Arizona and California Railroad
|Locale||Mojave Desert - Phoenix, Arizona and branch to Blythe, California|
|Dates of operation||May 9, 1991–present|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Length||297 miles (478 km)|
|Website||Arizona & California Railroad|
The Arizona and California Railroad (reporting mark ARZC) is a short line railroad that was a subdivision of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (ATSF). The ARZC began operations on May 9, 1991, when David Parkinson of the ParkSierra RailGroup purchased the line from the Santa Fe Railway. ParkSierra Railgroup was purchased in January 2002 by RailAmerica, the former owner of the ARZC. The Genesee & Wyoming railroad holding company became the current owner in December 2012. ARZC's main commodities are petroleum gas, steel and lumber; the railroad hauls around 12,000 carloads per year.
At Cadiz, California, the railroad begins in the interchange with the BNSF Railway and continues southeast across the Mojave Desert to Rice, then east to cross the Colorado River Arizona/California state line at Parker, Arizona. The railroad continues east to Matthie (near Wickenburg, Arizona). At Matthie, ARZC has trackage rights over the north-south BNSF line that connects Phoenix to BNSF's mainline at Williams. It also had a branch that runs from Rice south through Blythe, terminating at Ripley.
Arizona & California operates tracks that are 297 miles (478 km) long consisting of the following segments:
- 190 mile (306 km) mainline from Cadiz, CA (BNSF interchange) - Parker, AZ - Matthie, AZ (BNSF interchange).
- 57 miles (92 km) of trackage rights over the BNSF Railway from Matthie - Phoenix, AZ.
- 50 mile (80 km) former branch line from Rice - Blythe - Ripley, CA. Shortened as a spur for freight car storage.
Arizona and California Railway
The mainline now used by ARZC was originally constructed between 1903 and 1910 by the Arizona and California Railway. The line between Matthie, AZ, and Parker opened in June 1907. The Colorado River bridge near Parker was completed in June 1908 and by 1910, the line had reached Cadiz, California. In 1909, the Arizona and Swansea Railroad that connects Swansea, Arizona from Bouse was completed.
As late as 1937, there were several daily passenger trains on the line: #170-117 and #118-181 operated daily between Phoenix Union Station and Cadiz, with connections to Los Angeles and San Francisco; mixed trains #210-233 and #234-209 operated daily between Phoenix's Mobest Yard and Parker; and mixed trains #25 and #26 operated daily except on Sunday or Monday connecting at Rice for Blythe.
Rice to Ripley branch
In 1914, the California Southern Railroad (not to be confused with the earlier railroad linking Barstow and San Diego) was incorporated to build 42.2 mi (67.9 km) from a point known as Blythe Junction (Rice) to Blythe. Construction was finished to Blythe in 1916 and the branch was extended to Ripley in 1920. Santa Fe leased the line on November 1921 and completed its acquisition on 1942. In 1991, David Parkinson purchased the line and the Cadiz-Matthie line from Santa Fe and began the ARZC.
In March 12, 2009, citing declining revenues and worn out track structure, the ARZC petitioned the Surface Transportation Board to abandon all but the first four miles of the Ripley branch line. No trains have run over this line since late 2007 and the cost to repair the branch line would be significant. The Surface Transportation Board ruled on June 30, 2009 to grant the ARZC petition. A Blythe area committee formed to oppose the petition had found a customer willing to purchase the line, namely the owner of the BG&CM Railroad of Idaho. On January 14, 2010, the Surface Transportation Board terminated the offer of financial assistance for the railroad. The rail line was scrapped in 2011 beyond the first four miles from Rice.
- "RailAmerica's Empire". Trains Magazine. Kalmbach Publishing. June 2010.
- David F. Myrick (2001). Santa Fe to Phoenix: Railroads of Arizona. Signature Press. ISBN 978-1-930013-05-6.
- Donald B. Robertson (1986). Encyclopedia of Western Railroad History: California. Caxton Press. p. 95. ISBN 978-0-87004-385-7.
- "Fee Received". Retrieved July 21, 2013.
- "Offer of Financial Assistance". Retrieved October 26, 2011.