ARM Trip Report


ARM / NRHS Yampai Camping Trip - April 25-27, 2003


The more "hearty" members of the Arizona Railway Museum and the Arizona Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society journeyed to northern Arizona for a weekend of outdoors camping and photographing trains.  Yampai is located about 25 miles west of Seligman (on Route 66) on the Burlington Northern, Santa Fe railroad.  The campsite was located on the property of ARM member, Mike Salwitz.  The weather was perfect for the 7 adventuresome railfans attending the campout.

Friday, April 25

Left the Valley of the Sun early and traveled north along I-17 to Cordes Junction.  Traveled towards Prescott, but used a bypass to avoid the Prescott traffic and headed on US-89 towards Jerome.  At the top (7000') we stopped for an early lunch.  The cool weather was refreshing.  After lunch, we headed down into Jerome then drove the abandoned United Verde and Pacific roadbed around/over the Woodchute mountains into the Chino Valley area.  This line once hauled supplies into the mining town of Jerome.  Driving the old roadbed is definitely limited to "high clearance" vehicles as there is almost no maintenance of the dirt road.  Once in Chino Valley, we got back on to US-89 and headed towards Ask Fork then west on I-40 to Seligman and then followed Route 66 west towards Yampai.  A brief stop was made at Pica to check out the old pump house.  Apparently someone was interested in the abandoned hardware inside as there were two huge holes cut into the roof and several large pieces of equipment removed.  We watched several trains roll by before proceeding to the campsite.  At the campsite, just a short hike away, is a commanding view of the S-curve at Yampai Summit.  Immediately it was noticed that the BNSF was doing some heavy trackwork in the area.  The siding was full of MOW equipment.

Eastbound train at Pica.

Some of the MOW equipment at Yampai.

Saturday, April 26

After a wonderful breakfast, the group decided to climb down to rail level and hike an abandoned portion of the original alignment.  The Santa Fe "smoothed" out the S-curve which resulted in a short section of the old right of way being abandoned (and subsequently sold to a private owner).  During the hike, several trains passed.

After a brief noontime rest, the group decided to drive west and check out the double track tunnel near Nelson.  At Nelson is a huge lime plant which provides an interesting backdrop for photos.  Near the tunnel, is another short section of abandoned line.  A sharp curve, a trestle and two cuts were bypassed when the tunnel was created.  After photographing several trains, the group followed the mainline west to Peach Springs.  A spirited chased ensued to photograph a "meet" between two trains (one eastbound, one west bound) just east of Peach Springs.  On the return to the campsite, the group stopped at Yampai and talked with the security personnel watching the MOW equipment.  Apparently, the BNSF has been busy replacing many of the wood ties with new concrete ties (especially on the curves).

By late afternoon, everyone was ready for dinner and an early bedtime.  Everyone hit the sack to the sounds of Coyotes howling.

Sitting around the morning campfire planning the days adventures.

Hearty souls patiently waiting for a train at Nelson Tunnel.

Sunday, April 27

While breakfast was being prepared, I decided to walk out onto the point and observe a few trains.  I immediately noticed a curious site.  The "tail" of one train was visible, obviously being "held" because of the MOW activity.  But also on the same track, and just a few car behind the first train, was a second train, also "stopped".  My curiousity was piqued.  Why would the railroad "bunch" two trains so closely on the same track while the second line was, apparently, open?  My question was answered after a 20 minute wait.  An eastbound military train rumbled over the summit and through the S-curve and on towards Seligman.

After breakfast, several of the group headed further west to photograph the area around Crozier Canyon.  This area is remote (not a lot of civilization nearby) and access is only possible with a "high clearance" vehicle.  After a bumpy ride through several riverbed crossings, we reached the huge horseshoe curve in Crozier Canyon.  Eastbound trains can be heard from quite a distance as they are climbing the grade towards Yampai.  Westbound trains can approach very stealthily as they are "coasting" down the grade.  Several trains passed and made the trip worthwhile.

The return trip to the campsite found us driving the dirt road between Peach Springs and Nelson to catch "just a few more" photo opportunities.

The campsite was packed up and everyone headed home by the early afternoon.  All in all, everyone had a wonderful time and saw plenty of trains.  I am already planning for the next trip to Yampai.

Eastbound train pulling uphill just after leaving Crozier Canyon.

Eastbound train heading towards Seligman.


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