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Western Railroad Discussion > Utah Railway coal prep plant question

Date: 01/09/19 11:23
Utah Railway coal prep plant question
Author: tmrail

I'm asking for help in identifying the facility shown in this picture.  I took it in November 1980 when I was riding a motor car over the Utah Railway on behalf of a client who planned to ship coal from one of the origins served by the railway.  The next picture in the series after this one was taken on Gordon Creek Trestle, so I assume that this location was between Martin and Gordon Creek.  This view is looking to the north (toward Martin).


Tom Murray

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/09/19 12:09 by tmrail.

Date: 01/09/19 12:28
Re: Utah Railway coal prep plant question
Author: balryan

I think its Wild Cat I haven't been south for some time.
Ryan Ballard

Date: 01/09/19 12:59
Re: Utah Railway coal prep plant question
Author: 2ebright

The terrain sure looks like Wildcat, but the loader is definitely different. This shot of Wildcat is from November 2014.

Dick Ebright
Roosevelt, Utah

Date: 01/09/19 13:10
Re: Utah Railway coal prep plant question
Author: tmrail

That makes sense, except that the existing Wildcat loadout was built in the mid-1980s to serve the Intermountain Power Agency.

The UtahRails site does contain this info: "Wildcat Siding remained in place throughout the period that coal was being shipped from the Gordon Creek mines, 1925 to 1954, as a location to store loaded and empty rail cars as part of normal operations of Utah Railway, and in later years Wildcat continued to be used as part of Utah Railway operations. The coal mines in Gordon Creek continued to be operated on an irregular basis, and the coal was hauled by truck down to Wildcat Siding where they were dumped directly into open coal hopper cars. The immediate area around Wildcat Siding is relatively flat and became the site for Swisher Coal Company to use front-end loaders to transload from coal piles into rail cars located on the rail siding."

The amount of coal on the ground would certainly be consistent with a facility that used a front-end loader.

Can anyone confirm that this is, in fact, Wildcat?


Date: 01/09/19 13:12
Re: Utah Railway coal prep plant question
Author: tmrail

Thanks, Dick, I hadn't seen your post before replying to Ryan's earlier message.  The terrain in the background of your photo certainly confirms that this is Wildcat.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/09/19 13:12 by tmrail.

Date: 01/10/19 03:39
Utah Railway Wildcat, Utah, Loadout
Author: cozephyr

Wildcat Loadout, Utah, March 14, 2012 with Utah Railway MK50-3 units.  5001 up front.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/10/19 03:40 by cozephyr.

Date: 01/10/19 06:03
Re: Utah Railway coal prep plant question
Author: donstrack

Tom's photo shows the Wildcat loadout built by Swisher Coal company in the 1970s, located on the west side of Utah Railway's Wildcat siding. In January 1980 Swisher Coal was sold to Arco (formerly Atlantic Richfield) who operated Swisher under its Beaver Creek Coal company as a subsidiary of Arco Coal. Beaver Creek continued to load coal at Wildcat until it moved its operations to C. V. Spur south of Price. Reports to the Utah Division of Oil Gas and Mining suggest that after the move to C.V. Spur, the Beaver Creek (Swisher) loadout at Wildcat was used by Beaver Creek and other small operators loading coal by front-end loaders directly into rail cars to supply small spot-market contracts.

In 1985 Andalex Resources leased 100 acres from Utah Railway on both the east side and west side of Wildcat, including the old Swisher loadout. Andalex began developing a new unit train loadout on the east side of Wildcat for its new contract to supply coal to the IPP plant near Delta, at the same time removing the old Swisher loadout and structures and reclaiming the site, which was completed by 1990. The reclamation permitting for the new loadout took a couple years, and the new Andalex loadout was operational by May 1988. This is the loadout shown in Dick Ebright's photo from 2014. The warehouse seen above the tank cars in Dick's photos was all that remained of the old Swisher site after Anadlex. As an update for this newer loadout, Utah Railway stopped loading coal at Wildcat in spring 2015, and a site inspection in October 2017 showed that the loadout had been vandalized by copper thieves during the previous month, resulting in over $1 million damages; meaning that there will very likely never be coal loaded at Wildcat again.

I have done some updates to my Wildcat Loadout web page.


Don Strack

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/10/19 06:05 by donstrack.

Date: 01/10/19 07:08
Re: Utah Railway coal prep plant question
Author: donstrack

Here is a photo from the Winter 1976 of Railfan magazine, showing Utah Railway at Wildcat. -- Don Strack

Date: 01/10/19 08:58
Re: Utah Railway coal prep plant question
Author: GrandeGold

This is an inbound Mohrland turn, passing the Wildcat tipple on the return to Martin Yard on July 24, 1979.

James Belmont
Salt Lake City, UT

Date: 01/10/19 13:10
Re: Utah Railway coal prep plant question
Author: donstrack

Here is another early photo of the Wildcat loadout. This comes from H. H. Doelling's Coal Fields of Central Utah, Volume 3, published in 1972. The view is looking west. Along with other photos in the book, this photo was likley taken in 1970.

Don Strack

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/10/19 13:12 by donstrack.

Date: 01/10/19 13:22
Re: Utah Railway coal prep plant question
Author: tmrail

Thanks for the photo, James. And thanks, Don, for your photo and for the update on Wildcat!


Date: 01/11/19 17:09
Re: Utah Railway coal prep plant question
Author: Node

Here's an overall view of the Wildcat area in August 2017 looking north toward Martin and at the top of the loadout. In this view the old loadout was on the left side of the tracks and it looks like it was replaced by a smaller conveyor at some point.

Date: 01/11/19 18:56
Re: Utah Railway coal prep plant question
Author: donstrack

Thank you for posting this recent photo. Although official reclamation has not yet started, it appears nature is slowly taking back the area. What are known as "coal fines" are a constant problem, and the companies are allowed a certain density and percentage of overall land area to be covered. Having spent hours looking at the Utah state government's web site for coal reclamation enforcement, their regular inspections (usually monthly) encouraging constant attention by the mining companies to keep the area clear of non-saleable coal and non-mine debris appears to be working out. At some time in the future, reclamation will include covering the remaining coal fines with top soil that has been stored on-site.

Unless, like at Hiawatha, the final reclamation is held back by the coal company using a loop hole called "temporary cessation," that allows a coal company to claim that mining activity is only temporarily ceased, for up to six years, allowing the company to stop all activity at a site. A very large portion of coal mining lands in Utah are federal lands administered by BLM, with public right of access. By temporarily ceasing activity on a site, the coal company is allowed to severely restrict public access due to eminent dangers of the possible resumption of mining activity. It's a way to keep the "No Trespassing" signs up on public property.

Don Strack

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