The Tombstone & Guaymas Railroad

New Beginnings

I knew I wanted the layout to include Tombstone. The idea of getting a train to Tombstone prior to 1886 was still my main assumption. I also knew the layout would be On30. That was all I owned now so it would be easy to enforce besides O standard gauge was WAY too large for the space I had available. These were my new start point.

I no longer felt that the run to Tucson made much sense. Tombstone and Tucson were in competition for the seat of government. Running the line to Tucson would improve Tombstone’s position but it would improve Tucson’s even more. I played around with scenario after scenario. El Paso was making the most sense until I realized that the Southern Pacific had made a beeline for there once it left Tucson. Why would I make another line starting only twenty miles from the other one?

Believe it or not, the Chivers boxcar gave me my answer. I really like the Chivers boxcar but it is very short, too short. I kept wondering why a railroad would have a 14-foot long car unless it had to negotiate ridiculous terrain. Then it occurred to me, or it carried something VERY HEAVY. What I came up with was fresh seafood. Tombstone was well known for its cosmopolitan nature, many top entertainers of the day performed there including Eddie Foy, Lotta Crabtree, Lily Langtree, and Lola Montez. It was also reputed to have the best food between New Orleans and San Francisco. It made sense to not only have seafood but to have fresh seafood. The Gulf of California comes right up to the mouth of the Colorado River below Yuma. If seafood that was caught on the gulf was packed either in water alive, or on ice and shipped directly to Tombstone it would be one more advantage for Tombstone’s claim to prominence. A boxcar full of ice or water would be heavy; therefore a short car makes sense.

So where to get the seafood? Guaymas, Mexico was around back in 1807 and was a fishing port on the Gulf of California. It was in Mexico where many railroads were built as narrow gauge. It was far enough away from Yuma and Tucson to make sense to build a separate line. To get there would take you either through or at least next to the Huachucas and their lumber. Guaymas it was. The Tombstone and Guaymas was born.

I was a little concerned that my idea was far-fetched but much later I learned that the New Mexico and Arizona Railroad was built to connect to the Sonoran Railroad that ran from Guaymas to Nogales. A real railroad had been built using almost the same line between the same relative points. The only real difference was that the line started in Tombstone instead of Benson. This was great. If I were the Southern Pacific, I would build a line from Benson to Fairbank to interchange with that line, just like what really happened only now the line from Fairbank south is narrow gauge, and Tombstone has a railroad. My alternate history, or at least the where-the-rails-went part of it made sense.

So here was my new “givens and druthers”:

The Tombstone and Guaymas Railroad

  • Prototypes: Virginia and Truckee, Southern Pacific, El Paso and Southwestern, Sonoran, New Mexico and Arizona
  • Locale: Southern Arizona and Northern Mexico
  • Cities: Tombstone (interchange with mines), Fairbank (interchange with standard gauge Southern Pacific) Possibles: Contention City, Millville, Bisbee, Fort Huachuca, Charleston, Guaymas, Nogales
  • Type: Branch-lines (mines and lumber camps), mainline (T&GRR)
  • Era: 1878 – 1900
  • Time of Year: Late April/Early May
  • Train service begun: 1877-1885
  • Scale/Gauge: On30
  • Secondary Carriers: Huachuca Lumber Company, Contention Mining Company, Consolidated Miners Cooperative
  • Size: unknown probably one or two 6″ x 15″ shelves
  • Other Features: none
  • Benchwork: Portable (sectional or modular) truss-beam and foam
  • Control: DCC – Digitax or Lenz
  • Design tools: 3rd PlanIt, Bryce, Mr. SID
  • References: Deserts, Historical Atlas of Arizona, Catch the Stage to Phoenix, Shrubs and Trees of the Desert Southwest, Southern Pacific web site, Tombstone: The Early Years, ARIZONA AS IT IS; OR, THE COMING COUNTRY, Arizona Military Installations: 1752 – 1922
  • Possible References: Arizona Railroads volumes 1 and 2, Santa Fe, Prescott, & Phoenix Railway
  • Abridged RR History: Southern Pacific (1877), Atlantic & Pacific (1879-1880), Sante Fe Pacific (1897), New Mexico and Arizona (1881-1882), Prescott and Arizona Central (1886), Arizona Narrow Gauge (1886), Maricopa and Phoenix (1887), Santa Fe, Prescott and Phoenix (1893), United Verde and Pacific (1894), Phoenix, Tempe, and Mesa (1895), Maricopa and Phoenix and Salt River Valley (1895), Prescott and Eastern (1989), Congress Consolidated (1899), El Paso and Southwestern (1901),Tombstone and Southern (1905)
  • Scenery: High Sonoran Desert

I was, and am, a little concerned about the idea that the railroad crosses international boundaries. The Atchison Topeka and Sante Fe built the New Mexico and Arizona. The Southern Pacific owned the Sonoran Railroad between Nogales and Guaymas. When the Southern Pacific traded other routes with the AT&SF to gain control of the New Mexico and Arizona, they still kept the two lines separate. In reality my line should probably be the Tombstone and Nogales and have a separate line in Mexico. For now though I am going with the idea of joint ownership between a Mexican and a US company. If I find that this just is not possible I’ll change it.

I have finally decided that the layout will be a combination of sectional and modular. It will be modular wherever practical but it will be sectional where modular standards would interrupt curves or where portability dictates that a scene be broken into multiple parts.