Terrace and Kelton, Central Pacific Railroad Section Stations

This original route by the Central Pacific Railroad (1869) became known as the Promontory Branch and received only sporadic use after 1904. Soon the railroad facilities were removed and the dependent towns abandoned. The rails of the Promontory Branch were finally taken down in 1942.

Known as the Promontory Branch Stations, the Central Pacific Railroad maintained nearly 30 section stations along the tracks in Utah. These stations were each located roughly 10-12 miles apart and provided needed maintenance and upgrades to the rail lines. Some of the stations had permanent buildings, while others were not much more than tent cities. Typically, each was overseen by two white foremen, and housed anywhere from eleven to thirty Chinese workers. A few stops became actual towns, booming and bustling with the railroad traffic along the stretch.  

Two of the major section stations along the Promontory route included Terrace and Kelton. Terrace was inhabited from 1869 to 1910. It was the largest station of the Promontory Branch, and provided the main source of maintenance and repair resources for the Salt Lake Division, which stretched from Wells, NV to Ogden, UT. The population estimates vary widely, but could have reached up to 1,000 residents at its peak. Nearly half of those were projected to be Chinese workers for the railroad. Although, according to the 1880 census, the actual Chines population was under 100. 

The town, which boasted a number of establishments including a saloon, barber, general store, grocer and two hotels, also had a communal structure called the Athenaeum. The Athenaeum was funded by a small local tax and provided bath houses and a library. The Chinese settled on the east side of town, and maintained a laundry, cook house, and Joss sanctuary. Water was supplied to the town via a 12-mile aqueduct from Rosebud Creek. The aqueduct was traded out for a pipe in 1887. They later tried drilling a well in 1892, but were unsuccessful. The town was heavily affected by the completion of the Lucin cutoff in 1904 and a fire that decimated town buildings around that same time. By 1910, there was nothing but scraps of metal and building remnants left of Terrace. 

The section station of Kelton, also known as Indian Creek, lasted much longer, spanning from 1869 to about 1942. The town served as a major shipping and travel connection. It was the  southern terminus of the Utah, Idaho, and Oregon Stage Company and also an Overland Mail Route station. During the 1870s alone, six million pounds of goods and supplies were transferred from train to wagon from Kelton. The railroad had a depot, turntable, engine house, water tank, pump house, section house, rail spurs, and sidings. Businesses in town included a two-story hotel, saloons, general stores, a post office, and a blacksmith. The town water was piped in from the Raft River Mountains just seven miles north. The population peaked at about 150 people in the late 1800s. 

The town's decline happened over a period of years with one event  after another. The stage route was no longer in use by the 1880s, the Lucin Cutoff project significantly slowed train traffic down to just a few trains per week, an earthquake rocked the city in 1934, and the railroad removed the rails to donate to the war effort in 1942. The few structures that are left in the ghost town are visited only by railroad enthusiasts, local historians, and tourists.


Terrace in 1967
Terrace in 1967 The town of Terrace lay off to the left. Source: "Terrace, Utah p. 6." 1967. 15969; Classified Photograph Collection. Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society. https://collections.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6g169x9.
The Terrace Cemetery
The Terrace Cemetery Source: "Terrace, Utah p.9." 1967. 15972; Classified Photograph Collection. Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society. https://collections.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6ks72nq.
The town of Terrace in its prime
The town of Terrace in its prime Source: "Terrace, Utah p.2." 1890-1900. 15965; Classified Photograph Collection. Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society. https://collections.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6988j32.
The Hotel in Kelton in 1905
The Hotel in Kelton in 1905 Source: "Kelton Hotel, dacing east, c1905." 1905. NPS. Via Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kelton_Hotel,_facing_east,_c1905.jpg.
The Site of Kelton Hotel, 1980.
The Site of Kelton Hotel, 1980. Source: "Kelton Hotel site, facing east, c1980." 1980. Bureau of Land Management. Via Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kelton_Hotel_site,_facing_east,_c1980.jpg.



Cami R. Isle, Weber State University, “Terrace and Kelton, Central Pacific Railroad Section Stations,” Intermountain Histories, accessed May 18, 2024, https://www.intermountainhistories.org/items/show/681.