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The trip over into Arizona 1/28/2021

by Chris Guenzler

Elizabeth and I decided to celebrate her birthday on the Verde Canyon Railroad on February 2nd. We decided to make it a week-long trip, photographing depots and steam engines throughout much of Arizona. So we got up, had breakfast and after the usual Internet things we do, we drove out to the San Bernardino County Museum so I could get a picture of a steam engine that Elizabeth photographed last month when I forgot to put the memory card into my camera.

Southern Pacific 2-8-0 2825.

The wig-wag signal on display here.

Santa Fe wooden caboose 1333.

My last shot at the museum. From here we drove the length of San Timoteo Canyon and just as we were turning on Interstate 10 freeway, we saw the Missouri Pacific heritage unit on the point of a train but there was no way to turn around and get it, so we let it go. Continuing east, we decided to stop at the Palm Springs Amtrak station so Elizabeth could see it. She was not very impressed.

The view of the station building, or lack thereof.

Looking east and west at the station where the Sunset Limited stops.

Walking back to the car, I stopped for a picture of Mount San Jacinto, which looked very good in the morning light. We drove east without any trains.

An out-of-the-window shot of the Salton Sea.

Union Pacific 2573 West.

The mid-train DPU was a surprise - BNSF 6563. We continued south and on the south side of Calipatria, we found another surprise on this trip.

We found two Kansas City Southern de Mexico units at the new grain loading facility in Calipatria.

KCS ES44AC 4871.

KCS ES44AX 4472. From here, I wanted to show Elizabeth what was left of the old Holton Interurban.

The grade of the former Holton Interurban. This abandoned railway was first built in 1910 as the Holton Interurban Railway. It branched from a Southern Pacific line at El Centro and ran 11 miles eastward to the town of Holtville. Both Holtville and the Holton Interurban derive their name from W. F. Holt, an entrepreneur who developed the surrounding area of Imperial County in order to tap into the natural resources. The line was subsequently purchased by the Southern Pacific, who continued to operate the Holton Interurban to Holtville; indeed, SP also built a line that connected with the Holton Interurban at Holtville from the north (Calipatria to Holtville). It is not known when the Holton Interurban last saw revenue service as an interurban proper; freight-wise, the line saw significant amounts of sugar beet trains, as well as Pacific Fruit Express business. During this time, it was known as Southern Pacific's "Imperial Valley Branch".

The Holton Interurban bridge across the Alamo River has sustained damage over the years since abandonment. We then drove across the sand dunes to where we spotted the next train at Sidewinder Road.

Union Pacific 7915 East. Next we drove into Yuma, Arizona to see our first steam engine in that state.

Southern Pacific 2-8-0 2521 at its present location at the Pivot Point Park and Hilton Hotel and Convention Centre where it has been since 2011. It was moved from State Crossing Park in 2007.

The engineer's side of the engine.

The fireman's side. We went down and spotted a passenger car.

The passenger at the Mad Chef Restaurant, which unfortunately closed in 2016, is Union Pacific 5111, ex 5105, built by ACF 12/1953. It is the dining room half of a twin unit diner built for the City of Denver. This car was part of the Railroader Restaurant chain in Riverside, California until the mid-1980's when that restaurant closed and the car was moved to Yuma. The two of us went to Carl's Jr. for lunch before we drove non-stop to Gila Bend.

The right-of-way of the old Tucson, Cornelia and Gila Bend Railroad.

The sun and an artsy shot of the Tucson, Cornelia and Gila Bend Railroad. We then drove south toward Ajo.

On the way there, we were looking for a perfect bridge photograph and around MP 27, we found the site. We then drove into Ajo.

The Tucson, Cornelia and Gila Bend station in Ajo.

Elizabeth and the station.

The sign above the arched doorway.

The historic plaque on the building.

The unique bell tower of the station.

The tracks behind the station.

The Tucson, Cornelia and Gila Bend freight house. We next retraced our steps to Gila Bend en route to Tucson.

The sunset on a great day in our lives.

The full moon for a romantic night. We stopped for dinner at Arby's in Eloy before driving the rest of the way to the Best Western Royal Inn and Suites in Tucson and we worked on the story before calling it a night.