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Utah Light and Railway Co. Car Barns

Salt Lake City was one of the first cities in the U.S. to introduce a trolley car system, electrifying its first line in 1889. Railroad magnate E.H. Harriman purchased a controlling interest in Utah Light Railway Company with plans to build a state-of-the-art trolley system as a model for the world. He invested $3.5 million in this site, constructing the unusual mission-style car barn complex during 1908-10. The largest building was used as the berth for the trolleys. The middle building served as a machine or “rip” shop and blacksmith shop. The north building was the paint and carpenter shop. The smaller east building was the sand house. The water tower was designed to hold 50,000 gallons of water in case of fire.

The railway venture operated out of this location until August 19, 1945, after which the Salt Lake City buses were housed here until 1970. Trolley Square was one of the first large-scale adaptive reuse projects in the country when the historic buildings were converted into a festival marketplace. Relics from around the West were rescued and installed as accent pieces. Trolley Square opened in June of 1972.

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