A confession: when I began the series entitled Ode to Utah Coal, it was not my intention to entrench the series with nostalgia and the ways in which the Utah Railway is unique as a western operator. But, that is what the blog has become--and as a topic, I don't believe that it is parochial. When the Utah Railway operated its last coal train over Soldier Summit this year, it ended a 105 year service record. That is remarkable, and it seems relevant to bookmark this change with a few notes here.
But now, let's turn things on their head.
Rather than look at what is unique about the Utah Railway, this blog explores something that was unique to the Utah Railway. If this statement were posed as a question, as in 'to the Utah Railway, what was unique?', the first thought to come to my mind is the depot.
As in, yes, they had... one.
The Utah Railway was organized in 1912 to move Utah coal--not people, and in 1912, moving people was a normal part of railroad operations. However, in 1917, the railroad did acquire the former Southern Utah Railway "Kingmine" depot in Hiawatha, UT. It was the Utah Railway's only depot.
The depot was located between two mine loaders. The photo below shows the east coal washer/loading building in 1982. According to UtahRails.net, this operated until 1991. There was a second tipple west of the depot at approximately the same distance. The way that the depot is awkwardly positioned between two mine structures is metaphor of its place for the railroad, id est, completely secondary.
The railroad moved coal, and there was a depot only insofar as station-bound individuals contributed to the activity of moving coal. Records indicate that the Utah Railway operated its last mixed, passenger in 1926. Oddly, after 90 years, the depot--that thing which was of the least operational importance to the railroad--managed to be the only railroad-related thing to survive in Hiawatha.
How time is not without a sense of irony.
The east coal washer/loaders was dismantled in October 1992, and I presume the other loader was razed in the same period. The rail was pulled up about five years ago.
Photo credit: UtahRails.net
If you would like to read more about the Utah Railway's operations in this area, please visit Utahrails.net.