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Welcome to the Discover Gila County IDA Tourism website | Northern Gila County
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The Arizona Mineral Belt Railroad Tunnel in Northern Gila County:

In the 1880's the Arizona Mineral Belt Railroad started to bore a 3100-foot long railroad tunnel through the Mogollon Rim, but they soon ran out of money after having only dug 70 feet - Photo by Terry Wright on Arizona Hiking Gallery.com

In the early 1880's a man named James W. Eddy had a dream to construct the Mineral Belt Railroad. The Arizona Mineral Belt Railroad made plans to cash in on the need for transportation of ore from Globe to the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad in Flagstaff. The rail was to cross the state North to South. Starting in Nogales and up though Globe, then up the rim passing through Flagstaff continuing on up to the Utah border near Lees Ferry(the launching area for rafters into the Grand Canyon). In August 1883 work began on drilling a 3,100 foot tunnel to ascend the Mogollon Rim. 42 men labored all summer. After running low on funds twice the railroad was abandoned. Today the entrance to the railroad tunnel keeps the story alive. Now all that can be seen of the tunnel is a hole in the rock. The springs near the "tunnel" are beautiful and well worth the hike. Also of interest is the old Arizona Game & Fish Department Fish Hatchery site with beautiful springs and the flowering banks. On top of the rim is the site of the “Apache Battle of Big Dry Wash" on the Colonel Devin Trail, which starts together at the Railroad Tunnel.

 

The end of the tunnel. The Railroad Tunnel was to be part of a rail line to bring ore from Globe to the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad in Flagstaff - Photo by Terry Wright on Arizona Hiking Gallery.com
From www.hikearizona.com: "At the edge of the Rim is the trailhead. The trail goes straight down and the footing is loose. Sand and loose rock make the going tricky. Pass the second electric poll and cross the wash to your left. The wind takes advantage of the natural depression of the Rim. The day I hiked the trail seconds after leaving the Rim the wind kicked in. Once returning the second I stepped up on the Rim the wind ceased. The trail continues straight down and curves to the junction with the Railroad Tunnel Trail. Actually you have been following the Colonel Devin Trail from the Rim and the Tunnel Trail is a spur trail that starts a half mile down. From the rim you have just dropped 760 feet, now you will work your way back up 300. If the trail signs are in place follow them. If not the Tunnel Trail starts to go over and back up where as the Colonel Devin Trail starts a switchback down the wash. From the junction it is a quarter mile over and back up to the tunnel. The trail is steep in sections so please be careful. A dark black rock formation tricked my senses into believing I was near the Tunnel."


The entrance to the Railroad Tunnel - Photo by Terry Wright on Arizona Hiking Gallery.com

Continued from www.hikearizona.com: "Well not much further over the tunnel came into view. What appears to be a recently constructed ruin is on the east side of the entrance. Upon first examining the tunnel, extensive graffiti is sad to see. Cool air inside makes the tunnel a great resting spot! The floor is fine grain sand. Sit back and imagine the man power it must have taken to drill here in the 1880's! Return back to the trailhead. Enjoy the ride home through the dense Ponderosa Pines along the Rim."

The hike to the Arizona Mineral Belt Railroad Tunnel is rated as 'Most Difficult', even though it's short. The trail starts at the South end: (5,000 feet elevation) in the Tonto National Forest and ends at the Washington Park Trailhead on the North end: (7,280 feet elevation): at Forest Road (FR) 300 on the Coconino National Forest. The trail is open from April to October. No Motorized vehicles are allowed on the trail. This is a steep trail with loose footing and is not recommended for horses.

 

* Some of The information for this page about theRailroad Tunnel Trail comes from the www.hikearizona.com website and Other information used is from the USDA Forest Service website. Other sources of information and all photos of the Railroad Tunnel Trail come from Terry Wright's photo page on www.Azhikinggallery.com

 

 
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