Salt Lake & Mercur Railroad

Salt Lake & Mercur's small but powerful Shay geared locomotive c.1898 - THRP - Winegar Collection

Brief history

The Salt Lake & Mercur Railroad, a small branch line of the Union Pacific, was designed and built to service the mines and town of Mercur. The turning and twisting path of the railroad from Manning canyon over the pass and down into Mercur or Lewiston Canyon was an engineering marvel.
The path was such that only the shay type geared locomotives could negotiate it with relative ease and safety. At a couple of places the rail turns back on itself (See below) as it climbs the hillside to the pass. 


Detail of a Mercur Claim map showing the approximate route of the Salt lake & Mercur Railroad. c.1898

Getting there

It is still possible to travel the route of the Salt Lake & Mercur Rail line from Manning Canyon up the turning and twisting path as far as the county line at the summit. For now, until all the reclaimation work is complete, a large gate prevents you from going any further.
From the Main turnoff at the Five Mile Pass Recreation Area sign on State Road 73 follow the main dirt road into Manning canyon past the old Manning mill site. The road above that point follows the grade of the old rail line.

What remains

It has been a number of years since I have traveled the road all the way to the top, but it is still possible to find the odd spike left from the days when the line was abandoned and the rails torn up. Other than that, Nothing remains of the old line except the grade.  


The turning and twisting path of the line is shown quite well in this photo of the train near the pass c.1898
THRP - Winegar Collection