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Montello History

"Montello began as a railroad siding three miles west of the present town and was later moved to its twentieth century location.  In 1902 Southern Pacific Railroad Company started construction of Lucin cut-off across great Salt Lake and when completed the railroad established a new Montello as a freight center."

With routing of freight and passengers over Lucin cut-off, Terrace, Utah, a town of 500 persons and the first railroad division west of Ogdon, as well as Toano, was by-passed.  The railroad company moved Terrace and Toano employees to Montello.  Southern Pacific Co. gave transferred workers permission to tear down houses at Terrace and ship them on flat cars to Montello.  Most early day houses and buildings were moved from Terrace.  Land on which houses were situated belonged to the railroad and company employees paid a yearly lease-rental of $5.00 for the average house and land; non-Southern Pacific families paid $15.00 rent on like property.

Until 1920 steam engines crews cut out at Montello and through the years the railroad town supplied helper engines over Pequop and Cedar Mountains.  

Chinese roadbed and roundhouse maintenance crews at Terrace and Toano came with the railroad to Montello.  The Chinese colony consisted of 40 Chinese, store, joss house, flagpole, and hovels (shack cabins made of discarded lumber).

Wes Johnson, Toano freighter, sold his freight outfit and Johnson ranch east of Wells, moved to Montello and opened a general merchandising store.  The McCuiston family came to the area in 1908, and during the 1920's and 1930's McCuiston Brothers, Del and Ted, catered to railroader appetites at McCuiston restaurant,  The Southern Pacific Hotel provided comfortable lodging quarters for employees, school teachers and travelers.  Utah Construction Company purchased Vineyard Land and Livestock Co. holdings (Sparks-Harrell) in 1907 and Montello, because of location on the railroad , became ranch headquarters.  The UC Company maintained a commissary from which they supplied ranch operations.  UC employees, Henry and Lige Harris, Negro brothers and native Texans were familiar faces in town for UC cowboying necessitated frequent Montello visits.

Community improvements started with construction of the first schoolhouse in 1906 which gave way to a larger building in 1910.  The first schoolhouse, removed to a different site, became part of a community hall.  Citizens purchased stock in Montello Amusement Corporation and from stock sales received funds to enlarge the school building into an adequate hall for dances, plays and movies.  Montello's first jail built with railroad ties, proved inadequate.  Prisoners escaped occasionally by removing a tie, and the jail was replaced by a stucco structure in 1920.  The Community Church drew attendance from all faiths.

Montello's economy reached a peak in 1915, with a railroad payroll of nearly $1,000,000 a month and continued strong until 1928-1929 after which a gradual decline took place.

In 1969 Montello remains a town refusing to die and kept alive by traffic over highway 30, limited ranch activity and small railroad services."

The following article is taken directly from:
Patterson, Edna B., Ulph, Louise A. and Goodwin, Victor, 1969, Nevada's Northeast Frontier, University of Nevada Press, Reno, Nevada.