This August a representative of Iowa Pacific traveled to Globe and met with Kip Culver to inform him that the company had sold the Arizona Eastern Railway to Genesee and Wyoming Inc. for 90.1 million dollars in cash. This was shocking news to Culver, the Mainstreet program and everyone who had worked so hard over the last five years to help build this effort into a first class excursion experience which hosted 27,000 passengers last year! Even as late as July there had been on going discussions about the “Next Season” between Iowa Pacific and Culver.Ă‚Â Culver had even been asked to fly to Saratoga in July to be in on the launch of yet another excursion operation on the East Coast and not a word was said of any pending changes to the coming season.
It appears this sale came on the heels of a newly negotiated freight contract with Freeport MacMoran which made AZER an attractive acquisition for G&W ; a freight company whose first and foremost purpose is to be “The safest and most respected rail service provider in the world.”
While details of the final sale were worked out between the two railroads, little information could be had about the fate of the Copper Spike Excursion Trail. All that was known was that the company which had purchased AZER was a very successful freight company. No talk of excursion trains could be found.
Then in late September, Culver managed to arrange a meeting with Andrew Chucko Senior Vice President, Rocky Mountain Region with G&W who has been tasked with taking over operations here. It was the first time Mr. Chunk had seen the inside of the historic train depot and been apprised of the scope and nature of the Copper Spike Excursion train.
“I believe he had no idea when he first arrived what he had here.” Culver said.
Chunk listened while Culver outlined the program which had grown in just four years from a small rail car carrying a few hundred passengers to a well-respected and Statewide attraction which handled over 27,000 passengers last year. He pointed out the close working relationships which had been established with Gila County and the City of Globe and Town of Miami, the local Globe-Miami Chamber of Commerce and the entire region who had continually stepped up to support the program. He talked about the plans to establish a CentennialĂ‚Â run between Globe and Miami on a monthly basis to show the viability of rail travel between the two communities and in coordination with the State Centennial celebrations.
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