Steam returns to the rails
Locomotive powered by recycled vegetable oil
WILLIAMS - Grand Canyon Railway (GCR) will again offer special runs on its steam-powered "Cataract Creek Rambler" Saturday and Sunday as well as a roundtrip run to the Grand Canyon Sept. 18.
GCR will operate its steam locomotive 4960 - fueled by recycled vegetable oil - on eight-mile trips throughout the day Saturday and Sunday with a single class of service in the train's historic 1923 Harriman cars. Trains depart on the hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A special "photo run by" will leave at 6 p.m. Tickets for the "Cataract Creek Rambler" will be sold on-site for unreserved seating.
The Sept. 18 steam excursion for the Railway's regular 65-mile journey from Williams, Ariz. to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park and back to the Williams Depot departs Williams at 9:30 a.m. and arrives at the Grand Canyon Depot at 11:45 a.m. For the return trip the train departs the Grand Canyon at 3:30 p.m. and arrives in Williams at 5:45 p.m. The Railway's typical four classes of service will be used.
For several years GCR operated the steam engines from Memorial Day to Labor Day but discontinued their regular runs because of environmental considerations. Operating an all-diesel fleet of locomotives year-round significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants associated with steam locomotives. GCR further reduced pollutants in 2007 when it began using ultra low sulfur diesel fuel in its diesel locomotives. This fuel will be required by law in 2012.
During the winter and northern Arizona's rainy season GCR collects rainwater to use in its steam engine boiler. GCR estimates it uses 7,000 gallons of water per day when it operates the Cataract Creek Rambler and 11,000 gallons per round trip to the Grand Canyon. This is water that otherwise would be pulled from the aquifer.
GCR has two operable steam locomotives that have been restored to like-new working condition. Locomotive No. 4960 was built in 1923 by Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia. It operated a freight- and coal-hauling service for the Midwestern Chicago, Burlington & Quincy (CB&Q) Railroad until the late 1950s and made its first official run on the Grand Canyon line in 1996. Locomotive No. 29 - on display outside the Grand Depot Café - was restored in 2004 at a cost of more than $1 million and 26,000 man-hours of labor. An SC-3 class locomotive, locomotive No. 29, was built in 1906 by ALCO in Pittsburgh and weighs 185 tons.
GCR is an authorized concessionaire of the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service. For more information, visit www.thetrain.com or call 1-800-THE-TRAIN (1-800-843-8724).
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