Lost House: Salt Lake and Utah Railroad

3500 West 9000 South, circa 1946.

3500 West 9000 South, circa 1946.

This lost house had already had an exciting life long before it became a residence.  The building started out its life as the Riverton railway depot located on the Salt Lake and Utah Railroad (also known as the “Orem Line”).

3500 West 9000 South, circa 1949.

3500 West 9000 South, circa 1949.

The Salt Lake and Utah Railroad was an electric interurban railway that ran along the west side of the Salt Lake Valley, through Riverton and the Jordan Narrows and into Provo, ultimately ending in Payson.  Construction on this line started on October 20, 1912, with work  costing around $40,000 a mile.  The railroad opened on March 23, 1913.

Some other highlights (and lowlights) of the railroad’s history include:

  • Built by W.C. Orem of Boston.
  • Constructed by Mrs. W.M. Smith, a well-known railroad contractor.
  • Passenger and freight service ran between Salt Lake City and American Fork four times a day.  The trip took approximately 1 hour and 25 minutes.
  • The main line (ending at Payson) was completed in May of 1916.
  • The Magna Branch was opened on October 10, 1917.  At its height there were 18 trains a day on this line.
  • The car shops for the entire railroad were established in Payson.

The railroad was exceedingly popular but increased automobile use ultimately led to the failure of the business.   July 1925 saw the railroad enter receivership.  Business continued to decline until 1937/1938 when the railroad was sold at a foreclosure sale.  The new owners incorporated as the Salt Lake and Utah Railroad Corporation and continued operation for a while.  However, the employees were paid poorly, there were reports that entire crews were often drunk on the job, and numerous accidents, devastating fires, and neglect of the track itself led to all operations ceasing on March 1, 1946.  Everything was sold at auction in July of 1946.

This Riverton railway station was one of the buildings to be sold.  It was then moved from its location on the old railway to 3500 West 9000 South in West Jordan.  It became the home of James M. and Nancy M. Atwood, who had a dairy farm, pond, and a 955 square foot house with a pretty cool history.

A big Thank You! to my sources.  Please see them to learn much more about the Salt Lake and Utah Railroad:

Strack, Don.  Utahrails.net.  Especially check out the route of the old railroad and the locations of all of the stations, including the Riverton depot, documented on a Google map.

Hilton, George W., and John F. Due. Electric Interurban Railways in America.  Stanford University Press, 1960.

Swett, Ira.  Interurbans of Utah on the Utahrails.net website.

Salt Lake County Tax Appraisal Cards and Photographs, serial 36-1581.

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