They opened the west, connected a continent and truly formed the United States of America, and in Arizona, enabled people to look in awe at the Grand Canyon. We’re talking of course about the railroad steam engine.
Tens of thousands were built, but only a handful remain in the U.S. and even fewer run, let alone on a real railroad.
But the Grand Canyon Railway (GCR) is not just any railroad. It’s steeped in Arizona territory and state history and is one of a few passenger railroads in the U.S. to service restored steam engines for revenue passenger trips.
On July 20, GCR was honored with the Governor’s Tourism Award for Outstanding Culture and Historical Preservation by the Arizona Office of Tourism for the restoration of steam engine No. 29, built in 1906. The engine is considered ‘a most significant contribution toward the cultural and/or historic preservation of some aspect of the natural, cultural or aesthetic legacy of Arizona to inspire domestic or international visitation to the state.’
Steam locomotive No. 29 was built in 1906 by the American Locomotive Company in Lima and retired in 1960. The Grand Canyon Railway purchased No. 29 and ran it from 1989 to 1995 and from 2004 to 2008. For the past eight years, the engine served as a static display in Williams and at the Grand Canyon.
In 2016, to celebrate the National Park Service Centennial and to highlight the importance of rail travel to the history of Arizona state tourism, GCR undertook the monumental task of restoring No. 29 and returning it to operational service on the Grand Canyon Line.
The Grand Canyon Line was built in 1901 when the Santa Fe Railway and Fred Harvey Company changed everything by completing the rail line from Williams to the South Rim and developed Grand Canyon’s earliest infrastructure. With the availability of safe, reliable and inexpensive transportation through the country to the remote canyon, as well as some helpful promotion from iconic Americans like President Theodore Roosevelt, visitation to Grand Canyon’s South Rim increased exponentially.
GCR said the future looks bright for No. 29, and Arizona, as visitation to Grand Canyon National Park has steadily increased year over year. Looking ahead, GCR plans to continue to provide a journey that evokes memories of days past, while passengers make new memories of their experiences in the Grand Canyon State of Arizona. More information about the Grand Canyon Railway is available at thetrain.com or at 1-800-843-8724.