Heber Valley Railroad

"Heber Creeper"

In 1889, the Rio Grande Western Railway began to build a branch line up Provo Canyon toward Heber City. After 11 miles, construction stopped. Utah Eastern Railway, a Rio Grande Western subsidiary, completed the rail line up to Heber Valley in 1899.  Two freight trains a day were soon serving the area. 

The only other access to Heber City was via horse so a passenger car was soon added to the trains.   The mixed train was so slow that it acquired the nickname "Heber Creeper".  Local lore has it that a newly wed couple boarded the train in Provo and delivered their first child as the train reached Heber City. 

The Denver & Rio Grande abandoned the line in 1967.  A modern highway linking Provo to the Heber Valley had eliminated virtually all of the rail traffic.

In 1970, a group of Heber Valley business and private interests rescued the line from oblivion.  The railroad has operated under various managements and different names through the years such as, the Wasatch Mountain Railway, Deer Creek Scenic Railway and always as the “Heber Creeper” Railroad.  Originally, the railroad operated from Bridal Veil Falls to Heber City, but the two miles from Bridal Veil Falls to Vivian Park was deemed unsafe in the '80s and the section was eventually converted to a hiking trail.

A variety of rides are available between Vivian Park and Heber City, up to 3-hours, including dinner, mystery, Santa, etc. Combinations of river raft and train trips too.

Equipment

Two steam engines and four diesels make up the current crop of locomotives.  Open observation cars and Pullman style coaches are on all trains, along with a snack & gift car.  They frowned on my wandering around the equipment, so I didn't get pics or data of all of the locomotives.

No information on any of the equipment is available, either on their Web or at the railroad.

A little surfing and I found the following info, still looking for more:

Diesel 1813

13 units were built in 1952 for the US Army Transportation Corp.  At $500,000 per unit they were almost three times the cost of standard locomotives of the time.  They had multi-gauge trucks for worldwide operation.  Intended for wartime use, they languished in warehouses until 1970 when they were declared un-needed for wartime use and were farmed out to various military installations for daily use.  Several eventually ended up on the Alaska Railroad.  Today, 5 engines survive, with 3 in operating condition.

GE and EMD both built 13 demonstrators for this program, with GE winning the contract to build an additional 70 engines with ALCO as their subcontractor.

Diesel Specs

  HVRR 1813 UP DS 1011
UP DS 1043
HVRR 4028 US Army 128
Builder Electro-Motive Division Electro-Motive Division   Davenport
Model MRS-1 NW2   44-ton, center cab
Build Date March - June 1952 Feb 1939 - Dec 1949    
AAR Wheel Arr. C-C B-B   B-B
Gauge 4' 8 1/2" - 5' 6"      
Trucks Custom design, 3 axle, multi-gauge      
Wheel Dia 40"      
Wheelbase 13' 5" truck
44' 2" locomotive
     
Length 57' 5"      
Width 9' 8"      
Height 13' 6"      
Axle Load 40,000      
Weight 240,000      
Prime Mover EMD 16-576B EMD 12-567    
Engine Type 2-stroke 2-stroke    
Aspiration Roots Blower Roots Blower    
Displacement 9072 cu in      
Cylinders V16 V12   2x V8
Cylinder Size 8 1/2" bore x 10" stroke      
Traction Motors 600v      
Power 1,600 hp 1,000 hp   400 hp

Steam Specs

  OSL 1068 HVRR 75
Builder Baldwin Baldwin
Type Consolidation Consolidation
Wheel Arr 2-8-0 2-8-0
     

June 2008 - both steam engines are down this summer for major overhauls, check with the railroad before booking tickets for steam availability.  Seems to me that it is poor planning to have both engines down at the same time, one should have been overhauled earlier.  The Conductor told me that they had obtained a waiver to extend one of the engines last year because it was overdue, but the FRA wouldn't waive either engine for any more use this year.

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