The Uintah Railway

The Uintah Railway ran between Mack, CO and an area near Rainbow, UT for a distance of about 63 miles, beginning in 1904. (Right-of-Way) A narrow gauge operation, its primary haul came from Gilsonite, but also hauled passengers, cattle, mail and library books. 

One of the more unique elements of the railway, in addition to its incredible curves, was its impact to the science and education. When a library opened up in Dragon, UT, the railway agreed to deliver and return books free of charge to anyone along the route. It also hauled dinosaur bones that were excavated from the gilsonite mines! 

"The fossils were carefully prepared by Earl Douglass to make sure they weren’t damaged during the transport process. Never the less, the bones proved to be so heavy the wagons actually had to be lowered into a trench and the bones loaded directly onto them because they were too heavy to pick up. Even with this precaution, one of the specimens broke through the bottom of one of the wagons and another nearly tipped over." (NPS)

"The Uintah Railway was primarily built to haul gilsonite. Here you can see a dinosaur bones peaking out from under a tarp on its way to Mack, CO for shipment to the Carnegie Museum." NPS/Earl Douglass DiariesPS/Earl Douglass Diaries Edited by Evan Hall


Some of the most extreme curves in the entire US railway network occurred in the URy's right of way, in addition to significant grades in the mountains. This resulted in the railway purchasing two articulated locomotives specifically designed for its right of way, making them the only narrow gauge articulated locomotives of their type in the US.

Passenger service ended in 1921, but Gilsonite hauls would last until 1939, at which point the railway was abandoned, and its rolling stock sold off.

Thanks as always for reading!


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