In 1881 the D&RGW railroad company decided to extend their line through the San Rafael Swell. The line was planned to leave Green River, UT, travel up Cottonwood Wash, across Buckhorn Flat, and to a junction near Huntington. From the junction, the line would split and go north to Price and south through Salina Canyon to Salina.
Though the railroad was never completed, hundreds of locals worked on the project and an impressive amount of railroad bed was prepared. Ties were even cut in Tie Canyon near Huntington and floated 20 miles down to sell to the railroad.
There are a few places in the Swell to see the railroad remains, though the Spirit Railroad Complex site that SITLA developed in 2016 is an excellent place to start and offers a lot of railroad remnants in a small area. Highly recommended for history buffs and railroad enthusiasts.
The trailhead has a few rough sections, but most vehicles can make it if carefully drive.
There are two way to reach the trailhead, from Buckhorn Wash area, and from Highway 6.
From Highway 6
To reach the trailhead, take the Green River cutoff from highway 6 between Price and I-70. This good dirt road travels west off of highway 6 at mile marker 283.2 (16.4 miles north of I-70 on highway 6).
Once at the site, an informational board offers a reasonable overview map. Everything is within a 5-minute walk from the parking area. Check out the railroad grade, debris piles, old buildings, and dug-outs that the workers lived in. Bring a lunch, this is a great place to wander around, learn about the history of the railroad and take in the big views of the Book Cliffs to the East and Cedar Mountain to the north.
|Green River Cutoff Road||
12S 540042mE 4336872mN
N39° 10' 49" W110° 32' 11"
|0.5 miles - Junction, go right.||
12S 539516mE 4337341mN
N39° 11' 04" W110° 32' 33"
|1.2 miles - Small side road on the left, stay to the right.||
12S 540264mE 4337811mN
N39° 11' 19" W110° 32' 02"
|1.4 miles - Trailhead and informational sign.||
12S 540549mE 4337976mN
N39° 11' 24" W110° 31' 50"