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railfanning spots in southern Arizona

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  • Member since
    January 2004
  • From: Burbank, CA
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railfanning spots in southern Arizona
Posted by klatu on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 12:40 PM
Hello everyone,

Does anyone know of any good railfanning spots off Interstate 10 in Arizona? Preferably known spots that are safe for railfans to visit and photograph without being run off.

I know there are several shortlines that connect to towns and cities along route 10.
How do they feel about railfans? Does the UP follow route 10 for most of the way?

Thanks,
Alex
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  • From: Cedar Rapids, IA
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Posted by blhanel on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 2:31 PM
I've been in Tucson a couple of times on business, and if I were to go back for pleasure I'd head down to the Pima Air and Space Museum off of Valencia Rd. You can kill two birds with one stone there- get lots of great photos of old planes, then hike back up the road to an overpass and get great shots of trains on the UP main!
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Posted by oskar on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 2:39 PM
I don't think there is any trains that run in southern AZ only northern,eastern, and western try Tucson,Phoenix,and Flagstaff if you can




kevin
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Posted by klatu on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 5:17 PM
Thanks for the info.
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Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, October 29, 2005 5:35 PM
You can try the old SP depot in Benson, AZ along SR 80. It's been fully restored and is now the C of C Visitors Center and is adjacent to the UP main.

Benson is about 40 miles east of Tucson on I-10.

Mike
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Posted by spbed on Tuesday, November 1, 2005 12:15 PM
You can watch them fly by at good speed at Marana AZ about 25 miles west of Tucson. [:D][:p]

Originally posted by klatu
[

Living nearby to MP 186 of the UPRR  Austin TX Sub

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Posted by oskar on Tuesday, November 1, 2005 3:02 PM
just go on I-10 West and they go good speed all the time around there even though I am going faster in the car trying to catch up on to the train.




kevin
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Posted by Anonymous on Friday, August 11, 2006 12:18 AM
Just spent a week in Flagstaff, AZ. Plenty of mainline action. Not great for pics due to the sun rising in the east directly over the tracks and following them to the west. Light not great. Best time was mid afternoon at the station.
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Posted by Anonymous on Friday, August 11, 2006 7:45 AM

One of my favorite photo spots along I-10 in Arizona was Picacho Peak, about midway between Tucson and Phoenix.  There was a lot of traffic along the rail line, and it was never slow or short.  The reason I shot photos there is because the Peak itself appears to be the erroded core of an old volcano, and provides a neat contrast to your basic flat Sonoran desert.  Sun angles were usually good to catch trains with the peak behind it.

Historically, Picacho Peak is interesting as it is claimed to be the furthest west a "battle" of the Civil War was fought.  Tucson had been occupied by a Confederate force from El Paso.  A Union column from California was marching east to clear the Arizona territory of the rebels.  Apparently a Union platoon sized scouting party ran into a Confederate patrol from Tucson, took casualties and broke contact.  The Confederates pulled back to Tucson, and then withdrew back to El Paso.

I don't know if the line from Benson, east of Tucson, down to Douglas on the Mexican border is still active.  When I was stationed at Fort Huachuca, there was very little train traffic along this line, but there was an ancient SP switcher handling freight in Douglas from Mexico.  What is interesting about this particular line is the legend that may or may not be true.  It's said that the SP construction workers had no problems building into Tombstone- "the town too tough to die"- but that the construction foreman refused to build into Bisbee, which was a wide open mining town.  (The Copper Queen hotel in Bisbee had the best, repeat best, breakfast I have ever had anywhere in the world.  Period. End.)  The foreman alledgedly claimed that he felt Bisbee was too dangerous for his workers to be in.

Another story about that line came out in American Heritage magazine a long time ago.  Just past the turn of the century (the 20th) Bisbee was a company mining town owned by Phelps-Dodge.  There is a huge open pit mine there that is a museum now, but back then copper was king in the Arizona territory.  The International Workers of the World attempted to establish a foothold in Bisbee.  Phelps-Dodge had zero tolerance for labor unions and promptly ordered the IWW out of town.  The Wobblies, and their families, about 110 people, were summarily bundled aboard a northbound freight train and banished from town.  They weren't released from the boxcars until the train reached Benson, and the townspeople in Benson had no idea what to do with them.

Erik

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Posted by spbed on Friday, August 11, 2006 1:37 PM

Marana about 25 miles west of Tucson. Trains go by at good speed & there is also a passing siding. I saw 11 trains in like 5 hours between E & W/bs. It is right off the I10 service road on the NS of I10

 

 klatu wrote:
Hello everyone,

Does anyone know of any good railfanning spots off Interstate 10 in Arizona? Preferably known spots that are safe for railfans to visit and photograph without being run off.

I know there are several shortlines that connect to towns and cities along route 10.
How do they feel about railfans? Does the UP follow route 10 for most of the way?

Thanks,
Alex

Living nearby to MP 186 of the UPRR  Austin TX Sub

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    September 2006
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Posted by rustyspike on Friday, September 1, 2006 12:15 PM

On I 10, going east from Tucson, the tracks are visible from the xway at numerous places, with trains every 10-15 miles.

Between exit 303 and 304, the tracks go under the xway, and looking N you see an S curve in a canyon - beautiful sight, but no place to stop, best seen going W on I 10. 

Close to tracks between exit 340 and 357,   at exit 366 you can park close to the track,  Track continues close all the way into Lordsburg NM.

Good view from the rest stop at eastern Az state line xway mile marker 390,  just before NM.  

In NM, I 10, exit 20, Lordsburg, tracks are just across the street from the Loves truck stop.   Also at the Pilot truck stop exit 24. 

Also NM exit 49.   For the 20 miles west of Demming, the tracks are about 100 feet off the xway, good view.  Tracks continue close till exit 82 in Demming NM.  

Good luck.  

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