Home » Globe Main Street Director discusses the loss of Copper Spike

Globe Main Street Director discusses the loss of Copper Spike

GMT spoke with Main Street Director, Kip Culver regarding the unexpected news that the Copper Spike Excursion would not be returning for a 6th season. Culver, who was instrumental in the launch and success of the excursion operation 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 on going 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 when he first arrived what he had here.” 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 which handled over 27,000 passengers last year. He pointed out the close working relationships which 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 on a monthly basis to show the viability of rail travel between the two communities and in coordination with the State Centennial celebrations.

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

 

 

4 comments

  1. I certainly hope the Copper Spike Excursion will be allowed to continue under the new railway owners. Opportunities to experience train travel are becoming more and more limited outside of the major East Coast markets–so having it available as part of a historic tour make the trip even more special.

  2. Posted with permission for Carl Southard who posted this comment on FB.

    The Copper Spike was the greatest thing that I have ever been a part of, I was introduced to Kip Culver by my mother several months after coming out of a month long coma, I was still having balance problems, but helping to restore the little depot became a rehabilitation for me, both body and mind, and most importantly working with Kip Culver showed me what it meant to belong to a community, to be part of something that I can look back at with pride for the rest of my life.
    When the Copper Spike was running at first from the little depot, I would man the depot selling tickets and such, in between runs I would go next door to the laundry mat and try to see it as a train depot, as it was described to me by some of the local folk who had seen it for themselves back in its day. When Kip Culver got the Historic Globe Main Street Program in and the laundry out is when the work got going on the train depot itself. Since it was all volunteers doing the work, getting the people all free to work on it at the same time was not a easy task, Kip worked so hard on all of it.
    Alot of the restoration when on Saturday’s and Sunday’s, as the train was running I was manning the little depot, making me miss alot of it, I still got to get my hands dirty there, but watching it from next door almost made me want to cry!
    Posted with permission for Carl Southard who posted this comment on FB.

  3. You can tell a lot about a town, they say, by looking at its architecture. No doubt, the old County Court house is Globe’s crowning jewel, as the heart of Gila County’s seat of government. But when you think about it, historically speaking, if the County Seat is Globe’s heart, then that train depot is the dorsal aorta, for surely our cultural life flowed freely through it for some time. What other town would think nothing of having an active railroad track run down the center of the street in front of their City Hall?

    The Copper Spike reminds us to look back and reflect on our grand past of affluence and boastful hope in the American Westward movement, “Go West, young man. Go West!” We can use that hope in these troubled times.

    I have many memories in that old building. I worked in the old train depot during the days that Greyhound Lines leased it. I was just a kid of 14 -16, but I was old enough to work alone planning itineraries, selling tickets, meeting the arrivals and departing buses, handling the freight and baggage, and sending Western Union telegrams and money orders. No, it wasn’t in the “glory days,” of the train, but the spirit was still there.

    Kip Culver understands feels this spirit too, and has worked hard to keep that artery of life open, not only by restoring the depot back to its former grandeur, but also in promoting the Copper Spike Excursion. True, it increases the local economic flow through tourism, but Ah! There’s nothing like a consistent train’s whistle to resuscitate Globe’s “can-do” spirit! Don’t you agree?

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