The 2014 Apache Leap Mining Festival is set to celebrate the contributions of the Magma Arizona Rail Road Company (MARRCo) and the event would not be complete without a Grand Marshal to lead that celebration, Bruce Wittig a former employee of the MARRCo is the honoree.
Bruce worked for the MARRCo from 1971 to 1995 when the MARRCo stopped running. Following his work on the MARRCo he went to work for the Magma Rail Road in San Manuel and then Arizona Eastern Rail Road in Miami. Bruce worked as a brakeman and engineer for MARRCo, he was the yard master in San Manuel and worked as a conductor and relief engineer while employed in Miami. He decided to work for the rail road because he liked working outside and each day the job was different. “My job changed every day and I was never confined,” he said.
Some of his favorite jobs on the MARRCo were assisting when movies and commercials were filmed on the railroad. Interestingly many commercials have been filmed on the MARRCo for companies such as NesCafe, Taco Bell, and French Blue Jeans where they brought in models from New York City. Bruce explained that one of the best times working for the film industry was during the filming of the movie Gauntlet when they were working with Clint Eastwood. “He (Clint Eastwood) really didn’t realize that he was the star of the movie. Every day he would come down to Queen Station and make sure that our crew had breakfast and refreshments throughout the day,” Bruce remembered.
Some of the challenges that Bruce and his co-workers faced while working on the MARRCo were working with the older engines. When he began working for the railroad they still had an operating steam engine which was used for the movie, Great White Hope, and three Baldwin Diesel engines which were all built in the 1950s. Bruce attributed his enjoyment of his job to working with great crews including Morris Mannheimer, Gilbert Garvin, Ray Medlock, Angel Porras and Ruben Castro. “The railroad also provided a great retirement,” he said. “It would be nice to see the MARRCo running to Superior once again.”
Bruce is a lifelong native of Superior; his family came to Superior in October of 1957 and they opened the Dairy Queen, a famous stop along Highway 60. His parents ran the Dairy Queen for 35 years before they sold it to another owner. Bruce graduated from Superior High School in 1965. Currently, Bruce resides in Queen Valley with his wife, Lonna. His children, Ryan and Raegan, were also graduates of Superior and he has seven grandchildren.
Bruce enjoys many hobbies including rebuilding antique gas pumps and working on hot rod cars. He is also a member of the Resolution Copper Community Working Group.