is into trains in any form and she saw that there was a railroad
tour in the
Cottonwood area. The outcome was a foregone conclusion so
we got tickets in their first class seating and settled in for
the ride. The Verde Canyon Railroad (VCRR) travels from
Cottonwood to Perkinsville and back on a daily basis on standard
gauge track. Full-size track means full-size rolling
stock, so the cars were really big. Back in the day, the
railroad was constructed to service the extensive copper mining
industry in the Cottonwood/Jerome area.
The photos below are what we saw.
passenger cars were wide and long. The first class car had
a bar, food and comfortable seating.
were some colorful passengers along for the ride. Tattoos
are common these days, but the geometric patterns on the skull
were a bit over the top for me.
overpass carried another rail line that serviced the local
smelter. The line carried molten slag from the smelter to
the dumping area.
freight/passenger line pre-dated the smelter so when they
started dumping slag, steps were taken to prevent the slag from
encroaching on the freight line's right-of-way. In this
case, pipes and sheets of corrugated sheet metal were used to
form a barrier until the molten slag hardened.
the pipe and sheet metal has been removed, but the pattern of
the metal has been imprinted on the slag for all time.
travels upstream along the Verde River and passes a number of
native ruins built into the canyon walls. The fertile land
of the valley floor provided crops for the natives and the steep
canyon walls provide places of shelter. The small white
dots in the photo above are not artifacts or bad pixels in my
camera. They are bright white cottonwood seeds drifting in
the strong breeze, much to the dismay of our noses.
ruin would not have been easy to get to, even under normal
circumstances, so it clearly provided a defensible position for
the occupants if they were under attack.
higher on the cliff walls were other overhangs that were used as
seemed that every available location was utilized either for
dwellings or as granaries that stored the harvest and kept it
safe from rodents and moisture.
Cottonwood, the Verde valley is wide and the path of the river
meandered through the flat terrain of the river bottom.
line has a number of bridges that span side canyons. This
bridge is called "turntable bridge" because the main span of the
bridge is built out of an old locomotive turntable.
up the line we encountered a side canyon bridge built with
standard (custom) components.
track got higher in the Verde River canyon, the river has cut
through thick layers of volcanic basalt resulting in nearly
vertical canyon walls.
distance, the high canyon walls of the inner Verde River canyon
left of the train were basalt cliffs. Further on, the rail
line cut through a large monocline. Note the curve of the
bedding in the cliff walls. The red rock is sandstone
which is sedimentary. Basalt is volcanic and the result of
outflows from nearby volcanoes millions of years ago.
columns in the basalt form as a result of slow cooling that
allows very large crystal structure to form in the lava
resulting in what is known as "columnar basalt".
opposite side of the canyon the layers of the basalt flows are
in the canyon the red sandstone cliffs took over the show.
of the sandstone outcroppings were quite impressive. Steep
and tall, the outcroppings consisted of layers of multiple
shades of red.
cave-based cliff dwelling was visible in the opposite canyon
train pulled into the "station" at Perkinsville, we could see
the old railroad ties that were removed from the track during
periodic maintenance and left to wither in the strong Arizona
had a siding that allowed the locomotives to switch ends of the
train. As it rolled past us we got a good view of the
These motors are FP-7s built in 1953.
return segment, the sun was behind us allowing the more subtle
colors of the cliffs to present themselves. Note the
vertical notch in the cliff face in the center of photo
above. This was the result of a large collapse of the
line passes through a 600+ foot curved tunnel.
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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2018, all rights
For your enjoyment only, not for commercial use.