WILLIAMS, Ariz. — Project founder and CEO Al Richmond announced Feb. 9 that the Arizona State Railroad Museum Foundation (ASRMF) secured a grant for a 21-acre railroad park in Williams.
Construction will begin this spring with a planned opening of spring 2018.
In Oct. 2016, ASRMF contracted with Facilities Development Services Group LLC (FDSG) in hopes of acquiring the funds necessary to build the long awaited railroad museum in Williams.
Named the Arizona Railroad Heritage Park, the location will encompass the Arizona State Railroad Museum and Arizona Northern Railway on a family-oriented campus off of Rodeo Road. All will operate under the umbrella of the nonprofit foundation.
Richmond said the project became a reality through a partnership with the city of Williams and FDSG.
“The city partnership enabled the project to survive years of frustration over how to fund construction of the campus,” he said in a report to the Williams City Council. “The partnership with FDSG brings critical resources such as project development and management to the table. Their expertise has been critical to the successful development of projects for schools, communities, and nonprofits across the country.”
Richmond said a significant grant for the 21-acre site by the Kemper & Ethel Marley Foundation to AZRMF was the critical element for advancing the project.
The Arizona Railroad Heritage Park will be oriented toward informal learning and family entertainment. The proposed museum will include interactive environments throughout the 106,000 square-foot museum. Visitors will hear the stories of the men and women who built, ran and maintained Arizona’s railroads and how their efforts helped shape Arizona as a contributor to the nation.
The foundation hopes the park-like atmosphere of the site will welcome all audiences to engage in a unique learning experience. The railway will provide visitors with a real life railroad experience on vintage railroad equipment and behind a fireless steam locomotive that served the Apache Power Plant in Benson. All of this will celebrate the cultural and ethnic diversity behind Arizona’s seventy-eight railroads.
“Co-located with the Grand Canyon Railway, the project has prospered due to this partnership,” Richmond said. “The Park will celebrate Grand Canyon Railway’s 100-year legacy of rail service to Grand Canyon National Park. These venues, along with Bearizona, will cooperate on events that will help to make Williams a more attractive destination for families to visit.”
In addition to locomotives and variety of rolling stock-some over 100 years old-interactive exhibits of surveying equipment, railroad, logging and mining artifacts, simulators, a large model layout, toy trains and signal equipment will educate and entertain both young and old.
For the serious historian and interested visitor, the David F. Myrick Archive will house many collections of historic documents, engineering drawings, photographs, publications and books. These growing collections currently number in excess of 250,000 items.
Richmond said the foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and continues to seek donations to support the park and museum. The organization also seeks donations of historic items related to railroads, mining, logging and ranching and other aspects of Arizona’s railroad legacy are always welcome.
“Such donations are an opportunity to have your family treasures become part of exhibits that will celebrate your family’s part of our history,” he said. “And, until the park is open to the public, significant donors will be recognized as founders.”
More information about the new Arizona Railroad Heritage Park can be found at www.azstaterrmuseum.org.