Alta Branch Facts
The Alta Branch and the Little Cottonwood Branch shared the same roadbed, but were separated in time. The Alta Branch was built first, and allowed to fall into disrepair in roughly 1900-1903. The line was never formally abandoned, however, and thus the RGW / D&RG retained ownership of the grade. The line was then rebuilt in 1913 as the Little Cottonwood Branch.
The Wasatch & Jordan Valley - The Alta Branch
The original Alta Branch was constructed in 1872-1873 by the Wasatch & Jordan Valley Railroad to connect the quarries in Little Cottonwood Canyon with the Utah Southern Railroad? at Sandy, UT?. These quarries were providing the granite for the LDS Temple being constructed in Salt Lake City, and having a railway would vastly speed and simplify transportation. The line was completed as far as Granite?.
In 1875, Charles Scofield and his Bingham Canyon & Camp Floyd Railroad consolidated with the W&JV. By September, the new combination had completed the eight mile extension to Alta?. Due to the snowfall on the new line segment, the entire route was covered with showsheds over the next two years.
In 1881, the W&JV fell into financial dire straits as the mines at Alta played out. In December of that year, the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railway (the original Utah narrow gauge line) purchased the route. The upper part, from Granite? to Alta? was abandoned first. After 1893, when the Temple was completed and there was no longer a demand for large granite blocks from the quarries, the line was allowed to fall into disrepair and possibly had the rails removed around 1900-1903. It was never, however, formally abandoned.