Part 2: Rio Grande's Incredible Tintic Branch

Rio Grande's Elberta Turn climbs past the load-out at Keigley on the D&RGW Tintic Branch.  The photo above is from James Belmont, a remarkably talented photographer who documents railroads in Utah.  In 1998, Belmont, Blair Kooistra and Dave Gayer published a book entitled Crossroads of the West, A Photographic Look at Fifty Years of Railroading in Utah.

 On the Thursday following our blog Rio Grande's Incredible Tintic Branch, I met some friends for lunch.  One individual from this group owns a construction company that specializes in highway bridge construction.  An issue which affronts his business is that the aggregate supply in the Salt Lake valley is diminishing. He was pleased to identify new sources for material in the Tintic/Goshen region of Utah, an area about 50 miles south of Salt Lake City.

As we spoke, he told me about an idea to mine aggregate near the old Rio Grande Tintic Branch, build or acquire a railroad siding in the area, and then use the railroad to ferry cars to a trans-load facility that he would construct in the Salt Lake valley. However, a few days before we met for lunch, Union Pacific informed him that the rail line was dismantled by vandals, and that there was no actual connection to that area. For today, a rail link to the area was dead.

For me, this was an interesting touchpoint given the blog I had just written. The timing was so uncanny, and it seemed appropriate to follow up here.  In so doing, one may be tempted to make the ostensible point that vandalism has real effects. It affects enterprise, the community and romantics (like myself) who like old things. But I think that it is more important to drill down further to illustrate the more trenchant point: the people who vandalized the branch are real buttheads.  That was the point of my last blog, and I am sticking with it.

The truth of the matter is likely that my friend's project probably would not have developed further anyway.  It is doubtful that the operation would have generated enough car loadings to justify rehabilitating the line. In recent years, the LDS church attempted to find an agreement with the railroad whereby it would ship 300 car loads annually from a LDS-owned grain elevator in this same area.  The outcome was that this volume was insufficient.  

And so rail traffic on this line of the old Rio Grande remains a memory, and it just may stay that way a little while longer.

Blaine


4 Responses

Adrian Neils
Adrian Neils

October 24, 2016

I’m only taking a pot shot, but why isn’t local law enforcement or railroad police apprehending railyard vandals. I’ll give you advice about scrap yards here in Wisconsin. The courts made it a felony and punishable with jail and fines for stealing construction, railroad and utility property. Certainly should anyone cause a derailment from stealing the iron, it should be traced to a scrap yard. The scrap yard can charged under federal laws

gary wise
gary wise

October 23, 2016

yes I know about vandalism I used to be a track inspector for some shortline railroads and people would steal tie plates spikes signal parts and anything they thought could sell for scrap I caught two women one day with the trunk of there car loaded down with tie plates the back of the car was dragging the ground

JonC
JonC

October 23, 2016

As someone who has been out to remnants at Keigley and has an interest in Western Rwy branchlines, enjoyed the blog on Tinitic branch. Have also tried to follow old lines up in there on trips
but with limited time. Photo is nice tie in. One of my favorite book pics is a similar but not same one
as in blog post part one.

Chuck Hunt
Chuck Hunt

October 23, 2016

Very nice post Blaine! So true.

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