Vintage steam locomotive back on the tracks
National Train Day celebration this weekend
WILLIAMS - Trains have long taken center stage in Williams. This weekend will be no exception.
Grand Canyon Railway (GCR) and the Grand Canyon Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, in cooperation with the Arizona State Railroad Museum and the Williams-Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce, will host the largest community National Train Day event in Arizona on Saturday and Sunday.
The event will feature train rides pulled by a vintage steam locomotive powered by waste vegetable oil. Other activities include complimentary live music, model railroad operating displays from across the state, a 7-1/2 inch gauge live steam ride, computer-based train simulator, equipment displays, Operation Lifesaver, book signings and a railroad photography display.
Activities for both days begin at 10 a.m. The highlight of the event will be the "Cataract Creek Rambler" - a 45-minute train ride in open-air passenger coaches pulled behind famous 1923 Baldwin steam locomotive No. 4960. The 4960 was recently converted to run on waste vegetable oil, making it more environmentally friendly. The Cataract Creek Rambler will depart every hour on the hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A special 6 p.m. departure will include a photo "run by," giving guests the opportunity to capture photos of the locomotive as it passes. Tickets to ride the Cataract Creek Rambler will be sold on the day of the event and will be $15 for adults and $10 for children (15 and under) and can be purchased at the Williams Depot ticket counter. Reservations for the Cataract Creek Rambler are not required.
More than 3,500 square feet in the Williams Depot and adjacent Grand Canyon Railway Hotel will be dedicated to model railroad displays. Train layouts representing five different scales will be featured, including several N-trak displays from the Mountain Valley N Scale Group, Arizona Southwest Model Railroad Society (Tucson) and Prescott Valley N-trak. Additional operating train models include "O," "On30," "S" and "G" gauge layouts. The Red Lake Junction Railroad Heritage Preservation Society will also have a 7 1⁄2-inch gauge live steam locomotive on display and will offer rides on a short section of track.
Operation Lifesaver will be on hand with the Grand Canyon Railway locomotive simulator. The simulator demonstrates an engineer's view as he approaches road crossings. A computer-based simulator will also be available providing individuals the experience of operating a real train.
Train historian and author Al Richmond will show displays from the Arizona State Railroad Museum Collection and will be signing copies of his books "Rails to the Rim," "The Story of the Grand Canyon Railway" and "Grand Canyon Railway: 60 Years in Color." Local author, Patrick Whitehurst, will be present for book signings of "Images of America: Williams."
Grand Canyon Railway's Risk Manager, Diane Kadletz, will share information about safety and environmental issues that can be utilized whether at home or work. "Live Life Safe" is the theme of Xanterra's commitment to safety for both its passengers and employees. Information will also cover getting the Railway ISO 14001 certified, and how 21st century railroading can minimize its environmental impact.
Several pieces of full-scale railroad equipment will be on display, including a modern BNSF diesel electric locomotive, two historic Grand Canyon Railway locomotives (one diesel-electric and one steam) and the Railway's "Max Biegert" parlor car showcasing how rail barons traveled in style and luxury. The Grand Canyon Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society's Santa Fe Caboose will be open for tours.
Live outdoor music performances featuring various local performers will take place hourly both days in the Williams Depot loop beginning at 12 p.m. with the final act taking the stage at 5 p.m. Musical groups include Flagstaff Community Band, Pony Express, No Way Out and Kerry Lynn. Adjacent to the bandstand, Kalil Bottling Company will be present with their Monster Energy trailer and a limited quantity of promotional items.
National Train Day began in 2008 by Amtrak to commemorate the completion of the first transcontinental railroad May 10, 1869 at Promontory, Utah. Amtrak sponsors major events in Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington and Philadelphia. The National Train Day event grows each year and many events are held in communities across the country. For a complete list of locations visit
Grand Canyon Railway has a special offer available Friday through Sunday, offering an 18 percent discount on its "Railway Express Plus" package, which features two nights at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel and a roundtrip coach class train ride to Grand Canyon National Park. To reserve the discounted package, guests must call 1-800-THE-TRAIN (1-800-843-8724) and use promo code "SPE2."
For more information, visit www.thetrain.com or call 1-800-THE-TRAIN (1-800-843-8724). The Grand Canyon Railway is operated by Xanterra Parks and Resorts.