Railway, owned and operated by the new Nevada Consolidated Copper Co. (LeMassena, Rio Grande to the Pacific, p. 267)

November 8, 1908
Western Pacific's first timetable went into effect, covering only the trackage between Salt Lake City and Shafter, Nevada. (Jeff Asay, Track and Time, page 14)

November 9, 1908
The following comes from the November 8, 1908 issue of the Salt Lake Herald newspaper.

Western Pacific Opening -- Mixed Train Will Leave at 8 O'Clock Tomorrow Morning for Shafter, Nev. -- Official announcement that the Western Pacific road will open on Monday has been made by Colonel I. A. Benton, general agent of the passenger department of the Denver & Rio Gande road, with offices in the Judge building, who will have charge of the passenger traffic of the new road.

The first train over the eastern end of the new road will leave Salt Lake at 8 o'clock tomorrow morning. It will be a mixed train consisting of one first-class coach, a combination coach and freight cars. The train will run to Shafter, Nev. and will carry passengers at the rate of 4 cents per mile. It is expected to run a tri-weekly service at the start. The service will be improved later and the schedule of the new road is being prepared. (Salt Lake Herald, November 8, 1908, Sunday)

November 10, 1908
Western Pacific named the agents for the stations between Salt Lake City and Shafter. The stations were Grant, Delle, Wendover and Shafter. (Salt Lake Telegram, November 10, 1908)

November 1, 1909
WP completed between Salt Lake City and Oakland, with the last spike being driven at Keddie, California. (LeMassena, Rio Grande to the Pacific, p. 267)

November 11, 1909
"The first train over Western Pacific arrived without fanfare from San Francisco yesterday afternoon." (Deseret News, November 10, 1959, "Remember When, 50 Years Ago")

December 1, 1909
Freight service was started between Salt Lake City and Oakland. (Gilbert H. Kneiss "Fifty Candles for Western Pacific" in Mileposts [Western Pacific employee magazine], March 1953)

Operation was by way of a three-percent alignment over Silver Zone Pass. Planning and construction soon began on a better alignment with a maximum grade of one percent, which was completed in May 1914.

D&RG and WP built Salt Lake City Union Depot in Salt Lake City. (LeMassena, Rio Grande to the Pacific, p. 123)

Construction of the Salt Lake City depot started in 1907, under the name of Salt Lake City Union Depot & Railroad Co., incorporated on May 29, 1907. (Utah corporation index 6383)

June 1910
A first class passenger train was to begin operations on or about June 1, 1910 between Denver and San Francisco by way of D&RGW and the recently completed WP. (Carbon County News, March 11, 1910)

August 1, 1910
Passenger service began between Salt Lake City and Oakland. (LeMassena, Rio Grande to the Pacific, p. 267; Jeff Asay, Track and Time, page 10)

August 22, 1910
Regular passenger service began between Salt Lake City and Oakland.

The Western Pacific railroad, over which regular passenger traffic will commence on August 22, is a continuation of the Gould system of roads westward from Salt Lake City to the Pacific coast. Its length is 923 miles from this city to its terminal in Oakland. Starting from Salt Lake, the route is directly west to the shores of Great Salt Lake, where it skirts the shore as far as Timpie. It crosses the Nevada line near Wendover, passes through Winnemucca and Wells, Nevada, on to Sacramento, and from there to Oakland. Six divisions of the road have been established for purposes of operations, the Salt Lake division being from Elko to this city, 260 miles. The road was practically completed some months ago and regular freight service was maintained all winter, but the opening to passenger traffic was delayed until August 22. (Salt Lake Herald, August 7, 1910, "Development of Transportation in Utah")

On the same date, August 22, 1910, a new employee's timetable (No. 3) went into effect, showing trains 3 and 4 as WP's first regularly scheduled passenger train. (Jeff Asay, Track and Time, page 27)

July 14, 1916
The reorganized Western Pacific Railroad Corporation purchased the assets of the bankrupt Western Pacific Railway. Jeff Asay wrote the following in his book, The Iron Feather.

WP Sold at Auction -- Consequently, the WP Railway was sold at auction (which was held on the steps of the passenger depot in Oakland) for a single bid of $18 million made by the Equitable Trust reorganization committee on June 28,1916. Krechs reorganization plan was implemented accordingly, and the committee purchased the properties of the Western Pacific Railway for $18 million on July 14, 1916. Krechs committee paid the court $1,373,487.60 in cash (which went to the dissenting bondholders, at $360 per $1000 bond) and turned in as many of the remaining first mortgage bonds as needed to pay the balance. These bonds were cancelled by the court and became worthless (if they weren't already so). This left an unpaid balance on the rest of the bonds of about $37 million. The participating first mortgage bondholders (the ones who threw in with Krech) received preferred stock of the WP Corporation (which carried an annual 6% dividend) and the right to buy new first mortgage bonds to be issued by the WP Railroad. Whether they were happy about the terms of the exchange has not been noted, but they had no choice as Krech crammed it down their throats. At least they got something.

Krech Steals the WP -- To put all this in basic terms, Alvin Krech and the Equitable Trust Co. bought the Western Pacific Railway, which had cost around $75 million to build, for $18 million in worthless bonds and $1.3 million in cash. The entire $75 million in WP Railway stock owned by D&RG (and other unfortunate souls) was completely wiped out. The entire debt load of the WP Railway, $105 million plus interest, was also completely wiped out, causing D&RG to lose $56.8 million right off the top.

WP's original mortgage prevented construction of branch and feeder lines until the mainline was completed. The reorganized company did not have that limitation and construction of branchlines soon began. (Gilbert H. Kneiss "Fifty Candles for Western Pacific" in Mileposts [Western Pacific employee magazine], March 1953)

December 1916
News item about Utah Construction Company having been awarded the contract to build the Western Pacific's Tooele Branch, 16 miles. (Salt Lake Mining Review, Volume 18, number 17, December 15, 1916, p.34, "Trade Notes")

Utah Copper expanded its original tailings pond near Magna from the original 1500 acres to 5000 acres. This forced the Union Pacific (LA&SL) and Western Pacific tracks to be relocated to the north along a new alignment. As part of the 1917 line change between today's 5600 West and Smelter station, the two railroads created a new station named Garfield as a connection to Utah Copper's railroad. This Garfield station remained in place until replaced by a new Garfield created in 1997 when UP moved its mainline again to allow expansion of the Kennecott tailings pond. (Utah History Cyclopedia; Union Pacific condensed track profile)

December 28, 1917
Western Pacific came under federal USRA control. (Gilbert H. Kneiss "Fifty Candles for Western Pacific" in Mileposts [Western Pacific employee magazine], March 1953)

WP completed a branch from Burmester to Tooele Junction, to interchange with the newly completed Tooele Valley Railway. (LeMassena, Rio Grande to the Pacific, p. 269)

WP completed a branch from Ellerbeck to limestone quarries at Dolomite and Flux. (LeMassena, Rio Grande to the Pacific, p. 269)

March 21, 1918
The United States Railway Administration (USRA) took over the operation of America’s railroads (including WP) on March 21, 1918 to improve the efficiency of America’s railroads during World War I. It continued to operate and “administer” the railroads until March 1, 1920. One review has stated that over 100,000 freight cars and over 1,900 steam locomotives were built for the USRA, at a cost to the government of $380 million.

May 13, 1919
WP received Utah PSC approval to close the agency at Low. Used primarily for water and feed shipments for sheep ranchers, along with occasional ore shipments. (Utah Public Service Commission, Case 179)

March 1, 1920
The United States Railway Administration (USRA) returned control of the nation's railroads (including WP), from government control due to World War I, back to the railroad companies. Included in the enabling Esch–Cummins Act was a provision to allow the ICC to control the railroads profits and rate of return for investments.

(Read more about the USRA and Utah Railroads, and the period of control from March 1918 through March 1920)

June 1929
D&RGW's Roper Yard in south Salt Lake City was designated as WP's Salt Lake City freight terminal. (Track and Time, Jeff Asay, page 140, based on date of WP employee Eastern Division timetable 12, dated June 9, 1929)

June 9, 1929
"In Eastern Div. timetable No. 12 of June 9, 1929, Rio Grande's Roper Yard was designated for the first time as the Salt Lake terminal for WP freight trains. WP continued to utilize this yard for many years, although some trains shifted to UP's North Yard in the 1970s. Roper yard today is UP's major terminal in Salt Lake City." (Jeff Asay, The Iron Feather, page 176)

December 17, 1929
WP received Utah PSC approval to close the agency at Salduro, located 8 miles east of Wendover. The agency was opened in 1917 to serve a potash and salt plant, which has since closed. (Utah Public Service Commission, Case 1147)

(circa February 1932)
State Road Commission received Utah PSC approval to construct a concrete overpass over the Union Pacific Railroad and the Western Pacific Railroad for a new state highway, called the Garfield Cut-off. (Utah Public Service Commission, Case 1263)

June 17, 1940
Western Pacific's diamond crossing of the LA&SL freight line at 1400 West on Salt Lake City's west side, was changed from mandatory stop of all trains on both railroads, and proceed after determining a safe crossing (in accordance with Utah state law), to an automatic interlocking. (Western Pacific Eastern Division timetable #33, June 17, 1940)

The WP timetable included the following rule.

"U. P. CROSSING -- M.P. 926.3, Automatic Interlocked.
Home signals 300 feet east and west of crossing two-position color-light type, approach lighted indications, red (stop) and yellow (proceed with caution). Normal position red.
Fixed distant signals, semaphore type, 2020 feet west and 1750 feet east of home signals.
Approach lighting circuits start at distant signals. If no train or engine within interlocking limits, yellow indication will show in home signal after engine passes distant signal.
When home signal indicates "stop", and no train movement is evident on intersecting track, trainman will proceed to crossing and operate time release marked "WP" in iron box marked "Release" at crossing (Instructions in box). If signal does not change to "proceed with caution" after two minutes, be governed by Rule 663.
If a train or engine is standing between home signals on intersecting track, thorough understanding must be had with its crew before proceeding."

The associated LA&SL Los Angeles Division Special Rules #3, dated August 1, 1940 included the following, with no additional instruction.

"Salt Lake City. (M.P. 781.3 Freight Line) W.P. U.P. Automatic Interlocking Signals."

October 19-22, 1943
"Work was scheduled to begin on a new Western Pacific Railroad Depot at Warner, Utah, according to an announcement. The modern building would be located at the North gate of the Tooele Ordnance Depot and would cost $25,000 to build. It was expected to take about 60 days to complete." (Tooele Transcript, October 19, 2018, Frontpage Flashback)

February 11, 1944
The D&RGW AFE for the line change that resulted in the Grant Tower automatic interlocking was approved. The documentation to support the AFE shows that there was a 17-lever mechanical interlocking at the combined WP/D&RGW and LA&SL/D&RGW crossing along 700 West and South Temple streets. The formal completion date for the line change was December 20, 1952, and for the tower building itself, the formal completion date is shown as May 20, 1950. (D&RGW AFE records on file at Colorado Railroad Museum) (more details are on this D&RGW page)

When the Grant Tower Interchange in Salt Lake City was first proposed in December 1943, it included all three railroads in the vicinity: D&RGW, UP and WP. The interchnage was completed in 1948, with Western Pacific trains generally avoiding the use of the tracks almost completely. WP trains did travel on the southwest fringe of the interlocking trackage and needed to be part of the overall control considerations. In his book Track and Time, Jeff Asay noted that WP did not have sole use any interlocking towers at any point on its system in Utah, Nevada and California. All interlocking towers were joint between WP and another railroad. Grant Tower in Salt Lake City was jointly operated with UP and D&RGW, and was WP's only interlocking tower in Utah.

Western Pacific's line entered Salt Lake City from the west and was in private right of way from its crossing of the Jordan River, eastward to 1000 West, then along what was originally Folsom Avenue. East of 1000 West, WP's tracks were in this private right of way between South Temple and First South. WP's freight connection to the D&RGW turned south at Sixth (700) West Street, at what was known as Pollard Junction. WP passenger trains traveled another two blocks before turning south at Fourth (500) West. WP trackage ownership ended at First South in both instances.

The end of steam on Western Pacific was in 1950 on the Eastern Division, and 1953 on the Western Division. Jeff Asay wrote in his book The Iron Feather.

The Eastern Division (Portola-SLC) had been completely dieselized in 1950. (Asay footnote: "As Guy Dunscomb pointed out in his book Western Pacific Steam Locomotives, Passenger Trains and Cars, Modesto, 1980, WP ran a Shriners Special from Salt Lake City to Oakland on June 23, 1950 with a GS-class locomotive, which was the last revenue steam run on the Eastern Division and probably the last revenue steam passenger run on the Western Division as well.")

That made sense, as water was still hard to come by on that territory and most of the larger locomotives were coal-fired in contrast to the overwhelming use of fuel oil on the rest of the railroad. By dieselizing as quickly as possible, both problems would be resolved.

WP came close but did not reach its goal of full conversion from steam power to diesel on the Western Division by the end of 1951, so it tried harder in 1952. At midyear, eighty-seven percent of all road freight miles were powered by diesels and eighty-three percent of yard switcher hours were under diesel power. Passenger mileage was virtually all diesel powered except possibly for a rare instance when a regular train was substituted for a Zephyrette RDC and a diesel to pull it was not available. After taking delivery of fifteen GP (EMD General Purpose) road diesels in 1952, WP declared that the end of steam operations was at hand. In December, over 99% of road freight mileage was by diesels, and 98% of yard switcher hours were dieselized as well. Only eighteen steam locomotives remained available for service in the event of a traffic surge. (Asay footnote: "WP Annual Reports, 1951 and 1952.")

All of WP's Northerns were out of service by January 1953 and four of the six had not even lasted through 1952. A few 0-6-0 switchers were held in reserve during the first half of 1953 and then retired. (Asay footnote: "No. 164 was at Oroville, No. 165 at Stockton, and No. 166 at Oakland. L. Contri to H.C. Munson, April 20, 1953, File A-530.")

WP's last steam-powered freight ran in June 1953 between Oroville and Stockton. After that, all WP revenue (non-excursion) operations were under diesel power. SP would run steam engines for another four years and UP for another six between Laramie and Cheyenne, but Western Pacific had already moved on.

Following the federal ICC's mandate for automated train control in June 1947, Western Pacific installed Centralized Traffic Control (CTC) in 1950-1953. Jeff Asay wrote the following in his book The Iron Feather.

Eastern Division CTC -- WP decided to install full scale CTC on the Eastern Division after studying the results of the early Western Division applications. Portola to Herlong (50 miles) was cut over to the new Elko CTC machine on June 16, 1950. (Asay footnote: "WP Mileposts, July 1950, p 17.")

Herlong to Gerlach followed in August and the entire First Subdivision to Winnemucca came under CTC control by April 29, 1951. Contrary to its practice on the Western Division, WP closed all intermediate train order offices as soon as CTC was in operation. As anticipated, eight sidings were abandoned while the eight remaining east of Gerlach were increased to a uniform length of 125 cars. (Asay footnote: "The typical practice when installing full CTC was to reduce the number of sidings by about half and increase the capacities of those converted to dispatcher control to a uniform footage that would hold the longest expected trains over the next ten years.")

The next stretch of Eastern Division track to receive CTC was the 3.7-mile gap between Winnemucca and the beginning of paired track at Weso, which was put into operation on May 4, 1951. (Asay footnote: "Whitman Monthly Letter to Board, May 25, 1951.")

On July 14, 1952. CTC was operational from Alazon, the eastern limit of paired track, to Wendover. The easternmost section of main line track on the WP, Wendover to Salt Lake City, was converted to CTC on January 14, 1953. When CTC was cut in on this last segment, some type of CTC signal system was in use across WP's entire main line, except for paired track. Schedules, timetable superiority, and train orders became obsolete. Train order offices were superfluous. WP thus completed its main line signal program, leading to safer and more efficient service in the postwar economy. (Asay footnote: "WP Mileposts August 1952, p 15 and February 1953, p 3. WP changed the name of CTC to TCS - Transportation Control System, with adoption of a new rulebook early in 1952.")

September 17, 1950
A pair of the Western Pacific's Budd Rail Diesel Cars (RDCs), known as "Zephyrettes," went into service as replacements for the discontinued Royal Gorge (trains No. 1 and 2) between Salt Lake City and Oakland. The RDCs entered service on the first eastbound trip on September 15, 1950, and September 17, 1950 on the first westbound trip. They remained in service until October 2, 1960. The RDCs replaced Train No. 1, which from March 20, 1949 to September 14, 1950 consisted of a single diesel locomotive, a tender from a retired steam locomotive, a baggage car, a couple day coaches, and a diner, which was reported as losing $85,000 per month. The cars were test run in January 1950, and purchased in February, and were reported as being the first self-propelled, single-car diesel trains in service in the nation. The trains left Salt Lake City on Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. Although the RDCs did not have diner service, there were meal stops in Elko, Nevada and Portola, California. (Trainorders.com, June 3, 2010)

(See also: D-Day On The Western Pacific, by Virgil C. Staff, pages 48, 49, 91)

(See also: Diesel Locomotives of the Western Pacific, by Joseph A. Strapac, pages 49, 53)

(See also: The Iron Feather, by Jeff S. Asay, pages 234-238)

"After the California Zephyr's launch in 1949, the Exposition Flier was downgraded to coaches only and became a local that made all the stops across Nevada that the Zephyr didn't. A few years later and in an effort to reduce losses, the WP replaced the heavyweight cars with a pair of RDCs and renamed it the Zephyrette. It ran on a tri-weekly schedule until 1960, in large part because the RDCs drastically reduced the losses to an acceptable level. If I recall correctly, they only required a three-man crew, instead of the normal five for the former Exposition Flyer." (Bob McKeen, Facebook, August 3, 2020)

There were three tenders from retired steam locomotives assigned to the service. The tender was filled with about four feet of water at Oakland, which was enough water for the steam generator for the entire trip between Oakland and Salt Lake City. The extra water was needed because the F3 diesel locomotive assigned to the train did not carry more than 200 gallons. Contrary to popular railfan rumors, the tender did *not* carry extra fuel for either the locomotive or the steam generator.

The Royal Gorge, as WP trains 1 and 2, was a connection with D&RGW's Royal Gorge, also trains 1 and 2, which was discontinued on February 11, 1950 after being combined with D&RGW's Prospector, trains 7 and 8, west of Grand Junction. On March 22, 1950, D&RGW's newly equipped Prospector went into service between Denver and Salt Lake City.

(Read more about the D&RGW Prospector train)

February 1951
"Another spur track, 1,150 feet in length, has been constructed taking off from the company's Ellerbeck Branch, near Milepost 893, for the U. S. Smelting, Refining & Mining Company and the International Smelting & Refining Company. Lime sand taken from a deposit on Stansbury Island, north of Ellerbeck, will provide another fine source of steady revenue for Western Pacific" (Western Pacific Mileposts, February 1951, Issue 19, page 5)

The following comes from Railroad magazine, July 1953, page 47:

Q. What railroad has the greatest mileage of mainline controlled by CTC?

A. This distinction is now held by the Western Pacific. The Feather River Route last year [1952] completed installation of Centralized Traffic Control on the 72 miles of main line between Delle and Salt Lake City. Now the railroad's entire 924-mile stretch of mainline between Oakland and Salt Lake City is equipped with CTC, with the exception of 178 miles of paired track in Nevada. WP thus has 746 miles of CTC-equipped mainline trackage.

April 1953
WP installed centralized traffic control (CTC) between Wendover and Pollard Junction in Salt Lake City (Pollard Junction was where WP freight trains turned south at about 100 South and 700 West, to travel along D&RGW's main line to Roper Yard.) (Track and Time, Jeff Asay, page 140, based on date of WP employee Eastern Division timetable 52, dated April 26, 1953)

July 1953
The following article about WP's use of slag ballast comes from the July 1953 issue of Mining Engineering magazine, page 661:

A modern slag crushing and screening unit has been installed at the edge of the slag dump at American Smelting & Refining Co.'s Garfield Smelter to facilitate treatment of slag, found extremely useful as ballast on western railroad grades.

Slag has become popular as ballast because of its excellent drainage characteristics which lead to longer tie life. It also provides a more rigid roadbed than other materials. It has led to a brand new activity at Garfield. Some 30 million tons of slag are already in the dump, with monthly additions of 50,000 tons adding up to what appears to be an inexhaustible supply.

The crushing and screening unit was installed by Utah Sand and Gravel Co., independent contractors. Asarco granted additional right-of-way for the slag treatment plant and necessary service spurs to the Western Pacific Railroad. Western Pacific is the present ultimate purchaser of the slag which is used for an extensive modernization program. The slag is employed for ballast on the main line.

Dumping of the molten slag takes place around a major part of the dump's roughly circular periphery. The treatment plant had to be located where future dumping would not take place. A means for removing the solid slag from the interior of the dump had to be provided without interfering with present haulage or undermining existing trackage and other facilities.

Slag is partially broken up with a modern scarifier and bulldozed to a loading point where a shuttle feeder places it on a conveyor belt. The conveyor transports it under the slag haulage track to the crushing and screening plant. A jaw crusher and a cone crusher give the desired size reduction.

The two-step process for size reduction minimizes the production of fines, a limited-use byproduct. Slag is water-treated before crushing to eliminate dusting during preparation and loading. Vibrating screens remove undersize from the crusher feeds as well as fines from the finished product. The prepared ballast is -1-1/2 +3/8 in. in size. The -3/8 size is being stockpiled at present, but there is hope that someday it may be used for road surfacing and concrete aggregate.

The finished product is lowered to the loading level by means of a rock ladder. The rock ladder is an enclosed tower with projecting shelves alternating on opposite sides, preventing material falling far enough to create further reduction. Present capacity of the plant is 240 tons of prepared slag per hour. The plant is operated five days per week.

Slag is eventually loaded into Western Pacific Railroad hopper cars for transportation to points of use. Western Pacific and Asarco have both benefited from development of this new byproduct.

(View Photo 1)

(View Photo 2)

September 1, 1955
Western Pacific planned to start shipping loaded trailers on flat cars, known as "piggy-back," between the Bay Area and the Pacific Northwest, in cooperation with Great Northern. (Ogden Standard Examiner, June 30, 1955)

WP joined Trailer Train, the national trailer-on-flat-car (TOFC) pool. In that same year, WP started TOFC service, better known as "piggyback" service, between Salt Lake City and Oakland. WP, along with GN and AT&SF, had started piggyback service between Seattle and Los Angeles via the Inside Gateway by way of Bieber, California, in 1954. Competitors SP and UP joined Trailer Train in 1960, and WP's connecting road at Salt Lake City, D&RGW, joined in 1963. (The Tioga Group, Intermodal Timeline, 1954 to 1966)

April 28, 1959
The following comes from ICC Finance Reports, Volume 307, page 803, "Cases Disposed Of Without Printed Report."

F. D. No. 20290, Western Pacific Railroad Company et al. Joint Control, Salt Lake City Union Depot Railroad Company. Decided April 28, 1959. (Embraces F. D. No. 20292)

F. D. No. 20292, Salt Lake City Union Depot Railroad Company Stock. Decided April 28, 1959. (Embraced in F. D. No. 20290)

April 25, 1960
Western Pacific announced that on June 1st, the railroad would discontinue its local diesel car service Between Salt Lake City and Oakland. The railroad was reported to have lost $225,000 on the operation of the trains during 1959. (Deseret News, April 25, 1960) (The trains had entered service on September 17, 1950)

July 1960
"On the eastern end of our railroad WP is acquiring 143 acres of property about five miles west of Salt Lake City for future development. Already established on our line further west in Utah are, for example, such good customers as Marblehead Lime, Leslie Salt, Utah Calcium, Utah Lime & Stone (subsidiary of Flintkote Co.), Solar Salt, Bonneville, Ltd., and Western Phosphates." (Western Pacific Mileposts, July 1960, Issue 132, page 3)

October 2, 1960
Last day of operation for WP's Zephyrette, the self-propelled single-unit rail diesel car (RDC) between Salt Lake City and Oakland. The RDC was operated as WP train 1 and 2. (Track and Time, Jeff Asay, page 140)

Southern Pacific and Santa Fe each attempted to control Western Pacific. The action was begun in 1960 and ICC took until 1965 to hand down its decision against SP and AT&SF. (ICC report re. Southern Pacific request for control of Western Pacific, 1965, ICC Finance Docket 21314)

January 1965
The following comes from the January 1965 issue of Modern Railroads magazine:


ENGINEERING . . . Convert separate single tracks of UP and WP between Salt Lake City and Garfield, Utah, into paired double-track operation. This will include a fully prestressed concrete bridge and laying continuous welded rail.

May 1967
WP and UP completed a line change to allow the construction of today's Interstate 80, west of Salt Lake City. Included was a new line for WP from about 1000 West, paralleling UP's LA&SL line west across the Jordan River to Gladiola Street, at about 3200 West. WP's mainline was abandoned upon completion of the line change, which included a new location called "WP-UP Junction" at about 1100 West. The original WP/LA&SL diamond crossing at 1400 West was abandoned and the tracks between the new WP-UP Junction and Smelter, 15 miles to the west, were operated as joint trackage. (Track and Time, by Jeff Asay, page 94)

"Union Pacific - Western Pacific Joint Pamphlet No. 1, Rules for Joint Operation Between Smelter and Salt Lake City, Effective Sunday, May 7, 1967"

"Union Pacific and Western Pacific main tracks, as shown below, are designated as two main tracks and will be used jointly by Union Pacific and Western Pacific trains and engines.
"Union Pacific main track between westward Stop signal near 9th West and South Temple, Salt Lake City, and eastward Stop signal at Smelter, UP MP 766.2.
"Western Pacific main track between westward Stop signal near 9th West and South Temple, Salt Lake City, and eastward Stop signal at Smelter, WP MP 911.2."

WP-UP Junction (WP M.P. 926.6), first shown in WP timetable System #2, dated June 1, 1967.

WP-UP Junction (UP M.P. 781.7), first shown in UP Utah Division #42, dated September 24, 1967.

WP-UP Junction, a double crossover at about 1100 West, was added in 1967 to replace the at-grade diamond-crossing at 1400 West. As noted above, Jeff Asay wrote that the change was to put the WP and UP(LA&SL) lines west from Salt Lake City, on a common alignment in preparation for what today is I-80, and the new superhighway's crossing over the two rail lines at Cheyenne Street (about 1550 West). With the common ownership of both UP and WP lines after the 1983 merger, the need went away to crossover to WP-owned tracks before the ownership changed at the Jordan River, and the double crossover was moved several miles west to Orange Street, about a mile west of Redwood Road.

(View a Google map of the area at WP-UP Junction -- including the abandoned WP route was used as the location for Interstate 80, and the later interchange between I-80 and the later I-215 Belt Route, completed in 1985-1986)

WP OUT, D&RGW AND SP IN, BUT TRIWEEKLY ONLY: Reasoning that Western Pacific's tonnage can't subsidize an essentially "sightseeing excursion," the ICC has allowed WP to drop its Salt Lake City--San Francisco leg of the California Zephyr (last runs: March 21). Rio Grande, which also wanted out, was ordered to run its Denver--Salt Lake City CZ link on a triweekly schedule; and Southern Pacific was permitted to reduce its Ogden--San Francisco end of the City of San Francisco from daily to triweekly frequency. D&RGW and SP trains must connect between Salt Lake City and Ogden over what is at present freight--only trackage of the former. (Trains magazine, April 1970, page 8)

December 1, 1970
Alfred E. Perlman became president of Western Pacific Railroad. (Pacific News, November 1970, page 14)

December 21, 1970
Western Pacific Industries was organized to control Western Pacific Railroad as a subsidiary. By June 17, 1971, the holding company had acquired about 95 percent of the outstanding stock of the railroad company.

January 1, 1973
R. G. "Mike" Flannery became President and CEO of Western Pacific Railroad. Mr. Flannery had come to WP from Penn Central along with A. E. Perlman as Perlman's first Executive Vice President.

July 28, 1974
For many years, the line from Wendover to Salt Lake City was labeled as Western Pacific's Eighth (8th) Subdivision. The 8th Subdivision was eliminated when the consolidated employee timetable (WP/SN/TS) No. 3, was issued with the date of July 28, 1974.

Other consolidated timetables included:

October 29, 1977
Utah Department of Transportation invited bids to relocate the Salt Lake Garfield and Western to a route adjacent to the UP and WP between 9th West and approximately 40th West. This would move the SLG&W tracks away from the proposed alignment of Interstate 80. (Salt Lake Tribune, October 29, 1977)

February 16, 1978
Western Pacific Railroad was sold to Newrail Company, Inc., a company organized by Western Pacific's management and officers, including the road's president and CEO R. G. Flannery, to buy the railroad from its parent holding company Western Pacific Industries, Inc. The parent company had announced in 1977 to sell its railroad subsidiary. The federal ICC approved the sale on January 26, 1979. (see also: Newrail Co. -- Purchase -- Western Pacific R.R. ("Newrail"), 354 I.C.C. 885, 899-901, 1979)

The sale was approved by the railroad's shareholders on November 1, 1978. Included in the sale was the assets and business of Western Pacific Railroad, Sacramento Northern Railroad, Tidewater Southern Railroad, and non-railroad subsidiaries Standard Realty and Development Corporation, Delta Finance Company and the WP Transport trucking company.

April 4, 1979
The sale of the assets and liabilities (but not the stock) of Western Pacific Railroad to Newrail took effect. On the same day, Newrail changed its name to Western Pacific Railroad, and the previous railroad company controlled by Western Pacific Industries changed its name to OldWestCo. WPI then owned only a railroad company with no assets.

July 24, 1979
A wreck at Mile Post 868, near Low (MP 866.14) involving WP 3516, 2010, 3067, and 3523, along with caboose 466. The wreck was between two trains; a four-car EMR (Ellerbeck-Marblehead-Rowley) Local, and a set of four locomotives running light. (wreck information from Trainorders.com)

November 1979
Western Pacific adopted its new stylized feather logo. The first pieces of equipment to have the new logo were 100 boxcars to be delivered from Portland, Oregon during November 1979. The new logo was designed by Mark Gobe & Associates of San Francisco. (Deseret News, November 1, 1979)

January 23, 1980
Western Pacific's board of directors announced that they had accepted an offer from Union Pacific Railroad for the control of WP by UP. UP had announced on January 8, 1980, its intention to buy the Western Pacific.

September 15, 1980
UP and WP filed their request for UP control of WP with the federal ICC. The ICC accepted the application for merger and control on October 15th. Initial plans were for WP to remain independent and become UP's fourth operating district (along side UP's existing three districts: Eastern, Northwestern, and South-Central).

June 9, 1982
Robert C. Marquis became president and CEO of WP after R. G. Flannery left to become president and CEO of Missouri Pacific Railroad.

October 20, 1982
The federal ICC approved the control of WP by UP. The decision had been announced on September 13th.

January 1, 1983
Union Pacific's purchase and control of Western Pacific became effective. The sale cleared its last legal challenge and was approved by the U. S. Supreme Court on December 22, 1982, the date that is usually given as the date of the UP-WP "merger".

January 11, 1983
WP's board of directors met to confirm that Western Pacific's status as a subsidiary of the Union Pacific Railroad Company.

(All events on former WP trackage and locations after January 1983 are covered as part of the coverage for Union Pacific in Utah.) (Read more about for UP in Utah after 1983)

More Information

WP in Utah, Station Summary (including branch lines)

WP's Utah Branchline Operations