Friday, April 1, 2011

Springville Railroad Depot

     I wanted to piggy back a little on the entry from yesterday.  While researching the Kelly House, I found a lot of interesting information about the railroad in Springville.  Here is a really interesting piece from about the history of Springville:

"Completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869 made rail shipment of stock to market possible, so stock men used more intensive grazing practices.  The railroad also helped make mining products profitable, and many mines started to be developed.  Beginning in 1878, Springville merchant Milan Packard built a railroad to bring coal from Scofield to Utah Valley.  The Rio Grande Railroad bought out the line in 1882."

     I also wanted to add an interesting piece that I found on the Kelly House's application to become part of the National Register of Historic Places.  It reads:

"The first, Spring vine-based construction operation of note was undertaken in the late 1870s by Milan Packard, a local businessman, who proposed to build a narrow gauge railway from Springville to the rich coal deposits at Scofield, about sixty miles southeast of Springville.  Although cash was in short supply to pay the work crews, Packard was able to obtain their services by offering them credit at his mercantile store.  The men on the crews were mostly Springville men, and the skills which they had obtained through their freighting experiences helped to make the project a success.  This initial contract launched several of these local men into the railroad construction business, which was a booming industry throughout the territory and the west up through the turn of the century.  Though possessing a population of only a few thousand people, Springville surpassed both Salt Lake City and Ogden as a center for the contract construction industry, apparently due to the early establishment and success of construction firms in the town.  As railroad construction waned, most of these firms became involved in the construction of highways and irrigation canals.  Many of the have continued in operation up to the present and the town is still regarded as a center of construction activity."

   The railroad depot was located at the end of Depot Street (200 S) and 400 W.  Here is a picture of what it looked like around the turn of the century:

 Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, all rights reserved.

Photo courtesy of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Brigham Young University

     Here is the second photo as it looks today:

     I attempted to rephotograph both photos only to return home and realize that the area I was photographing was just a little off.  I thought that the depot was on the east side of the street (I know it doesn't make any sense to have to cross a street to get on a train, but that's where the empty lots are, so I figured that that's where it had stood).  However, now that I am looking at the first photo, I realized that the depot used to be on the west side of the street and that the first photo was taken looking westward (which is why there is only one new photo.  This photo was somewhat in the right area, while the other one that I didn't use was facing the wrong direction).  Also, when I rephotographed the photo, I probably should have been about 50 feet north (although it doesn't change the picture very much, since it is still mainly a road with empty lots next to the railroad tracks with mountains in the distance)
     The reason why the exact location was difficult to find is that the building has since been torn down.  When talking with some of the older residents in Springville, many of them can remember the old depot, which makes me assume that it was at least standing around the 50's.  It is interesting because as important as the railroad industry was in Springville, I don't even know if it has a train station currently.  When I googled to find a Springville train station, the only thing that I could find was in Provo.  Here's to the days when Springville was an important center for railroad transportation in the Valley.


  1. There is a photo of it in 1960 in _History of Springville_ vol. II, so it lasted at least that long.

  2. A search of the Springville Herald suggests the station was dismantled in January, 1964.

  3. One more comment: Notice your top and bottom photos are east and west sides of the station, respectively, so the reason there are no mountains in the lower photo, is that they aren't there. You can see a full chimney in the east side photo, but only two tops in the other photo. Also, in the upper, you can see a train to the right of the station, which is actually across the street (4th W), though shortened perspective doesn't make that distance obvious.

    The station design was vaguely cruciform, like a church or cathedral, with the "apse" end (top of the cross) toward Provo. One supposes this and the transept held mostly passengers.

    The other "nave" end looks open to me, and might have held freight. In the bottom Perry photo, the station is fronted by a bunch of hatted men and older boys, who (due to lack of a single female or child in the picture) may not be passengers, but station staff. They are certainly posing, and have a wheeled cart out front, and perhaps it had something to do with handling freight also.