"Won't you be one of the 25,000 visitors at the Grand Canyon of Arizona this summer? It is the world's scenic wonder - nothing like it."
Santa Fe Railroad brochure, 1914.
The Santa Fe train whistle that was heard here on September 17, 1901, signaled the end of Grand Canyon's frontier days. A $3.50 train ride now replaced a $20.00, full-day, jolting stagecoach ride. In coming decades, Santa Fe promotions nationwide would encourage visitors to come by rail. By the thousands, they did.
The railroad opened Grand Canyon to the world. The Santa Fe Depot, built in 1909, greeted rail patrons for 59 years. But the railroad's operation went well beyond trains. At Grand Canyon the Santa Fe offered hotels, Fred Harvey meals, and a wide range of sightseeing options. And for more than 30 years Santa Fe tank cars delivered water, vital on Grand Canyon's waterless south rim.
In the 1950s automobiles doomed rail travel. The Santa Fe stopped passenger service here in 1968. In 1989 limited service resumed in the form of excursion trains, not associated with the Santa Fe. Today the National Park Service maintains the historic depot to remind us of Grand Canyon's rail era.