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Gallery:  Grand Canyon Railway

 

In May of 2003, my wife and I visited Williams, Arizona, to see the Grand Canyon and the Grand Canyon Railway.  The home of the railroad is Williams, which is just west of Flagstaff, and south of Interstate 40 and the old Route 66.  It is hard to miss the Grand Canyon station, as it appears to be one of the newest structures in town.  It is a white structure and has plenty of parking for automobiles and campers. 

The history of the railway goes all the way back to 1901 when the very first passenger train arrived at the Grand Canyonís south rim; it was run by the AT&SF Railway.  For many years, this was an active passenger route taking millions of passengers to the Canyon.  Later, as the road improved, the passenger traffic on the train declined, and, in 1968, it stopped running.  When I visited the Canyon in the mid 1980ís I noted that trees that were almost six inches in diameter were growing between the rails.  Not a pretty sight to a railroad fan!  My reaction must have been shared by Max and Thelma Giegert -- it was with their work and dedication that put the Grand Canyon Railway back in service in 1989 -- 88 years after the first time it ran.  This service now continues with daily runs between the South Rim and Williams. 

The equipment varies from steam engines to early diesel.  While I was there, Engine number 18 was parked outside the Williams station with a Santa Fe Caboose coupled up to it.  Engine 4960, a Baldwin 2-8-2 Mikado, was not in sight.  This 1923 Baldwin-built locomotive has been restored at the cost of more than $1.5 million and is the pride of the fleet.  One other steam locomotive (#20 a Baldwin 2-8-0) was seen across the road, in less than running condition due to missing parts.  Both engines are well preserved in the dry climate.  The last pieces of motive power are the 1959 Alco FPA-4ís.  These diesels are unique in that they have steam generators used to provide heating for the passenger cars.  The multiple diesels coupled up, which I caught on film at the south rim of the Grand Canyon, looked and sounded as nice as the day they left the Alco factory. 

Passenger equipment consists of fully restored 1923 Harriman-Style pullman cars; first class cars by Budd Manufacturing made in the 1950ís; a club car with a mahogany bar; two deluxe first class cars with upper deck glass enclosed domes; and a luxury parlor car. 

As you make your trip on the Grand Canyon Railway, you will hear about the folklore and history of the railway.  You may even see an old-fashioned train robbery or shoot out along the way! 

Once you arrive at the unique wood station at the south rim of the Grand Canyon, you will only be a stones throw away from the canyon rim.  You may see mule deer and a lot of other wild life as you arrive and walk around.

You can contact the Grand Canyon Railway at www.TheTrain.com for schedules and events.  Or, you can call them at 1-800-the-train.  Their address is Grand Canyon Railway & Resort, 1201 West Route 66, Suite 200, Flagstaff, AZ 86001

The Canyon cannot be fully appreciated until you take a 9 hour hike to the bottom and stay at the Phantom Ranch near the Colorado River, (reservations may take up to 2 years, but cancellations do exist so call ahead), and then an 11 hour hike back up to the top. 

They said it would take 3 hours down and 5 hours to hike back up, HA!  Not with a 56 year old man!  We were two pooped participants when we arrived at the top again.  If you contemplate a hike to the bottom, be sure to take lots of water, wear hiking shoes, lots of water, take a hat, lots of water, hiking or walking poles (like snow ski poles), lots of water, some food, lots of water, a camera with plenty of film, and lots of water.  The trip is easier down than up!  Once down, there are only four ways up.  First, you can walk out on your own, (itís more difficult than it looks).  Second, if you can talk your way onto a white water raft on the Colorado River, you will arrive at Lake Mead in 3-4 days -- if youíre lucky. Third, you can send for a mule to pick you up -- at a cost of $800, or if you have a medical problem, a helicopter will pick you up for about $2500!  Of course you can take a mule ride down and up (with a reservation at least a year in advance) if you weigh 200 pounds or less, fully dressed. According to my wife, next time, we'll go by mule!

 
Loco_18.jpg (18468 bytes) Grand Canyon Railway 2-8-0 Locomotive #18
Loco_20.jpg (17023 bytes)
Grand Canyon Railway 2-8-0 Locomotive #20
diesel.jpg (14067 bytes) Grand Canyon Railway Alco FPA-4 #6773

cars.jpg (42484 bytes)

Harriman-Style Pullman Cars

station.jpg (22723 bytes)

Grand Canyon Station
 

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