Among my many interests is riding the rails. I often have people tell me they wish they could get on a train and roll down the tracks.
Well, just a few days ago I drove to Globe for a new train experience — the Copper Spike Train. The train went into service just recently, following a lot of investment, planning and hard work.
The tracks were once owned by the Southern Pacific Railroad, which offered passengers traveling from New Orleans to Los Angeles the opportunity to tour Apache country by coach. Tourists would disembark the train at Globe and then be driven to Tonto National Monument, the Roosevelt Dam and down the Apache Trail. They again boarded their train to Los Angeles at Phoenix.
Today, after the investment and hard work on the part of many volunteers, we can board a train in Globe and travel 30 miles roundtrip to the Apache Gold Casino and return.
The old train station, which is quite large, had been used for many years as a laundry. One of the persons responsible for the transformation is Kip Culver, who is director of the Cobre Valley Center for the Arts and Historic Globe Main Street Program. I had the pleasure of meeting Kip before boarding the train and he explained the great effort in rebuilding the station and finding and placing furniture of the 1920s. When you visit the station and enjoy the train ride you will agree that everything looks authentic of the era in which the station was built.
Presently, the train consists of a diesel engine pulling a 1955 Budd full-length dome car, built in 1955. It was once employed on the San Francisco Chief, as well as other Santa Fe streamliners of that period. Later, the car was used by Holland America Lines’ Westours division in Alaska to transport tourist across the great land to visit such places as Denali Park. The current owner of the Golden Spike train resides in Colorado and owns several scenic railroads in that state. He owns four of the full-length dome cars and we are lucky to have one of them based in Globe for the little train there.
I saw in the rail yards, near the station, work was being done on two heavyweight cars built in the 1930s. They will soon be completely refurbished and placed in service on the Copper Spike excursion train. The dome car being used is in wonderful condition, with colorful interiors and is extremely clean. It is probably in the best condition I have observed in older rail cars.
The train runs Thursdays through Sundays through May 2, and then it will be repositioned to Alamosa, Colo., where the equipment will be utilized in scenic trains running through the Rockies for the summer out of that community.
The Globe Copper Spike train schedule offers four roundtrips each day, departing at 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. the Globe depot is located at Broad and Sycamore streets in the historic part of the county seat. The fare is $20; $15 for seniors; and $10 for children. For reservations, phone 1-866-979-7245 or go online to copperspike.com.
other travel ideas
If February has brought some cabin fever your way, there are a number of upcoming specials and events you might want to look into.
• The Riverside Resort Hotel & Casino in Laughlin, Nev. is offering a two-night stay for two overlooking the Colorado River, with two prime rib dinners and two movie passes at the rate of $89 Sunday through Thursday and $149 weekends. The price is based on double occupancy, plus tax. Ask for the special Highroads rate. This offer is good through Feb. 28. To get details, call 1-800-227-3849.
• Feb. 21: the 56th Annual Parada del Sol in Scottsdale will run along Scottsdale Road from Oak Street to Indian School. This is the world’s largest horse-drawn parade. For details, call (480) 990-3179.
• Feb. 21-22: Goodyear Rodeo Days takes place at Estrella Mountain Regional Park. Performances are at 2 p.m. Call (623) 327-3798 for details.
• Feb. 21-22: Tucson hosts the Southwest Indian Art Fair at the Arizona State Museum at the University of Arizona. More than 200 noted Native American artists will participate. Event hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday. For details, call (520) 626-8381.
• Feb. 21 through March 1: Sedona presents the 15th Annual Sedona International Film Festival and Workshop. For details, call 1-888-399-3456.
Recently some new friends in the travel industry alerted me to a couple of special packages they have put together.
They have a tour of historic Tubac and the Presidio departing Fountain Hills March 7. The tour includes transportation, an overnight accommodation at the Tubac Golf and Spa Resort, meals, admission to Tumacacori National Historic Park and Tubac Presidio State Historic Park, with private guided tours and time for shopping.
The Tubac Presidio State Historic Park is known as Arizona’s first state park and preserves and interprets one of the oldest Territorial Schoolhouses and exhibits the hand press used to print the first newspaper in Arizona, the Weekly Arizonan, which was published in Tubac on March 3, 1853.
Six governments have existed in Tubac: New Spain, Mexico, the United States, the Confederate States of America, and the Arizona Territory (State of Arizona). Here, you will see ruins of the Spanish presidio founded in 1752 and the first European settlement. The park was officially dedicated in 1958.
On this tour you will also visit the ruins of the Franciscan church at Mission San Jose de Tumacacori, which was established in 1691.
My friends’ agency has also put together an April 17 day trip to the Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden’s exhibit Chihuly: The Nature of Glass. Departing from Fountain Hills at 4 p.m., participants will enjoy a private guided tour of the exhibit, a gourmet picnic dinner in the garden and a jazz concert.
For details on either the Tubac or Chihuly event, call (480) 837-8665.