Provo Canyon Branch Facts
Provo Canyon Branch History
The standard gauge branch was built in 1898-1899 as two parts - the western 11 miles from Provo to Upper Falls was built by the Rio Grande Western, and the eastern 15 miles from Upper Falls to Heber City was built by the Utah Eastern Railway, an RGW subsidiary. The branch's traffic primarily consisted of general freight, but Utah Ghost Rails notes that during the 1930s, Heber City produced more carloads of sheep than any other station in the US.
The only major change to the line came in 1938, with the construction of the Deer Creek Reservoir. The line, having been located at the bottom of the canyon, would wind up under the reservoir waters. Consequently, the US government relocated the line higher on the northern side of the valley and created the highway overpass that stands today.
In 1967, with less than a train a week over the branch, the Rio Grande filed for abandonment. In 1970, the northeastern half of the line, from Bridal Veil Falls to Heber, was sold to the Wasatch Mountain Railway, and the southwestern half was abandoned, mostly turned into a hiking/biking train. The northern half continues to operate today as the Heber Valley Railroad.
As a note, with the recent reconstruction of US 189 in the area of the Deer Creek Dam, it appears that the old overpass will itself be bypassed. The new four-lane highway will use a fill and a huge bridge to pass over the old s-curves that the railway used to climb out of the canyon bottom.
Provo Canyon Branch Timetable