Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair(s)

S. George Ellsworth


S. George Ellsworth


This is the story of three narrow gauge, short line railroads. Had fate been kinder, they might have become the hub of a major mountain west rail network. But this thesis will deal with facts, not possibilities, as it investigates the justification, construction, financing, and politics that surrounded these railroads and their location.

The locale was in and near Salt Lake City, Territory of Utah, during the decade between 1883-1894. Both location and time period have significance, for anti-Mormon feelings, within and without the the Territory, were very strong.

The visible cause of the anti-Mormon movement was polygamy.1 For, as an English-American writer was to state nearly a century later, "nothing bothers a man with one wife more than a man with many wives who doesn't even feel guilty."2 Many Americans sought to make the Mormons feel guilty. The weight of federal law was applied, both prior to and during the period covered herein, against the Mormons. In July, 1862, an Anti-Bigamy Act was signed into law. When it proved ineffective, it was strengthened by the Edmunds Act which became law in March, 1882. This act brought about prosecutions resulting in prison terms, fines, and other penalties. But the final move, the Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887 sought nothing short of the economic and political destruction of the Mormon church.3 Because the railroads concerned were built in a predominantly Mormon area by Mormons, the temper of the times was a factor.



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