In 1901 the Grand Canyon Railway made its first passage to the South Rim Grand Canyon, and finally opened up safe and reliable transportation to one of the world’s greatest wonders. On Saturday, May 11th, the Railway will celebrate National Train Day at Williams Depot which will highlight historic trains and a train photography exhibit.
In the early 20th century, the train became the lifeline to the park. The railroad’s original purpose was to transport ore, but soon, its true goal became showing off the natural beauty of the area and the potential for future Grand Canyon tours. Today, the Railway provides a fantastic opportunity for visitors to experience the perfect Grand Canyon vacation.
On Saturday, diesel locomotive 6793 will tug the Cataract Creek Rambler to take passengers on 45-minute rides around the city of Williams. The Grand Canyon Railway mechanics keep the trains running without problems to ensure a safe and fun Grand Canyon trip for nearly 5 million annual visitors. According to locomotives manager Eric Hadder, maintaining the trains is a huge job. It entails everything, from fixing minor things to overhauling the engine.
The maintenance crew checks and maintains the locomotive every 90 days by lubricating parts and changing filters. A brake valve replacement takes place annually. If necessary, mechanics are able to rebuild diesel engines as well as replace motors and wheels. According to Hadder, working on a train is not much different than working on a car, except for the bigger parts and tools.
Passengers will have the option to either sit in a stainless steel car or a vintage green Pullman car. The Rambler departs every hour on the hour. For $5, visitors will be able to tour the train maintenance shop, which will display several pieces of full scale railroad equipment. The money collected will benefit a local food bank. In addition to trains, classic cars, motorcycles, and antique tractors will be displayed at the day-long event.
National Train Day was started by Amtrak in 2008 to celebrate the moment on May 10, 1869 when railroad workers laid the “Golden Spike” to complete the first transcontinental railroad.
Participants will reenact this historic event. The day-long event runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Grand Canyon Railway. Tickets are sold on the day of the event and are $15 for adults, $10 for children ages 2-15. Attendees are encouraged to bring canned food, which will be donated to a local food bank.