The Verde Canyon Railroad, Clarkdale to Perkinsville, AZ

by Ken Humphreys

For pure scenic desert beauty, is is hard to beat a ride on the Verde Canyon Railroad. The trip covers about 18 miles starting at Clarkdale, AZ and going to Perkinsville, AZ and return. The railroad uses a combination of Pullman Standard and Budd stainless steel coaches interspersed with open-air viewing cars. Each viewing car has canvas-covered areas, more for protection from the desert sun than for the extremely rare rainfall. For group bookings, a refurbished AC&F caboose is available. The caboose has been converted to luxury-class accommodations for groups of up to six passengers. Trips are very well narrated over the train's speaker system which is supplemented by helpful hosts and hostesses on each car. Motive power is provided by two vintage FP7 locomotives, #1510 and #1512. The FP7s originally were owned by the Alaska Railroad, later going to Mountain Diesel for museum display. Still later they were leased to the Wyoming-Colorado Railroad before being sold to the Verde Canyon Railroad.

The scenery along the route is breathtaking and eagles and other wildlife are abundant. Many eagles can be seen from the train. Renowned wildlife artist Doug Allen designed the livery of the locos with a distinctive representation of bald eagles in flight. Subsequently California artist Damien Pezzi repainted the bald eagles and made some slight redesign to the livery. The two locos have perhaps the most impressive livery anywhere on an American railroad.

Click on each image below to see its full sized version and related photos. Hit your back button to return and view the next group of photos. All images are copyrighted by Ken Humphreys.

Image Description
Verde Canyon Railroad logo on a Budd car
Scenes at the Clarkdale, AZ depot
Crossing the S.O.B. Canyon Trestle enroute to Perkinsville, AZ
Rounding a wide curve. Note the colorful livery on the locos.
Exiting a 650-foot tunnel. Note the passengers on the open car holding their ears because of the noise.
Locos switching ends of the train at Perkinsville for the return trip to Clarkdale. The colorful livery with the eagle-head motif is clearly visible.
Returning to Clarkdale. Note the caboose which is now behind the locos and ahead of the other cars.

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