OTHER Grand Canyon RR finds buyer

Shaun Sep 22, 2006

  1. Shaun

    Shaun TrainBoard Member

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  2. Shaun

    Shaun TrainBoard Member

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    Grand Canyon railway finds buyer
    Company that manages parks concessions agrees to buy attraction

    Mark Shaffer
    The Arizona Republic
    Sept. 22, 2006 12:00 AM


    The owners of Grand Canyon Railway have agreed in principle to sell the state's top rail attraction to the nation's largest national parks concessionaire.

    Xanterra Parks & Resorts, which is based in Denver, submitted a letter of intent to buy the railway on Thursday for an undisclosed price, said David Chambers, railway president.

    Chambers said a final deal is expected to be struck by the end of October, with anticipated National Park Service approval by early next year. advertisement




    The 65-mile rail line begins in downtown Williams and ends at a historic depot on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Nearly 225,000 people rode the rail last year and 2005 revenues were $38 million, railway officials said.

    Owners Max and Thelma Biegert of Paradise Valley had placed the railway on the market in March and two other large companies had been in the mix until early this week, Chambers said.

    "There's a feeling that Xanterra will be in a position to grow the business in the direction that Max and Thelma want," Chambers said. He added that another major selling point is that Xanterra intends to retain the railway's 480 employees.

    Mona Mesereau, a spokeswoman for Xanterra, said the corporation's leaders were in meetings late Thursday and could not comment on the expected purchase.

    Xanterra operates hotels, restaurants and stores at most of the nation's most popular national parks, such as Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore and the Everglades.

    Chambers said the purchase is expected to include the railway's depot and restaurant in Williams and the adjoining Grand Canyon Railway Hotel. It also includes 162 acres paralleling the tracks in Williams, 160 acres near the Grand Canyon National Park boundary and two steam engines and 29 cars that the railway has in service.

    The railway's six diesel engines and 14 cars not in service also will be included in the deal, Chambers said.

    Another 480-acre ranch that the Biegerts own north of Williams near Gonzales Lake will not be included in the anticipated purchase, Chambers said.

    "We are looking at other offers for that," he said.

    The Biegerts brought the railway back from the dead, after a nearly 20-year absence, when they resumed operations in 1989. The railway had once been the main mode of transportation to the Grand Canyon in the early 1900s.

    After a rough beginning - only 90,000 tourists rode it the first year the Biegerts resumed operations - ridership began to take off in the 1990s. In recent years, the railway also has departed at times from its Wild West theme and has marketed activities for parents and children.

    The railway is, by far, the largest employer in Williams.

    Its success was one of the main reasons the state Legislature created a special district in the Williams area for the hoped-for construction of a $3 billion theme park to lure visitors passing through to the Grand Canyon and making cross-country drives on Interstate 40. But the future of that project remains up in the air.

    Copyright © 2006, azcentral.com. All rights reserved

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  3. fitz

    fitz Staff Member

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    That is welcome news. I sure would like to see them acquire another, bigger steam locomotive. :teeth:
     
  4. Shaun

    Shaun TrainBoard Member

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    You and me both, have to love the Alcos they have :shade:
     
  5. MP333

    MP333 TrainBoard Supporter

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    Lately they've been running three domes in their trains, what a class act.
     
  6. MP333

    MP333 TrainBoard Supporter

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    OK found it. Took this last Friday, real late in the day.

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  7. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Certainly sounds like good news. Let's hope!

    :D

    Boxcab E50
     

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