Magma Arizona Railroad

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Magma Arizona Railroad
SD-Magma Arizona Railroad Engine No. 6-1906.jpg
Magma Arizona Railroad Engine No. 6
Reporting mark MAA
Locale Arizona
Dates of operation 1920–1997
Previous gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge; originally 3 ft (914 mm) gauge
Headquarters Superior, Arizona
UPRR at Magma Junction
(left) Copper Basin Railway to Hayden
Arizona State Route 79
Florence Junction
U.S. Route 60
Hewitt Station (Queen Valley)
Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park
Superior
Magma Engine No. 5 switching in Superior, 1967.

The Magma Arizona Railroad (reporting mark MAA) was built by the Magma Copper Company and operated from 1915 - 1997.

The railroad was originally built as a 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge line, but was converted to 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge in 1923. Originally headquartered in Superior, Arizona, the company primarily hauled cattle and copper on 30.2 miles (48.6 km) of standard gauge track to and from the Southern Pacific mainline in Magma, Arizona, between Florence and Queen Creek.

The Australian mining giant Broken Hill Proprietary Company (BHP) purchased the Magma Copper Company and its lines in 1996 for A$3.2 billion and suspended rail operations on this line a year later.

The Magma was the last industrial short line railroad to use steam power.

Revival[edit]

The railroad has since changed hands and is currently owned by Resolution Copper, a subsidiary of London-based Rio Tinto Group. Exploration in 2001-2003 resulted in the discovery of a large copper ore body some 7,000 ft (2133 m) beneath the surface of lands just three miles (5 km) east of Superior. If the mine is eventually reopened, it is highly likely the Magma Arizona will be revived to transport the one billion tons (907 million tonnes) of ore to off-site smelters. Discussions with representatives of Resolution indicate the Magma Arizona name will be kept if the mine and railroad are both reopened, which may occur after feasibility studies are completed in 2009.

Famous Locomotives[edit]

Engine #10 at the Arizona Railway Museum

References[edit]

  1. ^ McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. "Attractions and Exhibits". 
  2. ^ The Center for East Texas Studies (2000). "TSR Roster". 
  3. ^ Southern Oregon Chapter National Railway Historical Society (1999-03-14). "Medco 8". 
  4. ^ Arizona Railway Museum. "ARM Equipment Roster". 

Bibliography[edit]

Chappell, Gordon. Rails to Carry Copper: A History of the Magma Arizona Railroad. Boulder, Colorado; Pruett Publishing Company, 1973. Includes over 200 photographs, maps, and scale drawings.

External links[edit]