The Utah-Idaho Central Railroad: Northern Utah’s Interurban Experience: Cache Valley’s Economy and the U.I.C.
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Cache Valley’s Economy and the U.I.C.
Despite the origins of the railroad and its focus on transporting passengers, the interurban system also implemented freight services early to supplement the income from its passenger service. From the early days of the Ogden Rapid Transit Company (O.R.T.), the shipping of raw materials, manufactured products, and other items played a central role in the company’s functions. As other transportation options for passengers (such as automobiles and buses) improved, the shipment of freight and mail became vital to its survival and continued operation. In addition to providing shipping and delivery services, the railroad company required employees to staff its stations, drive and oversee the daily affairs of the train, and perform the business functions necessary for effective operations. The railroad’s economic contributions were significant for the development of the state and local regions and cities, requiring cooperation with a number of businesses and organizations, as well as hiring and training its many employees.
Maintaining Professionalism and Efficiency
To efficiently and successfully manage its freight services, the U.I.C. needed to maintain relationships with other railroads in nearby regions, some of which also operated within Cache Valley. Prior to the conception of the interurban, the Union Pacific had already established a freight line into Logan, Utah, known as the Oregon Short Line (O.S.L.). As the U.I.C. was organized and expanded, its lines often paralleled those of the Union Pacific. However, due to its relationship and the intimate nature of its location within the communities, it often had greater access to the businesses and people it served and was preferred over the other regional systems. As an I.C.C. endorsed railroad, it was subject to the same requirements and obligations of other railroads but also enjoyed the benefits that came with such an endorsement. Such benefits included freight interchanges with a number of railroads at various points along the U.I.C. route.
Services Provided by the Train
Records kept by the stations indicate that the U.I.C. remained up to date in how to handle the packaging and shipment of numerous types of items, animals, and goods. Memos from company leadership indicated when special packages traveled with the train and explained how they were to be treated and maintained. Innovations in train cars allowed agricultural products, livestock, other animals, and additional sensitive items to be transported under steam, in freezers, or in heated areas. Thus, the U.I.C. was able to deal with a variety of materials, consumer goods, groceries, etc. along its delivery route.
Employment with the U.I.C.
Joseph Meyrick, a former station employee for the U.I.C., was interviewed and discussed his experience as a clerk and cashier in the Logan Station. He had graduated from the Agricultural College of Utah, now known as Utah State University, in 1926 and applied for the clerk position that same year. After ten days he was promoted to cashier. In that position he stated that he was “paid a hundred and eighty seven fifty a month . . . Boy that was a lot of money and these people in the bank, these tellers in the bank, was only making a hundred and a quarter . . . And I held that job for twenty one years.” Meyrick’s experience, along with the quality railroad stations built in many communities along the U.I.C. route, demonstrate the investment made by the company for their employees and facilities. Their investments contributed significantly to the economy of the area, creating new opportunities for both customers and employees of the Utah-Idaho Central Railroad Company.
To conclude this overview on the economic impact of the U.I.C., Sorensen’s work on the financial history of the company provides a great summary of the economic contributions that the U.I.C. made to Cache Valley, Ogden, Utah, Idaho, and the United States. He lists the contributions as follows:
The U.I.C. carried a total of 33,320,823 paying passengers.
It transported approximately 10,186,030 tons of freight.
It paid wages of $9,586,938 to employees.
It expended $7,242,841 in the purchase and construction of equipment and real estate, most of the expenditures made locally.
It paid taxes of $1,438,137 to state and local governments in Utah, $108,544 to such governments in Idaho, and $207,419 to the federal government.