Provo Yard

ExactRail is located just a stone's throw from the local yard in Provo, Utah.  As you may have guessed, visits to the yard happen at a minimum of once per day.  The visits to the yard have been very beneficial to many items that we have produced.  Some paint schemes would simply not have happened without them.

I have visited many yards across the country and still to this day it is one of my favorites.  I wouldn’t call it a large or a very busy yard, but it has always remained interesting.

exactrail.com provo yard union pacific sign

Blaine and I both grew up in the area and both visited the yard as often as we could in our youth.  We often reminisce about the days that are now gone.  One of my first memories of the yard was when I was about 5 years old.  I was waiting for my uncle to arrive on the Amtrak California Zephyr at the now gone Provo Station.  While waiting for the train to arrive, one Rio Grande freight after the other would fly by at track speed.  The sight and sound of them terrified me, but at the same time fascinated me.  The memories of that night will never be forgotten.

The Provo yard is actually made up of three yards running more or less parallel to each other.  The easternmost is the former Denver & Rio Grande Western yard that Union Pacific now primarily uses for freight car storage and the occasional coal train to briefly tie up in.  Tucked in the middle you will find the Utah Railway.  Although it is a Utah Railway yard, it looks more like a BNSF one.  This is because the Utah Railway handles all BNSF trackage rights trains that now come through thanks to the UP-SP merger.  Last of all you have the Union Pacific yard to the west.

exactrail.com provo yard chris brimley photograph

I will always look back fondly on the yard of my past, but I look forward to the (hopefully) good changes to come.  

I am sure that like me, many of you have a railroad location or a moment that has had an impact on you.  I would love to hear about them in the comments section.

One last thing.  I want to thank the Union Pacific and Utah Railway crews for tolerating our frequent trips through the yard.

Happy Railroading,

exactrail.com chris brimley signature

Chris Brimley

27 Responses

Paul Liddiard
Paul Liddiard

May 16, 2016

My grandfather lived at 500 South and 600 West in Provo.When my family would go to visit, every time the train horns would blow, I would run down to 600 South to watch the trains roll by. It wasn’t until I learned to drive that I would go through the yards on Colorado Avenue and check out the equipment.
There have been a lot of changes since the UP-SP merger, but a lot has stayed the same. I miss the Rio Grande locos and cabooses, but it’s great to see rail traffic still moving through Provo…

Tom Helms
Tom Helms

May 15, 2016

Thanks to all of the hundreds of railroad employees that treated
me so well and were so generous in their time and and information
over the last 65 years. It was truly a great trip all over the United
States. They all have been extremely friendly and helpful.

Charles Rooks
Charles Rooks

April 01, 2016

Although not a yard, my favorite place was about 30 yards from the East Portal of Tennessee Pass watching east bound trains exiting the tunnel. After you could see the 3rd locomotive’s nose, everything disappeared in smoke! You had to wait a couple of ninutesto be able to see the train again. By the time trains hit the east portal they were only going 5-10 mph,so you didn’t miss much. The mid trainn helpers were cut out and went back to Minturn. I really miss this action. Maybe it will return someday…………..

Chuck Shockley
Chuck Shockley

March 26, 2016

Argentine Yard, Kansas City. My grandfather worked for Santa Fe for almost fifty years, most of it right there at Argentine Yard. The best memories tho are riding the Chief from Chicago to Kansas City for the summers. We lived in Milwaukee at the time and took The Milwaukee Road to Chicago and the the Chief to Kansas City. Fred Harvey sandwiches In the dome car …….Yum!

Robert A Centrone
Robert A Centrone

March 26, 2016

I live in Pennsylvania and discovered a Norfolk Southern maintenance yard near the Valley Forge National Park. My wife and I hike often at Valley Forge and a friend who was employed by NS told us to take a look. It’s a long yard with a large maintenance building. It’s situated next to the Schuykill River not far from the city of Philadelphia. They store multiple locomotives (old and new) next to the gravel road that skirts it on one side. I go there often for photographs and sometimes just to walk beside those beautiful metal brutes. I find it relaxing. Love trains! Always will. Thanks for your story. Enjoyed it.

David Standen
David Standen

March 25, 2016

Living in Australia, its hard to visit large US yards, but every couple of years, when I can make it over to the States, I stay in the old Loco Driver Dorm that is still situated beside the old wye at Minturn Colorado, on the D&RGW’s Tennessee Pass Line——-Walking the yard brings back fond memories of when the black & gold had it, and even though the grades were tough, and the weather was so changeable at North America’s highest crossing——it was still the Original Main Line that went Through the Rockies, and its still in fairly good nick in places.
Steep grades, Beautiful Scenery, and some of the heaviest trains used to traverse this Spectacular Line, that I hope that One Day will run again -—a true modellers paradise, that draws you back time and time again.
David Standen Melbourne, Australia

Nathan Pettit
Nathan Pettit

March 22, 2016

Didn’t have a yard close by growing up but saw lots of them on our family drives. My favorites though where in Bakersfield, the huge ATSF roundhouse and the Amtrak station on the east end, and the SP yard with part of the brick roundhouse still standing. I always tried get my dad to drive by those when visiting my grandparents. The Provo yards were one of my favorite spots while at the Y, I would take a run or a bike ride down to the yards multiple times a week. I remember listening to the horns of the UP SW10s as the shuttled back and forth along 6th south. Lots of variety, lots of action, great place to sit and watch. I still try to swing by from time to time to see what’s new.

Roger J. Juhl
Roger J. Juhl

March 21, 2016

The Vancouver Yard in Vancouver, Washington is a fascinating place to visit. There is a rich history here where Mid-America meets the West. Vancouver is on the north side of the Columbia River, Portland, Oregon is on the south side. BNSF travels along the north side of the river, UP along the south side. Both railroads compete with much barge traffic along the Columbia which hauls great quantities of wheat and other products from eastern Oregon, Washington and Idaho. Both railroads pass through Vancouver Yard. The UP can swing north from Portland to serve ports along the Columbia River and north to Seattle. BNSF has the option of going north or south. Both UP and BNSF share track rights between Portland and Seattle. Endless BNSF grain trains are a common sight. Forest products, automobile, container, oil, and coal trains are very common. Amtrak’s Coast Starlight and Empire Builder stop at Vancouver Station along with the Cascades commuter train the runs between Eugene, Oregon and Seattle, Washington. The north south tracks pass in front of the passenger station and the trains run by within reach and then cross the Columbia immediately over a 100 year old swing bridge. It doesn’t get any better than that!

Steve
Steve

March 21, 2016

My best memories are of the old Milwaukee Rd yard at West Washington Ave. in Madison Wis. There was a round house, freight house, small shops area. Cinders to pick thru, cars and loco’s to admire. Every thing a 12 year old rail fan loved. Still treasure photo’s of my little brother climbing on DOD flatcars of M60A1 tanks heading to USAR/NG unit in town.

Coupler sheen
Coupler sheen

March 20, 2016

The good old Provo yard. I miss the two hobo cabooses. Deep off a junction in the south end of the yard. I spent endless hours walking my dog thru there. I remember seeing colossus of roads in there one day. Good times thanks for the memories

RJ Cancilleri
RJ Cancilleri

March 20, 2016

The Enola Yards…….My memories of the vast rail yard adjacent to the Susquahana River near Harrisburg Pa. instill similar feelings……Watching those GP/SD/EE’s and the enormous GG1’s sitting in the yard was quite a sight. The sight of a couple SD45 with a 75 car coal drag coming across the nearby Horseshoe Bridge was awesome!

Loren Casey
Loren Casey

March 20, 2016

Ha….first thought the title was Proviso yard of the CNW in Chicago. Then realized what it was about. Visited the area on business back in 2007 and thought it was a neat place….being a midwesterner mostly, not used to mountains right behind the yard. Did catch a cool PD hopper there in I assume original NATX paint with two panel COTS on it then. Then to get further blown away, went on down the road to Helper, UT. I’m sure nothing like the old days, but still had most units(including 4 of the MK units) still in the grey and red paint.

Chris Howe
Chris Howe

March 20, 2016

My favorite place was NS East Wayne yard in New Haven, IN. I lived a half mile as the crow flies from it as a young adult and after I graduated, it became my favorite place to drive thru to see what interesting freight cars might be around. The best was an old Detroit Salt car that used to be ex Conrail but had weathered so bad that a PRR keystone was showing thru. I moved from there 4 years ago but whenever I visit my family, I have to drive over there just to see what’s happening at my old railfan haunt.

William Irwin
William Irwin

March 20, 2016

Thanks for mentioning a yard. I have been close proximity to the Centralia, Illinois yards of the Illinois Central now CNrailroad since 1968. I have lived in Irvington just off the tracks and now live across a farm field farther North thanks for the article. I have pictures of several road names both pre merger and now. I would be glad to share pictures if you need some. Bill

John Schmeling
John Schmeling

March 20, 2016

Hi Chris

Nice pictures i was wondering what camera you use…..during the 90’s I rail fanned Solider Summit and stayed at Provo on numerous occasion’s there’ was always a lot of good stuff around the Provo yard to check out…..many goods times around this area for sure.

John

Michael M. Palmieri
Michael M. Palmieri

March 20, 2016

I have had the opportunity to visit Provo because I had relatives there, and later in Orem.

When I visited the yards the railroads were the Utah, the Rio Grande and the Union Pacific; and the passenger train was named the RIO GRANGE ZEPHYR. I lived in New Orleans at the time, and all of those railroads were foreign and exotic to me, as were some of the locomotives I encountered. The UP was using a couple of TR5 sets to switch their yard, and the first UP train I saw had a GP30, a DD35B and an SD24B! And of course, the Alcos on the Utah were a treat (as were the USS Baldwins at Geneva).

After our first visit in 1975 my wife and I left Provo on Rio Grande No. 18, and we arrived on No. 17 with our two sons in 1983, so they could ride the train before Amtrak took over a month or two later! Our last visit to Provo Yard was last April, but we were on Amtrak No. 6 and slept through it.

Most of my slide collection was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina, including my Rio Grande and UP images from Provo; but my Utah Railway material survived because it was on the second floor, and here is an album with images from 1975 and 1978. My Geneva steel mill slides survived too, but that’s for another blog.

http://mmp70160.rrpicturearchives.net/archiveThumbs.aspx?id=115026

Nick Santo
Nick Santo

March 20, 2016

I’ve visited the VTR yard in Burlington, VT for 15 years on and off. When I wanted to model it (which I have done) I found the best way was to take aerials of it. When the owner of VRS came to my basement he said that he had laid out and actually laid the rails in the yard and it my model was exactly correct.

Here’s to doing good prototyping!!!

Keep up the good work!!!

Nick

Alvin R. Prochnow
Alvin R. Prochnow

March 20, 2016

My experience of Provo began in the late 60’s when I drove from Las Vegas to Riverton, Wyoming taking my wife to her parents. We always stayed at the Best Western in the middle of Provo not far from the Denver & Rio Grande yard and not far from an Albertson market. In the morning we always drove on the road through the Provo Canyon to Heber City.
In the late 80’s and through the 90’s one of my accounts was BYU and can’t tell you how many times I visited the Rio Grande & Union Pacific yards. Have pictures of DR&RG maintenance of way cars and diesels of Utah Railway in the 9000 series at Provo yard not to mention modern diesels of Union Pacific in their yard at Provo.. Can’t tell you how many visits we made to Heber Valley Museum & Railroad with my son and daughter. One of my favorite places to travel is from Provo on Highway 6 to Green River then Interstate 70 to Grande Junction, Colorado. I have traveled a few times on Interstate 70 from Green River to Interstate 15 in route to Beaver. Now at age 80, I limit my travel to watching DVD’s of the Utah Desert and Soldier Summit.

Roger Ball
Roger Ball

March 20, 2016

My brother remembers the mallets at the yard in Salt Lake. Great memories

David Luyster
David Luyster

March 20, 2016

I grew up watching trains in the Conrail and Norfolk Southern yards at Marion, Ohio. I love the sights and smells of a rail yard in the summer. The smell of diesel and creosote, the rumble and groaning on cars moving on yard tracks and the sound of the diesel notching up to pull or shove cars. There is nothing else like it.

gary wise
gary wise

March 20, 2016

i use to really enjoy chasing rock island around ducan okla with my grandfather many years ago that is why i still model rock island at 68 years old

GARY WISE

Frank
Frank

March 20, 2016

Sounds like a nice yard to maybe some day in the future to visit, but if your ever in the neighborhood you need to come see the yards here in Waycross, GA. aka the “Rice Yard,” where many trains from all over the SE and NE come in to change out there cars and than move out again to all the destinations, this is a distribution yard for the SE, one of the biggest, owned bye CSX.

Gibbob
Gibbob

March 20, 2016

Fascinating reading, we often visit the USA and have seen Utah Railway freight trains when driving to Helper. Next visit will be Oregon so Provo will have to wait for another year but as Arnie would say “I’ll be back!”

Walter Heinrich
Walter Heinrich

March 20, 2016

As a BYU student in the mid 90s, Provo always had something. It usually meant taking the #6 bus down to 2000S, before the1860S overpass. If it wasn’t finding DRGW GP40s and tunnel motors with occasional SP and ATSF units, there were a couple industrial switchers at Pacific States Steel or Intermountain a little farther south. The UP-SP merger brought BNSF pumpkins and Utah Railway, with occasional Conrail, C&NW, and even a rare sighting of Wisconsin Central SD45s. Most of the carload industry is gone but UTA has been added.

Mark Sullivan
Mark Sullivan

March 20, 2016

In the early sixties, my dad took my brother and I
to the SP Fruitvale tower. (Now gone; long gone)

A lady named Ruby was staffing the tower and invited up up for train watching supreme and a
listen to the SP radio. Another day, a guy was running the tower and had us come up but he was piping the SFGiants game over the SP radio.

I will forward you a period photo of the site

Vincent Sanders
Vincent Sanders

March 20, 2016

For me it was the Roseville Yard in Roseville California. Now I think it’s call J.R. Davis Yard. UP Chairman Dick Davidson dedicated the Roseville Yard in honor of retired Vice Chairman Jerry Davis. I visit the yard as often as I can since 1973. Lot’s of stories for me and my friends there. Thank you Southern Pacific to now Union Pacific employees who tolerated use thought the years.

Vincent.

BOB MERSEREAU
BOB MERSEREAU

March 20, 2016

We have been life long WP fans and of course the D&RGW switched the CZ at Salt Lake if I remember correctly.

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