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TS18: Extension Extraordinaire!

Written by: Gary Dolzall.

Train Simulator’s Salt Lake City Extension will bring new railroading experiences to the popular Soldier Summit route.

Classic 1980s Rio Grande railroading in the Utah and Salt Lake valleys is coming soon to Train Simulator with the Salt Lake City Extension for the popular Soldier Summit route! The Salt Lake City Extension will deliver 44 additional mainline miles (with the new segment extending west from Provo, Utah to Salt Lake City) and, combined with the Soldier Summit route, will provide a total of 118 miles (Helper – Salt Lake City) of Western freight and passenger railroading!

Along with extended mainline operations, the Salt Lake City Extension will feature new and unique railroading operating characteristics and challenges. From Provo to Salt Lake City, the D&RGW made its way, via the Jordon Narrows, through the Utah and Salt Lake valleys, with the towering Wasatch Range to the east and the Oquirrh Mountains to the west. This valley country was home to a number of busy lineside industries, including the massive Geneva Steel Works north of Provo, as well as D&RGW yards at Provo, Midvale, and Roper (just south of Salt Lake City). And, in contrast to the often rugged and tortuous climb over the Wasatch via Soldier Summit, the Utah and Salt Lake valleys provided D&RGW trains with the opportunity for frequent fast running (up to 60 mph for freights and 70 mph for passenger operations).

Approximately six miles north of Provo, at Vineyard, Utah and snug along the D&RGW main line stood a landmark of American industry – the sprawling Geneva Steel Works. Constructed with U. S. funding to provide steel during World War II, the plant was opened in 1944 and operated by the United States until 1946, when it was sold to giant U. S. Steel. A fully integrated steel plant, the Geneva Works was the largest steel producing facility west of the Mississippi River and represented a remarkable source of tonnage for the D&RGW (inbound raw materials including iron ore, coal, limestone, and dolomite; and finished steel plate and pipes outbound). The steel works, which remained open until 2001, is re-created in detail in the upcoming Salt Lake City Extension.

In addition to handling tonnage to and from the Geneva Works, D&RGW’s was a busy conveyor of coal and transcontinental traffic, including manifest freights and priority auto and intermodal traffic. Accordingly, the railroad operated three key yards along the upcoming Salt Lake City Extension, at Provo, Midvale (at the junction of the D&RGW main line with Rio Grande’s Bingham Branch), and sprawling and busy Roper Yard on the south side of Salt Lake City.

Indeed, Salt Lake City represented a challenging web of railroad trackage, as the D&RGW interchanged with the Union Pacific and Western Pacific. Along with Roper Yard, Salt Lake City railroad landmarks, faithfully and exquisitely re-created in the upcoming Train Simulator Salt Lake City Extension, include the Union Pacific depot, a towering station constructed in 1908 in French Second Empire style, and the Rio Grande’s own Salt Lake City Station, a large and beautiful structure built in 1910 at a cost of $750,000. During the Amtrak era, the UP depot hosted Amtrak trains from 1977 through 1986, while the D&RGW was home to Amtrak’s California Zephyr from 1986 through 1999. And in the pre-Amtrak era, the D&RGW station was also host to the WP-D&RGW-CB&Q California Zephyr and the D&RGW’s Rio Grande Zephyr (both structures are preserved today, but not used as passenger stations).

The upcoming Salt Lake City Extension, together with the Soldier Summit route, will fully replicate Rio Grande’s 1980s-era Sixth Subdivision of the railroad’s Utah Division and promises extraordinary and unique railroading utilizing the D&RGW equipment provided with the Soldier Summit route (including Rio Grande EMD SD40T-2 and GP9 locomotives and Amtrak’s EMD F40PH complete with California Zephyr Superliner equipment). And the route will be a perfect venue, too, for the upcoming Train Simulator GP40-2 (to be available separately).

The Salt Lake City Extension will be available as a stand-alone purchase for existing owners of the popular Soldier Summit route, and in an attractive bundled offer to new buyers. Stay tuned here at Dovetail Live for further information and announcements! – Gary Dolzall

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Rio Grande 1980s railroading in the Utah and Salt Lake valleys is coming soon to Train Simulator with the Salt Lake City Extension for the popular Soldier Summit route! The Salt Lake City Extension will feature 44 additional mainline miles, with the new segment extending west from Provo, Utah to Salt Lake City. At Provo Yard, a trio of D&RGW EMD SD40T-2s begin the journey (above), then five miles west of Provo, clatter across the diamond of U.P. Crossing with the Wasatch Range towering in the distance (below). Screenshots by Gary Dolzall.

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On the upcoming Train Simulator Salt Lake City Extension six miles north of Provo, Rio Grande SD40T-2s highball westbound tonnage along the D&RGW main line and past the sprawling Geneva Steel Works (above). A fully integrated steel plant, the famed Geneva Works opened in 1944 and was the largest steel producing facility west of the Mississippi River. The facility represented a remarkable source of inbound and outbound tonnage for the D&RGW, and in the yard adjoining the steel plant, a pair of Rio Grande EMD GP9s are tending a long string of coal hoppers (below). Note: Screenshots depict content in development.

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Between Provo and Salt Lake City, D&RGW’s main line stretched through the Utah and Salt Lake valleys, of which the Jordon Narrows was a scenic and rugged highlight. Along the Jordon River, D&RGW SD40T-2 5353 leads westbound tonnage (above), while on a wintry morning, Amtrak Train 6 – the eastbound California Zephyr – climbs through the Narrows (below).

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In the early 1980s, D&RGW’s Utah Division was bustling with locally originated and transcontinental bridge freight traffic. The upcoming Train Simulator Salt Lake City Extension includes freight yards at Provo, Geneva, Midvale, and Roper (Salt Lake City). A Rio Grande westbound manifest is rolling past Midvale Yard, where a veteran Rio Grande Geep and caboose await assignment on the yard tracks.

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Located on the southern outskirts of Salt Lake City, D&RGW’s Roper Yard was critical to Rio Grande freight operations (as it is today for D&RGW successor Union Pacific). Opened in 1928, Roper Yard had a freight car capacity of more than 2,100 freight cars and was a key to D&RGW interchange with the Union Pacific and Western Pacific. On a snowy day, an eastbound D&RGW freight is departing Roper Yard (above). A yard such as Roper is never quiet, and amid a spring day’s dawn a duo of D&RGW Geeps work the yard (below).

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Salt Lake City was home to two classic railroad stations – and the upcoming Train Simulator Salt Lake City Extension will majestically re-create both! Union Pacific’s depot (above), a towering station constructed in French Second Empire style was constructed in 1908. Rio Grande’s own Salt Lake City Station (below), a large and beautiful structure, was built in 1910. During the Amtrak era, the UP depot hosted Amtrak trains from 1977 through 1986, while the D&RGW was home to Amtrak’s California Zephyr from 1986 through 1999.

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West- and eastbound trains behind two generations of EMD diesel power meet on the D&RGW near Riverton, Utah. The upcoming Train Simulator Salt Lake City Extension, combined with the Soldier Summit route, will provide a total of 118 miles (Helper – Salt Lake City) of captivating and challenging Western freight and passenger railroading!

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