HISTORY OF HEBER VALLEY
Within a few years of the Mormon Pioneers settling the Salt Lake Valley, families were sent out to colonize and settle the outlying areas in the Utah territory. The first permanent settlement in Heber Valley came in 1859. Most of the people that settled there were from Great Britain and had been converted by the Mormon apostle Heber C. Kimball. In his honor, they named their new city Heber.
In the late 1800’s most of Utah’s population centers were served by a railroad. In 1889, the Rio Grande Western Railway began to build a branch line up Provo Canyon toward Heber City. After 11 miles, construction stopped. Then a decade later, in 1899, Rio Grande Western’s subsidiary Utah Eastern Railway completed the rail line into the Heber Valley. The rails first reached Heber City on September 29, 1899. Within a short time, there was enough traffic to warrant two trains arriving and leaving town each day.
DENVER & RIO GRANDE WESTERN RAILROAD
In those early days, the railroad was the primary link between Provo and Heber City. Unless one wanted to ride a horse or drive a wagon over 50 miles roundtrip, the only other choice was the slow moving train. The railroad was literally the life-line for those early settlers, bringing the supplies which enabled them to survive the harsh winters.
During that time, the Heber Railroad line was mainly used to ship general freight, livestock and agricultural products. The Heber Valley soon became the center of a thriving livestock industry. During the 1930’s, more sheep were shipped from the Heber depot than from any other rail station in the nation.
Soon after the railroad was completed, people also wanted to ride the train between Heber City and Provo, so a passenger car was added. Passengers noted that the train generally just crept along the curving canyon track at a fairly low rate of speed and thus it was nicknamed the “Heber Creeper.” It was so slow that the story was told about a newly-wed couple who boarded the train in Provo and had their first child as the train pulled into the Heber station.
By 1960 progress had stepped in. A paved highway linked Provo and Heber Valley. Residents gradually became less dependent on the train, relying instead on the much faster trucks and automobiles. The rails fell silent in 1967.
In the early 1970’s, the railroad became the “Heber Creeper,” a tourist passenger train operating on a seasonal basis. We now operate as a year-round, non-profit organization focused on tourism, education and the restoration of historical railroad equipment. Their goal is to help people young and old enjoy a slice of Americana which has otherwise disappeared.
Utah’s 100-year-old Heber Valley Railroad runs on the original Denver & Rio Grande Western rail line along US Highway 189. It follows the Provo River past Vivian Park and cuts through Provo Canyon's beautiful lush valley and steep forested mountains. It is a treasure.
Special excursions include...
SOILDER HOLLOW EXPRESS
REINS AND TRAINS
RAFTS AND RAILS
FIDDLERS AND FIREWORKS
COMEDY MURDER MYSTERY
A DAY WITH THOMAS
Click on this link to view the Herber Valley Railroad web site...