The Logan Rapid Transit Company (L.R.T.)

The $500 First Mortgage Gold Bond for the Logan Rapid Transit Company and the beginning of its complete operation between Smithfield, Logan, and Providence on January 1, 1913. This bond was paid in full by 1915 when the company was merged to form an actual railroad company.
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(Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library, Special Collections & Archives, Miscellaneous Manuscript Collection COLL MSS 244 Box 1 Fd. 7)

On January 29, 1910, the Logan Rapid Transit Company (L.R.T.) was incorporated and organized in Logan, Utah, by the Eccles Investment Corporation. This expansion, similar to earlier expansions of the O.R.T., was prompted from outside businessmen seeking to take part in the development of Utah’s infrastructure. One man, referred to as Mr. Mahler, traveled from the East in early spring 1909 and presented a plan to Logan City to establish a transit system. The community was eager for such a project and quickly accepted Mr. Mahler’s proposition, granting him a franchise to build a transit line. David Eccles, prompted to action, immediately reached out to Logan City for his own franchise to establish a similar system.[1] He was initially refused as Mahler had precedence, but after months of inaction on Mahler’s part while seeking financial support in the East, Mr. Eccles applied once more for a franchise. On August 4, 1909, the Eccles Corporation was granted a franchise and Eccles promptly set about collecting construction materials, organizing a construction crew, and planning this new transit system. By October 19, 1909, everything was in place for the first track to be laid.[2]

The Blacksmith Fork Canyon Power Plant. This power plant was originally constructed by the Eccles Corporation for the support and operation of the Logan Rapid Transit Company. It continued to support the Ogden, Logan & Idaho Railway Company (O.L.I.) and the U.I.C. after being purchased by the Utah Power and Light Company.
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(Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library, Special Collections & Archives, A-Board Historical Photograph Collection photo no. A3952)

Initially, the L.R.T. consisted of “a two-mile, narrow-gauge line from the Union Pacific Railroad’s Oregon Short Line depot on Logan’s 600 West, that traveled up through Center, Main, and 400 North Streets to the Utah Agricultural College (now Utah State University).” At a cost of $1 million, this became the first line in Logan.[3] Part of the cost was accounted for by the construction of an electric power plant in the Blacksmith Fork Canyon to charge this new electric line.[4] By the end of 1912, the L.R.T. expanded to include an interurban line connecting Smithfield and Providence with the Logan City line. These were referred to as the Smithfield Branch and the Logan Branch, respectively.[5] College students and public school children were the main passengers who utilized this system for the first few years.[6] Expanding the L.R.T. to include the Smithfield Line set the foundation for what would eventually become the Utah-Idaho Central Railroad. However, as had happened with his other plans for expansion and growth, David Eccles had to overcome pressure from businessmen who were seeking to profit from their own transit systems and compete with the Eccles Corporation.

Construction and Growth of the Logan Rapid Transit System

Construction of the Logan Rapid Transit Company lines began in 1909–1910 and steadily progressed until they reached Smithfield and Providence by the beginning of 1913. This image collection below captures the construction of the lines as well as views of the tracks after they were completed.

[1] Eccles had a second wife and family in Logan as part of his religious practices of plural marriage at the time.
[2] Sorensen, “The Utah Idaho Central Railroad,” 146.
[3] Joan Shaw, “The Rise and Fall of the Galloping Goose,” Historical Report #14 (Lewiston North-Cache Valley Historical Board, March 1998): 2.
[4] Additional power plants would later be constructed in other canyons to properly power the railroad as it developed and expanded.
[5] Carr, 23.
[6] Shaw, 2.