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Terrace and Watercress

Central Pacific Rail bed, Box Elder County, Utah

Back in April of 1869, the Central Pacific was closing in on the agreed meeting point at Promontory Summit. As with the Union Pacific, building the transcontinental railroad granted the 2 companies a certain amount of acreage on the sides of the track. The Union Pacific established such towns as Cheyenne Wyoming and North Platte Nebraska. The Central Pacific built Reno Nevada as well as Terrace and Watercress Utah. The sad deal was that a lot of the towns built in the Utah Territory did not last very long. These 2 towns were victims of a shorter route across the lake instead of the Promontory Mountains. Terrace was considered a good size town during its time of existence. It became a division point and switch yard as well as a maintenance facility. The town boasted a 16 stall roundhouse as well as an 8 track switch yard. Population figures range from several hundred to 7000. As was the norm at this time, the Chinese were not counted during the census. In 1903, the Central Pacific, now named Southern Pacific, built a trestle across the Great Salt Lake which saved the company hours versus crossing the Promontory Mountains. Terrace began to lose population being a railroad based town. By 1942, all remaining buildings were moved to the new maintenance town of Montello Nevada. The town was dead. Today, not a lot is left to see. The cemetery is still there though it has been vandalized. A lot of old, and I mean old railroad ties are still in the ground as well as scattered all over. It is an interesting place to visit though it is in the middle of nowhere. A depression is left where the round-table was as well as a huge pile of red bricks. To get there, you can follow the original rail bed from Promontory, Kelton or Locomotive Springs. Head west and you will eventually reach Terrace. A less adventurous way  is to follow highway 30 from Snowville to mile marker 24, I believe, where a sign will direct  you east to the old rail bed and Terrace. Cell service is good out there for Verizon, but I can't say for any others.

Terrace Utah

The next town on the line was the small town of Watercress. Watercress was a small town with a large water tower to refill the thirsty steam engines. It stayed busy up until the transcontinental railroad was finished and then became a basic water stop along the way. With the building of the trestle across the lake, the need for water disappeared and so did watercress. There are quite a few things left there to look at. The town itself has a lot of dugouts from buildings and there is ancient junk everywhere. The highlights of the town are just of east of it where 2 good sized bridges are still standing. These are original and are amazing to study. The planks used are massive and still appear to be as strong as they were in the beginning. Fact is, there is a tiny bridge that you can still drive across. It has had some improvements done to it but it still has original timbers. Nowadays, the ravens and other birds of prey build their nests all over on the bridges.  To get to Watercress, you follow the same directions you use to get to Terrace. They are approximately 3 miles or so apart.