Magma Arizona Railroad
The Narrow Gauge Route
Saturday September 9th started out as a cooler day here in the valley
of the sun. Storms moved through the valley Friday night and brought some
much needed rain along with a drop in the temp. So I decided to head back
up to Superior to take a look for the narrow gauge grade of the Magma Arizona
Railroad. This time I was prepared after studying the fine map drawn by Ernie
Robart for Gordon Chappell's "Rails to Carry Copper". The map provides a
nice scale drawing of the standard gauge route but also shows traces of the
original narrow gauge line. With this information I was able to pick out
long segments of the NG on the aerials.
The exploration started right around milepost 16. This is at the junction
of Queen Valley Road and East Hewitt Station Road. I actually drove on in
to the first rail crossing and parked in the large parking area at the crossing.
I then hiked back in about a half mile and then doubled back along the grade.
This first shot is just south of milepost 16 with the NG grade being the mound
in the center of the shot. A road separates the two grades in this view to
This next shot is near the broad sweeping curve at milepost 16. The grade
flattens out along this stretch and doesn't provide much of a clue about the
Towards the end of the curve the grade merges with the road for a stretch.
In this shot we see a bit of wood in the lower left corner. Saguaro,
prickly pear and jumping cactus is plentiful.
Walking along the road, and the old grade, we can see that the grade starts
to veer off to the right side of the road in this shot.
As we head towards a gully, the mound of the old grade becomes much more
Down in the gully there is no sign of bridge timber or a wooden drainage
box just the mound of the old grade.
The Cholla (Jumping Cactus) are taking over the grade. Watch out for all
those hitchhikers on the ground waiting to attack your boots.
There is still the occasional spike to be found although sheared track bolts
are much more common. These spikes are small with a total length of about
This Barrel Cactus seems to be benefiting from the recent evening showers.
The grade isn't very pronounced along here but you can see that there is
an iron wire on the left of the grade from an old telegraph line. Sheared
track bolts and nuts are pretty easy to find as well.
A road crosses the grade here as we get back into the parking area by the
grade crossing. This is popular spot to unload ATVs.
The grade gets used as a bunny hill to launch ATVs after unloading.
This is the end of the line for the first leg of this journey as the grade
meets up with Hewitt Station Road at about milepost 16.5.