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Denver & Rio Grande Western trains in Utah Picture Gallery

Picture of a Denver and Rio Grande Western train in Utah

My first train chasing adventure following the Denver & Rio Grande Western was in December 1975. I had less than a year to go in the Navy and was returning to my base in Virginia after visiting family in California. The weather was perfect. The daytime temperature was around 55 degrees and all of the snow had been cleared off the roads. My second trip in November 1976 was mixed. There was no snow and it was cloudy and cold the first day. The second day was sunny and mild, but there were very few trains running. The third day started clear, but soon turned to snow showers. All subsequent trips were made during the summer.

With financial backing from Jay Gould, William Palmer formed the Denver & Rio Grande Western in Utah in 1881 by combining the Salt Lake and Park City Railway with the Sevier Valley Railway. These lines were extend north to Salt Lake City in early 1882 and extended east to Helper in late 1882. The line connected with the westward building D&RG at Desert (near Green River) in 1883. The line was converted to standard gauge in 1890. The RGW and D&RG were merged into the D&RGW in 1908.

The D&RGW installed 67 GRS color light signals between Helper and Soldier Summit on 25 miles of double track in 1928. The signals between Helper and Soldier Summit were set up for operation in either direction on either track. The operator at Kyune controlled the signals and power switches at the center sidings at Nolan and Kyune. There were wyes for turning helpers at Kyune, Colton and Soldier Summit. At the time the line had 6 passenger and 30 freight trains a day plus returning helpers. Westbound passenger trains longer than 11 cars required a helper, merchandise trains usually only needed one helper, while coal trains of 65 cars or trains over 4,500 tons needed two helper engines.

Block signals were installed from Grand Junction to Helper in 1929. The installation of GRS CTC from Midvale to Provo was completed in October 1929. The work included the installation of 76 GRS color light signals on 31 miles of single track and 2 miles of double track. In 1931 GRS color light signals were added from Soldier Summit to Provo 50 miles.

In 1936, it installed GRS CTC Midvale to Roper Yard along with eight power switches and 34 GRS color light signals on 7 miles of double track. At the time the line had six passenger and 20 freight trains a day. There are more westbounds in the morning and eastbounds in the evening.

In 1943 CTC was installed from Helper to Agate (near Cottonwood) 50 miles. The CTC machine had 46 levers controlling 22 switches. The control of this territory went to the Grand Junction office in 1954. In 1956, D&RGW modified operations on the westward track at Nolan, by adding CTC Lynn to Nolan and remove the center siding at Nolan. The project added one power switch and 19 signals. CTC was installed Soldier Summit to Springville in 1975.

For this series we will follow D&RGW trackage in Utah from Geneva (south of Salt Lake City), over Soldier Summit to near the Colorado border, then chase a couple trains on the Sunnyside Branch.

All pictures in this series are on disks 30 through 35. You can purchase a disk and printout any of the pictures for your own use to dress up your train room or add color to a house that just cries out for more train pictures.

Rio Crossover
Soldier Summit
Nolan Tunnels
Castle Gate

Sunnyside Branch
Columbia Junction
Sunnyside Mine