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Tourist Guide Book Description...  Geologic Survey Description...

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soldier summit train quad pc.jpg (139834 bytes)
View with 4 header
and rear helper c1910

 

soldiers summit freight train ur tlh P4190064.jpg (25689 bytes)
Similar view to above 2000

 

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Soldier Summit, UT
Elevation 7,440 feet.
Denver  652 miles.

At the crest of the Wasatch Plateau, Soldier Summit is a broad valley pass and is the highest point on the Denver and Rio Grande railroad in Utah. The grassy pass is surrounded by high but moderately sloping mountains with forests of trees on the slopes.

In July of 1861, a group of soldiers were caught on the pass in a freak summer blizzard. History now tells us these summer snowstorms are not totally unheard of in the area. The army buried two soldiers on the summit while camped there. It is not clear how the soldiers died but the summit is now named for them. 

When the railroad was first constructed across the pass it had a passing siding and turning wye. This was slowly expanded until 1919 when the entire division point was moved from Helper to Soldier Summit based on orders from the "main office." Someone thought efficiency could be improved with the new division point located on the top of the pass. As it turned out this was a horrible idea. Nevertheless, the railroad built new classification yards, passenger and freight stations, a Round House and Turntable, Locomotive Shops, over 70 homes, hotels, swimming pool and even a YMCA. It was lovely but it remained a frozen desert most of the year.

The population at the summit reached 300 in the 1920's and the crews did their best to make the new division point a success. But, the fact was, that it worked out better when things were done in Helper where there was at least some shelter from the storm, and where the locomotives were actually needed at the base of the pass instead of on top. In 1930 the division point was moved back down to Helper where it has remained ever since. All the equipment and buildings were hauled down from the summit to Helper, the original division point. Soldier's Summit approached ghost town status with just a large stock loading facility remaining behind. 

Originally the grades down the west side of the summit were four percent. In 1920 the alignment was modified at Gilluly by adding long horseshoe curves producing a two percent grade. This meant that one locomotive could haul the same number of cars that used to take three locomotives.

 

 

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