Clarkdale, Arizona

The Clarkdale District

An abandoned railroad line in Clarkdale, Arizona, known as The Clarkdale District, of which .44 miles have been abandoned, was once operated in Arizona by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway.

Historic ICC Abandonment Filings

ATCHISON, TOPEKA & SANTA FE RAILWAY
Docket Number: AB 52 Sub 35X Date: 9/18/1984 Section: 1152.50
Notice of exemption, intent to abandon a portion of its line of railroad known as the Clarkdale District of the Albuquerque Division, extending from milepost 38.13 to the end of the line at M.P. 38.57 near Clarkdale, a distance of 2,346 feet (.44 miles), all in Yavapai County, Arizona.
Length: 0.44 miles Citation:  

Surely this should be the Clarkdale District, so specified in AT&SF's intent to abandon filed with the ICC, and NOT the "Clardale District", which I must assume is a typo. The uncertainty problem is that "Clardale" appears twice in the website description. I was in Clarkdale three days ago, on my way to Jerome and the old copper mines there, and across the RR yard near the tourist station, I viewed two separate strings of open hoppers. Also there is an abandoned copper smelter close by the yard, clearly from its numeroso broken windows having seen better days. I for one would like to know more about this operation. It appears from various websites that the AZCR is presently running in coal cars from Drake to power the cement plant and running out finished product, cement. Is that about right? Thanks.

Nelson Lawry
Rollinsford, NH
4/18/2011

[Thanks Nelson, I've corrected the page.  —Greg Harrison]

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You're welcome, Greg. Am a newbie to Arizona and its railroad lines, so maybe you can clarify a few things for me. Does in fact the AZ Central have a single customer at Clarkdale, the modern cement plant? Is the traffic pretty much coal in, cement out? But as I did not see a single boxcar, only a lot of open hoppers, it would appear that the cement is not bagged there, but carried in bulk to some other plants for bagging and/or concrete mixing in job quantities (admittedly, that may be too much of an extrapolation, as I did not see what cars were in place up at the cement plant). Arizona may not get much rain, but when it does, it can come down in plentiful amounts. One would, after all, not want a lotta cement-laden hopper cars to get appreciably wet. Can you tell me any more about the operations there, how often and when the AZCR trains run, etc. Please also see my questions on the Prescott District abandoned RR subsite. Thanks, Nelson

Nelson Lawry
Rollinsford, NH
4/18/2011

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This track, from Drake Arizona to Clarkdale, is now a tourist railroad.

John Faris
Glendale, AZ
4/27/2011

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As much as I dislike disagreeing with an Arizonan about an Arizona railroad, John, your information is simply wrong. There are two different railroads operating out of Clarkdale, AZ, although they share a single owner. The tourist line, named the Verde Canyon Railroad, runs from Clarkdale to Perkinsville (the latter billed melodramatically but incorrectly as a "ghost town"). Perkinsville is about 20 miles up the west branch of the Verde River from Clarkdale--the halfway point on the line--offering the well heeled tourist a 40-mile round trip through a beautiful canyon. See

http://www.city-data.com/articles/Verde-Canyon-Railroad-Clarkdale-AZ.html

The Clarkdale Arizona Central Railroad is a legit freight line, having a single revenue customer in that town, the cement plant. According to the RR's website, it runs three trains a week the 39 miles from Clarkdale to the interchange with the BNSF at Drake. The railroad brings in coal to power the plant and takes out cement (I'm still working on whether that product is bagged or not). See

http://www.thewesterngroup.net/affiliates/clarkdalearizonacentralrailroad.html

I can personally testify to seeing two long strings of open (old-fashioned) hopper cars, one in the main yard by the tourist station, and the other on a lower stub track, on April 15, 2011. The motive power for both railroads is nicely "mature".

Nelson Lawry
Rollinsford, NH
4/30/2011

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Yesterday, April 12, 2012, my generous wife treated me to a belated b'day present: a ride on the Verde Canyon Railroad. Before I go on, I am NOT usually an enthusiast of tourist railroads or railfan trips, particularly those that go from A to B, and back on the same track from B to A--and at a snail's pace to boot. Bah humbug!! But....BIG BUT....the Verde Canyon RR trip is a different story. The track follows the Verde River nearly 20 miles from Clarkdale to all-but-abandoned Perkinsville, through towering canyons of differing geology, including red rock, and offers a splendid excursion. I rode mostly in the coach on the way out, and in the adjoining open-air car on the way back. I was NOT bored for a single minute of our 3 3/4-hour journey, and recommend this excellent adventure to one and all. At 12 mph, the speed of the train is not that tortuous either. Reservations are required, and I'll let the interested reader peruse the numerous, easily found websites relevant to this train trip.

To a few technical details: the motive power is all EMD and all vintage stuff, late 1940s to early 1950s. The Verde Canyon trains are pulled by a couple of FP7s, while their freight counterparts on the strictly working sister, the Arizona Central, are one each GP7 and GP9, painted in the same livery as the FP7s. I chatted up the engineer on duty that day, and he told me that the freight run, from Clarkdale to the BNSF interchange at Drake, takes place now about once per week, with coal brought IN for the Phoenix Cement Company's plant, though nothing but empties taken OUT. The cement, both bagged and bulk, now goes out by truck only (indeed there was no sign of the long strings of hoppers in evidence just last year). 'Tis the typical history, alas, of a small branch line with a single revenue customer, already concerned about diminishing service and profitability. I was able to get confirmation of the freight currently carried one-way from another staffer aboard the Verde Canyon train.

Nelson Lawry
Rollinsford, NH
4/13/2012

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