Marysvale Branch Facts
Marysvale Branch History
The original 61-mile segment of the branch was built southward from a connection with the Soldier Summit line at Thistle down to Manti, UT, in 1890 as a three-foot narrow gauge branch. The line was built by the Sevier Railway, a paper corporation fully under the control of the Rio Grande Western. What's interesting is that the branch was built to narrow gauge, despite the mainline being converted to standard gauge near the same time. The narrow gauge didn't last long - only a year later, the original 61 miles was converted to standard gauge, and another 26 miles was added to the south end to reach from Manti to Salina. The next extension came in 1896, when 40 more miles were added to the south end to reach Belknap, a gold-mining area just north of Marysvale, UT?. Finally, in 1900, the branch was lengthened again by 6 miles to reach Marysvale, also in search of gold mining markets.
By 1908, as part of the creation of the unified Denver & Rio Grande, the Sevier Railway disappeared, even as a paper railroad (it never had equipment or anything else, and was always operated by the RGW), and the branch officially became the D&RG's Marysvale Branch. The line survived on agricultural, coal, and wallboard traffic until 1983.
During mid-April of 1983, the line was severed from its connection with the Soldier Summit mainline by the Thistle Mudslide. The south end (Richfield to Marysvale) hadn't seen a regular train since 1972 (from James Belmont, via the D&RGW list), but the north end (Richfield to Thistle) still had significant amounts of regular traffic. However, between the months of isolation due to "Lake Thistle" and the cost of rebuilding miles of new track to reconnect the branch to the new mainline, the Rio Grande decided to pursue abandonment instead. Abandonment was approved shortly afterwards, and the rails were pulled around 1989.