Corrine to Lucin

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  • States: Utah   
  • Railroads: CP, SP   

The Original Transcontinental Railroad

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Part of the original Transcontinental Railroad around the Great Salt Lake. The end of the track at Corrine looking to the west. Down the former ROW is the Promontory National Historic Site. Photo by Mike Palmer.

The original Transcontinental Railroad was completed around the north shore of Great Salt Lake, Utah, in May 1869 at Promontory, as part of the Salt Lake Division of the Central Pacific Railroad, which became the Southern Pacific. It was the primary main line for the Overland Route until around 1904 when Southern Pacific's Lucin Cutoff was completed across Great Salt Lake, which offered a shorter distance and easier grades through the Promontory Mountains. The original line, between Umbria Jct. (Lucin) and Corinne, Utah was downgraded to "secondary" status, and was used for passenger traffic only.

Technically, the part of the line east of Promontory was part of the UP but transferred to the Central Pacific/Southern Pacific around 1870 when the "transfer point" was moved from Promontory to Brigham City, Utah. (Brigham City was a better location for servicing trains.) With the UP's acquisition of SP it reverted back to UP after almost 130 years.

The tracks were abandoned in 1942 as the rails were needed to support the war effort during World War II; specifically, most of the track and hardware were relocated to military bases on the Pacific Coast.

For about 100 miles or so west of Ogden, and particularly in the completely deserted area west of Promontory, the barely-used UP grade is clearly visible parallel to the maintained CP grade.

The grade is maintained now by the Bureau of Land Management as a National Backcountry Byway, and is therefore in excellent condition, also due to the near desert-like conditions in the area. Some portions of the line do cross private property.

Interestingly enough, there were actually two grades built, both parallel and adjacent to each other. Both the Union Pacific and Central Pacific were under contract by the U.S. Government to build, and each were paid by the mile. It wasn't until after the construction crews passed each other (working in opposite directions) that the meeting point was established. The Central Pacific grade is now the famous one, and is the one preserved by the BLM. The Union Pacific grade was abandoned in 1870, less than a year after the Golden Spike was driven, qualifying it as one of the oldest abandoned grades that it still clearly visible.

Towns and locations along this former ROW are: Corrine to Quarry, Balfour, Conner, Lampo (Blue Creek), Surbon, Promontory, Rozel, Lake, Kosmo, Monument, Nella, Kelton, Peplin, Ombrey, Matlin, Terrace, Watercress, Bovine and to Umbria Junction on the SP/UP. Between Promontory and Rozel, a record 10 miles of track was laid on April 28, 1868. Track has been reinstalled on some of the ROW around the Promontory National Historic Site.

The Map of this route depicts both the CP and UP abandoned lines, with the CP being the northern of the two.

Thanks to Mike Palmer and Jeffrey Basford for contributing information about this route.

Historic ICC Abandonment Filings

SOUTHERN PACIFIC RAILROAD
Docket Number: 9791 Date: 1/9/1933 Section: 1
App. for certificate to abandon operation of that part of its Promontory Branch extending from Kelton to Lucin, in Box Elder County, Utah, a distance of 55 miles.
Length: 55 miles Citation: 199 ICC 731, 212 ICC 398  
SOUTHERN PACIFIC RAILROAD
Docket Number: 13655 Date: 3/1/1942 Section: 1
App. of Southern Pacific Co. for abandonment of its operations between Lucin and Ogde via Corinne Junction, in part via Promontory Branch owned by Central Pacific Ry Co. and in part via rr owned by Oregon Short Line, approximately 146.86 miles within Box Elder and Webster Counties, Utah AND App. of Central Pacific Ry Co. to abandon that portion of the Promontory Branch owned by it between points near Lucin and Corinne, a distance of 120.78 miles, within Box Elder County, Utah.
Length: 120.78 miles Citation: 252 ICC 805  

Excellent article. The sad part about this area is that Thiokol was planning to re-lay the track from Corrine to Thiokol so they could haul the huge Space Shuttle Booster Motor sections via rail. The sections weigh 250,000 lbs. The farmers along the right-of-way protested so Thiokol relented and continued to haul the sections by truck to the Corrine rail head. If the track had been put in, the U.S. Government was going to continue the rails from Thiokol to Promontory along the original right-of-way.

Michael W P Ball
Sammamish, WA
1/24/2009

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It is very amazing how they did all this but I don't understand why the track just ends in the middle of nowhere and ends at a road somewhere I have never heard of before. But besides that it is very interesting how they did this and how they met where they said they would.

Jessica Cochran
Gilmer, TX
5/19/2009

[As sections of railroad lines are abandoned, sometimes tracks are left in place and sometimes they are not. The end of track here in the middle of nowhere may have been the result of the track being abandoned at different times.  —Greg Harrison]

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do you have the exact locations of stokes, balfor, connor and a side track to rocheford?

Shayne
Ogden, UT
5/17/2012

[Shayne, sorry but I could not find these locations on USGS topographical maps.  —Greg Harrison]

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I really enjoyed the artical and the info on the actual ICC Abandonment Filings. However some of the information listed is not correct. After lucin cutoff was completed the main line was used for secondary use but just mainly for freight for farmers in the area, in 1870 central pacific purchased land out to ogden in which it became the main hub, and in 1942 after the rail was pulled up most of it was actually used in the local area (Hill AFB)

Jess Herbert
brigham , UT
5/29/2012

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