National Train Day is May 9th and is a great opportunity to explore, experience and learn about Arizona’s rich history of rail tracks. In the mid 19th century most of the Arizona territory was still a desolate place, mainly just an area to pass through to get to the Gold Rush of California. With the addition of tracks, steam and steel Arizona quickly evolved from a stopping point to a welcoming place to settle. Bring the family out on National Train Day, or any day for that matter, to one of these special train locations and learn how Arizona came to be the great community we call home.
Verde Canyon Railroad in Clarkdale.
In the glory days of the iron horse, the train station was typically the bustling hub of every small town across America. Those times may have passed but Verde Canyon Railroad is doing its part to ensure that they are not forgotten. This 38 mile track is sandwiched between two protected sanctuaries, the Coconino National Forest and the Prescott National Forest, the Railroad runs a rare ribbon where dramatic high desert meets a precious riparian area. Such scenery comprises only 2% of the Arizona landscape. Book your unique experience through northern Arizona here.
Grand Canyon Railroad in Williams.
This 65 mile trip takes you from the small town of Williams to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park. Grand Canyon Country is located on the Colorado Plateau in northern Arizona. Most of the plateau is set at an elevation of 5,000 feet. However, the plateau also includes the San Francisco Peaks, the highest point in Arizona at over 12,600 feet. As a result, the journey through Grand Canyon Country features a variety of stunningly different landscapes: from the Ponderosa pine forest surrounding Williams, to a gentle drop in elevation down to the wide-open prairie before climbing back up to the Pinion pine forests as the Train approaches Grand Canyon National Park. Book your next trip here.
Pivot Point Interpretive Plaza in Yuma.
Catch a glimpse of Arizona’s spectacular “Ghost Train” at this outdoor exhibit located where Madison Avenue meets the river – the exact site where the first railroad train entered Arizona in 1877. As kids clamber over the 1907 Baldwin locomotive, a 21st-century audio system re-creates the sounds of a passing steamboat, the swing-span rail bridge cranking open and the arrival of a train at the old Southern Pacific Hotel leaving you with the feeling that you have just traveled back in time. A stroll around the plaza is a walk through local history, sprinkled with fascinating photographs and interesting stories about Yuma’s train history.
Southern Arizona Transportation Museum in Tucson.
In 1998, the City of Tucson purchased the former Southern Pacific Railroad Depot on Toole Avenue downtown. The main attraction is Steam Locomotive #1673, one of 105 of its type built with very few left in existence. Visitors are encouraged to explore the restored train, take a peek inside the 100 year old box cars, ring the locomotive bell and pick up an audio phone in the museum to hear an exciting story of a railroad job. Don’t miss the restored depot lobby where you will find it exactly as it was in 1942. Enjoy the countless exhibits, artifacts and photos as you immerse yourself in the history of steam locomotion. For more information on available tours and hours of operation click here.
Arizona Railway Museum in Chandler.
The Arizona Railway Museum was founded in 1983 as a non-profit, educational and historical organization. Boasting four passenger cars and a caboose the museum is dedicated to the celebration and restoration of the railways in the southwest. You are welcome to take a self guided tour through the yard to see the vintage equipment or step into the building and wander around the countless artifacts that have been collected. The fascination of railways and trains have no boundaries at this unique museum, so artifacts include railways of all kinds. For information on hours and tours click here.