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The railroads of north central Arizona were all built to support Arizona's richest copper mine, located in Jerome. The first rail line, the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad, was completed in 1882, connecting Jerome to Ashfork.
The Verde Canyon Railroad (formerly the Verde Valley Railroad, operated by the Santa Fe, Prescott and Phoenix Railroad), was financed by Senator William A. Clark for a hefty $1.3 million. A miracle of engineering, the 38-mile line was built in just one year, from 1911 to 1912. It took 250 men using 200 mules, picks and shovels and lots of Dupont black powder explosives to lay these rails. Today, the same railroad would cost in excess of $38 million.
The smelter, which initiated the construction of the town of Clarkdale, named after Senator Clark, was located just below the Jerome mines. Used until 1952, the smelter had its final 400-foot high stack blown in 1962, signaling the end of an era and an industry on which a community had been built and prospered.
Passenger service resumed in November 1990. A 4 hour ride on Verde Canyon Railroad's historic route from Clarkdale to Perkinsville and back, features native flora and fauna, ancient Indian ruins, red rock pinnacles and a 680-ft. man-made tunnel. Trains depart year-round. Call 1-800-293-7245 for more information.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.