Helper, Utah

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Helper is a city in Carbon County, Utah, United States about 120 miles southeast of Salt Lake City and 7 miles (11 km) northwest of the city of Price. It is also known as the "Hub of Carbon County". The population was 2,025 at the 2000 census.

The city lies along U.S. Route 6/U.S. Route 191, a shortcut between Provo and Interstate 70, on the way from Salt Lake City to Grand Junction, Colorado. It is the location of The Western Mining and Railroad Museum, a tourist attraction that also contains household and commercial artifacts illustrating late 19th and early 20th century living conditions.



Helper is situated at the mouth of Price Canyon, alongside the Price River, on the eastern side of the Wasatch Plateau in Central Utah. Trains traveling westward from the Price side to the Salt Lake City side of the plateau required additional "helper" engines in order to make the steep (2.4% grade) 15 mile climb up Price Canyon to the town of Soldier Summit. Helper was named after these helper engines, which the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad stationed in the city.


With the arrival of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad (D&RGW) in 1881-82, Helper began to develop as a population center. By 1887 the D&RGW had erected some twenty-seven frame residences, with more built later in the year. The railroad planned to make Helper a freight terminal after the rail lines were changed from narrow to standard gauge. The changeover process began in 1889 and was completed in 1891. In 1892, Helper was designated the division point between the eastern and western D&RGW terminals in Grand Junction, Colorado and Ogden, Utah, respectively, and a new depot, hotel, and other buildings were constructed. On April 21, 1897, Butch Cassidy and Elzy Lay robbed the Pleasant Valley Coal Company in nearby Castle Gate; they stayed in Helper the day before. It was said that Butch Cassidy later came back to Helper for occasional visits.[3]

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