The Grand Canyon is one of America’s most treasured landmarks, and as with many of our most scenic places, it has a train story that dates back to our early history. Since 1901, the Grand Canyon Railway has enchanted millions of people from all over the world. The railway first transported passengers from Williams, Arizona to the South Rim of the canyon. The ride became a popular trip and over the years and some of the train’s more famous passengers included Doris Day, Clark Gable and Theodore Roosevelt. In addition to tourists, the train also shuttled building materials and water to the canyon.
Over the years automobiles became more and more popular, and in 1968 the fate of the train seemed sealed when it was shut down. However, in 1989, Grand Canyon Railway put a stop to the salvage work and began a detailed restoration process. The decaying tracks were rebuilt and the historic depots at both ends of the line were restored. The Railway was reopened for passenger service on September 17, 1989, by entrepreneurs Max and Thelma Biegert.
“Max Biegert and his wife Thelma brought an important piece of Arizona history back to life. We have them to thank for the opportunity to travel just as those first passengers did in 1901 to the canyon so appropriately named Grand,” said Railroad Historian Al Richmond on the Grand Canyon Railway and Hotel’s web site.
“Bringing the Grand Canyon line back to life really came down to the eleventh hour,” explained then Williams Marshal John Moore. “As Grand Canyon Railway was working on getting the final paper-work complete, a corporation which made a failed attempt to restore the Grand Canyon line, had begun tearing it up for salvage materials. If it hadn’t been for Grand Canyon Railway, train service to the Grand Canyon would have been permanently lost.”
Today you are invited to lose yourself in the majesty, the magnificence that is Grand Canyon National Park. The Grand Canyon Railway and Hotel’s web site states you can “take an unforgettable ride on lovingly restored cars and hear folklore and tales from a crew who are still bewitched by their spectacular surroundings.” Entertainment includeds authentic characters and musicians who bring the Old West to life. By traveling aboard Grand Canyon Railway you are not only part of history in the making, you are also doing your part to help preserve the pristine, incredible beauty of Grand Canyon National Park.
The railway cars include 13 Pullman coach cars and 12 Budd coach cars. First class cars include luxury parlor cars and scenic dome cars. Besides experiencing a historic ride, passengers also depart from and arrive in depots that date back to the early 1900s – true landmarks of our nation’s history.
The train begins its journey in Williams, Arizona and travels 65 miles to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. The two hour and 15 minute ride leaves plenty of time for taking pictures, and since you won’t have to deal with traffic, you can just enjoy the view.