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Arizona Eastern Railway

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Title: Arizona Eastern Railway  
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Subject: RailAmerica, Genesee & Wyoming, Passenger train stations in Arizona, Gadsden Purchase, Timeline of Class I railroads (1977–present)
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Arizona Eastern Railway

Arizona Eastern Railway
Reporting mark AZER
Locale Arizona
Dates of operation 1988–present
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge

The Arizona Eastern Railway (reporting mark AZER) is a Class III railroad that operates a 265 miles (426 km) mainline between Clifton, Arizona and Miami, Arizona, in the United States. This includes trackage rights over the Union Pacific Railroad between Lordsburg, New Mexico and Bowie, Arizona. The railroad serves the copper mining region of southeastern Arizona, and the agricultural Gila River Valley Primary commodities are sulfuric acid, copper concentrate, copper anode and cathode, and copper rod and other copper processing materials. AZER also handles minerals, chemicals, building supplies and lumber. The railroad offers a transload location for lumber, building materials and other consumer commodities at Globe.


  • History 1
  • Current Operation 2
    • Cities Served 2.1
    • Locomotives 2.2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


What is now the Arizona Eastern Railway was chartered as the Gila Valley, Globe and Northern Railway (GVGN) in 1885. Before completion to Globe in 1899, the railroad came under the control of the Arizona Eastern Railroad (AE). Arizona Eastern was leased by the Southern Pacific Railroad (SP) in 1905 and merged into the SP system in 1924. SP sold the Bowie – Miami line to Kyle Railroad in 1988. Kyle was purchased by shortline holding company StatesRail in 1995, which was eventually purchased by RailAmerica in 2001. RailAmerica sold the railroad to Permian Basin Railways on December 9, 2004.

Of historical note, the Gila Valley Globe & Northern Railroad’s first locomotive, apparently GVGN #1, was purchased from the Central Pacific Railroad, originally #1195 (Jupiter)). The locomotive was the Central Pacific locomotive that met with Union Pacific No. 119 at Promontory Point, Utah on May 10, 1869 for the driving of the golden spike, commemorating the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad. Despite its historical significance, in 1909, No. 1 was sold for $1000 as scrap.

In 2006, Arizona Eastern announced the construction of a new 10-mile (16 km) spur from Safford to the new Safford Mine of Freeport-McMoRan Corporation, north of Safford.[1] The mine opened in 2008. Shuttle trains of copper ore has been transported by the railroad to the smelter at Miami-Claypool.

In 2008, AZER purchased the Clifton Subdivision from Union Pacific. The Clifton subdivision serves the Morenci Mine near Clifton, Arizona and interchanges with UP at Lordsburg, New Mexico.[2]

In December 2008, weekend excursion service under the name Copper Spike began operating from Globe to the Apache Gold Hotel Casino near San Carlos.[3][4] Trains operate four daily round-trips through the winter and spring, on Thursdays through Sundays.[5]

On 2 August 2011, Genesee & Wyoming Inc. announced that it planned to purchase the Arizona Eastern from Iowa Pacific for US$90.1 million, with the deal expected to be completed by the end of the year.[6] The deal was closed on 1 September 2011.[7]

The Copper Spike excursion train did not resume operations due to the transfer in ownership.[8]

Current Operation

A Heisler locomotive in AZER's railyard in Miami, Arizona

Cities Served

  • Clifton, AZ
  • Guthrie, AZ
  • Duncan, AZ
  • Lordsburg, NM
  • Bowie, AZ
  • Solomon, AZ
  • Safford, AZ
freight dock
  • Pima, AZ
  • San Carlos, AZ
  • Globe, AZ
  • Claypool, AZ
freight dock


Arizona Eastern previously owned AZER #6070, an EMD E8 locomotive. Built for the Chicago and North Western Railroad as CNW #5029B on June 1953, it pulled passenger trains for its railroad, and was later used in Chicago commuter train service. It has been repainted in a scheme reminiscent of Southern Pacific's "Black Widow" livery, since Arizona Eastern was owned by Southern Pacific. As of August 2011, the locomotive has been transferred to the Saratoga and North Creek Railroad.


  1. ^ "Arizona Eastern Railway Files To Build New Rail Line" (Press release). Iowa Pacific Holdings. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  2. ^ "Arizona Eastern Railway Company AZER #91" (
  3. ^ "Globe tourist train will offer round trips to Apache casino". Arizona Daily Star. 2008-12-10. 
  4. ^ Lockhart, Larry (2008-12-30). "Trip back in time: Excursion train offers look at travel of another era". Tri-Valley Dispatch. 
  5. ^ "Experience a Journey Back in Time". Copper Spike Railroad. Archived from the original on 9 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-27. 
  6. ^ "Genesee & Wyoming Inc to acquire Arizona Eastern Railway". 2 August 2011. Archived from the original on 2 August 2011. Retrieved 3 August 2011. 
  7. ^ "Genesee & Wyoming completes Arizona Eastern acquisition". Progressive Railroading. 6 September 2011. Retrieved 7 September 2011. 
  8. ^ "Copper Spike Train Excursion Information". 1 January 2012. Retrieved 30 July 2012. 

External links

  • Official website
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