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Kip Culver discusses the unexpected loss of the Copper Spike Excursion Train

GMT spoke with Main Street Director, Kip Culver regarding the unexpected news that the Copper Spike Excursion would not return for a 6th season. Culver, who was instrumental in the excursion operation’s launch and success, was surprised to learn the news just months from preparations for another season. 

According to Culver, a representative of Iowa Pacific traveled to Globe in August to inform him that Arizona Eastern Railway, the parent company of Copper Spike,  to Genesee and Wyoming Inc. for $90.1 million dollars in cash. 

Culver explained that even as late as July, there had been ongoing discussions about the “Next Season” between Iowa Pacific and himself. Accordingly, Culver had even been asked to fly to Saratoga in July to be in on the launch of yet another excursion operation on the East Coast, and not a word was said of any pending changes to the coming season.

Still, it appears this sale came on the heels of a newly negotiated freight contract with Freeport McMoRan, which made AZER an attractive acquisition for G&W, a freight company whose first and foremost purpose is to be “The safest and most respected rail service provider in the world” according to their website.

While details of the final sale were worked out between the two railroads, little information could be had about the fate of the Copper Spike Excursion Trail. 

Culver arranged a meeting in late September with Andrew Chunko, Senior VP Rocky Mountain Region of Genessee and Wyoming, who took over operations here. Culver said he believed it was the first time Mr. Chunko had seen the inside of the historic train depot and been apprised of the scope and nature of the Copper Spike Excursion train.

“I believe he had no idea what he had here when he first arrived.” Culver said. 

Culver then outlined the program, which had grown in just four years from a small rail car carrying a few hundred passengers to a well-respected and Statewide attraction that handled over 27,000 passengers last year. He pointed out the close working relationships that had been established with Gila County and the City of Globe and Town of Miami, the local Globe-Miami Chamber of Commerce, and the entire region who had continually stepped up to support the program. He talked about the plans to establish a Centennial run between Globe and Miami every month to show the viability of rail travel between the two communities and in coordination with the State Centennial celebrations.

To what extent this may encourage further consideration of reinstating the Copper Spike operations in Globe is not known at this time. 



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