Seligman to Prescott

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  • States: Arizona   
  • Railroads: P&AC   

The Prescott and Arizona Central Railroad

Part of the Prescott & Arizona Central Railroad right-of-way can be seen here, heading northward through Willow Lake Park, northwest of Willow Creek Reservoir. Photo by Andy Odell, May 2013.

The Prescott and Arizona Central Railroad was the first railroad to reach Prescott, starting from Seligman to the north. This line only lasted several years due to a number of reasons, among them was the fact that is wasn't very well constructed. Proof of this can be seen when one tries to find remnants of the old ROW today....virtually no evidence of its existence can be found, save for the northern-most section in Railroad canyon just south of Seligman.

It serves as the first major abandonment in Arizona.

Thanks to James for contributing information about this route.

I may have discovered what might be some parts of the old ROW in Chino Valley, but there is no way to be sure...and even David Myrick's book "Santa Fe to Phoenix" notes that no accurate map of the P&AC has ever surfaced to date. The book does feature a "best guess" map assembled form various sources. Photographs show that near Prescott, the two competing lines ran very close to each other.

Strange that this significant line seems largely forgotten.

James
Chino Valley, AZ
1/11/2012

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I used to fly helicopters in the area and the old track bed can be seen in 5 or 6 places up to Seligman. You can see them on Google Earth, but I don't know how to trace a route then post it or I would. The timbers where laid directly on the ground to meet a deadline and washouts plagued the line continuously, eventually resulting in bankruptcy. The track and equipment was removed and used on the owners other railroad, the Sierra Railway Company. The PACR locomotive #3 (a 4-6-0 made by Rogers Locomotive Works specifically for PACR on March 26, 1893) was renamed the the Sierra #3, and is still in use today. Supposedly, it has been in more films and had its picture taken more times than any other locomotive in history.

Clay Morgan
De Kalb, TX
9/26/2012

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I found a section of the old grade about a quarter mile long, just northwest of Willow Creek Reservoir. It runs up from the north through the saddle at Willow Lake Park. If you turn off Willow Creek Road opposite Embry Riddle (thus into the Park), you will see a road cut to the right that it went through, and if you look to the left, you can see the old grade running north.

There are several broken rail bolts and a spike, but it is definitely not the SFP&P which was two miles east of this location. There is a fence to stop cars, but you can walk around that and down the grade to where some houses are located. The grade is now covered with wood chips, like an exercise path.

Andy
Flagstaff, AZ
5/19/2013

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My grandfather was the prime promoter of the Prescott & Arizona Central RW. There is a very interesting story here. I have copies of the 1886 Federal R/W grant maps; they fit well with USGS mapping. There are info files at the Charlotte Hall Museum in Prescott. I have built a file and will be giving a talk about my grandfathers life 9/11/14 at the main Library in Sonora, CA, 7PM

Thomas S Bullock II
Pollock Pines, CA
8/6/2014

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Sorry i missed this Thomas. Is this map file available anywhere?

James
Chino Valley, AZ
12/31/2014

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IF you know what your looking for and how to look for it, you can see the railway on Satellite Images. I've Added the Rail line to the Open Street Maps Database. I'd estimate that I added 20-30 miles worth of line, and added the tag to sections where roads have taken over the roadbed.

Ben S
Prescott, AZ
1/19/2015

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I saw the section Ben, but even using the historical images on GE, it seems there are too many routes to the north. One seems to go over and follow 89 near the airport intersection...which makes me wonder. North of rd3 heading out of Chino, there is a raised area right beside 89 to the west, which has always looked like a ROW to me. Could this be the old ROW? Inquiring minds want to know. I sure do wish they would find a map...

James
Chino Valley, AZ
1/20/2015

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Ben's route was for the Limestone Canyon section of the SFP&P; he's fixed the name. I have several maps, 1892, 1897, and Myrick's, all of which are about 6mi=1", and they disagree in detail. But taking what I can, I think the P&AC was on the west side of US89 between Road 1.5 S and Road 3.5 N in Chino. Thus, James, if you mean west of 89 north of Road 3 N, that seems possible (note there are four Road 3s).

But I also found something that looks like grade (with no metal found on it) two miles north of Road 5 N (in the southwest corner of Sec 22) on the west of Hwy 89, which is inconsistent with the above.

Andy
Flagstaff, AZ
1/21/2015

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Sorry Andy, i should have been more specific. Rd 3 N, just after you head through the light at McDonalds, if you look west there is a raised ROW looking area. Could it be?

The route i saw from Ben was next to willow creek road...if i was looking right.

Off topic,the limestone canyon section SFP&P is something im am quite familiar with. I off road up there often, and have hiked some of the old sections.I wish there was a message board to discuss these things.

James
Chino Valley, AZ
1/21/2015

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When my grandfather built the P&AC he followed his business model and the values of the time: use other peoples money and get yours up front. Fun stories here. My mapping of the P&AC came from the really helpful folks at the Pheonix office of the USGS. It must be kept in mind that nobody in Washington really knew what was there in Arizona; they took granddads word and gave very general R/W south from Seligman, down Chino Wash and through the Granit Dells to Prescott. There is good co-ordination with the USGS maps, but there is too much randomness to pin-point the on-site R/W with any real certanty. I have driven along most of where it was and have flown the line from Prescott airport; bits and pieces can be seen from the air but hard to see on site. I am glad you guys are still interested. Tom Bullock

Thomas S. Bullock
Pollock Pines, CA
1/21/2015

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I went out yesterday to get a bite to eat, and i drove north of the Rd3N intersection on hwy 89. Just after going through the light and heading north, the section I described will be on the left right after passing the Catholic church. It is literally just off the road in the other side of of some telephone poles. This seems to be in better shape than i would expect the P&AC ROW to be in, honestly. I know that 89 has been re-done at least once further north, so maybe that's the answer.

Off-topic but semi related: The limestone canyon SFP&P route eventually ends up at the current line near Ash Fork, and joins hwy 89. It has been a road since well before my time...probably right after the abandonment.

The name of this road on the north end? Bullock road!

I have wondered if it was just a coincidence, or if someone mistakenly thought this the old P&AC (which its not) and gave it a historical name.

James
Chino Valley, AZ
1/22/2015

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I agree with James: Bullock Road is not the r/w of the P&AC.

I have driven it and think it may include stretches of the

SFP&P.

Tom Bullock
Pollock Pines, CA
1/23/2015

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Tom:Bullock road ABSOLUTELY follows some sections of the ROW for SFP&P. This is especially apparent as you get near the south end where it becomes FS573.

I have submitted the Limestone Canyon route to the site, but it looks like the admin has taken a break for a while, so it may be some time before it gets put up (if ever). I also noticed that one of the tanks nearby is also called Bullock tank. Maybe there were just some Bullocks that lived nearby.

James
Chino Valley, AZ
1/26/2015

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Yes, you are correct about ATSFRR, and there's a separate page on this site dedicated to that route thru Prescott. http://a-r.us/ei1 is the page. If we can try and keep this on topic of P&ACRR.

Ben s
Prescott
1/26/2015

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Yes Ben, I realized we were getting off topic. That's why I submitted the Limestone canyon area so we could continue the discussion in its proper place, but the LC route should be separate from the Prescott district. The 2 abandonment's were separated by over 80 years, and LC is north of Abra, the start of the Prescott district cited here. In fact, very little of this line (to Phoenix) is in its original location.

James
Chino Valley, AZ
1/26/2015

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Hey guys, no need to worry about this; the P&AC was started from Seligman in 1887, going south to the OO ranch divide to Chino Wash and then south via the wash grade to the valley floor and then up to Prescott. The SFP&P went from Feonix to Ash Fork, with a branch to Prescott. The two rights of way were feet apart before the accent via the granite dells to Prescott

Tom Bullock
Pollock Pines, CA
1/27/2015

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Guess I'm not the only one with double-post issues..LOL!

Tom, I've always assumed that the small spur heading south off of the BNSF main in Seligman (used by BNSF to store cars) is the old P&AC line start. Do you know if that's true?

James
Chino Valley, AZ
1/27/2015

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Oh...and one other thing for the record Tom, the SFP&P originally ran through Prescott to Phoenix. Prescott didn't become a "branch" until the Abra-Skull valley line change was built in 1962.

James
Chino Valley, AZ
1/27/2015

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