Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Museum Showcase Weekend/Members' Weekend and How Heber Was My Valley

David writes....

My bags are packed (sort of). I have rounded up my various pieces of IRM ephemera (keys, rulebook, grip), which were dispersed to various parts of the house as a result of the big move to Utah. The conductor's uniform is going to the dry cleaners this week, and the conductor's dress shoes will get polished soon. Most importantly, I have purchased airline tickets.

I shall see all of you at IRM on Members' Day/Museum Showcase Weekend! I am very excited, as I haven't seen most of you in over a year.

Recently, I accepted a long-standing invitation to drive up to Heber and see their operation first-hand. Heber City, Utah is on the other side of the Wasatch mountains. It is only about 10 or so miles from my house, but one cannot drive there that directly. To get there, I drive I-80 up Parley’s Canyon to Park City, then take U.S. 40 down into the Heber Valley. The Heber Valley Historic Railroad is a non-profit, quasi-state owned operation that runs excursion trains on the former D&RGW Provo Canyon Branch. The branch ran from Provo up Provo Canyon. Heber was at the end of the branch. When built in the 1890s, the branch was 25 miles long. In the late 1930s, as a result of the Deer Creek Dam project which impounded part of the Provo River, the railroad was relocated to essentially "hug" the edge of the Deer Creek Reservoir. This relocation added about 2 miles to the length of the line, as well as some spectacular grades.  The railroad is not like what I'm used to, being rather curvy and with grades of around 4% in some places. 


Up until the late 1940s, Heber was the sheep-shipping capital of the United States. On Sundays, the Rio Grande would send a 100 car train of empty stock cars, pulled by a 2-8-8-2 up the branch to drop off empties at the various loading points. During the week, the regular local would take out the cars as they were loaded. The line is now disconnected. The last 9 or so miles into Provo is a bike trail. I did not take very many pictures, but did get to ride in the cab of their diesel locomotive, #1813, a EMD built MRS-1 locomtoive, built for the Army's Transportation Corps in the 1950s. It was a fun day and I think I’ll be back to take their rule test soon.

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