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2017-10-07 11.20.09

Local Citizens Financed and Built Provo’s First Railroad in 1873

The Union Pacific Railroad disappointed Brigham Young when it bypassed Salt Lake City and went through Ogden and around the north end of the Great Salt Lake.

Undaunted, Young supervised the organization of the Utah Central Railroad Company to span the 37 miles between Ogden and Salt Lake City.  The last spike on this railway was driven on January 10, 1870.

A year after the completion of the Utah Central Railroad, local investors incorporated the Utah Southern Railroad, which was initially to run the 65 miles from Salt Lake City to Payson.  Officials broke ground for the railroad on May 1, 1871, and Brigham Young drove the first spike a month later.  When construction reached Utah Valley in 1872, Young encouraged the people to provide cash, labor and ties in exchange for stock in the railroad.

Provo City gave the railroad a right of way along 600 South in 1872, and in 1873 City leaders selected a location for a depot where 600 South intersects what is now University Avenue.  On that site, the company erected a frame warehouse measuring 21 by 64 feet on the south side of the tracks and a ticket office on the north side.

Workmen completed the railroad to Provo late in November, 1873.  The first official trail from Salt Lake City arrived on November 24, the day of the opening celebration.  About 2,000 people gathered at the depot to hear music played by the Provo Brass Band and the speeches of church and civic leaders.

Today’s UTA FrontRunner station and transportation terminal is located near this same site.

This plaque is located in Ron Last Park in Provo and is part of this series of plaques.

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2014-03-07 15.50.27