By: SueAnn Martell and the Western Mining and Railroad Museum
In 1880, the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad was hard-pressed to find a suitable rail route from Grand Junction to Salt Lake City. With the coal deposits of eastern Utah luring them on, railroad officials chose a difficult route over Soldier Summit. The railroad established the town where "helper" engines were attached to the heavy trains, and Helper grew into a division point with branch operations that reached into the nearby canyons to serve the blossoming coal industry. Numerous smaller towns sprang up to service the railroad, and in 1912, the newly incorporated Utah Railway laid tracks to share the right-of-way with the Denver and Rio Grande. The town of Helper is still a mecca for rail fans, and the story of its past lives on.
Author SueAnn Martell is director of of the Western Mining and Railroad Museum in Helper. Coming froma long line of railroaders, she has worked hard to preserve the rail history of the area. Drawing from the archives of the Western Mining and Railroad Museum and from her own collection, she has assembled a wide variety of photographs, many never before published, that tell the story of the railroad and of the people who kept it running.
The Images of Rail series celebrates the history of rail, trolley, streetcar, and subway transportation across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the people, places, and events that helped revolutionize transportation and commerce in 19th- and 20th- century America.