Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the El Paso & Southwestern Railroad Depot

November 13, 2012

More than 3,000 Tucsonans – nearly everyone who lived here at the time – greeted the arrival of the first El Paso & Southwestern Railroad (EP&SW) passenger train 100 years ago on Nov. 20, 1912.

The Southern Arizona Transportation Museum (SATM) invites the public to recall that celebration on Sunday, Nov. 18 at the former EP&SW depot, 411 West Congress Street, from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. Parking is available adjacent to the depot building. There is no charge for the event, but a donation of $5.00 per person to aid the museum is suggested.

The El Paso and Southwestern Depot celebrates its 100th anniversary this weekend.

The depot is not open to the public, but thanks to the generosity of its owner Allan Norville and his company, El Centro LTD, space for the event is being made available on the depot property at no cost to SATM.

The depot, a beautiful example of Classic Revival architecture, was completed in December of 1913.  It is a copy of the EP&SW depot in Douglas, which today serves as headquarters for the Douglas Police Department.

The Tucson depot served passengers on the EP&SW until November 1924 when the EP&SW was merged with the Southern Pacific Railroad. SP then used it for storage for many decades. After its purchase by Mr. Norville in 1976, it was the home of two Mexican restaurants, Carlos Murphy’s and Garcia’s.

The program for the celebration will include entertainment by the 4th Cavalry Brass Band and a history of the EP&SW Railroad and depot presented by local railroad historian, Richard Dick.

Artifacts from the EP&SW will be on display along with early photos of the depot and the EP&SW roundhouse a mile to the south. Thanks for the photo display go to the City of Tucson Historic Preservation Office.

The photo history is on permanent display along the El Paso & Southwestern Greenway adjacent to the new central fire station between Cushing Street and Simpson Street.

When the first scheduled passenger train arrived in 1912, the Chamber of Commerce asked businesses to close at 10:30 a.m. to allow everyone to join a parade led by the Old Pueblo Band, which marched to the depot grounds for the festivities.

Flags were hung from the trolley wires on Congress Street and Stone Avenue, giving the city “a holiday appearance.”

“Whistles blew, people cheered, the band played, and it was a time of celebration and congratulation,” summarized the Arizona Daily Star.

The Southern Arizona Transportation Museum is located at Tucson’s other historic train station, the former Southern Pacific Railroad depot at 414 N. Toole Avenue. Museum hours are: Sunday and Tuesday-Thursday, 11:00 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  The museum is closed on Mondays.

The museum displays focus on the history of railroads in Southern Arizona and their impact on the economy and development of Tucson. The displays include Southern Pacific locomotive 1673 built in 1900.

On Dec. 15, the museum will hold its annual Holiday Event where children can have their pictures taken with Santa.

More details are available by calling the museum at 623-2223, or going to the website at www.tucsonhistoricdepot.org.