streetcar system in Salt Lake City reached its peak in 1918 with over
146 miles of tracks, including a line south of Holladay and another
line north to Centerville. Beginning in the late 1920s buses began to
replace the streetcars, and slowly over the next twenty years the individual
lines were abandoned. The last streetcar ran in Salt Lake City in 1946.
part that the railroads have played in the economic development of both
the territory and the state of Utah was a major one. There can be no
doubt that without the railroads our state would not be what it is today.
The completion of the transcontinental rail line through Utah Territory
in May 1869 was the beginning of a much larger story of railroads in
Utah that has largely gone untold. The availability of low-cost transportation
has as much to do with Utah's economic success as the state's ability
to produce the goods being shipped.
good example of the importance of transportation is the delay in economic
development within the Uinta Basin until a network of federally funded
highways was completed in the 1930s, connecting the area with the rest
of the surrounding region. The region still does not enjoy railroad
service to the surrounding areas, although railroads were planned through
the Uinta Basin as early as the 1870s.
course, with the development of a complete network of modern paved roads
and highways throughout the state, along with modern facilities for
airline shipment, the role that the railroads play today in the everyday
business of the state has been much reduced. Yet the railroads still
have a vital role in moving goods and people around and through the
state. The amount of rail traffic that moves into, out of, and through
Utah is today setting record levels every year. This trend likely will
continue, because railroads are still an irreplaceable element in a
dynamic chain of the transportation of our nation's goods and services.
O. Meredith Wilson, The Denver and Rio Grande Project, 1870-1901, A
History of the First Thirty Years of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad
(1981); Robert G. Athearn, The Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad,
Rebel of the Rockies (1977); Leonard J. Arrington, Great Basin Kingdom
(1958); Robert A. LeMassena, Rio Grand . . . to the Pacific (1974);
and Stephen L. Carr and Robert W. Edwards, Utah Ghost Rails (1989).