Railway Depot Built, But No Train Arrived!
The leading area industry of the late 1800s and early 1900s was mining Gilsonite, a glossy black hydrocarbon-resin. Henry Ford used it to produce the lustrous black paint on his Model T, and Anheuser Busch lined beer barrels with the tar-like substance. Today it is used in inks, building products, and protective coatings. The Uinta Basin lays claim to the only commercial mining of this substance. This industry sparked the construction of a narrow gauge railroad in 1904 to ship Gilsonite to the world market.
In 1905 the Uintah Railway and Freight Company constructed its railroad station, directly across from you, for the purpose of housing a railroad depot, freight station, and telegraph office. Despite the fervent efforts of the community, the rails never reached Vernal. The freight station continued to ship produts such as local wool. Until the 1940s, when modern highways and the trucking industry took over, the freight station also provided service to and from the rail line, located 57 miles southeast of the now-deserted ghost town of Watson.
Freight and passengers were transported from Vernal to the railway on a daily basis in wagons and, later, in modern motor coaches. This building now serves as a warehouse.
This is #19 of the 21 stop history walking tour in downtown Vernal, Utah. See the other stops on this page:
This marker is located at 90 North Vernal Avenue in Vernal, talking about the location across the street at 89 North Vernal Avenue.