Project Summary



Park criteria

Exceptional quality of construction and interactive educational displays; Design in the style of an railroad back shop; For national and world notoriety the Park must be of high quality throughout--in its collections, interpretive exhibits, and staff; Staff must be well trained in their particular areas of expertise, paid a competitive salary, and have a reasonable amount of job security; Archives available to researchers; Open year round.

Potential benefits to the Arizona economy

The Park, particularly being co-located with the Grand Canyon Railway, has the potential for attracting a world audience. For northern Arizona, this translates into direct additional revenues to businesses throughout the tourist industry. For state, counties, and cities this translates into direct additional tax revenues estimated to be in the $4.95 to $9 million range. This increased visitation will also create the need for an additional 340 jobs. As the Park and Foundation will have a positive cash flow, it will be self supporting and able to grant funds for the support of other Arizona museums and cultural projects.

Planned exhibits and facilities

The Museum will have as its emphasis the cultural heritage of Arizona as part of the seventy-nine railroads that served the entire state. The cultural and ethnic diversity surrounding the mining, logging, ranching, agriculture, manufacturing, tourism and the military is extensive and will be the focus of the Museum’s highly interactive educational exhibits. Motive power and rolling stock will be featured in static displays with a variety of steam and diesel locomotives, freight, passenger, and special purpose rolling stock. Interactive interpretive exhibits will emphasize railroad and industrial workers in juxtaposition with appropriate artifacts. Other interpretive exhibits will feature aspects such as track construction, Fred Harvey Company history, and the impact of the Santa Fe Railway and Grand Canyon Railway on Grand Canyon National Park. Art exhibits in the Museum’s gallery will have a particular emphasis on railroad and national park advertising art.

Currently the Park has motive power, rolling stock, signal equipment and artifacts on hand valued at more than $5 million. Accomplished in a partnership between the Foundation and the City of Williams, construction of three gateway arches, a historic railroad /Route 66 park, and a boxcar pedestrian bridge give testimony the City’s heritage and railroad legacy.  Additional artifacts committed to the Museum collection are in the process of accession.

A major component of the project’s mission is the Center for Education.  It will involve students from around the state’s elementary, high and charter schools and universities.  The primary function will be to provide education pertaining to the history, legacy and culture of the seventy-nine Arizona railroads and to involve those so inclined to further that education via internships and scholarships. A building on the campus will house the Foundation offices and Center.  It will replicate the historic Southern Pacific Railroad Patagonia station and freight house in southern Arizona.

Size of Facility

21-acres with a 106,500 sq ft Museum under cover, Center for Education, restoration shop, 120-foot turntable, amphitheater, and the Northern Arizona Railroad.  The latter will offer the opportunity for guests to ride vintage railroad maintenance of way equipment around the campus.   


Historically, Williams has hosted the world as the Gateway to the Grand Canyon®. From 1900 to 1968 travelers arrived at the rim by train after passing through Williams. Although a key city on historic Route 66 for many years, Williams, along with the National Park Service, has returned to supporting visitation to the South Rim via the Grand Canyon Railway since 1989. The Park will be located on 21-acres within the city limits of Williams.