Utah Central Railroad (1869–81)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The Utah Central Railroad was the first railroad in the U.S. state of Utah other than the main line of the First Transcontinental Railroad. Built by Mormons, it connected Salt Lake City to the transcontinental line at Ogden. It has since become part of the Union Pacific Railroad, which operates the line as the Salt Lake Subdivision;[1] FrontRunner commuter rail tracks were added alongside the UP freight line in 2008.


The company was incorporated in 1869, and completed the line in January 1870. At the time the First Transcontinental Railroad was being built, Brigham Young felt slighted by Union Pacific officials who had decided not to build the railroad through Salt Lake. "We want [the railroad] in this city where it belongs," he said on one occasion to the Mormons in Salt Lake, "the attempt to carry it in that [north] direction is an insult to the people of this city, for in so doing they have tried to shun us." Consequently, Brigham Young formed his own company, the Utah Central Railroad, in order to connect Salt Lake to the Transcontinental Railroad in Ogden, forty miles to the north.[2]

Brigham Young did not attend the grand celebration at Promontory Summit on May 10, 1869, when the two lines crossing the continent met. He did, however, attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the Utah Central Railroad in Ogden held a week later on May 17, 1869 and pitched the first shovel-full of ground to symbolize that construction was officially underway.[3] The following year, Young hammered in the final, commemorative spike, with the words "Holiness to the Lord" engraved upon it, at a special ceremony to celebrate the Utah Central Railroad's completion.[2]

The Union Pacific Railroad gained control of the Utah Central Railroad in 1878, and in 1881 merged it with the Utah Southern Railroad and Utah Southern Railroad Extension to form the Utah Central Railway, a UP subsidiary that ran south from Ogden to Frisco. That company was subsequently merged with several others in 1889 to form the Oregon Short Line and Utah Northern Railway, which was reorganized as the Oregon Short Line Railroad in 1897.[4] The OSL sold the lines south and west of Salt Lake City to the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad in 1903, but kept the original Utah Central. The UP began direct operation of the line under lease in 1936, and in 1987 the OSL was merged into the UP.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Agreement Between Union Pacific Railroad Company and Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, effective February 1, 2000 (includes a list of subdivisions from the first post-merger timetable in 1998)
  2. ^ a b Cowan, Richard O. (Fall 2001). "Steel Rails and the Utah Saints". The Journal of Mormon History. 
  3. ^ "Journal History of the Church". Journal History of the Church. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. See Church Historian's entries for May 10-19, 1869. Retrieved April 7, 2016.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  4. ^ Don Strack, UtahRails.net: Union Pacific in Utah, 1868-1899, accessed August 2008
  5. ^ Don Strack, UtahRails.net: Union Pacific in Utah, 1900-1996, accessed August 2008