Emerson Carter: Trolley Square

Emerson Carter-Trolley Square

Write-up by Emerson Foster

Placed by: Melvin Simon and Associates

GPS Coordinates: 40.7571684 N -111.8724356 W

Historical Marker Text 1: In as early as 1892, we saw a boost in the transportation industry. After their first run, the Salt Lake City Railroad Company began regular operation with two rat mules. This proved to be a slow alternative with someone saying, “If there’s time we’ll take the streetcar; if not we’ll walk,” Despite being slow, the company grew in 1883 with the addition of 41 cars, nine miles of track, 84 mules, and 30 employees. On August 8, 1889 a trial run was made with a new car, the trolley. After four different trials, the trolley proved to be a success and a hit in Utah! By 1893, the Salt Lake City Railroad had 63 trolley cars with more than 42 miles of track in operation. 

Historical Marker Text 2: 

Inside Trolley Square, you can see a model of historic Trolley Square, which took three years to make. This was done by a mechanic, Emerson Carter, who in his twenties worked for the Utah Light and Traction Company. The models, with the exception of the glass covering, are true to 1930’s including houses, churches, and businesses. The model was placed in this historical landmark in November of 1986. 

Extended Research: 

In 1903, E. H.Harriman commissioned the 10 acre land that was previously used as Territorial Fairgrounds that had been abandoned in 1902. Harriman’s new layout of the property held 144 state of the art truck double street cars and was divided into four bays  with four tracks each. There were 208 skylines to light the building. With the concern of a fire, Harriman purchased the infamous 50,000 gallon water tower, something you can still see today. The trolley car system ran from Salt Lake, Holladay, Sugar House, Bountiful, and Centerville, totalling 146 miles of track, making it the largest form of transportation in the state. 

In the 1930s, Utah Light and Traction Company began replacing its trolley lines with bus routes. All trolley lines had been replaced by bus routes by 1946 and became Utah Power and Light. The Utah Light and Railway Co. stopped operation in the early 1950s, now with the buildings being used for bus storage. In 1976, the lot was purchased by a family in hopes of using the land for retail use. The man behind the mall, Wally Wright, is still known for his work making this trolley station into the booming place it is today. 

For Further Research: 

Primary Sources: 

Julie L. Sanfield. (2005), Trolley Square History Museum. 


Secondary Sources: 

Trolley Square: A Brief History (2007 February 17). The Salt Lake Tribune.


Lois Bates. (2019 June 4). The History of Trolley Square in Salt Lake City. Bingham News Chronicle.


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