SMARRCO rail car donated to train museum

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San Manuel Arizona Railroad Company employees Ty Dahlin (front) and Ron Lewellen with the rail car given to train museum.

  A San Manuel Arizona Railroad Company (SMARRCO) rail car has made its last run on the rail lines.

  SMARRCO and its owner Capstone Mining Corporation donated a rider car to the Arizona Railway Museum in Chandler, Arizona, this September. The rider car is unique and has an interesting history.

  Magma Copper Company in San Manuel had 185 specially built cars, three of which were rider cars, to haul ore from the mine to the mill and smelter.  The rider cars could still be loaded with ore but had a special cab built in for the brakeman.

The SMARRCO rail car is lifted onto the tracks for its final journey to the Arizona Railway Museum in Chandler.

  This car was built in the late 1950s or early 1960s. SMARRCO began operating in 1955 and copper production started in 1956 in San Manuel. Over the years it traveled thousands of miles back and forth between the town of San Manuel and the mine. It hauled hundreds of thousands of tons of ore which were turned into copper and byproducts such as silver, gold and molybdenum.

  At SMARRCO, the rider car was picked up by a crane and set down on the tracks so it could be hauled on the rail line. It made one last run towards the mine and along the San Manuel Railway line and Copper Basin Railway line on its way to Chandler.  It will be on permanent display at the Arizona Railway Museum, 330 E. Ryan Road, Chandler, Arizona. The museum is dedicated to the railroads of Arizona and the Southwestern United States. 

Ron Lewellen in the brakeman’s seat.

All hitched up for one last trip.

John Hernandez (577 Posts)

John Hernandez lives in Oracle. He is retired and enjoys writing and traveling. He is active in the Oracle Historical Society. He covers numerous public events, researches historical features and writes business/artist profiles.


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