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.
It was a dark and stormy night...
Or, some people are real buttheads...
Given the intrigue to the story to follow, the start of this blog could begin either way:
Often overlooked, the Denver & Rio Grande Western's Tintic/Goshen Valley Branch gets my vote for being among the more interesting locales for the 1980's-era Rio Grande. The branch has an aesthetic that is truly anachronistic to the present. It consists of a shallow right-of-way through marsh and fields and over mountain grades. It meanders from one canyon wall to another with an inefficiency that has long been lost from contemporary railroads.
The branch is currently in disuse. However, opportunistic businesses tease ventures that would reopen the line, and as such, the branch is a coquette to Utah-area rail fans. Local enthusiasts hope for the slow moving trains to return to the pile trestles and operate past the old mine load-outs. And one day, it could happen. There is still rail on those old wooden ties.
Enter the buttheads:
In an article published by KSL on August 31, 2016, two local buttheads, Alan Dean McKee and Gary Anderson, employed a local contractor to scrap the Tintic branch. The problem is, McKee and Anderson do not own the line, and they acted without the permission of Union Pacific Railroad. It is speculated that McKee and Anderson did so to pay the legal fees for a lawsuit in which they "impersonat[ed] high-ranking officials of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to legitimize" a project for which they were seeking investment capital.
To read the full article, please click here.
Seven miles of track were removed before Union Pacific Police Department and Utah County Sheriff's Office intervened. Now, any chance that D&RGW's Tintic Branch would reopen is probably a little further away.