Adventurers in Utah for Spike
Promontory Summit -
150 years later
Heber Valley RR trip-more or less
Driving across the salt flats
Spending the night in a RR bunk house
May 11, 2019
Text and Photos by Author
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What Happened ? They did what !!!
Chris and I started our day
with a walk down to JB Restaurant for their Breakfast Buffet. We
again had a good breakfast with Elizabeth and Bob for our long
day ahead. Afterward I attended our morning NRHS safety meeting
as I was again going to be a bus host for the trip to Heber
City. Then we went down to the street and loaded the buses. The
drive was fast and smooth as we left SLC eastbound on I-80 to US
40 south to Heber City.
After the buses parked and were unloaded, I had about 45 minutes
till train boarding time so I wandered around the complex. As
Chris and I were here several days before everything seemed
familiar as I was taking photos.
Our train waiting at the platform.
The line operated by the HVRX
was formerly part of a Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad
branch line that connected Heber City to Provo, Utah. The branch
line was completed in 1899 and operated freight (and passenger)
service until the line's abandonment in 1967.
The line was saved for tourist
use and was reopened in 1970 when No. 618 and other equipment
was brought up the line from Provo. The track between Provo and
Vivian Park was later removed and converted into a recreational
trail. During the 1970s and 1980s the railroad operated as the
"Heber Creeper". In the late 1980s this railroad went out of
Citizens in the Heber area
successfully petitioned the State of Utah to help save the
railroad, leading to creation of the Heber Valley Historic
Railroad Authority in the early 1990s. Since this time the
railroad has seen considerable growth. The railroad operates as
a non-profit 50 organization.
During the 2002 Winter Olympics
the railroad was part of the Olympic Steam Team, carrying
spectators to the Soldier Hollow Olympic venue. The railroad's
No. 618 and 75 steam-engines, were joined by the Nevada Northern
Railway Museum's No. 93 steam-engine, in pulling eight-car
trains full of passengers, to the Soldier Hollow depot where
they disembarked and continued to the venue entrance on a
horse-drawn sleigh. The day prior to the Opening Ceremony of the
games, all three locomotives were combined into one
triple-headed train, and used to transport the Olympic flame
from Soldier Hollow to Heber City as part of the torch relay.
Heber Valley Business Car 100.
Minerva Scenic Village of Minerva 3227. I was assigned my bus host
duties in car 3227 for today's trip.
RR employee Nick and he is in charge of Village of Minerva and
will handle all questions and chores. Sweet! I can sit back and
enjoy the ride and the canyon scenery.
Inside our car, Village of Minerva.
Adjacent fairgrounds having a horse show today.
Nick gives his do's and don'ts and Q and A session before our
While we waited at the station, we were entertained with a county
western fiddle singer who was quite good.
As we were being
entertained, the train slowly crept away from the platform.
After a smooth ride of about a thousand feet - it hit. There was
a jolt with a loud bang and a sudden stop throwing everyone
forward. Almost all knew this was not expected and something
went very wrong. Big time. This set off a lot tongue wagging
Skip Waters then came back
and told us that the engine and business cars had both been
derailed. The trip could still happen if both of the equipment
could be rerailed, we would leave at Noon and go straight to
Vivian Park and return but both photo runbys would be
cancelled. All passengers thought that was a good plan.
After another reassessment it was then
announced that the trip was cancelled due to the amount of extra
time to fix the track and equipment. Also they had another trip
scheduled this afternoon and wanted to try and not cancel it. So
no train ride for us today.
The engine and the business car were going
through a street crossing when they derailed and now they needed
to move the train cars back and out of the intersection and stop
blocking traffic. There was no way to hook an engine to the
caboose and pull as this was a dead end track. The middle of the
train sat over a switch to a track going into the yard. They cut
the train at the switch so the cars from the switch to the
caboose were pulled back to the station with a heavy duty front
All I could think about was hope there were no weak links there.
A successful pull.
The remaining cars at the switch.
Engine 52 to the rescue.
Engine 52 ready to pull the
train. Now it was time to board our buses and return. It was
decided as we now had extra time to take the long way back to
SLC. We would take US 189 through Provo Canyon to Provo then
connect with I-15 north to SLC.
The scene of our troubles.
Deer Creek Reservoir.
Heber RR tracks on other side at water edge.
We went by Vivian Park which was to be our destination on our
View of Provo area.
End of 2019 NRHS Convention
After arriving in Provo we
went north on I-15 to SLC and then returned to the Radisson
Hotel where we unloaded the bus for the final time and then
turned in my time statement, vest and radio to end my 2019 NRHS
duties. I met up with Chris and we returned to our room one
final time. We said goodbye to Elizabeth, loaded the car,
checked out of the Radisson and headed west to Nevada.
Great Salt Lake.
We drove west on I-80 to the state line and West Wendover, NV from
there we went south on US 93 to Ely.
Located in the Utah-Nevada
border at the western edge of the Great Salt Lake Desert,
Wendover was established in 1907 as a Western Pacific Railroad
stop. In 1940 the Army established an air base just south of
town. During World War II it became a major training center for
bomber pilots, including the crews that drop bombs on Hiroshima
We stopped in McGill and Chris wanted to show me what was left on
the railroad. Boy were we surprised.
The Nevada Northern McGill station.
Tracks in McGill.
Rio Tinto Kennecott Nevada Co. office. We then headed towards Ely.
Nevada Northern mainline tracks at the US 93 grade crossing out of
We drove to East Ely and
went to the Nevada Northern station to check into their
bunkhouse. The young man in their gift shop told us to come back
in a hour when the train returned as he was the only one on duty
and couldn't leave the shop unattended. Chris figured about
where the train was so we drove up Robinson Canyon and found the
train all the way up in Keystone waiting to be wyed.
Nevada Northern 4-6-0 40.
A big man-made mountain.
The train backing around the southwest leg of the Keystone Wye.
Nevada Northern 40 in the heart of Robinson Canyon.
Nevada Northern 40 at the grade crossing in Robinson Canyon.
Nevada Northern 40 exits the tunnel in Robinson Canyon.
After the tunnel we stopped by the closed White Pine Museum taking
pictures through and over the fence.
Kennecott Copper Steeplecab 80.
KCC Bobber Caboose 12.
KCC wooden box car.
KCC Molten Cooper Car.
The Currie station building was relocated here.
Once we finished here, we drove to the East Ely station and
arrived as the train was backing in.
Unloading at the station.
A pair of East Ely station
scenes. Once the station help had returned and the other guests
for the bunkhouse arrived, each party signed releases and then
we walked across the tracks to the bunkhouse. We were shown our
room C, plus the bathrooms and kitchen. Chris walked back to the
East Ely Station and moved the car over to the bunkhouse. The
Nevada Northern 40 had finished wyeing but had to perform one of
its daily duties and we walked over to take pictures of it.
Caboose is available for rental.
Station and yard.
We had the corner room with
the front and side window. The next window is one of two
bathrooms and the next is the other bedroom on our side and last
one is the kitchen window. The other side is a mirror image for
a total of four bedrooms, two bathrooms and kitchen-dining room
across the back.
Back of Bunkhouse. Please! Stay off the grass.
The Nevada Northern 40 at the ash pit to drop its ashes from the
Working on getting ash from the firebox and cooling it with water.
Nevada Northern 40 heads to the shop for its nightly rest.
Wig Wag road crossing protects the road we took to reach the
bunkhouse. From here we went to Carl's Junior and brought the
dinner back to the bunkhouse.
After dinner it was shower time and then bed.
Tomorrow - Last day for the adventurers
with a ride on the Nevada Northern
Text and Photos by Author, Robin Bowers
author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed
without the author's consent