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Bamberger Railroad Company records

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 1550

Scope and Contents

Collection consists of records and materials covering the time period of 1891 to 1977. The majority of the records are between 1916 and 1952. Contents include records generated by the Bamberger Railroad as well as materials collected by the railroad. The collection contains correspondence related to clients, general business, and the government, financial records, personnel records, photographs, tickets, schedules, routing information, artifacts, and advertising and publicity materials, newspaper clippings, maps, a book and Lagoon related items. The collection documents Bamberger Railroad operations in Salt Lake City, Utah, and also serviced resorts, such as Lagoon (Farmington, Utah).


  • 1891-1977


Conditions Governing Access

Open for public research.

Negatives: Condition restricted; permission to use materials must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances.

Permission to publish material from the Bamberger Railroad Company collection must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the Special Collections Board of Curators.

Administrative History

The Bamberger Railroad Company was a passenger and freight line that linked many cities in the Salt Lake Valley.

The Bamberger Railroad Company operated from 1891 to 1956. The company was a passenger and frieght line linking many cities in the Salt Lake Valley. The company was important for its role in importing goods to Utah and was one of the innovating railroads in the west in regards to electrical railways.

The Bamberger Railroad was started by Simon Bamberger, a mining official, in 1891. At that time, it was known as the Great Salt Lake and Hot Springs Railroad Company and was a passenger-only service operating over four miles of track from the first depot located across the street from the Union Pacific station in Salt Lake City, to Beck's Hot Springs, which was developed by John Beck as an amusement park. The railroad pioneered in interurban service in the state and was the forerunner many railroad developments in the west.

The immediate success of the railroad encouraged Mr. Bamberger and associates to plan an extension through the rich agricultural area of Davis Country to Ogden. This happened in 1892, when the track was extended to Bountiful, to Centerville two years later,and to Farmington in 1895.

The firm was reorganized in 1896, being named the Salt Lake and Ogden Railway Company, and began draining a swamp north of Farmington to establish the Lagoon amusement park. At the time, it took the best part of the day by horse and buggy to reach Lagoon. Rail passenger service proved very effective and revenues for the park began to climb. By 1908, there were already 250,000 paid admissions to the park, and this figure jumped considerably after electrification of the railroad.

Between 1902 and 1908, the line was extended through the cities of Kaysville, Layton, Clearfield, Arsenal (now part of Hill Field), Sunset, in David County, Roy and Orchard in Weber County, and into Ogden. Steam-operated passenger trains began the Odgen-Salt Lake City run on August 5, 1908. The farmers in Davis County shipped their produce to Salt Lake markets via the Bamberger and took the train to do business in the Utah capital. It was the principal means of passenger transportation between Ogden and Salt Lake City for "commuters" and was a connecting link for freight and passengers between the Ogden rail center. It served to bring in lumber, automobiles, and coal, as well as supplies to military bases. It shipped fruit and other goods out of the area as well.

Although the line was working as a passenger service, the Simon Bamberger envisioned a substantial freight business. He insisted on no greater than 1.1 percent grades and wide curves, which were ideal for the firm's later years.

The line was electrified and electric motor cars introduced on May 28, 1910, under the direction of Sidney M. Bamberger, then vice-president of the railroad. He was a brother of Julian Bamberger and son of Simon. Electrification was provided by a steam generating coal plant at Lagoon which afforded a strategic location midway between terminals. At the time of the installation, the Salt Lake and Ogden had the nation's highest voltage trolley wire: 750 volts.

In 1916, Julian M. Bamberger took over as president. In 1917, Simon Bamberger was elected governor of Utah on the Democratic ticket. At that time, the company name was changed to Bamberger Electric Railroad Company, the name it was commonly called by its patrons. In 1939, the Company dropped the word "electric" from its name.

To meet highway competition, the Bamberger Transportation Company was formed to operate a coopering bus service. That portion of the business was sold in June 1953 to the Lake Shore Motor Lines.

For six years, during the Great Depression, the Company went into receivership. The receivership ended in 1939, when Julian Bamberger and Layman V. Bower, a Chicago banker, reorganized the company.

In 1952, after battling the protests of patrons, the railroad was permitted to discontinue all passenger service. On March 11, 1952, a serious fire (the third) destroyed the Company's maintenance shop in North Salt Lake. The fire provided the clincher in the Company's plea to the Utah Public Service Commission for abandonment of passenger service. The last electric passenger train ran over the historic line on August 22, 1952.

In 1956, Julian Bamberger, his family and stockholders sold their 43,120 shares for $60.00 a share to Murmanill Corp. (Dallas, Texas). The latter firm was controlled by the Clint Murchison interests. The deal amounted to about 2.5 million dollars.

The terminal ends of the tracks were sold to two other railroads. Union Pacific purchased the tracks from Ogden to Hill Air Force Base. Denver and Rio Grande bought the section from Fayette Avenue in Salt Lake City to 15th North. The remaining 25 miles of track between Salt Lake City and Ogden were abandoned.


1 ledger box (1 linear ft.)

15 cartons (22.5 linear ft.)

2 oversize folders (0.5 linear ft.)

1 box (0.5 linear ft.)

Language of Materials



This collection includes the materials collected and produced by the Bamberger Railroad Company. Materials include records generated by the Bamberger railroad as well as materials collected by railroad, including correspondence related to clients, general business, and the government, financial records, personnel records, photographs, tickets, schedules, routing information, artifacts, and advertising and publicity materials.


The records have been reorganized according to medium and left in original order within that medium.

Custodial History

Received from Edith and Julian Bamberger, Salt Lake City, Utah. Elements also received from M.D. Baer, former Secretary-Treasurer of the company, and Vern Crosley, superintendent of the railroad.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated; Edith and Julian Bamberger.


Western American business and labor history (20th Century Western & Mormon Manuscripts collection development policy, 5.II, 2007).

Related Materials

See also Bamberger Railroad Company papers, 1882-1953 (MSS 275), Bamberger Railroad Company ephemera, 1927-1979 (MSS SC 1530), and Bamberger Railroad Company photographs, circa 1890s-1950s (MSS P 30).

Processing Information

Preliminarily processed; H. Christine Swindler; 2008.

Register of the Bamberger Railroad Company records
H. Christine Swindler
January 2008
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States