Tintic Branch Facts
Tintic Branch History
In order to tap the booming Tintic mining regions, the Rio Grande Western organized a subsidiary, the Tintic Range Railway, to build a standard gauge branchline to serve the mines. The new branch would extend from the Soldier Summit main at Springville, UT, westward, initially 40 miles to Eureka, UT. While the eastern segment was easy - primary stretching across the Goshen Valley - the west end required a double loop and some spectacular trestlework to gain the elevation to cross Homansville Pass. This initial segment was put into operation in 1891.
Over the next few years, a number of branches were built from the end of the line. The first, built the next year, was the two miles constructed in 1892 to connect Eureka to Mammoth Junction. There, the 1-mile Mammoth Branch branch was built down to the Mammoth Mill. A year after that, in 1893, the main branch was extended west to Silver City.
Also in 1893, a branch was run southwest from just north of Silver City to Tintic Mills. The new trackage didn't last long. On account of the repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act in 1893, Tintic Mills shut down. In 1895, the rails beyond Silver City were pulled up. One more mine spur was built - in 1909, a 1 mile spur was built from Summit to the Eagle & Blue Bell Mine.
The Tintic Range Railway was fully integrated into the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad as part of the 1908 reorganization.
In 1924, the timbers of tunnel 3 caught fire, and due to stability issues, the tunnel was permanently closed. A line diversion around the hill resulted in the branch being lengthened by 0.71 miles.
The next major change was in 1927, when the 9 mile Goshen Valley Railway was incorporated into the D&RGW system to become the Goshen Valley Branch. Between 1918 and 1920, the Goshen Valley had constructed a branch from the Tintic Branch at Pearl to the Tintic Standard Mining Company at Dividend. Later, a spur was constructed off the Goshen Valley Railroad from Flora to the Iron King Mine.
In 1940, the line's most unique feature - the "Double Circle" loop in Pinyon Canyon (east of Eureka) was bypassed with a steeper (3%) section of straight track. Purportedly this was done due to the desire to run larger articulated power on the line, which would have been too heavy for the large wooden trestle.
The Tintic Branch was cut down again in 1943, when the rails were pulled up from Silver City back to Eureka. Between 1966 and 1967, the line was cut back again to the Goshen Valley? junction at Pearl, and the Goshen Valley line was trimmed to eliminate the line from Flora to Dividend, with the mine having closed in 1949. Having no need to differentiate between the new, trimmed Goshen Valley Branch from the trimmed Tintic Branch, the new Tintic Branch was now considered to end at the Iron King Mine.
In 1958, a new mine opened at Burgin, 1.4 miles back up the branch from the old Iron King Mine. The Burgin Mine, as well as the newer Trixie Mine, continued to operate off and on until 1978. Burgin reopened under new ownership a few years later, but closed for good in 1985.
The rails are still in place as far as Burgin yet today, but trains haven't run that far since the mid-1980s. The last regular traffic was to a limestone quarry at Keigley (milepost 16.0), with only the occasional train out ot a grain elevator at Elberta. Rock from this mine was used as flux for Geneva Steel (in Geneva, UT), until it closed its doors in 2001. Today, regular traffic only goes as far as Spanish Fork.