AZCR 703 in Denver on October 27, 1994. A GP7 built in October 1952 as WP 703.

(© 2024 Marty Bernard, All Rights Reserved, Used by permission,


AZCR logo.

Arizona Central Railroad (AZCR)

The Clarkdale Arizona Central Railroad (reporting mark AZCR) is an Arizona short-line railroad that operates from a connection with the BNSF Railway at Drake, Arizona. The AZCR runs 37.8 miles (60.8 km) from Drake to Clarkdale, Arizona. An excursion train also runs on the line through Verde Canyon and is operated by the same owners under the Verde Canyon Railroad. The AZCR is owned by David L. Durbano.



The AZCR handles 1,500 cars per year of inbound coal, coke, lime, bauxite, and fly ash to the Phoenix Cement Company and shipping outbound cement. The Verde Canyon Railroad carries 100,000 passengers per year (2013 figure).


Arizona Central Railroad system map.

(No machine-readable author provided. NE2 assumed (based on copyright claims)., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)



Verde Valley Railway

From 1913 to 1989 the line was operated by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (Santa Fe Railway). On November 17, 1911, the Verde Valley Railway was chartered as a non-operating subsidiary of the Santa Fe Railway. Construction from Cedar Glade (west of Drake) to Clarkdale was immediately commenced on February 13, 1912, and was completed on February 1, 1913, at a total cost of $1,286,061.[citation needed] It was built to support the United Verde Mine at Jerome, Arizona. On December 31, 1942, the Verde Valley was conveyed to the Santa Fe Railway by deed.

On April 14, 1989, the Santa Fe Railway sold the Clarkdale branch to David L. Durbano. The new railroads were named the Clarkdale Arizona Central Railroad for freight and the Verde Canyon Railroad for passenger service. Passenger service resumed in November 1990.


Motive power

The AZCR has seven locomotives that were all built by originally by EMD. The railroad has one EMD GP7 (AZCR 2164), two EMD GP9 (AZCR 3413 and AZCR 2279), a pair of former ICG Paducah-rebuild GP26's (2601 and 2602) recently acquired from the Cimarron Valley Railroad (2019), and a pair of EMD FP7s (1510 and 1512, used to power the excursion). The vintage FP7 diesel locomotives are two of only ten remaining in operation in North America. They were originally built for the Alaska Railroad in 1953 by the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors in La Grange, Illinois.


Locomotive model Road number
EMD FP7 1510
EMD FP7 1512
EMD GP7U 2164
EMD GP26 2601
EMD GP26 2602
EMD GP9 3413
EMD GP9 2279


The route is nestled between two national forests and adjacent to a designated wilderness area, follows the Verde River the entire way and features a 680-foot (210 m) long tunnel and many bridges.

  • Drake – BNSF Phoenix Subdivision
  • Mack – does not appear in timetable.
  • Bear – named because a bear was shot there during construction.
  • Perkinsville – a ghost town
  • Sycamore
  • Clarkdale



Headquarters: Clarkdale, Arizona
Reporting mark: AZCR
Locale Central: Arizona
Dates of operation: 1989–present
Predecessor: Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway
Track gauge: 4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge