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Valley Metro Light Rail in Phoenix 2/1/2021

by Chris Guenzler

Elizabeth and I got up at 6:45 AM, dressed and went to Denny's for breakfast down the hill from our hotel. We checked out, drove to Miami and checked for Arizona Eastern motive power at their yard. We looked up at the hill across and saw a train up on the high line.

Arizona Eastern B40-8 4000, former Cotton Belt 8040, on the hill at Miami. From here we drove eight miles west on US 60 to our next stop.

The unknown clerestory roof passenger car at Top of the World between Claypool and Superior on the north side of the highway. We then drove to Kearney.

Railroad display in Kearney.

Mine carts.

Copper Basin Railway caboose 19 named "Jake Jacobson" for the owner of the Copper Basin Railway.

Ray Consolidated Copper 0-4-0CA 30, built 1925, and was used underground.

The plaque on the engine.

The builder's plate. Next we drove over to Hayden.

Copper Basin Railway GP39 505, originally Chesapeake and Ohio 3916.

Copper Basin Railway GP40-2 303, originally St. Louis-South Western 7268.

Copper Basin Railway GP39 401, originally Kennecott Copper 1. Next we headed for Superior.

Suguaro cactus.

The Ray mine from the overlook along the highway.

More suguaro cactuses.

Magma Arizona caboose which is the Chamber of Commerce office for Superior.

Superior History Trail.

Another use for an ore car. We drove from Superior to Mesa so I could make my first trip aboard the Phoenix Light Rail. We parked in the Park and Ride lot.

Valley Metro Rail Information

Valley Metro Rail (styled corporately as METRO) is a 28.2-mile light rail line serving the cities of Phoenix, Tempe, and Mesa in Arizona. The network, which is part of the Valley Metro public transit system, began operations on December 27, 2008. The line carried 49,416 passengers per day in 2016, making it the 14th busiest light rail system in the country. In the years since it opened in 2008, the system has undergone two expansions, with at least five more scheduled, including the Tempe Streetcar. Furthermore, extensions are planned into West Phoenix and South Phoenix to Baseline Road, all of which were expanded as a direct result of obtaining funding under the Proposition 104 sales tax increase. As of 2019, the Valley Metro Rail system consists of one single line serving all 38 stations total, and denoted with a gold-yellow color on Valley Metro publications. The line starts in Phoenix at the 19th Avenue/Dunlap station on its own right-of-way south of Dunlap Avenue, before turning south on 19th Avenue for 4 miles. It then turns eastward on Camelback Road for 2.5 miles, then turns south onto Central Avenue where it continues all the way into Downtown Phoenix. At Roosevelt, the line splits into one-way segments: Mesa-bound service runs on First Avenue south before turning east on Jefferson Street; likewise, Dunlap-bound one-way service starts at 26th Street on Washington Street before turning north on Central Avenue. After both tracks rejoin east of 24th Street on Washington Street, it continues past Sky Harbor Airport – which is connected by the PHX Sky Train at 44th Street/ Washington – then turns southeast toward Tempe. The line leaves Washington Street and crosses Tempe Town Lake on its own bridge parallel to the Union Pacific Railroad before turning east along Mill Avenue and then proceeding via its own right-of-way near Arizona State University. Going southward, it joins Apache Boulevard headed eastward, which becomes Main Street in the city of Mesa, where the light rail line ends at an intersection with Gilbert Road.

Our Trip

We paid eight dollars for two day passes but had to wait for the next train as it left just as we were finishing. They clean the train at both ends of the line.

The train at Gilbert Road/Main Street station before we boarded. Now sit back and enjoy a ride aboard Valley Metro Light Rail.

The trip out to 19th Avenue and Dunlap. This route has a lot of straight track thus there is little to take pictures of other than unique items along the way.

Our train at 19th and Dunlap.

A train laying over at 19th and Dunlap.

This car is in the new paint scheme.

This car is in the original paint scheme.

Our train getting ready to leave from the west end of the line. Now sit back and enjoy the return trip.

The route map is in all the cars.

Behind us you could see into the cab controls which I found interesting.

Highlights of journey back to Gilbert and Main Street station.

Another train was laying over here. It had been a good first trip aboard the Valley Metro Light Rail and we will use it next month to photograph some depots. The east end was new mileage for my lovely wife Elizabeth. We left for Cottonwood but stopped for gas, some donuts and a Coca-Cola for me to tide us over until dinner.

Camelback Mountain north of Phoenix, as seen from East Indian School Road.

More suguaro cactuses were seen on I-17 until we reached the plateau. We stopped at the Sunset Point Rest area for a bathroom break and some views.

Views of the Bradshaw Mountains from the Sunset Point Rest area. We drove the rest of the way to Cottonwood and were surprised by the ten roundabouts on Arizona 260. We stopped at Black Bear Diner for dinner then checked into the Best Western Cottonwood Inn for the next two nights. Tomorrow will be Elizabeth's birthday and we are celebrating by riding the Verde Canyon Railroad. After I wrote the story, we called it a night.