Saturday, August 31
Our chartered motor coaches leave the Tucson Marriott University Park hotel at 8:00 AM for the approximate two-hour drive to Phoenix, Arizona’s state capital. Our first stop is in suburban Chandler, home of the Arizona Railway Museum. This museum restores and displays equipment of the Southwest and has more than 30 pieces of equipment including locomotives, freight cars, passenger cars and a PCC trolley. Note: the museum is an open-air facility with little sun protection. Bring a hat, sun block and water. Your hotel is next to a major shopping district where all this is available.
Following our visit, sufficient time and a day pass will be provided by the ERA for members to have lunch and ride Valley Metro Rail, a 26.3-mile light rail line serving Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa with a one-way travel time of over an hour. We will reconvene at a convenient meeting point by 5 PM for the return trip to our Tucson hotel. Enjoy Tucson restaurants and nightlife on your own, either immediately adjacent to the hotel or along the Sun Link streetcar line. Sun Link operates until midnight on Saturday.
Sunday, September 1
Our chartered motor coaches will leave the hotel at 9 AM to visit the three separate facilities managed by Old Pueblo Trolley. The tour includes:
- Trolley barn, 90 feet of operating track, and streetcar collection.
- The Southern Arizona Transportation Museum at the restored Southern Pacific depot downtown, which also functions as the Amtrak depot from which we depart for El Paso on Monday. This facility focuses on railroad history and has the SP locomotive 1673 on display which was built in 1900.
- The new Transit Museum and shops that feature streetcars and buses, with a focus on the types of transit vehicles used in Arizona. The balance of the streetcars is displayed there.
Our chartered motor coaches will drop members off in one of the numerous restaurant hubs along the Sun Link Streetcar. Members can ride and photograph the streetcar with an ERA-provided day pass.
At 7 PM at our Tucson hotel, we will enjoy a program of Arizona traction presented by Gene Caywood, president of Old Pueblo Trolley. Mr. Caywood’s slideshow will cover a history of streetcar lines in the five major Arizona cities, focusing on the two largest operations in Tucson and Phoenix. He will also discuss the history of Old Pueblo Trolley, including their startup, how they operated for 17 years, and future plans.
Monday, September 2
Amtrak to El Paso
A bright and early start this morning! We have arranged for our breakfast to be served at 5:30 AM. Allow time to check out and board one of our two chartered buses to the Tucson Amtrak station. Make sure you are on one of these two buses! The first bus trip departs at 6:45 AM, the second at 7:15 AM. We’ve budgeted extra time to allow for orderly check-in of our group. For maximum room in our chartered train car, we urge checking of all large pieces of luggage to the baggage car (included in your fare). While our double-deck Superliner coach has a baggage compartment on the lower level, they are unlikely to have space to store all our luggage. If you cannot ascend the steps to the upper level and require lower level accommodation, please indicate that in your order form. The balance of the group will be seated on the upper level of the train car.
Our train will be Amtrak’s train no. 2, the Sunset Limited, which departs Tucson at 8:15 AM and arrives at El Paso Union Depot at 3:15 PM.
Members may enjoy meals in the dining car (with on-board reservations on a space available basis) or snacks and sandwiches in the café car. On-board meals and snacks are at your own expense. In El Paso, a chartered bus will make two trips to transport members from Union Depot to the DoubleTree by Hilton Downtown El Paso Hotel. Your ERA booking includes Amtrak train fare, all bus transfers and all tips.
Bus transfers and luggage handling account for the fare being higher than basic Amtrak fare. If you do not book the ERA chartered car and later change your mind, you will pay a surcharge to cover bus transfers and luggage handling. Make sure to read the Logistics section on instructions for traveling by Amtrak.
The ERA will distribute the El Paso day passes on the train, which you can then use as your ride around El Paso on September 3. Use your extra time in El Paso on September 2 to ride the El Paso Streetcar (until 7 PM closure) or enjoy the shopping and dining opportunities in downtown El Paso’s El Centro or Union Plaza districts.
Tuesday, September 3
Last day, El Paso daytime. Ride and photograph at will around El Paso with your ERA-provided Sun Metro day pass for the 4.8-mile El Paso Streetcar. We will arrange a meeting time for a tour of the shops where these rebuilt pre-war PCC streetcars are maintained.
If you still have time and energy in the afternoon, feel free to walk over on your own to El Paso Union Station (also the Amtrak depot). The station is a 12-15-minute walk from the hotel. The early 1900s station was designed by the great American architect Daniel Burnham, who also designed Washington Union Station. Two blocks away is restored Locomotive No. 1, a classic American 4-4-0, and a dozen exhibits on El Paso railroading and urban traction. Eight railroads operated into El Paso in the 19th century.
El Paso evening. ERA’s Annual Banquet will be held at the DoubleTree Hotel. The cash bar will open at 6:30 PM in the 17th floor rooftop Sky Lounge. Dinner will be served beginning at 7 PM in the rooftop Franklin Ballroom. Both rooms feature breathtaking views of the El Paso skyline. Texas hospitality and the lower prices of this region allow ERA to offer filet mignon as a dinner entrée option for the first time.
Our guest speaker will be Sun Metro’s Carl Jackson, Assistant Director of Streetcar Operations for Sun Metro, which operates the El Paso Streetcar. Mr. Jackson was in charge of construction, testing and launching of the streetcar line.