The Verde Canyon Railroad is a heritage railroad near Clarkdale, Arizona, southwest of Sedona, Arizona.Opened in 1912 as the Verde Valley Railway, it was built to support the copper mines at Jerome, Arizona. The Santa Fe Railway operated and owned the 38-mile (61 km) branch line from 1912 to 1989, providing coal to the Phoenix Cement Company, and shipping copper and cement outbound.
New owner, David L. Durbano, took over with the Arizona Central Railroad/Verde Canyon Railroad by 1989/1990. Passenger service resumed in November 1990.Current excursions are a 4-hour, 40-mile (64 km) round trip from Clarkdale to the ghost ranch of Perkinsville and back. Scenes from How the West Was Won were filmed at Perkinsville in 1961. The route, nestled between two national forests and adjacent to a designated wilderness area, follows the Verde River the entire way and features a 680-foot-long (210 m) curved tunnel and many bridges. The route is on the south of the Verde River through Prescott National Forest land; the Coconino National Forest lies northeast across the river.
As of 2005 the railroad carries over 100,000 passengers per year.In March 2005 the Verde Canyon Railroad celebrated its one-millionth passenger, and the following month was named an "Arizona Treasure" by State Governor Janet Napolitano.
John Bell Railroad Museum
The John Bell Railroad Museum is located at the depot in Clarkdale. The museum, dedicated to John Bell, a long-time Clarkdale resident and amateur historian, displays rail artifacts and photographs relating to the line and the excursion equipment, and is located in a 1940s boxcar.