SOURCE: Verde Canyon Railroad

Verde Canyon Railroad

April 28, 2013 16:10 ET

A Rail Old-Fashioned Fourth in Small Town Arizona

CLARKDALE, AZ--(Marketwired - Apr 28, 2013) -  Like a dazzling display of fireworks, Independence Day promises to elicit many ooos and aaaaas from the crowd celebrating in Clarkdale, Arizona. The Fourth of July is a popular date in this historic small town and folks come from miles around to enjoy the old-fashioned festivities. Every state is stocked with its share of small town charm, but how many can boast a heritage railroad traveling through red rock canyons and rare desert riparian wilderness? Besides, where else can you take a spin on a vintage fire truck and vintage train on the same day?

For those who imagine Mayberry to be a fictional locale, Clarkdale, with its friendly atmosphere, vintage bungalows and shady boulevards, might surprise you. Founded in 1912, Clarkdale was Arizona's first master-planned community, the company town for Senator William A. Clark's United Verde Copper Company. The Verde River is a key element to the town's location for the water it provided and the natural canyon path it carved for Clark's railroad, both important ingredients in servicing the smelter that processed the copper ore from neighboring Jerome. Clarkdale was developed with features and services considered quite cutting-edge for the time, including electrical streetlights, sidewalks and sewer system. Clark also made sure his employees enjoyed social amenities such as libraries, sports teams, a mercantile and public park. Many of these elements live on into the 21st century including Arizona's treasured Verde Canyon Railroad and the town's beloved Clarkdale Park with its grassy lawn and historic gazebo.

Independence Day begins at 7:00 a.m. with a pancake breakfast in the Clarkdale Park. Fire department volunteers flip flap jacks until the children's parade debuts at 9:00 a.m. Observers cheer curbside as costumed children strut their bicycles, pets and charming homemade floats down Main Street, all decked in stars and stripes. One highlight of the parade is the town's vintage fire truck which lingers afterwards for rides around the park. An ice cream social and a patriotic concert by local orchestra follow the parade, though we'd admonish you to save your appetite for Verde Canyon Railroad's Firecracker Express.

A festive All-American barbecue luncheon takes place at the depot's shaded patio prior to the train's departure. Grilled burgers and hot dogs, baked beans, special recipe potato salad, cupcakes and ice-cold lemonade are served to the tune of rousing patriotic anthems.

At 1:00 p.m. the Firecracker Express pulls out of the Clarkdale depot for the four-hour journey through the incomparable wilderness of the Verde Canyon. The stars and stripes wave in the breeze as red, white and blue flags decorate this historic train. Vintage passenger cars feature a mix of antique style and modern comforts including fresh restorations, onboard refreshments and climate-control. Powered by twin FP7 engines, classic locomotives built by General Motors 60 years ago, Verde Canyon Railroad conjures up the best of America.

It's an America hewn rough from metal and rock, muscle and sweat; an America of wide open wilderness and big blue sky; an America that was built to last. Make a day of it and celebrate the Fourth of July small town Arizona style.

Only two hours from Phoenix and 25 minutes from Sedona, Verde Canyon Railroad is the perfect Arizona day-trip, or if you plan to stay over, ask about our Room, Ride and Meal packages. Other than Saturday Starlight Tours, trains depart at 1 p.m. daily. Reservations are accepted at 800.293.7245 or online at

It's not the destination, it's the journey

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Teresa Propeck
    Email Contact
    Phone: 623-374-3185
    Facsimile: 623-374-3186