I was at Smelter, Utah (between Tooele and Salt Lake City) and noticed over by the railroad tracks that there was a sign saying it was the start of the Pacific Time Zone. That surprised me since that time zone doesn’t start until you leave Utah into Nevada. Maybe the railroad has a different boundary than the rest of us? I can imagine how that would be helpful for the stations and junctions out in the desert but I never knew about anything like that. If you know, please share.
In 1911, after the depletion of ore at Dragon, Utah, the Uintah Railway extended its line northwest along Evacuation Creek to the terminus of Watson. From this railhead a toll road ran north to points in the Uinta Basin. The rail extended southwest to the mining camp of Rainbow. Watson became the center of Gilsonite and ranching activity with hotels and stores. Thousands of sheep were sheared and wool shipped from here.
1907, David C. Dart
The Judge Building was built by a business savvy widow. Mary Judge was married to John Judge, a partner with Thomas Kearns and David Keith in developing the Silver King Mine in Park City.
After John’s death, Mary multiplied her fortune with investments in real estate and mines. In addition to proving herself a capable businesswoman, Judge donated generously to a variety of charities. The Judge Building was once known as the Railroad Exchange Building. By 1909, 22 railroad companies had their Salt Lake offices here. The Commercial style building features a copper cornice, colorful ceramic tile triangles, and swags of carved stone fruit above the seventh-story windows.
The town of Tucker was located near a sharp curve at the bottom of a 5% grade along U.S. Route 6. In 2009, the Utah Department of Transportation closed and buried the Tucker rest area to build a safer alignment, with a banked curve and reduced grade. In 2010, the department dedicated a replacement rest area about 2 miles downstream from Tucker (mile post 202). The structure was named the Tie Fork Rest Area after the side canyon where it was located. The replacement rest area was designed to mimic an early 1900s era train depot to honor the town, including a replica roundhouse and non-functional steam locomotive built by Original Creations of Carbonville, Utah. The buildings were designed by the Archiplex Group of Salt Lake City. The rest area was voted one of the most beautiful buildings in the state of Utah in a contest sponsored by the American Institute of Architects. It is also one of the busiest non-freeway rest areas in the state.
The rest area was officially opened on 16 Aug 2010 and is supported financially by Carbon, Emery, Grand, and Utah counties, as well as the Manti-La Sal National Forest and Utah State Parks (Division of Utah State Parks and Recreation). Each of the sponsors have provided interpretive displays at the rest area and share the estimated annual $17,000 cost of maintenance.
Site of LDS Tenth Ward Square until 1888 when it was purchased and used as a territorial fairgrounds through 1901. Car Barns and Repair shops built 1908-1910 under the direction of E.H. Harriman for Utah Light and Railway Company. Barns housed Salt Lake City Buses until 1970. Renovation 1972.
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.
Pleasant Grove Train Station
Building the Railroad
As early as 1902, proposals were being made to build a railroad to provide services in Utah County. In 1912, Walter C. Orem, a wealthy promoter from Boston, secured both the rights and the financing (approximately $3 million) to build an electric railroad between Salt Lake City and Payson. Construction began in October 1912. Mrs. W. M. Smith and her daughter Irene, planned and supervised the construction. Mrs. Smith was said to be the only female railroad contractor in the world at the time. The average cost of the line was $38,000 to $40,000 per mile. Mr. Orem purchased the land his rails used between towns, while securing contracts for the use of public streets in and through the various communities. 500 trackmen were employed to build the railroad.
Electricity to run the train was supplied by Utah Power and Light Company. On April 1, 1914 the electric line and substations were operational providing 1500 volts of direct current to power the trains.
In March 1914, service began between Salt Lake and American Fork. By July 1914, the line was complete and service extended through Pleasant Grove to Provo. In 1916, service was extended south as far as Payson. A golden spike ceremony was held in Payson to celebrate the completion of the line on May 26, 1916.
In 1914 the Pleasant Grove Station was built using concrete slabs made in Salt Lake and transported to Pleasant Grove on the train. The station was located at 169 West 200 South. It included a waiting room, restroom, ticket window and a two bedroom apartment.
Running the Train
Electric trains provided several benefits. They were more luxurious, quieter, faster and more powerful. They were able to negotiate steeper grades and tighter curves than a steam engine and were cheaper and more convenient.
The SL&U had twelve steel passenger cars, three express cars and eight freight locomotives. The train traveled at 66 mph. The passenger cars were dark red and seated 66 people. They were heated and lighted drawing power from motors that ran on the electricity of the line. They had smoking and non-smoking compartments as well as a freight compartment. Common nicknames for the train were Red Heifer (due to the dark red cars) and Leaping Lena (due to the rough ride.)
SL&U provided several services to Pleasant Grove. It was used for mail service and transporting goods including fruits and vegetables. SL&U instigated the store to door free delivery system that set a national precedent. It provided transportation to the LDS General Conference and other big events as well as allowing people to visit friends and family. Many people used the train to commute to work or attend dances and other social events.
1913-1925 were considered the golden years of the railroad. During that time passenger revenue accounted for 72 percent of all revenue. In 1919, passenger revenue increased 573% and 3000 passengers were riding daily on 36 trains. The train served more than 60 businesses. Mail was delivered 6 times a week on the evening train. In 1916, the train carried 1200 gallons of milk per day during December and 12,000 beets per year.
The End of the Line
In 1925, the SL&U fell into receivership. Deficits continued until 1929. In 1929, thanks to a massive advertising push, it rebounded. Times were tough in the 1930’s when money was scarce. In 1938, the Salt Lake & Utah Corporation gained control of the railroad. in 1938, Rio Grande Trailways brought bus service to Pleasant Grove, This competed directly with the railroad by running a similar route. The railroad started their own bus service in 1939, but still lost money. There was a brief increase during the early 1940’s because of gas rationing. By 1944, SL&U had reduced service to only seven passenger trains per day. On December 12, 1945 the railroad once again fell into receivership. On March 1 1946 the SL&U closed down.
After the opening of the Golden Pass Road through Parley’s Canyon, the canyon became more accessible for the cutting and hauling of wood to be used in construction of homes and industrial ventures. Lamb’s Canyon, near the top of the canon was a prime source for these materials. However, it was soon discovered that the developing industries needed more than wood fuel and water power. Pioneers were sent in various directions to attempt to locate coal deposits. Those sent to the area of the present location of Coalville, Utah, found a brown coal called lignite, east of the townsite up Chalk Creek. Brigham Young immediately formed a coal operation at the site. The coal was dug and hauled by wagon over Silver Creek and Kimball’s Junction, over Parley’s Summit and down the canyon into the valley. A ton of coal then cost $8.00 and the hauling charge was $1.50.
Shortly after the coming of the railroad to the west in 1869, a railroad line connecting Salt Lake and points south was installed from Corinne, in 1869. In 1871, a branch railroad line going north connecting Coalville to the main line at Echo was begun by Summit County Railroad. It was a narrow gage line which served, starting in 1873. The coal was there transferred into the standard gage cars of the UP Railroad which continued thence through Corinne and Ogden, into Salt Lake.
On June 11, 1874, the Eastern Utah Railroad was incorporated to build a narrow gage rail line from Coalville south to the Park City mines. In 1880, the Union Pacific Railroad Co. obtained the lines from Park City north to Echo and replaced them with a standard gage line, which was finally completed in 1888. About this same time, the Salt Lake & Eastern Railroad Co. completed the narrow gage line from Salt Lake City to Park City Mines in 1890. In 1900, the Rio Grande Railroad Co. took over the lines through Parley’s Canyon to Park City and changed them to standard gage. They also acquired the lines from Park City north to Echo. The line through Parley’s Canyon continued not only as a freight train, but carried passengers as well until the service was discontinued from Sugar House through the canyon in the 1940s. Freight service to Sugar House continued for some years after this date.
Two Railroads Moved Coal to Provo in the 1880s.
By the 1870s, available local wood that could be used for winter fuel had become scarce. Fortunately for Utah Territory’s settlers, coal mines opened in Pleasant Valley (Scofield and Winter Quarters – see the disaster at the Winter Quarters Mine here) in 1875. However, hauling coal by wagon down Spanish Fork Canyon to the settlements along the Wasatch Front proved to be too slow to supply the huge demand.
Two Springville men, Milan Packard and M.P. Crandall, joined by other interested businessmen, founded the Utah & Pleasant Valley Railroad Company in 1877 to haul coal from the mines in Pleasant Valley to Utah Valley. Since money was scarce, the railroad company partially paid for their workmen with goods. These goods often included fabric used for making clothing. Hence, the railroad received the nickname “Calico Road.”
The new tracks arrived in Provo late in 1880. Workmen transferred most of the coal brought to Provo by the Utah & Pleasant Valley Railroad to the Utah Southern Railroad for shipment to Salt Lake City or points south.
During the spring of 1881, a railroad with more ambitious goals planned to build through Provo. The Denver & Rio Grande Western hoped to eventually ship freight, carry passengers, and service Utah’s mines. The new railroad laid tracks between Provo and Salt Lake City in 1881. Unemployed men in Provo found work constructing the grade and laying the tracks.
The Denver & Rio Grande Western soon bought the Utah Southern, and the Denver & Rio Grande, ultimately connected Provo with the rest of the nation. Competition between the two companies helped keep freight prices more reasonable for Provo’s farmers and manufacturers.
The Forerunner of Frontrunner: Provo-to-SLC trains Began in 1912
The Utah Transit Authority feels justly proud of its FrontRunner train which provides mass transportation to people along the Wasatch Front.
This form of transit is nothing new to Provo. Old-timers remember that such a system of transportation once existed in the Valley. Its official name was the Salt Lake and Utah Railroad, but most people called it the Orem Electric or the Orem Inter-Urban.
Interest in an electric railroad line connecting Utah Valley with Salt Lake Valley began in the 1890s. However, it was not until 1912 that Walter C Orem, for whom the city of Orem is named, provided the necessary experience and financing to establish a successful electric railway line.
Instead of laying tracks along the outskirts of town like the steam powered railroads did, the Orem Inter-Urban built its tracks right through nearly every town in Utah Valley from Lehi to Spanish Fork. This made the new railroad more convenient to commuters. The swinging, swaying motion of the passenger cars led to the train’s nickname, “Leaping Lena.”
In Provo, the new rails ran right down Center Street in 1914, and the company built its station at 100 West Center. The Inter-Urban also operated a short lived street railroad in Provo. Its first stretch of tracks ran from the mainline railroad tracks at 600 South up University Avenue to Brigham Young University on 500 North. This unprofitable line operated only a few years.
Many people used the Orem Inter-Urban to travel to Salt Lake City for work, shopping, and cultural events. By 1940, however, the railroads’s infrastructure and equipment began to fail. Soon the number of riders declined when World War II ended and automobiles became more readily available and highways were improved. On March 1, 1946, the Salt Lake and Utah Railroad ceased operating and workmen began removing its rails.