Fairbank to Tombstone

The Tombstone Branch

Point of Interest

GOOGLE MAPS no longer available: With apologies, I am unable to continue showing Google Maps. Google has forced my hand by increasing their map usage fee from nothing/free to OVER $300 A MONTH for the Abandoned Rails website! This is an expense that I simply cannot afford. Rest assured I am looking at available open source alternatives, so maps should be back online soon!

Greg Harrison

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

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


All the movies showing the railroad in Tombstone in the Earp era are bravo sierra!

Monoco Station, CA


The TCM showing of "Hour of the Gun" led me here. Any idea where the dual tracks shown as being in Tombstone AZ at the time of Wyatt Earp were? Most location shots were in Mexico, although a couple were in AZ.

Elberta, AL


Had to be in Mexico, as the Arizona shooting locations (Elgin, Sonoita) were located along the former SP Patagonia Branch which was abandoned in 1960. The film came out in 1967.

Chris Poole
Tucson, AZ


Shortened Link: http://a-r.us/00d

Do you have any pictures or information about The Tombstone Branch? Please . You will get credit for anything you contribute.