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Evanston Roundhouse and Soldier Summit 5/6/2018

by Chris Guenzler

Robin and I left the Howard Johnson Motel in Brigham City, stopped by MacDonald's for breakfast then drove Interstate 15 South to Interstate 84 East and when we came to Devil Slide turn out we stopped for pictures.

Devil's Slide

Devil's Slide is an unusual geological formation located near the border of Wyoming in northern Utah's Weber Canyon, near the community of Croydon in Morgan County, Utah, United States. The slide consists of two parallel limestone strata that have been tilted to lie vertical, protruding 40 feet out of the mountainside. Intervening layers have eroded more quickly, forming a channel some 25 feet wide running hundreds of feet down the mountain.

I-84 runs right past Devil's Slide, which can be clearly seen from the road. The Weber River flows between the formation and the freeway. There are parking areas on both sides of the highway for viewing the slide.

Devil's Slide. We passed five westbound Union Pacific trains on our way to Evanston this morning. We arrived and set up for the arrival of Big Boy 4014 and the 844. So since they were expecting us at 8:30 AM and Elizabeth told me the train was 42 miles away we decided to go visit the Evanston Roundhouse Museum.

Evanston Roundhouse Museum

The Independence Day Celebration in Evanston in 1871 included the dedication of the Union Pacific Roundhouse and Machine Shop. In 1912, the present brick roundhouse and turntable were constructed to accommodate the larger steam locomotives being brought into service. The Roundhouse and associated structures served the UPRR as a main railcar and engine repair station and later as a reclamation facility.

In 1971, the UPRR officially vacated the Roundhouse, and the following year, deeded the properties (with the exception of the Power House) to the City of Evanston. From 1972 to 1998, the Roundhouse continued to be utilized as a repair station as several companies leased it from the city. In 1998, the last business vacated the site.

In 2004, a Master Plan was created designating the Roundhouse as a future public building and as a future city hall. With the completion of the nearby Machine Shop in 2005 and its parking area in 2006, it became evident that the time had arrived to save Section One of the Roundhouse. In 2007, the city was awarded a Wyoming Business Council grant to help renovate the 65,000 sq. ft. first section, and by January, 2008, project had begun.

In 2009, the community held the first event in the renovated first section of the Roundhouse: The 27th Annual Renewal Ball.

Our Visit

View of the grounds of the complex.

The Evanston Machine Shop.

The door to the Evanston Machine Shop.

The inside of the Evanston Machine Shop.

The Evanston Roundhouse.

Inside the Evanston Roundhouse.

Pictures of the Evanston Roundhouse.

A mine rail car. I went upstairs.

More roundhouse history.

Very nice lounge cars upstairs. I then met the lady who set this up for us and I thanked her. She then turned me loose on the rest of their property.

Looking down from the stairs.

The group does not own this steam house but wish they did.

Evanston Roundhouse views.

Evanston Turntable.

UTC 3102 GE 80 Tonner.

UTC GE 65 Tonner 1303.

UTC GE 44 Tonner 1301.

The northwest corner of the roundhouse.

Hostlers building.

UTC GE 44 Tonner 1301.

All three of the UTC locomotives.

The Evanston turntable.

View inside the unfinished part of the roundhouse.

The northwest corner of the roundhouse.

Museum scenes.

Union Pacific work train dining car 906215.

Union Pacific caboose 25188.

Unknown crane.

JT & Phyllis Patterson Visitor Center.

One last view of the Evanston Machine Shop. We drove back to our photo location and waited.

The Union Pacific Evanston Station.

The train with the Union Pacific Big Boy 4014 and Union Pacific 844 finally arrived into Evanston after 10:30 AM. Before we left town we gassed up my Ford Focus and we headed to our next stop of the day.

Our hopeful photo location for Wednesday Big Boy to Ogden trip. We stopped at KFC picking up lunch to go and then drove down through Provo Canyon then by BYU University and headed next to Solider Summit.

Soldier Summit, Utah

Soldier Summit is the name of both a mountain pass in the Wasatch Mountains in Utah and a ghost town located at the pass. Soldier Summit has been an important transportation route between the Wasatch Front and Price, Utah, since the area was settled by the Mormon pioneers. It is on the route of both U.S. Route 6 and the old main line of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad (D&RGW), now owned and operated by the Union Pacific Railroad. Located where the road makes a brief bend through the extreme southwest corner of Wasatch County, Soldier Summit historically had more to do with nearby Utah County.

At one time both the state highway department and the railroad had operations at the summit, but with the exception of a gas station that is sometimes open, the town site is now abandoned. Today it is a popular rest stop and photo spot for railfans. Many railfans also take pictures of the Gilluly loops, a series of horseshoe curves on the western approach to the summit. The California Zephyr Amtrak passenger train uses this route.


Spanish Friars Francisco Atanasio Dominguez and Silvestre Velez de Escalante are credited with discovering the pass in 1776, but it was certainly used by Native Americans before them. The summit takes its name from a group of soldiers who were caught in an unexpected snowstorm on the summit in July 1861. These soldiers were Southerners, previously under Union General Philip St. George Cooke at Camp Floyd, on their way to join the Confederate Army. A few of them died in the storm and were buried on the summit.

In 1919, a real estate promoter named H.C. Mears surveyed a townsite at Soldier Summit and began to sell building lots. The town was incorporated in 1921. There were stores, hotels, saloons, restaurants, two churches, and a school. Growth was driven by the D&RGW moving some of its machine shops, used for servicing helper engines, to Soldier Summit from Helper. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints organized a branch in the new town on June 21, 1921, with Parley Bills as branch president. The number of Mormons in the town was large enough in June 1927 to organize a ward with Walter S. Groesbeck as bishop. The population of Soldier Summit peaked at 2,500 in the 1920s, but began to decline as the railroad decided to move its operations back to Helper due to the severe winters and high cost of doing business at the summit. The introduction of diesel locomotives, and the realignment of the tracks through Tucker and Gilluly which reduced the grade from 4% to 2%, eliminated the need to place helper engines at the site, and further hurt the town's fortunes. The railroad moved many employees' homes to Helper, leaving only the foundations. By January 1930, the ward was reduced to a branch.

Over the next few decades, the town dwindled away. In 1948 there were 47 students at the Soldier Summit school. The next year enrollment dropped to 11, but the school stayed open. It was not until 1973 that the school was closed and the last few students sent to schools in Carbon County.

By 1979 there were only about a dozen adult residents left, but Soldier Summit still had four part-time police officers enforcing a community speed limit on the stretch of highway passing through town. When motorists complained of a speed trap, the state attorney general and the Utah Chief of Police Association investigated. They determined that the only reason for having a police department in Soldier Summit at all was to generate revenue for municipal services through traffic tickets. The police department was disbanded.

The town was finally disincorporated in 1984. Other than the gas station and two or three occupied houses, Soldier Summit is uninhabited. An old two-room jail, a few deserted houses, and several acres of foundations and crumbling walls are all that remains of the former town.


Depiction of a Denver and Rio Grande Western train climbing the summit, circa 1915. There are 5 locomotives used-four at the front and one at the back.

Helper derives its name from Soldier Summit. During the age of steam, the railroad stored helper engines at Helper. They placed the helpers on freight trains to climb the grades to the summit. Soldier Summit is the fifth-highest summit or pass on a U.S. transcontinental railroad main line after Tennessee Pass, Moffat Tunnel, Sherman Hill Summit, and Raton Pass.

We drove US 6 east to the Summit of Solider Summit then found an eastbound empty Union Pacific coal train and stopped at the next grade crossing and waited for him to arrive.

Union Pacific 6569 East which after passing us went onto the Pleasant Valley energy spur. We went east but had to turn around when we saw another train coming.

Union Pacific 2664 West at the Emma Road.

Union Pacific 2664 West along the Price River.

Union Pacific 2664 West further west along the Price River.

Solider Summit, Utah.


Union Pacific 2664 West at Solider Summit. We gassed up the Ford Focus then checked into the Riverside Motel. We then went to explore Helper.

Western Mining Museum display.

Utah Railroad Caboose 55.

A Track Speeder

Track equipment. We returned to the Riverside Motel and I started putting corrections in my stories. We drove over to Price for dinner at Wingers then stopped by the Amtrak station for a look around.

The Union Pacific trains in Helper.

The sanding tower in the Helper yard.

The yard light tower in Helper.

One last view of Helper. We drove west but alas had no train action. I returned and started to write this story then went outside on a cold windy night to watch the California Zephyr leave Helper in the day over 1 hour 35 minutes late. I called it a night a short time later.

Click here for the Valley Train Story