At this juncture, due to the importance of railroads, a digression will be made to tell of some early railroad building in Utah and Idaho, as it profoundly affected this region. The Utah Central Railroad, which operated from Ogden to Salt Lake City was built under the direction of Brigham Young to provide transportation between the Utah capital and Ogden in connection with the newly completed Union-Central Pacific transcontinental line, which was completed and in operation into Salt Lake City early in 1871.
During that period the extension of a line northward from Ogden was conceived. The railroad northward from Ogden was incorporated as the Utah & Northern Railway, and its construction as a narrow gauge line was begun in 1870. It had only reached Franklin, Idaho, in the spring of 1878, at which time control passed to Jay Gould. Upon acquiring control the Gould interests began active preparations for completion of the line, its ultimate objective being the thriving mining camp of Butte, Montana.
The line from Pocatello to Blackfoot was commenced at Pocatello in July, 1878 and track laying to Blackfoot was completed on December 23, 1878. The line was completed to Butte, Montana, and turned over to the Operating Department on December 15, 1881. This road was changed to a broad gauge in 1887.
In 1889 the Utah & Northern and other lines in Idaho were consolidated with the original Oregon Short Line running from Granger, Wyoming, westward, the combination being known as the Oregon Short Line and Utah Northern Railroad Company, later to be known as the Oregon Short Line Railroad Company. During 1901 the Oregon Short Line Railroad Company constructed the Salmon River Railroad, now known as the Mackay branch of the Oregon Short Line from Blackfoot to Mackay, a distance of 86 miles. As heretofore stated, Blackfoot was the nearest railroad station to Wood River points from 1879 to 1883. Thus situated, far from the ordinary lines of through travel, only the most daring and hardy adventurers sought these mountain solitudes. The only means of communication was by stage or team, or on horseback, over mountain trails in many instances, and in danger of being scalped by prowling Indians.