Fairbank to Tombstone

The Tombstone Branch

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The railway line to Tombstone started out as a two-mile graded right-of-way heading east out of the town of Fairbank. The grading was done by the New Mexico and Arizona Railroad from a connection with their Benson-Nogales mainline, constructed in 1882. However, the NM&A's parent, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, decided to not pursue a line to Tombstone, and only the grading was left, sans tracks.

In 1902, a mining boom in the town of Bisbee prompted the El Paso and Southeastern Railway to construct a line between Benson and Bisbee, which too traveled through Fairbank (indeed paralleling the nearby NM&A line for some of its length). Thanks to a similar mining boom in the town of Tombstone, the EP&SW constructed a branch line from Fairbank (utilizing the prior right-of-way graded by the NM&A from 1882) into Tombostone, completing it in 1903.

Operations over the line continued under the Southern Pacific Railroad (who leased the EP&SW in 1924 and purchased it outright in 1955). However, after production of the mines dwindled and stopped altogether, SP filed for abandonment of the line in 1959.

Historic ICC Abandonment Filings

SOUTHERN PACIFIC RAILROAD
Docket Number: 20830 Date: 9/14/1959 Section: 1(18)
App. for auth. to abandon the Tombstone Branch on the Rio Grande Divn. between M.P. 1048.359 at or near Fairbank to the end of said branch at M.P. 1058.294 at or near Tombstone, a distance of approx. 9.931 mi. in Cochise County, Ariz, together with all sidings, spur tracks and appurtenances.
Length: 9.931 miles Citation:  

I visited Tombstone in September 2009. At the back of the motel (Best Western at northern edge of town) you can still see the curved embankment of the old right-of-way.

Paul Bowler
Australia
11/2/2011

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