Train enthusiasts have an opportunity to learn about the history of Arizona railways as the Arizona Railway Museum will celebrate its 30th anniversary on March 1 at Tumbleweed Park in Chandler.
Founded in 1983, the Arizona Railway Museum is a nonprofit educational and historical organization dedicated to the railways of Arizona and the Southwest. The museum started with only a caboose and steam engine displayed on a one-acre park provided by the city of Chandler. The museum was then moved to a six-acre site in the city’s largest park, where it has become a world-renowned collection of railroad equipment with nearly 50 pieces of railcars on display.
The sixth annual event is free to the public and will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Festivities will include a tour of vintage railcars, displays of artifacts and memorabilia, and an interactive exhibit to learn about the Amtrak Train.
The interactive displays will include railroad horns, trivia questions, workable signals and an engineer’s stand. Visitors will tour several private railcars, including a caboose that has been maintained in the same condition as when it was used in the 1970s. Guests can blow the horn on a diesel locomotive.
Other displays will include vintage advertising, past menus and dinnerware, period uniforms, photographs, and memorabilia from Amtrak’s creation in 1971.
The Winslow Harvey Girls — a group of volunteers dedicated to preserving the history of the legendary entrepreneur Fred Harvey and his Harvey Houses — will join in the festivities for their second year. The Harvey Houses offered rail passengers food served by the Harvey Girls beginning in 1878 and continuing into the 1960s. The Winslow Harvey Girls will have some of their collection of memorabilia, including railroad China that will be on display in the Museum’s Union Pacific 4815 Dining Car.
Food and beverages will be available, with all proceeds benefiting the Arizona Railway Museum and Chandler Lions Club charities. Donations from the public and local businesses are also appreciated.
Arizona Railway Day visitors will learn about the importance of railroads and what is required to restore and refurbish the cars from museum volunteers. It anticipates having more than 3,000 people attend the event, compared to the 2,700 people who attended in 2012, said Director and Newsletter Editor of Arizona Railway Museum Mark Redmond.
This will mark the first time an Amtrak train has been in the Valley since 1996, when the Sunset Limited stopped service to the area. The Amtrak Exhibit Train will open on March 2 during the museum’s normal hours of operation from noon to 4 p.m.
The museum is completely volunteer-based and known around the world. It saw a 30 percent increase in people visiting the museum, Redmond said.
Arizona Railway Museum is located at 330 E. Ryan Road, in the southwest corner of Tumbleweed Park. For more information, visit www.azrymuseum.org.
Kelly Kleber is a senior at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She is an intern with the Tribune this semester. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.