San Pedro and Southwestern Railroad
|Dates of operation||2003–|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
The San Pedro and Southwestern Railroad (reporting mark SPSR) is an Arizona shortline railroad, currently operating from a connection with the Union Pacific Railroad (UP) at Benson, Arizona, seven miles to Curtiss, Arizona. The SPSR formerly ran a total of 76.2 miles (122.6 km), with main track from Benson to Paul Spur, a location about 10 miles (16 km) west of Douglas, as well as the Bisbee Branch which ran 5.6 miles (9.0 km) to Bisbee, Arizona. The SPSR is owned by David Parkinson's "Arizona Railroad Group". David Parkinson has owned several other shortlines in California, such as the California Northern Railroad, under his ParkSierra Rail Group, now a part of RailAmerica. The San Pedro and Southwestern Railroad commenced operations in November 2003 when it purchased the San Pedro and Southwestern Railway (reporting mark SWKR) from RailAmerica.
David Parkinson acquired the line from RailAmerica in 2003 with "the intent of restoring transborder rail service with the Mexican rail system at Naco, Arizona, and developing North American Free Trade Agreement-related traffic, but that this plan never materialized."
SWKR's traffic was weak and consisted of coal and coke for Chemical Lime, the only on-line shipper. Chemical Lime only generated between 380 and 500 carloads per year which SWKR claimed was inadequate to sustain the railroad. SWKR decided to abandon the line south of Curtiss in March 2005 due to limited freight business and the lack of prospects for future traffic increases. On February 3, 2006 the Surface Transportation Board (STB) authorized abandonment of the line (STB Docket #AB-1081-0-X).
On July 18, 2006, the Cochise County Board of Supervisors declined to write a letter suggesting the line be converted to a trail, saying investors should be given sufficient time to arrange reactivating the line.
The SPSR traces its history back to May 24, 1888, when the Arizona and South Eastern Railroad (A&SE; also known as the Arizona and Southeastern Rail Road) was incorporated with headquarters at Bisbee, Arizona. Bisbee was a booming mining town that by the 1890 census was the 6th largest city in Arizona.
In 1888 Arizona & Southeastern built a 60-mile (97 km) line southward along the San Pedro River from a connection with the Southern Pacific Railroad at Benson to Bisbee. The A&SE track partially paralleled the New Mexico and Arizona Railroad (NM&A) that was built six years earlier (1882) on the opposite side of the San Pedro River from Benson to Fairbank. The NM&A then went southwest to Nogales via Sonoita and Patagonia.
On June 17, 1902, the Arizona & Southeastern was sold to the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad (EP&SW) and the line was extended through Douglas to El Paso. On November 1, 1924, the EP&SW was leased to the Southern Pacific. In 1955 the EP&SW was merged into the SP. At that time, four of SP's five daily passenger trains used the route via Douglas with only one via Bowie; but by 1966, the line east of Douglas into New Mexico was abandoned. From Paul Spur to Douglas was abandoned in the 1990s.
On June 15, 1992, SP sold the line to Kyle Railways and commenced operations as the San Pedro & Southwestern Railway (SWKR). For several years starting in 1995, the SWKR ran an excursion train from Benson to Charleston. In 1997, the track was abandoned from Paul Spur to Curtiss. On January 22, 1997, the SWKR was acquired by StatesRail but continued to operate as the SWKR. On January 7, 2002, the SWKR was acquired by RailAmerica.
The San Pedro Railroad Operating Company (SPROC) commenced operations in November 2003 when it purchased the San Pedro & Southwestern Railway (SWKR) from RailAmerica. The SPROC later filed for abandonment of the southern portion of the line. The STB approved abandonment of the entire line by SPROC on February 6, 2006.
Sonora-Arizona International LLC (SAI) made an offer of financial assistance to the STB, and was granted the option of ownership of the line on May 3, 2006. The STB ruled that the Offer of Financial Assistance (OFA) deal of the agreed upon price of $5.6 million for the SPROC railroad line from Curtiss to Naco and Paul Spur must close on or before July 12, 2006. On July 12, 2006, the attorneys for the Sonora-Arizona International LLC re-filed with the STB that they were withdrawing their OFA and that the SAI would no longer be purchasing the railroad line.
The San Pedro Railroad Operating Company then refiled on July 13 to ask for approval to immediately abandon the line.
The STB's decision is pending.[when?] Removal of the rails, ties and related infrastructure began in early 2007 south of Curtiss to Paul Spur.
- Robertson, Donald B. (1986). Encyclopedia of Western Railroad History: The Desert States: Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah. Caldwell, Idaho: The Caxton Printers. pp. 69, 81, 94. ISBN 0-87004-305-6.
- Stindt, Fred A. (1996). American Shortline Railway Guide (5th ed.). Waukesha, Wisconsin: Kalmbach Publishing. p. 277. ISBN 0-89024-290-9.
- Walker, Mike (1995). Steam Powered Video's Comprehensive Railroad Atlas of North America - Arizona & New Mexico. Kent, United Kingdom: Steam Powered Publishing. pp. 25–27. ISBN 1-874745-04-8.
- Surface Transportation Board (2006). "SAN PEDRO RAILROAD OPERATING COMPANY, LLC--ABANDONMENT EXEMPTION-IN COCHISE COUNTY, AZ". Retrieved March 27, 2006.
- "San Pedro & Southwestern Railroad - SPSR". Western Shortline Rosters. trainweb.org. 2004. Retrieved March 27, 2006.
- Sullivan, Michael (December 21, 2005). "San Pedro and Southwestern Railroad line may become a park". Sierra Vista Herald (Arizona). Retrieved March 27, 2006.[dead link]
- Maresh, Michael (April 17, 2006). "Southern Arizona trains could roll again". Sierra Vista Herald (Arizona). Retrieved May 15, 2006.[dead link]
- Southern Pacific Tucson Division Timetable No. 7, May 12, 1968
- Southern Pacific Sunset Route timetable, January 9, 1955
- United States Surface Transportation Board (February 3, 2006). "SAN PEDRO RAILROAD OPERATING COMPANY, LLC--ABANDONMENT EXEMPTION-IN COCHISE COUNTY, AZ". Retrieved September 10, 2008.
- United States Surface Transportation Board (May 3, 2006). "SAN PEDRO RAILROAD OPERATING COMPANY, LLC--ABANDONMENT EXEMPTION-IN COCHISE COUNTY, AZ". Retrieved September 10, 2008.
- Sierra Vista Herald, July 19, 2006.