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.