Maricopa Spring meet 2009

I had the opportunity in 2008 to book myself a couple of visits to the states for 2009. Obviously The Train Mountain Triennial would be one. For the other I chose a bit of winter sun and decided to take in the Maricopa spring meet as part of a couple of weeks in Arizona. All this booking was done before the world collapsed or more specifically the £-$ exchange rate went through the floor and perhaps with hindsite one trip to the states this year would have been more financially prudent. But then who new that the same institutions telling me how they were the right people to look after my financial future had a business model based on how much money they could slurp from the trough themselves!

The Maricopa track is located just outside Phoenix so was a handy starting point as BA fly direct from Heathrow. They have a very extensive web site at Maricopa Live Steamers from this I was able to find their location and plan my accommodation accordingly. You never know with these visits what to expect so its always a bit of an adventure. From their web site it was pretty clear they had an extensive layout and I was looking forward to a few leisurely trips around the track to see what it had in store. I had also made arrangements to meet Jim Kreider who would be on site selling parts from his Live Steam catalogue.

Its worth visiting the web site as there is extensive information on the track and its construction. In brief though the site currently comprises 10 miles of track with a further 2.5 miles under construction. The track is split into a number of subdivisions which provide suitable runs that can be combined to from a run of as long as you want to spend on the rail. It is comprehensively signaled and there is a large amount of bi directional running on single track that is very well controlled by the signals. Indeed this was a feature of the track that I found most impressive. The only slight gripe I had was that all lines seem to converge at the station and when busy this seems to create quite large back ups of equipment either entering the station run round or waiting to depart. So onto the snaps for us guys in the UK once again its a revelation as to the size and scope of the tracks in the states. The work and effort that has been expanded to provide the first class facilities are a revelation and if you get the chance would certainly recommend a visit

The site comprises a large club house and outside covered seating area for the all important vitals. A large covered station complex is where the visitor can hitch a ride. Stored equipment is kept in standard containers that have been imaginatively remodeled on one end to represent an old time western street. Indeed the work that has been done by individuals to convert the containers was very impressive.

Front street ?

Now where did I leave the horse?

Main station

The main station, this must have been early as most of the weekend it was packed with rakes waiting to depart.


As I said members store there locomotives in containers that have been laid out either side of a concrete roadway. Parallel tracks support a home made traverser which can feed locomotives and rolling stock from the containers onto the steaming bays or spurs onto the main line.

Container land

View of the storage area looking away from the club house and seating at cameras right

opposite view

looking the other way with an example of the camouflage sidings to the containers

typicical inside

A container view inside

The traverser

The homemade traverser sitting on its track

Water tower

Another example of the extensive work undertaken by the owner I guess to proved storage and cover for his equipment. Very impressive I am sure you will agree. Yes there definitely is a 40ft container lurking in there somewhere

Spot the container


Up from the station is a fair sized yard where trains where made ready for departure. Alongside the yard were the steaming bays that butted onto the back side of the traverser which was able to carry and drop locomotives onto a couple of spurs so they could join the main lines or back into the yard.

Main yard

Leaving the yard

Two shots of the busy yard

Now some shots of the steaming bays

Long shot of bays

Traverser in action

Loading up

Lastly if your wondering where 10 mile of track came from a couple of shots of the building area

Track shop

tack ready to shift


So onto the track I had a number of rides on with both steam and diesel traction. One night ride was a real pleasure as the site is well out of town and the dry conditions mean there is very little cloud cover so the night sky was illuminated by the stars.

Heading out

Heading out for the first trip in the club stock


Meeting a beautiful rake of streamlined coaches and F7 power

Help is at hand for the F7

After failing just outside the station the F7 gets a helping hand back into the yard

New track

If your wondering where all that track is going hears a shot of the head of steel

Next run was behind a bit of steam superpower in the shape of Gil Beaird's 2-8-4 Berkshire. A diesel fueled example of Jim Kredier's design. Gil brought it along with a rake of tank cars riding cars and a caboose. On the throttle for this trip was Tom Lawson who is also building one of Jim's Berkshires which Tom says is now running on air and not that far from completion

Getting ready to head out

Tom getting ready to leave the yard

Keep your eyes open?

For the more observant among you this is not an advert for compare the A joke probably only the UK readers will understand.

pulling in

On the Pottsville subdivision pulling round the loop at the Sahuaro central museum.

On the Sunday I arranged to meet up with Jim, Tom and Gil as Jim would be taking the throttle for the Sunday morning prior to everyone packing up for the long trips home.

Jim Kreider

Jim Kreider behind the tender kit he produces for his Berkshire. Probably the best 1.5" scale model currently available in casting form for you to build.


765 sitting in the steaming bays early on the Sunday morning

Transfer to the yard track

Moving down to the ready track.

Easy does it

Taking care to get lined up before the move off the traverser

Backing up

Jim backing 765 onto our train

Waiting on trains

Jim and Gil waiting in the siding for another train to pass.

After the run with Jim we all assisted with the loading of Gil's equipment prior to his long run back to Sacramento. My thanks must go to Gil,Tom and Jim and everyone else who gave me a ride or helped to make my visit such an enjoyable one. Lastly if you have a spare $200k



this narrow gauge 2-8-2 is for sale over on Discoverlive steam .com for the enthusiast with deep pockets.



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