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Arizona Centennial Project




The mission of the Arizona State Railroad Museum is to collect, preserve, interpret, and exhibit historic and cultural artifacts relating to the railroad history, development, and heritage of Arizona.

Emphasis of the Museum’s interactive educational exhibits is on Arizona’s multi-ethnic cultural history.

  • Arizona’s railroad legacy dates back to the mid-1800s and continually developed, cultivated, and supported Arizona’s historic "Five Cs"…Cattle, Copper, Climate (tourism), Citrus, and Cotton, and many other economic endeavors
  • Seventy-six Arizona railroads have operated virtually in every corner of the state
  • Every conceivable Arizona occupation and livelihood has either been initiated by, thrived, or depended upon these railroads
  • The ethnic and cultural diversity that is Arizona grew up around these railroads and occupations and represents a cross section of the great American dream
  • Most Arizona cities and towns owe their very existence to these railroads
  • Efficient and environmentally sensitive mass transit in Arizona is once again coming to the fore via light rail and commuter rail
  • Interpretation will emphasize culture rather than technology
  • Interpretive educational displays will be highly interactive
  • Educational outreach programs for Arizona’s schools have already begun and will be a prime focus of the Museum resulting in traveling exhibits to schools and communities across Arizona
  • The Museum includes a library and archive dedicated to Arizona’s railroad culture
  • The Museum includes an art gallery with a focus on railroad and national park art
  • The Museum will accurately portray Arizona’s past and present history and also look to the future
  • The Museum will be self-supporting
  • The Museum Foundation will assist other Arizona museums and community projects through grants
  • The Museum is a permanent heritage tourism project
  • The Museum is an Arizona Centennial Legacy Project
  • Williams is a Preserve America Community…one of only six so designated in Arizona…and its Historic District is on the National Register
  • Williams is committed to heritage tourism and is the Gateway to the Grand Canyon
  • Businesses in northern Arizona communities will benefit substantially due to increased visitation (600,000+) created by the Museum and cause the region to become a destination for tourism and businesses
  • The Museum will create the need for a minimum of 340 jobs
  • The Arizona Office of Tourism, Departments of Commerce and Transportation, Coconino County Board of Supervisors, City of Williams, and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce have all endorsed and/or supported the Museum project
  • The Museum Foundation is incorporated under the laws of Arizona and tax exempt under IRS Code 501(c)(3)
  • Design, construction, preparation and installation of artifacts and educational exhibits will lead to an open to the public date in 2014.
  • Preliminary architectural design completed by Todd & Associates pro bono
  • Preliminary bid for construction completed by Straightline Construction pro bono
  • Preliminary bid for interpretive exhibits completed by Chadburn & Assoc pro bono
  • Construction to begin upon receipt of funds from bond issue (approx one year)
  • The 21-acre Museum site is in Williams on Rodeo Road just off of I-40 and Route 66.
  • The Museum is co-located with the very successful Grand Canyon Railway
  • On historic Route 66
  • Just off Interstate 40 and SR 64 at the Gateway to the Grand Canyon
  • State of Arizona
  • Coconino County Board of Supervisors
  • City of Williams
  • Arizona Historical Society
  • Other agencies, museums, libraries and archives throughout Arizona
Budget and funding sources:
  • $25 million for design, construction, acquisition and restoration of artifacts, and preparation and installation of interactive educational exhibits
  • Funds will be derived from bonds, grants, private and corporate donations, and legislative appropriation
  • Artifacts conservatively valued at more than $2.8 million are currently in the inventory
  • A TEA-21 federal grant of $500,000 administered by ADOT has been awarded and is being utilized to acquire and restore major artifacts
  • Once open the Museum will be a permanent, self-supporting venue