ARM Trip Report

Riding the Copper Spike Train Excursion - February 15, 2009

NOTE: For most accurate information please visit the official website of the Copper Spike Train Excursion

    This ride is Arizona's newest venture into tourist train rides.  The Copper Spike runs over the tracks of the Arizona Eastern Railway between Globe, Arizona and the Apache Gold Casino Resort.  The ride takes approximately 25 minutes and can be boarded at either end.  Currently, the train runs four time per day Thursday thru Sunday.

    Motive power for the ride is currently a diesel locomotive (EMD GP-20), however they are actively rebuilding a steam locomotive (Craig Mtn Lumber #3) which is expected to be operational in March, 2009.  The passenger equipment consists of a rebuilt coach, a Club Car (The Calumet), and a full length dome car.  The ride boards at the newly refurbished depot in downtown Globe or from the recently built depot at the Apache Gold Casino (train tickets can be purchased inside the casino).

The following was my experience riding the train on February 15, 2009.

After driving from Phoenix, we arrived in Globe with time to look around the renovated depot.  The renovation was done through mostly volunteer effort.  Tickets may be purchased at the ticket window.  The interior is arranged with several displays of railroad memorabilia, period furniture and several large photographs of vintage passenger trains in Globe.

Renovated interior. Display of period furniture. Track side of Globe Depot. Street side of Globe Depot.

The train consists of three passenger cars pulled by a diesel locomotive.  All cars are climate controlled and on board services include restrooms (in the dome car).  Access to the upper level of the dome does require navigating steps so it is not handicap accessible.

At the rear of the train is the club car "Calumet", this ex-Illinois Central coach was rebuilt to include lounge style seating at both ends with a central refreshment bar in the middle (not in service during the ride).   The lounge end of the car also includes end windows for easy viewing of the surrounding scenery.  The train operates in push-pull mode, so the lounge car has clear views in both directions.  The lounge seats were soft and comfortable.  The best view is from the ex-Santa Fe full dome observation car.  The lower level is also well done with large bench seats and tables for families or groups.   The ex-Long Island commuter has a single full length bench running through the center.  This car has plenty of windows for viewing the scenery. 

ex-Illinois Central coach, rebuilt into the "Calumet" Club Car. ex-Santa Fe full-dome Observation car. ex-Long Island RR commuter car rebuilt as a bench seat coach. Engine for the day: EMD GP-20, lettered TP&W.


Interior of the "Calumet" showing the mid-car refreshment bar. Interior of the "Calumet" looking towards the rear of the train. Lower level of the dome car. Interior of the ex-Long Island commuter.  Bench seating allows easy viewing of the scenery.

The ride departs the Globe depot going AWAY from the casino.  This allows the train to back through downtown Globe, past the historic SP 2-6-0 #1774 steam locomotive, over two bridges (one over a dry wash, the other over Broad Street), and past piles of mine tailings (byproducts of the copper smelting process).

Click here to watch a video from the dome car. (32Mb)

After backing up (towards Claypool/Miami), the train reverses and heads towards the casino (passing back through Globe).  The line climbs steadily as it leaves Globe until it crosses over the highway.  The line follows the natural terrain downhill until reaching the casino.

The train terminus is the Apache Gold Casino Resort.  A small platform provides basic protection from the elements.  The casino typically provides a shuttle cart from the depot to the casino front door.  The walk is not very far.  In addition to gambling, the casino also offers hotel lodging, entertainment, golf, buffet and grill style dining.

Train backing over the bridge in Globe.      

The depot staff and onboard crew were all very courteous and professional.  The locomotive and cars all performed well and there were no defects or delays.  Departure from the Apache Gold Casino was on time.  The slow pace of the ride (about 10-15mph) and the excess height of the dome car provided a gentle back and forth motion which added to the relaxing experience.

Also in Globe:

The historic SP locomotive #1774 is on display within easy walking distance of the Globe depot.  It is located in a city park (across from the police station).  The park also has playground equipment for children.  In this area, the railroad tracks actually run through the middle of the street providing easy opportunity to photograph the train.  Numerous small merchant's are also within walking distance of the depot.

SP 2-6-0 #1774 on display. Technical details about the locomotive.

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