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NRHS 2019 Convention Heber Valley Railroad Trip 5/11/2019

by Chris Guenzler

We got up and walked over to JB Restaurant and I had the Breakfast Buffet and Orange Juice. Back to the motel I put the corrections into my stories before we loaded the car and I had our keys extended so we could get out of the parking lot. We had our final NRHS safety meeting before we went down and loaded the bus. We then drove straight to Heber City and there we pulled into the parking lot and unloaded the NRHS pasengers.

Heber Valley Railroad

The Heber Valley Railroad is a heritage railroad based in Heber City, Utah. It operates passenger excursion trains along a line between Heber City and Vivian Park, which is located in Provo Canyon. The HVRX carries over 94,000 passengers a year.

The railroad line is approximately 16 miles long. A typical round trip ride on the train takes about 3 hours. There are a total of four passing sidings outside of the Heber yard limit. Notable landmarks seen from the train include Mount Timpanogos, Cascade Mountain, Deer Creek Dam and Reservoir, Provo River, Sundance Ski Resort, Tate Barn, and Soldier Hollow. A variety of wildlife including deer, eagles, fox, moose, turkeys, hawks, mountain lions (cougars), and beavers, have all been seen from the train as well.


The line operated by the HVRX was formerly part of a Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad branch line that connected Heber City to Provo, Utah. The branch line was completed in 1899 and operated freight (and passenger) service until the line's abandonment in 1967.

The line was saved for tourist use and was reopened in 1970 when No. 618 and other equipment was brought up the line from Provo. The track between Provo and Vivian Park was later removed and converted into a recreational trail. During the 1970s and 1980s the railroad operated as the "Heber Creeper". In the late 1980s this railroad went out of business.

Citizens in the Heber area successfully petitioned the State of Utah to help save the railroad, leading to creation of the Heber Valley Historic Railroad Authority in the early 1990s. Since this time the railroad has seen considerable growth. The railroad operates as a non-profit 50 organization.

During the 2002 Winter Olympics the railroad was part of the Olympic Steam Team, carrying spectators to the Soldier Hollow Olympic venue. The railroad's No. 618 and 75 steam-engines, were joined by the Nevada Northern Railway Museum's No. 93 steam-engine, in pulling eight-car trains full of passengers, to the Soldier Hollow depot where they disembarked and continued to the venue entrance on a horse-drawn sleigh. The day prior to the Opening Ceremony of the games, all three locomotives were combined into one triple-headed train, and used to transport the Olympic flame from Soldier Hollow to Heber City as part of the torch relay.

The NRHS Trip

Once everyone was off the bus, I started looking around.

Maine Central GP-9 52.

Our NRHS Special Train in Heber City.

Heber Valley Business Car 100.

Heber Valley Dining Car 850.

Heber Valley coach 3571.

Heber Valley coach 3683.

Heber Valley coach 3593.

Union Pacific Chair Concession Car 2700.

Minerva Scenic Village of Minerva 3227.

Heber Valley coach 324.

Heber Valley coach 4966.

Heber Valley caboose 12300 was my assignment on the train. I met an NRHS member who walked down to those two stations with me in Heber City.

The former Rio Grande was used by the old Heber Creeper railroad.

The former Rio Grande station.

Utah Railway wooden caboose 53.

The old Heber Creeper emblem.

We are 726.7 miles from Denver at this station.

Heber City Rio Grande Station.

Old Town Heber City. We returned to the station area. At 9:30 AM we boarded the caboose and were ready for our trip to start. I was working with fifteeen year old Allie.

The view out of the rear of the caboose.

Tommy and Marianne Nealy from Greenfield, Wisconsin.

Vince Jakubowski of Seawell, New Jersey.

A female NRHS member.

A married couple in the cupola of the caboose.

Another NRHS member up in the cupola.

We started the trip off by passing the Heber City station.

Our last member of our group in the caboose.

We went by the Heber station sign then the train went into an emergency stop and I went flying down the aisle before someone grabed my shirt stoppping me safely. Almost immediately the Heber Valley police units arrived.

Next we see our conductors going by us in a pick up truck.

Everyone had their own ideas of what happened. Skip Waters then came back and told me that the engine and business cars had both been derailed. I then let my passengers know the new plan. The trip could still happen if both of the equipment could be rerailed, we would leave at Noon and go straight to Vivian Park and return but both photo runbys would be cancelled. We all thought that was a good idea.

Front end loaders were used to try to rerail the train along with hydraulic jacks. I read the history of the Heber Valley Railroad to my passengers just to kill time.

One of the views we hope to get. It was then announced that the trip was cancelled and we would be bussed back to Salt Lake City.

Passengers getting off of the train. We loaded up Bus 1 and while we were waiting my driver Chris suggested we returned to Salt Lake City via Provo Canyon. I got the ok from the NRHS and our driver also told me he would stop to let people take pictures of the derailed car.

Views of the drerailed car in Heber City on our way out of town. Once we got to Deer Creek Lake, I gave a running commentary most of the way back. I collected the lanyards for us in the future and then thanked my pasengers and had them gave a hand to Chris our bus driver. We returned to the Radisson Hotel where we unloaded the bus for the final time and turned in my time statement, vest and radio and that ended my 2019 NRHS duties. Robin returned and we both said goodbye to Elizabeth before we went to my car. We got out of the parking lot and turned in our keys before we drove all the way to Ely, Nevada.