HISTORY OF THE WOODS CROSS STATION

by Josephine Wood Naylor
granddaughter of Daniel Wood
June 1955

When we call to mind the great movements of the Utah pioneers, we think of the wagon trains which constituted their best mode of transportation. We wonder at the success they achieved with the lowly beasts of burden, the horse and the ox. With these they colonized the vast Utah territory and even parts of Arizona, Colorado, and Nevada.

While they accomplished wonders with those tedious means of travel, they recognized the need for better transportation, and they realized that the railroad would meet this need. With the spectacular growth of settlements in California, the entire nation became aware of the need for a railroad connecting east with west, and the tremendous work of construction such a road was commented.

When the transcontinental railroad was finally completed by tho joining of the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific at Promontory Point on the north shore of the Great Salt Lake, thus leaving Salt Lake City and other communities to the north without a railroad connection, Governor Brigham Young and other Utah industrial leaders sought to have the line extended from Ogden to the south. Railroad officials refused to thus extend the line, their excuse being that they lacked funds.

Governor Young was not easily discouraged in a matter of such great importance, and he took the problem up with town officials in each settlement between Ogden and Salt Lake City. Without exception, the people of these settlements agreed to aid in the construction of a road from Ogden to Salt Lake City. Mass cooperation of the people thus made it possible for a locally organized corporation, the Utah Central Railroad, to speedily build such a road.

Colonel A. B. Carr of the Union Pacific made the following comment concerning this mass undertaking:

The Utah Central is the only line west of the Missouri River that has been built wholly without government subsidies. It has been built wholly with money wrung from the soil which a few years ago was nothing but a desert, by the strong arms of the men and women who stand before me. Everything used in its construction, even to the last spike, is the product of the country.

The location of the right of way for the Utah Central was accomplished through the cooperation of property owners and lending men of the communities affected. Their procedure is described in part as follows in an unsigned editorial appearing in the Deseret News., June 13,,1869:

***President Young, Vice-President Wm. Jennings;

Directors, Feramorz Little and Christopher Layton; General Superintendent, Joseph A. Young, and Chief Engineer Jesse W. Fox, officers of the Utah Central Railroad left Salt Lake City on Thursday morning, and at the Hot Springs, met by appointment, the leading citizens of Davis County, numbering at least one hundred men, nearly every public man in the county and many of the farmers being there. The wagons and carriages numbered nearly forty. Leaving the road the party struck the bottom, and after as, careful an examination as possible under the circumstances, the northwest corner of Brother Daniel Wood's farm, was selected as the point near which the depot for the place should be located. President Young, before fully deciding upon this point for the depot, called upon Bishop Staker and the people of Bountiful to express their feelings. They were unanimously in favor of the place located.

After the tentative location of the right of way had been staked by the engineering staff of the Utah Central, the Chief Engineer, Jesse W. Fox, personally undertook the task of negotiating with the land owners to obtain title to the necessary land. His negotiations with Grandfather Daniel Wood involved him in some difficulty, due to the fact that the proposed right of way out across the entire breath of the Wood farm separating from the remainder of the farm an awkward triangular strip to the west.

While the Chief Engineer was positive that the selected route was the only feasible one from an engineering standpoint. Grandfather Wood was equally positive that it would be practicable to place the line along a quiet street which bordered the farm on the west and which was only a few rods from the location selected.

The files of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers contain an interesting article in which George H. Smith describes vividly the negotiations between these two gentlemen, particularly the factors which resulted in the selection of the name, "Woods Cross." The article indicates that Chief Engineer Fox, affectionately known to his contemporaries as "Uncle Jesse," obtained all necessary property rights without a single case of condemnation, then proceeds in part as follows:

Among the many interesting and amusing memories of "Uncle Jesse" and his right of way work, is one that grew out of his negotiations with another "Uncle Jesse" [Grandfather Daniel Wood, who was known to many neighbors and friends as "Uncle Dan"] who resided on his farm in Bountiful. A preliminary line, which promised to be the final location for the road and the depot to accommodate the town of Bountiful, had been staked through on the Wood farm. When approached on the subject of rights for these purposes "Uncle Wood" demurred while the persuasive "Uncle Fox" attempted to show that there was no other practicable location and as further inducement suggested that "Woods" might be a very suitable name for the proposed Bountiful depot. "Uncle Wood" insisted that both the road and proposed depot should occupy the ample, at the time, little used street which bordered his farm on the west end was only a few rods distant from the staked line. He also declared the "Uncle Jesse" lacked judgment in the matter or was following some engineering fad and recommended "horse sense" as a better guide. "Uncle Wood's" conviction that the adjoining street was the proper place for both road and depot was greatly strengthened by a proposal of "Uncle Jesse" to pay for the desired rights, in Capital Stock of the Utah Central R. R. which the optimistic engineer assured the pessimistic farmer would soon be worth more than the whole Wood farm. "Uncle Wood" replied with characteristic emphasis that his farm represented more real value than all "Uncle Jesse"s" old speculative railroad would ever be worth and that he had no intention of accepting any of the worthless stock as compensation for the proposed right of way to ruin his farm. He also charged "Uncle Jesse" with being crazy. "Uncle Jesse" retaliated in the severest tone and language of which he was capable by saying: "Brother Wood, my being crazy is no excuse for your being cross and as it is not my desire to incite anger or ill will, I suggest that further discussion of the matter be deferred to some more propitious time."

Accordingly, the Chief Engineer notified the referees of what Farmer Wood and Right of Way Agent Fox had agreed upon and asked for an early opportunity to be heard on both sides of the case. An immediate hearing was held. the Referee and Chief Engineer being the only ones present. After first presenting the Railroad Company's needs and views in the matter, the Chief Engineer presented the views and fears of Farmer Wood and argued, even at the risk of prejudice to the Railroad Company, that there should be no unnecessary occupation of Brother Wood's property.

At the conclusion of the hearing, "Brother Brigham" asked what feeling Brother Wood had exhibited in the matter and was told by Brother Fox that Brother Wood had been very cross about it. Whereupon the referee said: "All-right, it is my decision that both the road and the depot shall be built across and on the Wood Farm as at present planned; that Brother Wood shall be compensated therefore, by payments from the Railroad Company of such some as shall be fixed by disinterested appraisers; that such payment shall be half in cash and half in certificates of the Capital Stock of the Utah Central Railroad Company and that the name of the Railroad Station, when so built, shall be Woods Cross. Brother Fox, you will notify Brother Wood accordingly. That is all."

After several days the Chief Engineer mustered sufficient courage to inform Grandfather Daniel Wood of the referee's decision. After listening to the decision Grandfather demanded the reason for adding the word "Cross" to the name of the station. The Chief Engineer .suggested that the word probably had reference to the crossroads near the station. Grandfather then complimented him for the job he had done in representing both sides, and the two men parted as friends, much to the surprise of "Uncle Jesse" who had expected Grandfather to be very hostile. While the referee's decision provided for payment of a price to be fixed by appraisers, Grandfather Wood never made a request for the property taken.

The construction of the Utah Central was commenced at Ogden on May 17, 1869, and the road was completed in Salt Lake City on January 10, 1870.

In October of 1869, while the road had not yet been completed as far south as the Wood Farm, grandfather Wood went to Canada with the hope of persuading other members of his large family to accept: Moronism. While he had ten brothers and sisters, only he and one brother had previously joined the Church. He returned from his mission in April of 1870, approximately three months after completion of the road to Salt Lake City.

Many of the stations on the Utah Central had been placed a rather long distance back from the nearest street, and this was true of the one located on the Wood Farm. As the train which brought Grandfather to the end of his journey from Canada stopped at the station, far back in the farm, the conductor called out, "Woods Cross," and in response, Grandfather sang out in an irate tone, "Yes, and he's damn cross, too!" The reason for his feelings, of course, was the fact that the station had been placed as far back in his farm.

He acted quickly in an effort to have the station moved nearer to the street. The support of the other prominent citizens of Bountiful was solicited. A mass meeting held at his family meeting house for the purpose was attended by many of the early pioneers of Bountiful, including Paragreen Sessions, Robert Ure, William Muir, John Pack, and others. All of those attending the meeting signed a petition calling for the removal of the station to a point adjacent to the highway.

When Governor Young and the other officials of the Utah Central received the petition they readily agreed to the suggested relocation of the station, and within a few months the station was raised to a point on the Wood Farm which was adjacent to the highway.

The original Woods Cross Station which had thus been built far back in the Wood Farm and later moved consisted of a waiting room, an office for the agent, and two rooms used as the agent's dwelling. A few years after the establishment of the station, the two rooms used as a residence were separated from the remainder of the building and moved north along the right of way approximately three hundred feet and additional rooms were added thereto. This completed structure is still being used as the dwelling house of the station agent.

After the two rooms had thus been separated from the station building, a warehouse which had been purchased from Wells Fargo was moved to the station grounds and attached to the station building on the south side where the rooms had been joined.

Since the addition of the warehouse there have been no changes in the station, and despite many years of continued use these buildings remain in substantially their original condition.

It is recorded in the History of West Bountiful Ward by Priscilla Muir Hatch that the first telegraph operator (agent) at Woods Cross was Davis Egbert, and the second was Annie Layton Jones. These were followed by Stearns Hatch, Elmer Peebles, Calvin Cragin, and others. The present operator is Erickson.

Retyped from copy by
Norma Jean M. Wood
21 September 1990
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