World War I Saves Eccles’s Railway

A Logan Republican news article titled, “Interurban Line Through Cache Valley North A Certainty.” Logan and the surrounding communities believed that M. J. Golightly’s franchise from the county made the construction of an interurban in Cache Valley a certainty.
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(University of Utah, J. Willard Marriott Library, Utah Digital Newspapers, https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s61r7p9c/4788622)

For David Eccles and his expanding businesses, World War I played a pivotal role in allowing for the growth and development of some of his corporate interests, particularly the Logan Rapid Transit Company (L.R.T.). In late 1911, the L.R.T. requested a franchise from Cache County commissioners to build additional tracks from Logan to Smithfield and Providence. A few weeks later, M. J. Golightly, another businessman who was also supported by the valley’s citizens, submitted his own petition for a franchise on a similar transit system in Cache Valley.[1]

The Competition Begins

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A Salt Lake Tribune article from 1912 concerning the fight for interurban franchises in Cache County between David Eccles and M. J. Golightly
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(University of Utah, J. Willard Marriott Library, Utah Digital Newspapers, https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6h71s1x/14296944)

At first, the county delayed Golightly’s petition, giving precedence to the L.R.T. A few days later they granted both franchises. When David Eccles refused to construct more than his planned line from Smithfield to Providence, his franchise was revoked. Despite the competition with Golightly and the loss of the franchise, Eccles set about ordering material, purchasing land for right-of-way, and organizing a construction crew to begin the work. By the beginning of June 1912, the materials and laborers arrived in Cache Valley to begin construction. This Smithfield Branch was completed in mid-September and operational by October 1912. However, Golightly and those supporting him continued seeking to establish a line to compete with the L.R.T.[2] 

Optimism for the Golightly Campaign

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A Logan Republican article titled “County Commissioners Will Grant Franchise Saturday” discusses the granting of a new franchise to M. J. Golightly and his supporters. It also notes that Eccles and his corporation have been busy expanding and constructing their own interurban line and questions if there will be two roads in Cache Valley.
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(University of Utah, J. Willard Marriott Library, Utah Digital Newspapers, https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s69w1d86/4733735)

In 1913 two newspaper articles from the Journal in Logan seemed to indicate that Golightly would be successful and his Ogden, Lewiston, and Northern Railway would compete with and possibly overcome Eccles’s L.R.T. The first, in September, stated that Golightly’s “road will run from Alexander in Gentile Valley, Idaho, to Ogden. Total cost will be between $5,000,000 and $6,000,000.”[4] Next, in November, the Journal printed the headline “GOLIGHTLY FRANCHISE A WINNER AT LAST,” stating that “delivery of $6,000,000 in bonds for the construction of the new Ogden, Lewiston and Northern Railway will be made this week to French capitalists who purchased the securities . . . Right-of-way has been secured and construction is to begin in the near future.”[5] However, the Ogden, Lewiston, and Northern Railway was never constructed.

World War I Ends the Competition

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This article from the Logan Republican titled “Interurban Well Under Way Eccles People Going Right Ahead” reports on the progress of David Eccles’s expansion of the Logan Rapid Transit System. It details the reach of the L.R.T. lines at that time, indicating that progress was vigorous and that the first trains to fully travel the lines would likely be ready by September.
[Click image, scroll to second image, and click second image to view full document]

(University of Utah, J. Willard Marriott Library, Utah Digital Newspapers, https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6s1917z/4732334)

Six months following this declaration of Golightly’s success, an event occurred that would change the world and end the prospect of competition with Eccles’s L.R.T. On June 28, 1914, the archduke of Austria, Franz Ferdinand, was assassinated in Serbia, igniting World War I. Golightly’s $6,000,000 from French capitalists vanished as France joined the war. Golightly, his plan for a Cache Valley railroad, and the financial and political support he had once garnered faded away.[6] Without competition, the L.R.T. flourished and became profitable for the Eccles Corporation. Success prompted the Eccles Corporation to seek new ways to reorganize, consolidate, and expand their investments and companies.[7]

Soldiers Depart for Service on the Utah-Idaho Central Railroad

The O.L.I. and U.I.C. played a vital role in the efforts of World War I and contributed to the transportation of agricultural products and other resources needed in Europe and elsewhere. This small collection of images below captures the moments when a group of Cache Valley soldiers began their personal contribution to the war effort, beginning with a ride on the train.

[1] Sorensen, “The Utah Idaho Central Railroad,” 146.
[2] Sorensen, 146–147.
[3] Matthew S. Browning was also known as and more often referred to as “M. S. Browning.”
[4] Sorensen, 147.
[5] Sorensen, 147.
[6] Sorensen, 147–148.
[7] Shaw, 2.