Fairbank to Nogales

The Nogales Branch

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(Forwarded from the New Mexico & Arizona Railroad)

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This view faces east from AZ Route 90 in Huachuca City. Railroad Drive is a washboard-type dirt road that parallels the old SP right of way in both directions.It would be OK for 4WD or dirt bikes but not ordinary cars. White car is parked on approximate location of former rail line. Photo by Mike Palmer, February 2002.

This branch is a remnant of the former mainline of the New Mexico and Arizona Railroad, built in 1882, that extended from Benson (on SP's Sunset Route) to Nogales, on the Arizona border with Mexico. It passed through remote country, serving military forts and mines in the area. In later years (1930s) only the segment between Fairbank and Patagonia segment remained in service, and this was later cut back and then abandoned.

The eastern portion of the branch does not pass near many paved roads, and the old grade can be located near the Babocomari River. Further west the line paralleled AZ Route 82 between Sonoita and Patagonia. This branch was several miles north of, and not connected to, the Southern Pacific's Fort Huachuca Branch.

Heading west from Fairbank, the branch line passed through these towns/stations:

  • Brookline
  • Huachuca City
  • Ballybrophy
  • Landers
  • Elgin
  • Canelo
  • Sonoita
  • Ashburn
  • Casa Blanca
  • (Fort) Crittenden
  • Patagonia
  • Nogales

Historic ICC Abandonment Filings

SOUTHERN PACIFIC RAILROAD
Docket Number: 10278 Date: 12/18/1933 Section: 1
App of New Mexico and Arizona RR. Co., El Paso & Southwestern RR. Co. and Southern Pacific Co., their lessee, for certificate to abandon the Patagonia Branch between Fairbank and Flux, in Cochise and Santa Cruz Counties, Arizona, a distance of 46.744 miles.
Length: 46.744 miles Citation:  
SOUTHERN PACIFIC RAILROAD
Docket Number: 12415 Date: 5/16/1939 Section: 1
Application of Southern Pacific Railroad Company to abandon a portion of its Patagonia Branch between Patagonia and Flux, in Santa Cruz County, Arizona, a distance of approximately 2.88 miles (abandonment of the line itself as well as the operation thereof is sought).
Length: 2.88 miles Citation: 233 ICC 601  
SOUTHERN PACIFIC RAILROAD
Docket Number: 21403 Date: 12/15/1960 Section: 1(18)
App. for auth. to aband. the Patagonia Branch line and operation thereof, Rio Grande Division, near Fairbank, extdg. to the end of said branch line near Patagonia, a distance of 43.700 mi., together with sidings, spur tracks and appurtenances, located in Cochise and Santa Cruz Counties, Ariz.
Length: 43.7 miles Citation:  

This line is where the original movie "310 To Yuma" was filmed. Glen Ford, black & white, back in the 1950s.

Paul McGuffin
Green Valley, AZ
8/27/2009

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In the town of Patagonia the right-of-way is still visible in the main square along with the station.

Paul L. Noble
Edgewood, NM
5/3/2011

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A comment here stated that the movie "3:10 to Yuma" was filmed on the branch. To be more precise, the railroad scenes in "3.10 to Yuma" were filmed at Elgin.

Other movies with scenes filmed at Elgin include "Red River" (released 1948), "Oklahoma!" (1955) and "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" (1957). ("3.10 to Yuma" was also released in 1957)

Myrick's book "Railroads of Arizona, Vol. 1" told of the filming of the musical "Oklahoma!" at Elgin, but for the three others, some time ago I determined the location by taping the railroad scenes in each movie and then comparing them with each other and also with a 1947 photo taken at Elgin found on pg. 274 of Myrick's book.

John Sweester
Bakersfield, CA
2/29/2012

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