Grand Canyon Railway (GCR) has announced the 2012 dates for special runs of its steam-powered “Cataract Creek Rambler” as well as other steam runs between Williams, Arizona and the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.
The Cataract Creek Rambler is an eight-mile trip operating May 12 and 13 and June 9. Powered by steam locomotive 4960, GCR operates a single class of service in the train’s historic 1923 Harriman cars. Trains depart on the hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets for the “Cataract Creek Rambler” will be sold on-site for unreserved seating and will cost $15 for adults and $10 for children 15 and under.
Steam excursions for the Railway’s regular 65-mile journey from Williams, Ariz. to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park and back to the Williams Depot will coincide with various celebratory dates in 2012. The April 22 run celebrates Earth Day; June 2 kicks off summer; July 4 is Independence Day and Sept. 15 is GCR’s anniversary.
The steam locomotive has been converted to use recycled vegetable oil for fuel, and reclaimed rain and snow melt – collected during the winter and Northern Arizona’s rainy season – are used in the boiler for steam. GCR estimates it uses 7,000 gallons of water per day when it operates the Cataract Creek Rambler and 11,000 gallons per round trip to the Grand Canyon. This is water that otherwise would be pulled from the aquifer.
“The train is great fun for all the family, but it is a trip on the steam engine train that really gets the train enthusiasts excited,” said Bob Baker, general manager of train operations. “We are proud to continue the heritage of running the magnificent steam engines to the Grand Canyon.”
The daily roundtrip operations depart Williams at 9:30 a.m. and arrive at the Grand Canyon Depot at 11:45 a.m. For the return trip the trains depart the Grand Canyon at 3:30 p.m. and arrive in Williams at 5:45 p.m. The Railway’s typical four classes of service will be used. Rates for adults range from $75 to $190, and children’s rates range from $45 to $110. Children 15 and under are permitted only in the coach and first classes.
In addition to the special steam runs, Grand Canyon Railway operates an all-diesel fleet of locomotives year-round which significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions, air pollutants and water associated with steam locomotives. GCR further reduced pollutants in 2007 when it began using Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel fuel in its diesel locomotives. This fuel will be required by law in 2012.
Grand Canyon Railway has two operable steam locomotives that have been restored to like-new working condition. Locomotive No. 4960 was built in 1923 by Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia. It operated a freight- and coal-hauling service for the Midwestern Chicago, Burlington & Quincy (CB&Q) Railroad until the late 1950s and made its first official run on the Grand Canyon line in 1996.
The train trip from Williams to Grand Canyon National Park runs 65 miles through ponderosa pine forests and scenic high-desert landscapes. The train offers four classes of service – coach, first class, observation dome and luxury parlor.
The Grand Canyon Railway Hotel (in Williams not at the Grand Canyon) was designed to resemble the historic Fray Marcos Hotel and Williams Depot structures that stand nearby. The hotel is comprised of 199 standard rooms, 87 deluxe rooms, 10 suites and one luxury suite – the Rail Baron Suite – as well as a spacious meeting room available for wedding receptions, seminars and other functions; a large courtyard with barbecue and wet bar; a game room for children; a large enclosed crescent-shaped pool and hot tub and an exercise room.
Grand Canyon Railway is an authorized concessioner of the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service. For more information, http://www.thetrain.com or call 1-800-THE-TRAIN (1-800-843-8724).
Grand Canyon Railway is operated by Xanterra Parks & Resorts.
Photographs courtesy of Grand Canyon Railway.