Arizona's Railroad Legacy - Wickenburg, AZ
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member rjmcdonough1
N 33° 58.138 W 112° 43.934
12S E 339964 N 3760067
This plaque, describing Arizona's railroad development, is outside the historic Wickenburg Santa Fe Railroad station.
Waymark Code: WMZWNX
Location: Arizona, United States
Date Posted: 01/14/2019
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member T0SHEA
Views: 3

The Southern Pacific Railroad first entered Arizona Territory in 1877. This plaque describes the development of the rail lines that crossed the state, often dealing with difficult or impassable terrain.
The plaque reads as follow:
"Arizona got its start as the New Mexico Territory following the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, which put an end to combat between the United States and Mexico and granted a large swath of western land to the United States, including Arizona to the north of the Gila River. In 1853, railroad interests convinced Congress to approve the Gadsden Purchase, extending the territorial border south of the Gila to today's border with Mexico. This land purchase gave way to the eventual completion of the Southern Pacific Railroad between El Paso and Los Angeles. A decade later, the Arizona Territory was formed on February 24, 1863.

Before railroads, slow 20-mule freight wagons jarred cargo over rocky trails or got stuck in the mud. Remote villages and mining camps often had to transport building materials, supplies and even water on burros. Railroads offered convenience and transformed the Arizona Territory. Yet raising capital to build a rail line proved difficult, and low revenues due to a small population often resulted in bankruptcy.

Railroads first arrived in Arizona Territory in 1877, when the Southern Pacific steamed into Yuma. Federal Government red tape delayed use of the line at first, but a Southern Pacific Railroad engine finally snuck across the river under cover of darkness on the morning of September 30, 1877. Congress then tried to delay further construction by giving the Texas and Pacific Railroad an exclusive franchise to build across Southern Arizona. The bill didn't pass and the Southern Pacific reached a business agreement with the Texas and Pacific. A year after entering the territory, the Southern Pacific of Arizona Railroad was formed as a subsidiary and construction resumed in November, 1878.

By 1881, Southern Pacific had spanned the Southern Territory, connecting Yuma, Maricopa, Tucson and Wilcox. The Atlantic and Pacific crossed the northern plateau region by 1883, connecting Winslow, Flagstaff, Williams, and Kingman. Over the years, Arizona would become home to 76 different railroads, although most have since been abandoned, sold or merged.

Mining and lumber companies built most of the other railroads that sprang up all around the territory, connecting main lines to Arizona's ore mines, cotton and citrus fields, pine forests and cattle lots. Railroads also bridged the harsh terrain of the Sonoran and Mojave deserts, making travel safer and more comfortable to Arizona's major cities of early statehood after 1912, such as Douglas, Bisbee, Globe and Prescott.

In Arizona railroad's "Golden Age," the state boasted about 2500 miles of track and served as home to short-line rail companies like Apache Railway, San Manuel Arizona Railway, Santa Fe, Prescott and Phoenix Railway, San Pedro Southwestern Railroad, Copper Basin Railway and many more.

Today, Arizona is home to more than 1800 miles of rail lines, principally owned and operated by the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway and Union Pacific Railroad, among other regional and smaller railways. Major lines through the State include Union Pacific's Sunset Route between California and Texas, and BNSF's transcontinental railway between California and Chicago, Arizona's busiest line."
Marker Name: Arizona's Railroad Legacy

Type of history commemorated: Event

County: Maricopa

Name of any agency/ agencies setting marker:

Year placed: Unknown

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