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History of the Railroad in Utah
Taken from the Utah History Encyclopedia (Links Added)
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The 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.

The 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.

A 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.

Of 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.

See: 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).

Don Strack


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