Thistle, Utah - History - Aftermath - Economic Effects

Economic Effects

The landslide closed the main railroad for three months, and U.S. Route 6 and U.S. Route 89 for eight months, during which time the communities of eastern and southeastern Utah were cut off from the rest of the state. Security for the isolated part of Utah County was temporarily assigned to the Utah Highway Patrol.

The economic effects of the closure of these transportation arteries were felt throughout the western United States; the closure devastated rural Utah. The operations of coal mines, uranium mines, turkey farms, animal feed companies, gypsum mines, and cement and clay factories were severely impacted. At least two trucking firms and one oil-producing firm suspended or ceased operations. Southeastern Utah's tourism industry suffered without access for visitors from the north and west. Some people who lived and worked on opposite sides of the landslide area suddenly had commutes exceeding 100 miles (160 km). The highway patrol temporarily closed a weigh station at Peerless (a location along the US-6 corridor near Helper) and built a temporary weigh station near Salina (along I-70 about 90 miles (140 km) south of Thistle), which saw a sudden increase in truck traffic. The highway patrol estimated the temporary facilities inspected 57,000 trucks and made 80 arrests.

The direct cost of the landslide was estimated at $200 million (equivalent to $461 million in 2013). However, some estimates of the total cost reached as high as $400 million (equivalent to $922 million in 2013). The D&RGW estimated the slide cost them $80 million in lost revenue (equivalent to $184 million in 2013), averaging $1 million for each day that the tracks were out-of-service. This figure included $19 million in payments to the Union Pacific for the use of their lines. The United States Geological Survey and the state of Utah have called the Thistle landslide the most costly ever in the United States.

Read more about this topic:  Thistle, Utah, History, Aftermath

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