Notice: This post is being written during the COVID-19 pandemic and at this time, the park is closed to visitors. Please stay safe and follow your state or country’s guidelines for travel in your region. More information on the park’s current status can be found here.
In early January, Lynn and I visited McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale, Arizona. During the Christmas holidays, the park is all decked out with lights and features evening train rides through the park. On any given weekend, the park is quite busy (in normal times, anyway,) and there are lots of activities for kids and adults alike. Though the engine and train cars in the opening photo are full size, the fun happens on little trains.
The main attraction in the park is the scale reproduction of a narrow gauge railroad. The Paradise & Pacific Railroad began in 1971 when Guy Stillman, the Scottsdale Railroad & Mechanical Society, and the City of Scottsdale began work to create the Railroad Park on 30 acres. The park opened on October 4, 1975. To give you a size comparison, the image above features the engineer giving a bit of spit and polish to the engine between rides. The park operates three steam locomotives, two diesel engines, and an electric engine. The guests ride in any of several miniature cars for a trip around the park. In the image above, the train, full of passengers is just concluding a trip around the park. In a few moments, it will pull up to the terminal station and quickly unload and reload passengers for another trip around the park. The train engines and cars are built to 5:12 scale. A complete machine shop and a long shed provides covered protection for the equipment when it’s not in use. If this train is too big for your young ‘uns, you can mosey on over to the Arboretum Train. This train runs only on the weekends and provides a 10 minute ride through the park’s desert Arboretum. This smaller train is scaled at 1.5 inches to 1 foot scale.
Another major attraction in the park is the Scottsdale Charros Carousel. The carousel was built in 1950, and was restored with the help of a local service group. This antique carousel is complete with 30 horses and two wheelchair chariots.
Another major attraction at the park for railroad aficionados is the Scottsdale Railroad Museum. The small building houses several exhibits of early railroad memorabilia and information about local and regional railroad history. The engine in the opening photo, Magma Arizona No. 6, was a copper ore hauler from Superior to Magma, Arizona; about 30 miles (48 km) or so on the line. Ol’ No. 6 was retired in 1960 and purchased for display at the park in 1977.
The museum itself is the Peoria Depot, and leaving the building on the railroad side gives the guest access to a baggage car and the Roald Amundsen Pullman Car. The car is steeped in history as it served every president from Herbert Hoover through Dwight Eisenhower, the traveling residence of the President and his entourage during the years of the Whistle Stop Campaigns. The park contains other railroad attractions that are interesting enough in their own right to have a post specifically dedicated to those attractions. I will leave you guessing until it’s time for me to share those stories and images. In the meantime, the gallery of images below features photos captured on our day trip to McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. When it reopens, if you get to Scottsdale, you can join the million plus visitors a year to enjoy a bit of Arizona Railroad History. With most browsers, you can click on an image below to enlarge it and scroll through the gallery.