EXHIBITS

David Eccles and the Origins of the Railroad

Birth and Early Life

David Eccles Portrait<br />
David Eccles, Utah’s first multimillionaire
(Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library, Special Collections & Archives, Leonard J. Arrington Photograph Collection, 1830–1995 P0316, Box 1, Folder 9, Image 10)

David Eccles was born on May 12, 1849, in Paisley, Scotland. As the second oldest son of seven children and having a blind father, David learned at a very young age to work hard for the survival and well-being of his family. At the age of six, after his family moved to Glasgow to seek better opportunities, David worked selling resin sticks from wood that he and his family gathered and processed. His father, William, had created a workshop in their home to produce kitchen utensils, and David often sold these utensils along with the resin sticks to the people of Glasgow. Despite their work and contributions from other family members, the Eccles family suffered conditions of poverty.[1]

The Eccles Family<br />
The Eccles Family of Utah
[Click image to view full-size photo]

(Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library, Special Collections & Archives, Leonard J. Arrington Photograph Collection, 1830–1995 P0316, Box 1, Folder 9, Image 4)

Prior to David’s birth, William and his wife, Sarah, had joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after meeting missionaries who had traveled to Scotland. They believed in the teachings and direction of the leadership of that church and were working together to earn the funds necessary to immigrate to the United States and join other members in Utah. For eight years since arriving in Glasgow in 1855, the Eccles family struggled to save what little money they earned to seek new fortunes in America. In 1863 they received financial support from the Perpetual Emigration Fund of their church and were finally able to leave Scotland for the hope of a new life and a better future.[2]

Immigration and Success in Utah

David and Bertha Eccles<br />
David Eccles and his first wife, Bertha

(Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library, Special Collections & Archives, Leonard J. Arrington Photograph Collection, 1830–1995 P0316, Box 1, Folder 9, Image 12a)

Upon arriving in Utah, the Eccles family found a new home in Ogden. Leonard Arrington writes that they found “no streets paved with gold, no mansion [awaiting] them there. In fact, the shack in which they spent their first winter in the new land was probably less than what they had left behind in Scotland; certainly no better.”[3] David immediately began to work again for his family selling his father’s wood products. As he grew older, he sought new opportunities in Oregon and Wyoming with mining, lumber, and railroad companies. Through his perseverance and determination, he saved enough to start his own company. At the age of twenty-three he invested in a sawmill which he established near Ogden in the Monte Cristo Mountains. In time, his small sawmill business expanded throughout the state of Utah and into nearby states, reaching as far as Oregon. After this success, David would go on to establish many other businesses throughout the Western United States, becoming Utah’s first multimillionaire. He invested much of the profits and resources of his various companies into the development of communities within Utah.[4]

Cartoon of David Eccles and His Industrial Empire<br />
A cartoonist’s portrayal of David Eccles and his industrial empire consisting of a railroad; agricultural products; animals; sugar; wealth; the “Eccles’ Mine”; lumber in Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah; etc.
[Click image to view full-size photo]
(Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library, Special Collections & Archives, Leonard J. Arrington Photograph Collection, 1830–1995 P0316, Box 1, Folder 9, Image 11)

Origins of the Railroad

David Eccles, 1900<br />
David Eccles in 1900, at the same time that the Ogden Rapid Transit Company was established

(Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library, Special Collections & Archives, Leonard J. Arrington Photograph Collection, 1830–1995 P0316, Box 1, Folder 9, Image 8)

In 1900 he would take on a new project to improve Ogden’s quality of public transportation and its connections with other areas of the state. During his first years as a youth in Utah, he often walked through Ogden Canyon in wintry conditions to sell his father’s products. He vowed that one day, when he had the resources and ability, he would build a railroad system through the canyon so others would not need to suffer as he had.[5] Later in life, taking advantage of his resources, Eccles took the first step in fulfilling that promise by purchasing the Ogden Electric Railway Company, a failing trolley system with only two working cars. Renaming it the Ogden Rapid Transit Company, Eccles established the foundation for a future interurban railroad.[6]

[1] Leonard J. Arrington, David Eccles: Pioneer Western Industrialist (Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 1975), 7–9.
[2] Arrington, 11–16.
[3] Arrington, 27.
[4] Arrington, 41–49, 58–59.
[5] Philip E. Sorensen, A Corporate and Financial History of the Utah Idaho Central Railroad (Logan, UT: Utah State University, 1957), 37–38.
[6] Ira L. Swett, Interurbans of Utah (Cerritos, CA: Ira Swett, 1974), 70.