Books: Southern Pacific's Salt Lake Division

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Signature Press Books: Southern Pacific's Salt Lake Division

By John R. Signor

More than 500 miles from Ogden, Utah to Reno, Nevada, at the eastern foot of the Sierra Nevada, comprised SPÕs Salt Lake Division. Although it was a vital and historic part of the Southern Pacific, from the building of the Central Pacific until the end of the SP in 1996, its day-to-day history and operation, with the difficulties of weather, scant water, and steep grades, has remained in relative obscurity.

This is largely due to its remoteness. The Salt Lake Division, located in a sparsely populated interior basin and range country characterized by vast depressions or desert sinks, and the furrowing of innumerable north-south mountain ranges, is one of the least populated regions in the continental United States.

West of the Pequops Range, much of the line is located along the Humboldt River which, from northeastern Nevada, runs west and southwest before finally disappearing into the ground in the Humboldt Sink. And though many improvements have been made to the alignment of the railroad over the years, much of this country even today is much as the pioneers saw it. An important part of this railroad is the Great Salt Lake crossing, which was built during the Harriman era.

The author, master SP historian John Signor, has drawn upon original railroad records, published accounts in early newspapers, trade magazines and periodicals, maps and the recollections of old-timers to make a complex and interesting railroad narrative about this 780-mile line, including its several branches and auxiliary main lines. Supplementing the text are over 60 maps, graphics and ephemera, and over 680 photos (77 in color), most of which have never been published. A bibliography and detailed index round out this volume.

The result is a very fine work which adds to the Southern Pacific canon, treating an important and often overlooked part of the Southern Pacific, from one of its most respected historians. Railroad history buffs generally, and SP and Western railroad fans in particular, will be sure to enjoy this book.

Size: 480 pages, 8.5" x 11"; 682 photos (77 in color); 68 maps and graphics, station list, bibliography, index

Table of Contents

Introduction 6
Acknowledgements 8
Chapter One, Pioneer 1863-1900 11
Chapter Two, Coming of Age 1900-1929 67
Chapter Three, The Late Steam Era 1930-1955 197
Chapter Four, The Diesel Age 1955-1981 341
Chapter Five, The Final SP Years 433
Epilogue 448
Appendix: Salt Lake Division Place Names 449
Bibliography 464
Index 467


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