Heber City, Utah -- Nestled in the mountains of Utah lies a rare treat for rail fans – a passenger steam train for riding, exploring, and experiencing – the Heber Valley Railroad (HVRR).
The railroad between Provo and Heber City, Utah once served as the primary link between these two cities and the outside world. Today, what’s left of the railroad remains an important, nostalgic, and historical remnant of Utah and America’s railroad past.
Currently, the Railroad operates passenger excursion trains along 18 miles between Heber City and Vivian Park, located in Provo Canyon. As Utah’s only steam-powered, passenger-carrying railroad, the Heber Valley Railroad carries approximately 95,000 passengers a year and features 16 different excursions for visitors.
Among these excursions include the Provo Canyon Limited, a three-hour ride with stunning views of Mt. Timpanogos and the glacier-carved Provo Canyon; The North Pole Express – a ride geared toward families during the holiday season, and Soldier Hollow Express, a 90-minute trip with incredible views of the Wasatch Mountains, Deer Creek Reservoir, and beautiful Heber Valley.
Note worthy landmarks seen from the train include Mount Timpanogos, Cascade Mountain, Deer Creek Dam and Reservoir, the Provo River, Sundance Ski Resort, Tate Barn, and Soldier Hollow.
In 1921, the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad (D&RGW) took over the Rio Grande Western, which included the Heber – Provo Canyon Branch. However, once a paved highway linked Provo and Heber Valley, the railroad was seldom used and eventually fell silent in 1967.
After the D&RGW Railroad abandoned the rail line, local Utah residents became determined to preserve history, and the railroad was soon purchased by a group of Heber Valley businessmen and rail enthusiasts. From 1971 to 1990, the railroad operated under several different managements and names, including the Wasatch Mountain Railway, Deer Creek Scenic Railway, and the name it’s affectionately known as today, The Heber Creeper.
In 1993, the Utah State Legislature created a state agency, the Heber Valley Historic Railroad Authority, appropriating a one-time $1 million general fund appropriation to restore the train and railroad to operating condition. Today, 100 percent of the Heber Valley Railroad’s income is reliant solely on the sale of passenger tickets and donations.
The HVRR has two 1907 Baldwin 2-8-0 Consolidation-type steam locomotives, the former Union Pacific No. 618 and the ex-Great Western No. 75. On display, however, is the former Columbia Steel Company 0-6-0 No. 300 built by Baldwin in the 1920s.
Tickets can be purchased online or by calling 800-888-TIXX. For more information, visit http://www.hebervalleyrr.org/.