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GRAND CANYON RAILWAY GETS A NEW LEASE ON LIFE

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The Grand Canyon Railway has made a comeback. The railway, which for 67 years brought passengers to the South Rim from the town of Williams, is in business once again. The train's re-inaugural took place last September.

The public's response was overwhelming and the train has had to expand its schedule to accommodate demand. According to company officials, the number of calls received in the Reservations Center is approaching 1,000 per day. Early reservations for the summer season are therefore recommended.Reservations and information can be obtained by calling 1-800-843-8724.

The day-long trip, which covers 64 miles of track, includes traveling in authentically restored 1920s Harriman coach cars pulled by a 1910 steam locomotive. It leaves daily from the historic Williams Depot at 10 a.m. and arrives at the canyon at 12:45 p.m. Passengers re-board at 4:30 p.m. for the return trip to Williams, arriving at 7:15 p.m.

Another train leaves Williams Depot at 8 a.m. and returns at approximately 5:15 p.m. Refreshments and entertainment are included in the round-trip fare. Adults: $47; children under 12: $23.

The Williams Depot & Fray Marcos Hotel is on the National Register of Historic Places. The depot/hotel opened for service on March 10, 1908. It was designed with 22 rooms for guests and 10 for staff. Room 5, a two-room suite, had its own bath and overlooked the tracks. The hotel was later added on to.

The hotel closed in 1954 even though the train continued to operate until 1968. The facility has been restored and contains the Grand Canyon Railway Museum.

The Grand Canyon Depot, also on the National Register of Historic Places, is built of Ponderosa pine. Its name plate was made of individual copper letters. The station opened in 1910.

The first passenger train arrived at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon on Sept. 17, 1901, carrying 30 passengers and supplies. A majority of visitors to the South Rim arrived by train until the 1940s. The train continued operating until 1968, when most visitors arrived at the canyon by car.

VIPs who rode the train include Teddy Roosevelt in 1903, 1911 and 1913; President Taft in 1909; Franklin Roosevelt in 1940; the Shaw of Iran in 1949; President Eisenhower in 1950; Prince Feisal of Saudi Arabia in 1952; and King Paul and Queen Frederika of Greece in 1953.

The Grand Canyon Railway bought four 1910 vintage steam locomotives built by the American Locomotive Company. The Harriman cars purchased for the train have been restored with plus seats and gleaming woodwork.