About Us

The SMRHS is building a model railroad in the Scottsdale-McCormick Railroad Park that represents how the Santa Fe Railway could have been circa 1959. The railroad does not try to model locations exactly, but hopes to capture the general look and feel of the real thing that is within the limitations of model building.

Historically the Santa Fe reached Phoenix via two branch lines off their transcontinental route from Chicago to Los Angeles. The first originates in Ash Fork, Az. It passes southward through Prescott, Wickenburg and Glendale to reach Phoenix from the northwest. This connects Phoenix with eastern destinations. The second branch departs from the transcontinental route at Cadiz, Ca. It enters Arizona at Parker and joins the other branch at Wickenburg. This is the route to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The citizens of Phoenix were not happy to be relegated to end of a branch line and the Santa Fe was looking for a less mountainous route across Arizona. A route from Phoenix up the Gila River through Hayden and Safford to El Paso was planned around 1900. This route would provide the lowest crossing of the continental divide in the US. The grades involved were significantly less than the route across Northern Arizona. The building of this route was slowed by the Southern Pacific and financial problems until the Corps of Engineers built the dam creating San Carlos Lake. This put the right of way under water and killed the plan. But in our world, this route exists.

The final piece of the railroad are lines branching off of the line to Hayden to connect to Tucson and the mines at Superior, Az. The line to Tucson is operated by the Southern Pacific Railroad. The mining district of Globe is reached from Safford.

The Society holds sessions during which the model railroad is operated like the real thing. Trains move under the control of a dispatcher who uses a timetable and train orders to keep the trains moving. Transcontinental and local passenger service is provided. Freight cars are moved from industry to industry using switch lists that replicate the movement of freight on the real railroads. The through passenger trains are serviced in Phoenix, picking up or dropping off diners and/or Pullman cars. Through freights drop off and pick up blocks of cars to and from the local industries. The yard generates local freights that service the industries in the modeled towns. Local freights return to Phoenix and their cars are forwarded in the through freights to destinations across America. We hope to provide hours of pleasant 'work' for the crews and a view of real railroading to the viewing public.

In the standard gauge we model the city of Phoenix as the central yard and major hub. Heading east from Phoenix we have the cities of Mesa, Magma Junction, Hayden, and Safford. Heading west from Phoenix we find Glendale, Wickenburg, Prescott, Ash Fork and Flagstaff.

The HOn3 Arizona Northern narrow gauge section of our layout serves the cities of Jerome, and Flagstaff in addition to mining and forest operations.