Grand Canyon Railway


The Grand Canyon Railway runs on an ex Santa Fe branch from Williams north to the Grand Canyon. They run ex Lake Superior & Ishpeming 2-8-0's and the ex CB&Q 2-8-2 4960, along with ex VIA (nee CNR) Alco FPA4's and  FPB4's. They also do a really great Railfan Weekend the first weekend in October....a highly recommended event!

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Little did I know at the time I took this photo in July of 1964 that nearly 30 years later I'd be taking a photo of this engine out here in Arizona! The Grand Canyon bought this engine (along with 1 other) for parts to keep the 18 and 29 running. Last I knew this engine was on display at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Shown here on the old Marquette & Huron Mountain, a short lived tourist road on ex LS&I trackage north and west of Marquette, Michigan.
Once again, when I took this photo in 1966 I never thought I'd see this locomotive out here in Arizona 30 some years later! This was on the annual Circus Train from Baraboo to Milwaukee.
This is the same train as above at a grade crossing in Madison, Wisconsin. The train had just stopped and was getting underway again with some nice smoke and sound. And I still have the open reel audio tape I made here! Not bad for a 17 year old kid eh... :).
Sad to say, by 1969 the Marquette and Huron Mountain road was out of business, and here are the engines lined up on a spur and left to rot near Marquette, some still lettered for the LS&I, others with the M&HM lettering. That the Grand Canyon Railway was able to get some of these engines running again speaks very well of their talent and capabilities! Shown here on Nov. 9, 1969.
From the way this engine looks here, it was doubtful that it would ever run again! But today she is all restored and running on the GCR. Note the tender booster truck, which the GCR did not use. Shown here in Marquette, Michigan on Nov. 9, 1969.
And here is the 18 in the scrap line at Marquette, which is now the "star" if I may say so on the GCR today. Nov. 9, 1969.
And now we jump ahead nearly 21 years and see the 18 fully restored at the Grand Canyon on April 4, 1990. Quite a change from the photo above!
A couple of months later I was in the Williams area again, and got this photo of the GCR's work train with 2 ex Santa Fe units near the shops. July 5, 1990.
Later that day I got the 29 highballing south towards Williams in gorgeous late afternoon light. This photo was taken just south of the Pronghorn road crossing on July 5, 1990.
Here is the 19, certainly much the worse for wear from the first photo on this page. Shown here on July 27, 1990 at Williams, Arizona near the shops.
The first summer of the GCR's operation saw a large increase in passengers, so it was sometimes necessary to use both operational steamers on the same train. Even though double heading steam engines is not very efficient, it certainly makes for some interesting photos! The northbound passenger is at Red Lake on August 25, 1990.
In September the GCR held the First Annual Railfan Days, which was a really good trip. Here the northbound passenger is making a runby at Willaha. After the runby the train was split up into the regular train, and 3 coaches and the 18 for the railfans. I wonder what the regular passengers thought about the back and forth movements, and all of the cameras blasting away :). Sept. 28, 1990 at Willaha.
Here the 2 trains are side by each at the Grand Canyon, with the Railfan Special (on the right) about ready to leave back towards Williams. Sept. 28, 1990.
This location is just a few miles south of the Grand Canyon, and was one of about 8 runbys! The Railway certainly did a really great job. Coconino, AZ on Sept. 28, 1990.
Further south at Willaha the Railfan Special is in the siding waiting for the regular passenger to run by. The late afternoon sun really makes the 18 shine! Compare this photo to the one above of the 18 in the scrap line at Marquette. Willaha, AZ - Sept. 28, 1990.
The regular train (The Williams Flyer) is highballing by the Railfan Special at Willaha, just a few minutes before sunset. Sept. 28, 1990.
This is what was called the "stealth unit" account the solid black paint. This was done so that when it was used as a helper on the steam trains it wouldn't stand out too much and spoil the effect of a steam powered passenger train, as you can see in the photo above. Williams, AZ on Sept. 29, 1990.
Next February, the Grand Canyon's No. 18 was on its way to Phoenix to take part in Union Station Days. Here it a few miles west of Williams descending the "Upper Horseshoe" curve near Sereno. The Santa Fe added the diesel for dynamic braking on the steep downgrade. Feb. 21, 1991.
After a stop at Ashfork to change crews and cut off the diesel, the "Hassayampa Special" is on its way once again. This location is just south of Ashfork.
Here is the train crossing the first of two steel trestles over Hell Canyon near Drake, the junction point with the Arizona Central.
And here is a view from the tail end at the higher bridge, just south of the Arizona Central junction. Note the smoke coming from the trucks of the last coach - the brakes were sticking and a stop would be made at Skull Valley to fix them.
Here the Special is running fast just to the west (RR east) of Piedmont. Flying along at speed on this well maintained 136 lb. welded rail is a treat for the 18 after having spent years in northern Upper Michigan snailing along on old small jointed rail. Feb. 21, 1991.
That evening some of the equipment on display was spotted for some night photos. This is about a 1 minute time exposure at f 5.6 on Kodachrome 64 film with available light. Feb. 21, 1991.
The Second Annual Railfan Days were held on the weekend of Sept. 15, 1991 and once again the Railway put on quite a show. Here the Special is making one of many runbys at Willaha.
Just south of the Grand Canyon Park the Special did a couple more runbys at a grade crossing. Sept. 15, 1991.

The southbound Williams Flyer is just passing the station sign at Pitt in the late afternoon sun on July 23, 1993.

Here are the parts of the CB&Q 4960 being readied for rebuilding and reassembly. This project took many years and lots of money, but the results are well worth it. Shown here near the Williams Shops on July 25, 1993.
The Williams Flyer is backing the train into the Depot for cleaning, and the 18 is glistening in the gorgeous late afternoon light at the wye. July 25, 1993.

The first of the ex VIA/CNR Alco FPA4's to be restored was the 6773, shown here just north of the engine shop at Williams on July 25, 1993.

A couple of years later the 6773 has been repainted with a new color scheme, and it is looking good in the afternoon sun approaching the Pronghorn Road grade crossing just north of Williams, AZ on October 15, 1995.

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This Web Page and all photos on it copyright 1998-2003 by Ted Ellis. All Rights Reserved.